Wild and Natural Areas
Pennsylvania’s state forest system includes dozens of special wild and natural areas set aside to protect unique or unusual biologic, geologic, scenic, and historical features or to showcase outstanding examples of the state’s major forest communities.
Natural areas are “managed” by nature and direct human intervention is limited. They:
Provide places for scenic observation
Protect special plant and animal communities
Conserve outstanding examples of natural beauty
Wild areas are generally extensive tracts managed to protect the forest’s wild character and to provide backcountry recreational opportunities.
Bear Run Natural Area
A small, 32-acre relic community of old growth hemlock, birch, yellow poplar, and ash, this natural area is located south of Woodward in eastern Centre County at the intersection of Bar Run Road and Cherry Run Road.
Joyce Kilmer Natural Area
Located on Paddy Mountain, six miles west of Hartleton in Union County, this 77-acre tract contains old growth white pine and hemlock.
Halfway Run Natural Area
Comprised of 407 acres, this natural area is a rather unique tract of mixed oak and scattered conifers located in an area of pingo scars, which are small depressions with low ramparts left over from glacier activity. It is found in Union County, directly east of R.B. Winter State Park, between Sand Mountain Road and Boyer Gap Road.
The Hook Natural Area
Encompassing 5,119 acres, this tract is located on the North Branch of Buffalo Creek, three miles north of Hartleton in Union County. Access is provided by a number of rugged foot trails. A complete watershed is preserved within this area.
Mt. Logan Natural Area
Located east of Castanea in Clinton County, this 512-acre tract contains old-growth hemlock and an outcrop of Tuscarora sandstone.
Rosencrans Bog Natural Area
Comprised of 152-acres of high mountain swamp, this area is located north of Loganton along Cranberry Trail in Clinton County. It contains cranberry, mountain holly, and high-bush blueberry.
Snyder-Middleswarth Natural Area
Containing old growth white pine, hemlock, and pitch pine, this 500-acre tract is located five miles west of Troxelville along the Swift Run Road in Snyder County. The existing old growth was saved from the loggers’ saws in 1902 when a 14,000-acre tract was purchased by the commonwealth and a stop-cutting order was issued. Good access is provided by foot trails.
Tall Timbers Natural Area
Located just west of Snyder-Middleswarth Natural Area along Swift Run, this 660-acre tract is covered with a second-growth forest of oak, white pine, hemlock, and hard pine.
Penns Creek Wild Area
Encompassing 6,000 acres, this tract is located on both sides of Penns Creek, which is well known for its nationally recognized trout stream of the highest quality. The undeveloped nature of the area surrounding Penns Creek gives it the character of a true wilderness trout stream and makes this area remarkable due to the undisturbed scenic stream corridor, its riparian habitats and its wild character.
Plenty of non-motorized trail systems exist in the Penns Creek Wild Area, including the very popular rail trail that connects the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission property at Cherry Run Parking Area and travels to Poe Paddy State Park.
The Penns Creek Wild Area Fact Sheet (PDF) further describes this special area.
Mohn Mill Ponds Wild Plant Sanctuary
This 381-acre area of mixed oak forest with vernal ponds and springs is located along Mohn Mill Road at the tri-county boundary of Clinton, Lycoming, and Union counties. The two-mile long Merrill Lynn Trail circles through this plant sanctuary.