Mount Davis (3,213 ft or 979 m) is the highest point in Pennsylvania. Located in the 5,685-acre (2,301 ha) Forbes State Forest near the hamlet of Markleton in Elk Lick Township, Somerset County, it lies on a gentle crest of a 30-mile (50 km) ridge line extending from central Somerset County southward into Garrett County, Maryland. The high point was named for John Nelson Davis, an early settler, American Civil War veteran, surveyor, and naturalist known for his studies of the mountain’s flora and fauna. During the Civil War, Davis served in Company E, 102nd Pennsylvania Infantry.
The summit of Mt. Davis may be ascended by car or a number of hiking trails. Its surroundings are noted for their patterns of unusual circular stone formed by periglacial action. A metal observation tower with a relief map of the region stands near the true high point.
I found this location surprising. It was not what I was picturing in my mind for many years. The area immediately surrounding the summit is state forest, however you can be a five minute drive from the summit and still be going through farmland, which doesn’t make the peak seem that prominent or that high. I guess the surrounding area is at a pretty high elevation.
Oil Creek State Park lies in northwestern Pennsylvania in the Oil Creek Valley. It is the site of the world’s first commercial oil well. The park preserves the history of the early petroleum industry by interpreting oil boomtowns, oil wells, and early transportation. The scenic creek carves a valley of deep hollows, steep hillsides, and wetlands and provides opportunities for kayaking, wildlife watching and fishing. Hiking is a popular activity here, and a 36 mile loop trail has two shelter areas that support backpackers.
At the time of my visit, work on the Petroleum Center Bridge blocked egress through the park. However, following the detour to the other side of the park is well worthwhile.
On the hill above Oil City is Murray’s Scenic View, overlooking the city and Oil Creek. It is a very nice view, and there is even a small restaurant for a drink or a snack.
On my travels I took a drive through the Allegheny National Forest on Route 59. I was particularly interested in the dam, which I did not remember viewing on a previous trip. Forest surrounds the 7,647-acre reservoir that spans the border between Pennsylvania and New York. In Pennsylvania, the reservoir is completely surrounded by the Allegheny National Forest, and in New York State by Allegany State Park and the Allegany Indian Reservation of the Seneca Nation. At normal summer pool level the reservoir is 27 miles long, 14 miles in Pennsylvania and 13 miles in New York, with 91 miles of shoreline, and a maximum depth of 130 feet.
The 862-acre Chapman State Park includes the 68-acre Chapman Lake on the West Branch of Tionesta Creek. Adjacent to state game lands and the Allegheny National Forest, Chapman is an oasis of recreational facilities in a vast area of wilderness. There is a lake with swimming, a campground and other activities available.
Shikellamy State Park is an unusual park in that it contains two distinctly different sections. It also affords great views of the two branches of the Susquehanna River (the West Branch and the North Branch ). The Park is in both Union and Northumberland counties. The 54-acre Shikellamy Marina is on the southern tip of Packers Island at the confluence of the West Branch and North Branch Susquehanna River, and offers hiking and biking trails, a marina, and boat launch. The 78-acre Shikellamy Overlook is on the western shore of the Susquehanna River. A 360-foot cliff overlooks the confluence of the two branches of the river.
Although the marina area seemed more popular with Labor Day party goers, I was more impressed with the views on the overlook side.
The Marina Section provides great access to the water as well as picnicking opportunities.
This Autumn I had an opportunity to take a drive through State Games Lands 110 in Berks and Schuylkill Counties. The auto tour provides an opportunity to explore roads not usually open to traffic along the top of the Blue Mountain ridge.
Deer, bear and turkeys are some of the wildlife you’ll find in Game Lands 110, a 10,310-acre forested area along Blue Mountain. The Appalachian Trail is located on the top of the Blue Mountain and runs the length of the game lands from Route 183 to Port Clinton. The area does provide some beautiful fall color. After a short but steep drive up the mountain, the route continued along a relatively flat road along the crest from east to west. Here are some of my shots from along the route:
While in New England and Canada, I took a day trip to the popular village of Peggy’s Cove. This tourist attractions is a quaint Nova Scotia fishing village with one of the most photographed lighthouses in Canada.
Finally, here a some photos of Georges Island National Historic Site in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Bradford County is home to a unique historical site in north central Pennsylvania. However, I first made my way west over Route 6 to take in some impressive views.
First up is Wyalusing Rocks Overlook, which stands above one of the many bends in the Susquehanna River in this area.
A little further west, one comes upon the Marie Antoinette Overlook. The reason for this name will become apparent in my next post. The Overlook sits approximately 500 feet above the North Branch of the Susquehanna River. It was originally built in 1930 as a part of the WPA (Works Progress Administration).
I left Austin and proceeded south to Sizerville State Park. This park reminds me of Hyner Run or Reeds Gap. It is a quiet park with a small campground and a pool. Alas, the pool at Reeds Gap is gone, but this type of park remains one of my favorites. The 368 acre Sizerville is surrounded by Elk State Forest and near large blocks of additional state forest land. If it wasn’t so far, I’d like to come back here.
I then made the long journey to Kettle Creek State Park. In retrospect, I should have done this the day before as continuation of my trip to Ole Bull, but now I know better. The park consists of 1,793 acres along Kettle Creek in western Clinton County. The park is in a valley surrounded by mountainous terrain and wilderness. Many of the existing recreational facilities arose from a joint flood control project developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the former Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources. The park offers camping, boating, hunting, fishing, hiking, and other activities.
I thought I might be able to save some time getting to Sinnemahoning State Park by driving up to Kettle Creek Vista then cutting across the ridge and down the other side. Of course there were no roads down into the other valley, because there was another lake, with (you guessed it) another dam.
I made the trek back down the valley to highway north to Sinnemahoning State Park. The park, located near the center of the Pennsylvania Wilds’ scenic steep valleys region, encompasses 1,910 acres of beautiful scenery and outstanding wildlife habitat. Situated in Cameron and Potter counties, the park is nestled between the green-shouldered ridges of Pennsylvania’s Elk State Forest and Susquehannock State Forest. The park is long and narrow and includes lands on both sides of First Fork Sinnemahoning Creek — a major tributary to the Sinnemahoning Creek. At the southern end of the park, a 145-acre reservoir created by the George B. Stevenson dam provides fishing and boating opportunities. There is a campground and excellent wildlife viewing opportunities, including elk, bear, and large variety of birds.
The drive north on Route 44 continues with a visit to Patterson State Park. This park sits directly on Route 44 and provides picnicking and a few camping sites. The Susquehanock Trail System passes right near the park, which acts as a trailhead. The park would also be a good overnight camp spot for those doing the entire loop.
Next up was one of the most confounding parks in the entire system – Prouty Place State Park. The five-acre Prouty Place State Park is five miles southwest of PA 44 along Long Toe Road. This remote park offers access to hunting, fishing, and hiking within the surrounding Susquehannock State Forest. There is a grassy area and gazebo with a nonoperational water pump and a notice board. The park feels very remote, yet only a short distance down Long Toe Road were a few very substantial houses a large man-made pond.
Prouty Place was designated a Class “B” campground by the Pennsylvania Department of Forestry from 1922 to 1925. During the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps built a picnic area and campsites between 1935 and 1938. Prouty Place State Park officially became part of the Pennsylvania State Parks system in 1957. The park is a short distance from the Susquehannock Trail System, and is connected to it by a link trail. Prouty Place is tied for second smallest state park in Pennsylvania with Upper Pine Bottom State Park (which we visited in our last installment). Only Sand Bridge State Park (another picnic area) is smaller.
My trip on this Juneteenth weekend began in earnest when I turned left from Route 15 onto Route 44 in Lycoming County. I was soon at my first stop of the day.
Upper Pine Bottom State Park is one of the smallest parks in the state park system, measuring in at 5 acres. It provides picnic tables next to a stream and access to hunting and fishing. It also acts as an entry point for hiking and cross country skiing in the nearby Tiadaghton State Forest.
My next stop was Ole Bull State Park which lies off Route 44 and a short distance down Route 144. Ole Bull State Park consists of 132 acres along the Kettle Creek Valley in Potter County in an area called the Black Forest because of its dense tree cover, mountainous terrain, and wilderness habitat. The park has a fascinating history. It is named for Ole Bornemann Bull, the famous Norwegian violinist who toured the United States in the 1850s. In 1852, Ole Bull purchased a large tract of land in Potter County and attempted to develop a series of Norwegian settlements. He began construction of a home, at what now is called Ole Bull Vista, which has never finished. After a year of severe hardships, the majority of the colony disbanded and moved west into Michigan and Wisconsin.
The park has swimming in Kettle Creek, a campground, and the usual array of state park activities.
Lyman Run State Park was next on the list. One of several parks in this area with a dam, it has a 45 acre lake, swimming, camping, boating and other activities.
A daytime visit to Cherry Springs State Park followed. This park is well known for being one of the best spots on the east coast for dark nighttime skies and astronomical viewing. The park has a public astronomy field for short term viewing and an overnight field. There is also a campground and opportunities for hiking.
This park is beloved, but I have to admit I was a bit disappointed when I returned the following night. The weather was fairly clear with low humidity, and the moon was below the horizon. However, I didn’t feel that the number of visible stars was significantly better than what I could see an hour from home in southeastern Pennsylvania. I didn’t attempt to photograph any. I have seen much better displays of stars during my adulthood in the Florida Keys and on the eastern shore of Maryland.
Near the park is Cherry Springs Vista, which sits directly on Route 44.