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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.

Martin Hill Wild Area

Martin Hill Wild Area includes all 11,500 acres of state forest land south of Martin Hill in southern Bedford County. The area connects Tussey Mountain with Evitts Mountain and is decidedly wild and rugged.

These forests have regenerated after harvesting in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Two small natural ponds and several spring seeps make attractive watering areas for wildlife. No motorized traffic is permitted within the boundaries of the wild area but numerous hiking trails provide access to the interior.

Sweet Root Natural Area

Sweet Root Natural Area covers 1,400 acres near Chaneysville, Bedford County. A 69-acre stand of virgin Hemlock and cove-hardwoods along Sweet Root Run can be reached from Martin Hill Road following the Tarkiln or Sweet Root Trails. Most of the large hemlocks have succumbed to infestation by the hemlock woolly adelgid. The balance of the natural area is composed of second growth oak and oak-hard pine stands.

Pine Ridge Natural Area

Pine Ridge Natural Area is a 568-acre tract located approximately one mile southeast of Chaneysville, Bedford County. It is part of an area called “Resettlement Lands” that were marginally productive farms purchased by the federal government during the depression to encourage the families to “resettle” on more productive farmland.

The abandoned pastures and fields have reforested through pine plantings and natural regeneration of Virginia pine. These pine stands are intermixed with the original oak-hickory forest type. Horseback riding and hiking trails cross the area. Old foundations, granaries, cemeteries, and apple orchards are still in evidence.