Red Cabin in the Pines
The 7,182-acre Cook Forest State Park lies in scenic northwestern Pennsylvania. Once called the "Black Forest," the area is famous for its stands of old growth forest.Cook Forest's "Forest Cathedral" of towering white pines and hemlocks is a National Natural Landmark. The Clarion River is the eastern border of the park and is popular for canoeing and rafting.
Picnicking: Picnic tables are along the Clarion River in the River Cabin Picnic Area, in the Sawmill Area and near the exit of Fire Tower Road. Two large picnic pavilions may be reserved up to 11 months in advance for a fee. Unreserved picnic pavilions are free on a first-come, first-served basis. There are accessible restrooms and picnic tables near both picnic pavilions.
Canoeing: The Clarion River offers a very scenic trip and is classed as a beginner's river under normal conditions. A canoe launch area and parking are three miles upstream from Cooksburg along River Road. Several private canoe rentals are in the Cooksburg area.
Scenic Views: Two scenic views are in the southeastern corner of the park. From the rock ledges of Seneca Point Overlook you can see the Clarion Valley. An 80-foot climb up old #9 Fire Tower gives a breathtaking view of the entire area. On a clear day you can see 15 to 20 miles. Do not walk or climb on the rock outcroppings outside of the fenced area. These rock ledges are very hazardous.
Hiking: 29 miles of trails. Enjoy the beauty of Cook Forest by hiking on one of 27 marked trails. The terrain is of rolling hills and cool valley streams. Special scenic areas are the old growth forest, Fire Tower/Seneca Point and the Clarion River. Overnight camping within the park is only permitted in the campground or cabin areas. Trail maps and descriptions are available at the park office.
Part of the 140-mile Baker Trail and the North Country National Scenic Trail pass through Cook Forest. The Baker Trail runs from Freeport, in southern Armstrong County, to the Allegheny National Forest. The North Country Trail is under development and will connect the Missouri River in North Dakota with the Adirondack Mountains in New York.
Biking: Bikes are permitted on all one-way, dirt roads within the park. Biking on hiking trails is not permitted except on the part of the Heffern Run Trail that is part of the Bicycle Route. All children under 12 years of age are required to wear a helmet when biking. Bikes ridden at night must have a light on the bike.
The Bicycle Route is 11.5 miles long and follows lightly traveled roads within the park and Heffern Run Trail. The route is of moderate difficulty with long flat areas and rolling hills. Highlights of the route are a leisurely four-mile flat ride through scenic Tom's Run Valley, CCC-era red and white pine plantations along Forest Drive and a challenging descent along the Heffern Run Trail. A description of the Bicycle Route is available at the park office.
Swimming: The swimming pool is open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekend, unless posted otherwise. Depths range from 2.5 feet to 5 feet. A circular wading pool is adjacent to the large pool. Fee charged for pool use. Discounts are offered to campers. The pool area is accessible, and the pool is equipped with a lift. Vending machines have snacks and beverages.
Feeding Wild Animals: All visitors are reminded that black bears are native to this area. All food should be put away after use and kept in a tight, secure container in the trunk of a car or in a camper.
Feeding wild animals is strongly discouraged. When wildlife loses its fear of people, these animals can become pests, and dangerous situations can result.
Horseback Riding: Two designated bridle trails and portions of Brown's Run Trail comprise 4.5 miles of trails for horseback riding.
Hunting: About 7,200 acres are open to hunting, trapping and the training of dogs during established seasons. Common game species are deer, turkey, bear and squirrel.
Fishing: The Clarion River flows along the park border and provides fishing for trout, warm-water game fish and panfish. About 2.5 miles of Tom's Run is stocked with trout. A special fishing pond stocked with trout is by the park office and is available for use by children 12 and younger and people with a disability. A level grass bank at the edge of the pond provides easy access.
Winter Activities: There are 12 miles of snowmobile trails, a lighted ice skating pond along River Road, three acres of sledding slopes and three designated cross-country ski trails in the park. Many other trails and roadways are also suitable for cross-country skiing