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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 and 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.

Quehanna Wild Area

This area was once an industrial complex leased to the Curtis Wright Corporation for jet engine and nuclear research. It was returned to the Commonwealth in 1966. In the early 1990’s the elk herd expanded its range into this 50,000 acre tract. The Quehanna Wild Area is jointly administered by Elk and Moshannon state forest districts. Snowmobiling, vehicular camping, and off-road vehicle use are prohibited to protect the wild character of the area.

Square Timber Wild Area

At approximately 8,461 acres (a portion of which is in The Bucktail State Park Natural Area); this area features deep narrow valleys and steep ridges.

Johnson Run Natural Area

This 216 acre natural area features an old growth hemlock-hardwood mix.

Lower Jerry Run Natural Area

This 892 acre natural area is noted for its old growth pine and hemlock trees.

Pine Tree Trail Natural Area

This 276 acre gem features a stand of old-field growth white pine.

Bucktail State Park Natural Area

This is a 75-mile scenic drive from Emporium to Lock Haven and contains views of some 16,433 acres in the Elk and Sproul state forests. All state owned land visible from PA Route 120 (rim to rim along the Susquehanna River and Sinnemahoning Creek) was legislated “State Park” status in 1933 at a time when the Department of Forests and Waters did not have a state park system. The “Bucktail” is considered a memorial honoring the Civil War volunteers who traveled this route to do their part for the Union. In 1975 it was designated a state Natural Area.

M.K. Goddard/Wykoff Run Natural Area

This 1,215 acre tract is an area representing hydric hemlock and white birch forests.