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Hiking

47 miles of trails

There are over 47 miles of hiking trails and 4.3 miles of multi-use trails within Cook Forest State Park.

An additional 24 miles of multi-use trails and 8 miles of hiking trails are located within the Clarion River Lands.

Brochures with trail descriptions for each section are available in the park office.

Cook Forest State Park: Hiking Only (excluding the Forest Cathedral Area)

Baker Trail/North Country National Scenic Trail

12 miles within the park, more difficult

Two long-distance trails, the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT) and the Baker Trail, pass through Cook Forest State Park, following the same 12-mile stretch through the Forest Cathedral, passing Seneca Point, and meandering by the Clarion River.

The 140-mile Baker Trail (blazed yellow) runs from Freeport, PA, through the Allegheny National Forest.

The NCT (blazed blue) is America’s longest national scenic trail at 4,600 miles, running from New York to North Dakota. Several named park trails follow along the NCT/Baker Trail route and are listed below.

Black Bear Trail

1.1 miles, easiest

This flat loop trail begins and ends at the Sawmill Center for the Arts. Look for black bear claw marks on trees.

Browns Run Trail

2.0 miles, more difficult

This trail parallels Browns Run from Toms Run Road to Forest Road. Due to its low usage, it is a wonderful trail for wilderness hiking, hunting, and birding, particularly for the flute-like songster thrushes.

Camp Trail

2.0 miles, most difficult

The most travelled section of this steep trail links the Ridge Campground to Breezemont Drive near the Log Cabin Environmental Learning Classroom (ELC). Pay particular attention at trail intersections as this trail splits near the campground.

Cook Trail

2.0 miles, more difficult

This lightly used loop trail winds through a magnificent stand of old growth timber. Keep watch for tall white pines, large hemlocks, oaks, black gums, relict American chestnut snags from the early 1920s, and a 1930s dynamite shack built by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

The trail can be accessed in three locations: across from River Cabin 12, at the River Picnic Area, and via a short spur trail on Cemetery Road.

Corduroy Trail

1.2 miles, more difficult

This trail connects the Ridge Campground and the Liggett Trail along Toms Run. This pleasant hike crosses over Breezemont Drive, passing large American beech and Eastern hemlock. Pay attention at intersections as this trail connects with the Camp Trail.

Deer Meadow Trail

1.5 miles, more difficult

This trail unites the Browns Run Trail with the multi-use Hefren Run Trail. Sections of this trail go through old growth oak hemlock forest and prime wildlife areas.

Deer Park Trail

1.1 miles, more difficult

This trail segment connects PA 36 and the Seneca Trail, also linking with the Mohawk Trail. Hikers pass through the heart of the 1976 tornado damaged area. Portions of the classic movie, “The Unconquered”, were filmed near a rock outcrop here.

Hemlock Trail

0.3 mile, more difficult

This short trail connector joins the Longfellow Trail near Forest Road with the Deer Park Trail at PA 36. One of the finest old growth hemlock forests in the Eastern U.S. is located along this trail. Some hemlocks surpass 140 feet tall; many are more than 300 years old!

Liggett Trail

1.5 miles, easiest

This trail begins at Breezemont Road across from the Log Cabin ELC and travels a portion of the NCT/Baker Trail along Toms Run, terminating on Toms Run Rd. The trail passes through a wonderful stand of hemlocks, some of which is an old growth forested wetland. This trail is a good place to listen for the elusive winter wren. Turning right onto Toms Run Road brings you back to the Log Cabin ELC.

Mohawk Trail

1.4 miles, more difficult

This trail runs from the PA 36/Forest Road intersection near the Inn at Cook Forest, and ends at the exit of Fire Tower Road.

This trail winds through magnificent old growth hemlock forest along the hilltop within the Fire Tower Road loop and the steep hillside overlooking the Clarion River. On this trail, you will walk amongst some of the tallest, largest, and oldest hemlocks found in the park. Many hemlock, white oak, and chestnut oak surpass 300 years old here.

Paved Trail

0.2 mile, easiest

This activity or structure is ADA accessible. This paved, ADA-accessible trail loop winds through a mature hardwood forest. It can be reached via the water tower access road near the entrance of the Sawmill Center for the Arts.

Ridge Trail

0.7 mile, most difficult

This steep trail connects the Ridge Campground near Site 32 to Forest Road by Shelter 1. Large oaks and black cherry trees are found near this path. Several black cherries reach three feet across and 140 feet high, some of the tallest known in the entire Eastern U.S.

River Trail

1.2 miles, most difficult

This steep segment runs along the NCT/Baker Trail by the Clarion River from the fire tower to Fire Tower Road. To continue on the NCT/Baker Trail, stay straight along the Clarion River; the River Trail works its way back uphill to connect to Fire Tower Road.

This is one of the most beautiful hikes in early summer when the mountain laurel and rhododendron bloom.

Seneca Trail

0.9 mile, most difficult

This trail climbs from PA 36 to the junction with the Deer Park Trail, where a left turn will continue to the Fire Tower-Seneca Point Area. It offers an excellent view of the Clarion River, passes through old growth forest and a section of 1976 tornado downed logs.

The greatest concentration of tall hemlocks in the Northeastern U.S. can be found here. The tallest known Eastern hemlock in the Northeastern United States, at 145 feet high, is located here.

Tobecco Trail

10 miles, more difficult

This connecting trail between Cook Forest and Clear Creek state parks runs along the Wild and Scenic Clarion River from State Route 899 to the Gateway Lodge on PA 36.

Most of the trail is located on or near the river bank in a mix of pine, hemlock, rhododendron, and mountain laurel. However, the trail does ascend to the ridge tops in two locations where visitors can enjoy open hardwood forests of oak, cherry, and maple.

Cook Forest State Park contains 7.5 miles of the trail; a portion of SR 899 is used to connect the trail to Clear Creek State Park. From SR 899, it is 2.5 miles to the Clear Creek State Park Campground.

There are three trailhead parking lots.

  • The Gateway Lodge parking lot is available on the western end of the trail
  • A small parking lot on SR 899 is marked by an information kiosk
  • The third parking area is on the eastern end of the trail in the Clear Creek State Park campground

Forest Cathedral Trails, Cook Forest State Park: Hiking Only

The Forest Cathedral Natural Area is a registered National Natural Landmark. Numbers below correspond to the map on the Cook Forest State Park Hiking Trails brochure.

1. Joyce Kilmer Trail

1.1 miles, more difficult

This trail runs from Cemetery Road to the Indian Trail. Note the rock formations nestled among large hemlock and white pine, some of which span three to four feet.

2. Rhododendron Trail

1.2 miles, more difficult

A favorite hike for many, this trail joins Indian Cabins 6 and 7 to Forest Drive via the Forest Cathedral. Ancient hemlock and white pine are common along its length.

3. Longfellow Trail

1.2 miles, more difficult

The most well known trail in the park runs through the finest stand of old growth white pine forest in the northeastern United States.

The trail starts beside the Log Cabin ELC and terminates on Forest Road. Along the way, hike past the Memorial Fountain and past the tallest known tree north of the Great Smoky Mountains, a white pine 185 feet tall!

4. Toms Run Trail

0.8 mile, easiest

This flat trail connects the wooden swinging bridge to the Log Cabin ELC through the picturesque Toms Run Valley. Keep a lookout for remnants of bracket dams once used to move logs downstream during the 1800s logging boom.

5. Birch Trail

0.9 mile, easiest

This trail passes through a lovely stand of birch trees between the Children’s Fishing Pond and Shelter 1. The swinging bridge links this trail with the Rhododendron Trail.

6. Indian Trail

1.0 mile, most difficult

This steep trail progresses from the north side of the Children’s Fishing Pond, deep into the core of the Forest Cathedral before joining the Longfellow Trail. Near the pond, observe the incredible stand of second growth Eastern white pine, logged in the 1800s. As the trail levels off, look for the transition from second growth to old growth forest.

7. Red Eft Trail

0.2 mile, most difficult

This short, steep, spur trail connects the Longfellow Trail with the Toms Run Trail, making a variety of loops possible. This section traverses an old growth forested wetland through a series of bridges and steps.

8. Ancient Forest Trail

0.3 mile, more difficult

This trail bisects the Longfellow Trail through the heart of the Forest Cathedral, creating various loop options. Gaze above to the highest concentration of tall, old growth white pines in the Northeastern United States.

Cook Forest State Park: Multi-Use Trails

Multi-use trails are open to hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding as designated. Please be aware and courteous of others.

Bridle Trail

1.1 miles, easiest

This trail starts 0.8 miles from the beginning of Forest Drive. This fairly flat, multi-use trail weaves hikers and equestrian users through a 1930s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) red pine plantation and then terminates at the Old Logging Road within the Forest Cathedral. Some select Eastern hemlock, white oak, and American beech surpass 200 years old. Continue onto the Old Logging Road to bring you back to Forest Drive. Hiking and horseback riding only.

Hefren Run Trail

1.1 miles, more difficult

This multi-use trail connects Toms Run Road with Forest Road. This serene trail crosses Hefren Run Valley along evidence of old bracket dams used to move logs downstream in the 1800s. Hiking, biking, and horseback riding are permitted.

Old Logging Road Trail

0.6 mile, easiest

This flat trail proceeds between Forest Drive and the Joyce Kilmer Trail. Watch for red and white pine orchards planted by the CCC from 1933-1937. Hiking and horseback riding only.

Equestrian Trail

1.5 miles, easiest

This trail starts 0.2 miles from the beginning of Forest Drive. This fairly flat, multi-use trail weaves hikers and equestrian users through a 1930s CCC red pine plantation and then loops back onto Forest Drive. White-tailed deer are a common sight here. Keep your eyes open for hawks that like to hunt between the rows of pines. Hiking and horseback riding only.

Clarion River Lands: Hiking Only

North Country National Scenic Trail

more difficult

The North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT) joins several segments of trails as it passes through Cook Forest State Park. The NCT (blazed blue) is America’s longest National Scenic Trail at 4,600 miles, running from New York to North Dakota. 180 miles of the NCT run through Pennsylvania and were some of the first trail mileage to be developed.

Lower Round Top Trail

2.0 miles, more difficult

This steep hiking only trail links to main trail loops in the Clarion River Lands: the Mill Creek/Blyson Loops and Picture Rock Trails. This hiking trail is accessible from both Blyson parking lots. The trail follows the Clarion River along a steep hillside.

Clarion River Lands: Multi-use

Multi-use trails are open to hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding as designated. Please be aware and courteous of others.

Bessie Dewey Trail

1.0 mile, more difficult

This trail creates a loop option by connecting with two points along the Boiler Trail. It climbs a fairly steep hillside through a pine and hemlock forest along Maxwell Run.

Blyson Loop Trail

2.7 miles, more difficult

The Blyson Loop Trail meanders down a ridge to the Clarion River at the mouth of Blyson Run, a designated wilderness trout stream. Access Blyson Loop via Mill Creek Loop Trail from Mill Creek Drive, or from Old State Road. Note: Horse trailers are not recommended on Old State Road.

Boiler Trail

2.0 miles, more difficult

Access this trail via the parking lot at Hindman Drive. It follows a steep, but wide, set of switchbacks to the bank of the Clarion River, where it joins the Bessie Dewey Trail near Maxwell Run. The trail is named for the remains of a boiler left on site.

Callihan Trail

1.3 miles, more difficult

This trail unites the Picture Rock Trail with the Kaufman Loop Trail, paralleling Callihan Run toward the Clarion River. The river can be forded at the Picture Rock Crossing. River crossings possess inherent danger. All users are advised to use caution if crossing the river.

Highland Loop Trail

1.0 mile, more difficult

This trail runs from the upper parking lot on Highland Drive, along a mix of old logging roads and single-track trails that wind through a mix of hardwood trees toward the Clarion River.

Highland River Crossing Trail

0.9 mile, more difficult

This trail joins the Highland Loop and Finkbinder trails via a river ford at Slater’s Crossing. River crossings possess inherent danger. All users are advised to use caution if crossing the river.

Kaufman Trail

1.4 miles, easiest

This relatively flat trail follows an old logging road through open hardwood forest and continues past the Short Trail to a small loop at an old power line right of way. Kaufman Trail can be accessed from the upper parking area off Highland Drive.

Kaufman Loop Trail

0.6 mile, easiest

This relatively flat trail uses an old logging road to wind its way through open hardwood forest. Kaufman Loop Trail can be accessed from the upper parking area off Highland Drive.

Lower Loop Finkbinder Trail

2.3 miles, more difficult

This loop trail uses a mix of old logging roads and singletrack trails to traverse the open forest along the ridgeline. This trail contains several fairly steep sections, including a set of switchbacks along the ridge of a small feeder stream.

Mill Creek Loop Trail

1.5 miles, more difficult

This trail links a parking area on Millcreek Drive with the Blyson Loop Trail via wide, mostly flat, old logging roads through open hardwoods of oak, maple, and black cherry.

Picture Rock Trail

1.1 miles, more difficult

This trail attaches to the Boiler Trail near Hindman parking lot, where it follows several switchbacks to the Clarion River near Picture Rock Crossing. Look for the namesake large, flat rock where many riders pose for the camera.

Rim Trail

0.8 mile, more difficult

This trail uses an old logging road to unite the Kaufman and Highland Loop trails, offering beautiful views of the Clarion River Valley as it meanders along the river’s hillside.

Short Trail

0.2 mile, easiest

This single-track trail connects the Kaufman, Kaufman Loop, and Callihan trails.

Slater’s Crossing

0.1 mile, more difficult

This river crossing joins the Highland Loop, Bessie Dewey, and Finkbinder trails. River crossings possess inherent danger. All users are advised to use caution if crossing the river.

Upper Loop Finkbinder Trail

2.5 miles, more difficult

This loop uses a mix of logging roads and single-track trails to cross the ridgeline. This trail contains several fairly steep sections.

Valley of the Bears Trail

5.2 miles, more difficult

This trail contains two loops and follows the NCT in two sections as it meanders up and down the Clarion River Valley from Thompson Hill to the Highland Loop Trail. The lower loop closest to Highland is 0.8 mile long, while the upper loop near Thompson Hill is 1.8 miles.