For more than a hundred years, Allegheny National Forest has been a haven of natural majesty in the Pennsylvania wilderness, attracting visitors from all across the nation. One of the best ways to get the most out of visiting this forest is by taking advantage of the many camping opportunities it has to offer!
Read on to learn all you need to know about Allegheny National Forest camping…including the best camping spots, things to do, gear to bring, and more.
What to Expect At Allegheny National Forest
When doing some Allegheny National Forest camping, you can expect to relax in some absolutely stunning natural beauty that will leave a mark on your memory for years to come. This forest bursts at the seams with both wilderness and scenic areas.
It boasts wild and scenic rivers as well, in addition to cultivated recreation areas and plenty of places to enjoy nature up close and personal.
There are numerous Allegheny National Forest camping opportunities as well as day trip options. You can enjoy the various watersheds, reservoirs, rivers, and streams, or hike, bike, drive, and even horseback ride through the acres upon acres of forest.
No matter what time of year you visit, you are sure to witness an array of natural beauty, incredible wildlife, and all the wonders of the wild outdoors that Allegheny National Forest has to offer.
All About Allegheny National Forest Camping
Types of Camping
There are several different options for Allegheny National Forest camping. Developed camping includes a campground, RV camping, group camps, and cabins. Most of these are available for reservation and are located near amenities.
You also have the option for a dispersed experience when it comes to Allegheny National Forest camping. In this case, you can find non reservation camping spots all throughout the forest. The only restriction against dispersed Allegheny National Forest camping is in places specifically marked as “no camping.”
All reservations must be done online. Campers cannot call and book through the national forest itself.
5 Best Camping Spots
1. Campground and RV Camping
Many of the developed sites for Allegheny National Forest camping are free to use, require no reservation, and feature, at bare minimum, a camping ring, a cleared area for tents, and access to vault toilets. Most sites also include an area for one vehicle and a pull through trailer.
Amenities at most campground sites include potable water and garbage receptacles that are bear-proofed. Many of the sites also feature water or electric hookups for RVs, and provide access to the shared sanitation amenities such as flush restrooms, showers, and dump stations.
Some of the more developed campgrounds do require a reservation no more than six months in advance. These Allegheny National Forest camping areas include:
- Dewdrop Campground
- Tracy Ridge Campground
- Kiasutha Recreation Area
- Red Bridge Recreation Area
- Loleta Recreation Area
- Twin Lakes Recreation Area
- Buckaloons Recreation Area
- Willow Bay Recreation Area
2. Dispersed Camping
Dispersed camping is a great option throughout Allegheny National Forest except in the no-camping areas. These dispersed areas are made available on a first come, first served basis and can be occupied for up to, but no more than, 14 consecutive days.
3. Group Camping
Allegheny National Forest camping sites for groups can house generally up to 50 people per site. There are two group sites each at Twin Lakes and Loleta recreation areas, and one group site each at the Buckalloons, Hearts Content, and Dewdrop areas.
4. Cabin Camping
A stay in a rustic cabin is another great way to enjoy your Allegheny National Forest camping experience. You have a total of fifteen cabins to choose from, dispersed in certain locations throughout the forest. You must reserve cabins ahead of time.
Farnsworth Cabin is a two bedroom, handicap accessible stone cabin featuring a living room, kitchen, and bathroom. It comes equipped with a pair of queen sized beds, a pair of bunk beds, and a sofa sleeper, with a maximum accommodation of 8 people.
Other amenities include a fridge and freezer combo, pots and pans, utensils and dishes, a coffee maker, crock pot, and microwave. There is also plenty of seating available throughout the Farnsworth Cabin.
Next up are the three Red Bridge Recreation Area Cabins. These are slightly more rustic than the Farnsworth Cabin, but do have water and electricity hookups, and they allow pets as well.
Finally, there are the 11 rustic cabins available at Willow Bay. These each have heat and electric available, as well as grills and firepits. Sleeping arrangements in each Willow Bay Recreation Area cabin includes a double bed and one set of bunk beds.
5. Horse Camping
Lastly, equestrians will find a welcoming Allegheny National Forest camping experience at the horse camp in Kelly Pines recreation area. This area hosts seven campsites total, and during the riding season, several of them are for equestrian use.
Each of these sites features a four stall, tie-down shed, with two sheds available on the campground’s double site. There are also hitching rails provided. Pickets, high-lines, and corrals are not provided or permitted; equestrians must use the stalls in the shed at their campsite.
There is also potable water suitable for horses, which can be retrieved from a hydrant at the campground.
Things to Do at Allegheny National Forest
On foot is one of the best ways to experience the majestic scenery of this forest. Many miles of hiking trails await in Allegheny National Forest, with various levels of ruggedness and challenge.
Most trails within the national forest are under 10 miles. There are also trails for those looking for a longer excursion, and even some backpacking opportunities. Altogether, these trails add up to hundreds of miles of hiking opportunities, with many of the trails doubling as biking and cross-country ski trails.
Anglers will find some of the best fishing in Pennsylvania during their Allegheny National Forest camping excursion! There are several reservoirs and hundreds of miles of streams that can be fished throughout the forest.
The varieties of fish you can catch while doing some Allegheny National Forest camping include, but are not limited to, channel catfish and bullhead catfish, smallmouth and white bass, brown trout–and so many more.
Nature lovers will also find no lack of things to love and enjoy during their Allegheny National Forest camping adventure! The park boasts a variety of wildlife, including more than 200 species of birds, more than 50 types of reptiles and amphibians combined, and upwards of 50 different mammals.
Some of these animals include red-backed salamanders, wood frogs, ruffed grouse, wild turkeys, black bears, river otters, rattlesnakes, gray foxes, and many, many more. In order to maximize your enjoyment of bird and wildlife watching, be sure to bring a good pair of binoculars! This will allow you to see all the forest has to offer even from afar.
Allegheny National Forest is incredibly lustrous and scenic. In fact, simply enjoying the sights of this national forest is such an attractive pastime, there is a national Scenic Byway and hundreds of miles of forest roads you can drive and enjoy throughout the park.
Another great way to enjoy the beauty of Allegheny National Forest is via bicycle. There are upwards of 150 miles of mountain biking available, with many of the hiking trails doubling as excellent paths for biking excursions as well.
Equestrians can also bring their horses and explore the forest via horseback, while ATVs and OHV riding are encouraged in designated areas and on specific trails.
There is a ton of fun to be had on the waters of Allegheny’s reservoirs! These include water sports, windsurfing, tubing, swimming, boating, and even–believe it or not–scuba diving. Be sure to come prepared for some wonderful time in the water.
In the wintertime, Allegheny National Forest camping is also available, along with several other winter recreations. These include cross country skiing, ice fishing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and hiking.
Make Sure to Bring
Before you kick off your Allegheny National Forest camping adventure, it is important to ensure you have the proper gear, and that it’s all in good repair!
Tent campers should ensure they have a quality tent, a sleeping bag that can withstand all different sorts of weather, and–depending on the season and forecast–a rain fly to keep out excess elements. A good camping chair can also really help make your Allegheny National Forest camping experience comfortable and cozy.
If you plan to bring your own food, be sure you bring enough for the duration of your stay–and that it will keep well! A camping cooler can help greatly with food preservation.
Good clothing is also a must. Hiking boots are particularly important when planning to traverse Allegheny National Forest on foot. Sturdy attire is also a must, including layers you can shed as the temperature changes during the day.
Folks looking to spend some time in and around the water should consider floatation devices for little swimmers or when going boating. Anglers will want to ensure their tackle is in good repair and that they have the right lures or bait for the sort of fish they hope to catch during their Allegheny National Forest camping experience.
Similarly, it’s recommended that wildlife enthusiasts bring a sturdy pair of binoculars–and make sure your phone or camera are charged so you can capture the beauty of this National Forest forever!
No one wants to imagine suffering an injury while enjoying their Allegheny National Forest camping adventure. However, preparedness is wisdom, so having a first aid kit, your sunblock of choice, and your preferred insect repellent on hand are also a must.
Wrapping Up Allegheny National Forest Camping
Excited for your Allegheny National Forest camping adventure? Be sure to check out our full Camping Gear page before you strike off on your camping excursion. This fantastic resource will help ensure you have everything you need before you go!