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Elk State Forest 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.

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 1990s, 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.

See the Quehanna Wild Area Fact Sheet (PDF) for more information.

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.

See the Square Timber Wild Area Fact Sheet (PDF) for more information.

Johnson Run Natural Area

This 216-acre wilderness 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 an old-growth white pine plantation.

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 Elk and Sproul state forests.

All state-owned land visible from 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” name is considered a memorial honoring Civil War volunteers who traveled this corridor to serve the Union. It was designated a state natural area in 1975.

M.K. Goddard/Wykoff Run Natural Area

This 1,215-acre tract is an excellent example of hydric hemlock and white birch forest types.