Old Growth Trees


Cook Forest Pennsylvania

Ancient white pine and hemlock cover 2,300 acres in this PA park. There are beautiful trails in the Forest Cathedral, considered the finest stand of tall white pine and hemlock in the Northeast US. Some trees are 350 years old and 200+ feet tall.

If you have a favorite “local” camping area, please tell us about it. We can post about it as a blog or under “Our Nature” where we have posts on local trails and parks.

I love old trees so when I learned of Cook Forest in Pennsylvania, I decided we had to visit this park of 8,500 wooded acres. By visiting in the fall we were the only ones using the state park camp site (mid-week) on the first night with only one other cabin used the second night. There’s a two night minimum for the cabins ($40/night). I’d guess this is a very busy area in the summer from all the tourist signs and services in the area near the park.

Above photos are from the trail we walked just behind our cabin. My hiking is limited these days due to an ankle injury but for the more able, there are many trails nearby. Another option is to float down the Clarion River which borders the park. Water was running too high when we were there but canoes can be rented for $30 which includes being dropped off at a launch site.

Camp cabins were built by the CCC in the 1930s and retain the charming furniture created then. I forgot to pack dishes and spoons but could improvise with a piece of apple and recycled paper bowl. Part of the fun of not staying in a hotel is getting to improvise. I hope you consider doing a local vacation and stay in our many area parks — no need to go far for nature. — Merikay

Click on photo above to see slide show. First photo shows a tree that has died at least in part because someone cleared a substantial area of bark to carve.

If you have more time, another great wooded outing in that area of PA is the beautiful Fallingwater, the masterpiece by Frank Lloyd Wright designed in 1935. It’s near the Youghiogheny River and waterfall. More adventurous kayakers enjoy this river for its rapids. Another nearby site is the historic Ft. Necessity where George Washington’s battle leading British troops against the French led to what we know as the French and Indian War. For us the highlight of the trip was seeing the Kirtland Temple and associated historic sites like the N.K. Whitney store. It’s only a few miles from Lake Erie which is an awesome sight too.