Special Places

Many visitors have an area that they are particularly attached to, a favorite campsite or a special fishing location. Below are some areas that are special and unique to the Allegheny National Forest.

Highlighted Areas

Hickory Creek Wilderness

The Hickory Creek Wilderness is located on the Bradford Ranger District in Warren County, Pennsylvania. The gentle to moderate terrain is drained by East Hickory Creek and Middle Hickory Creek.

Topography ranges from 1,273 feet where East Hickory Creek exits the wilderness to 1,900 feet on the plateau. There are no particularly steep slopes. Much of the area is heavily forested.

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Allegheny Reservoir

A major outdoor recreational attraction on the Forest is the 7,647 acre Allegheny Reservoir.  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.

The undeveloped Allegheny Reservoir shoreline and National Forest System land surrounding the Reservoir provide the largest outdoor recreation opportunities in northwestern Pennsylvania. Highly developed infrastructure (e.g. paved roads, pressurized water systems, sewage treatment plants and electrical service) are in place to serve campgrounds with utilities, flush toilets and hot water showers. Other facilities include picnic areas, swimming beaches, and shoreline fishing opportunities and fishing piers.

The Reservoir was created in the 1960s when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed the Kinzua Dam on the upper Allegheny River.  The reservoir water level and water surface is managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The adjacent shoreline is primarily owned and managed in Pennsylvania by the U.S. Forest Service and in New York by the Seneca Nation of Indians, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, and Cattaraugus County, NY.

Only a few private landowners exist on the New York shoreline. The Allegheny Reservoir is unique because very little private commercial development exists along its shoreline. The majority of the existing developed recreation sites on the PA portion of the Reservoir are operated and maintained by the Allegheny National Forest.


Clarion Wild and Scenic River

The Clarion River is a designated Wild and Scenic River for 51.7 miles, from the border of the ANF/State Game Lands Number 44 boundary to an unnamed tributary at the backwaters of Piney Dam. 

The sinuous, relatively narrow river valley with steep sides and little floodplain provides little opportunity for long, focused views. The steeply forested hillsides of almost continuous mature deciduous and coniferous vegetation contribute to a feeling of remoteness in many places along the river.

Paddlers on the river will find that the water changes from smooth to riffling as the river flows over and around large boulders.  In the section of river between Arroyo Bridge and Irwin Run paddlers will find several of the riffles.

The Clarion is a tributary to the Allegheny Wild and Scenic River, joining it in Clarion County, just south of the town of Emlenton.  In the early 1800's the Clarion was used to transport timber to the Allegheny River.

Allegheny Wild and Scenic River

In 1992 (Public Law 102-271) added 87 miles of the Allegheny River to the National Wild & Scenic River System classified as Recreational. The goal is to protect the existing outstanding and remarkable values and preserve a free-flowing condition for present and future generations. This designation applies to the following three sections:

  • 7 miles from below Kinzua Dam to Route 6 bridge in Warren
  • 48 miles from Buckaloons Campground to Alcorn Island (by Oil City), and
  • 32 miles from south of Franklin to Emlenton.

The corridor boundary runs along the plateau ridge on both sides and has extensive areas of privately owned lands with many homes and seasonal recreational residences along the shoreline. Public access is good generally from both sides and few hazards make this an ideal river for novice and family canoeing. Oak forests predominate along steep side slopes and there is wooded-riverine habitat in some of the floodplains.  It contains the seven Allegheny Wilderness Islands often used by boaters for dispersed camping and fishing.

The Allegheny Islands Wilderness contains seven islands stretched between Buckaloons and Tionesta along the Allegheny Wild and Scenic River. The islands are popular for dispersed camping, exploration, and viewing scenery and wildlife. They are mostly vegetated with fine riverine forests of sycamore, silver maple, shagbark hickory, and green ash. Dense grasses and other thick vegetation make access limited. There are no developed trails or other facilities on the islands.


The Allegheny River is one of the primary tributaries to the Ohio River.  It joins with the Monongahela River to form the Ohio River at the "Point" in Pittsburgh, PA.  The Allegheny starts in Pennsylvania, near Cobb Hill, meanders into New York into Cattaraugus County, near Salamanca, before heading back into Pennsylvania north of Warren.

The course of the river forms much of the northwestern boundary of the Allegheny National Forest before reaching Franklin where the river turns southeast.  Within the borders of the Allegheny National Forest the river is fed by Kinzua Creek, Conewango Creek, Brokenstraw Creek, Tionesta Creek, Oil Creek and French Creek.  The Clarion River joins the Allegheny near Kittanning.