Discover a Treasure Trove of Outdoor Activities in Cook Forest, Pennsylvania

This week’s blog was written by Evangeline T., an Ursids alumni. Evangeline loves to be creative, especially in the kitchen! She would like to pursue a degree in baking and pastry arts. Evangeline is very extroverted and loves to hang out with friends and family. She adores animals and learning about them, so she attended WLA to learn about Black Bears.

Imagine traveling to a tucked-away forest, home to bright foliage of all colors which are pleasing to the eye. The forest contains a large river that flows and ebbs through the heart of the area. When the sun hits the water, it sparkles like a diamond. Well, Cook Forest Pennsylvania embodies such an environment. Not only does the scenery leave you in awe, but Cook Forest offers a variety of enjoyable outdoor activities. Cook Forest is number 4 on the DCNR’s list of top 25 state parks in Pennsylvania because of the wealth of elating activities you can experience (DCNR Pennsylvania). Hiking the Forest Cathedral, spending a day on the Clarion River, and nature photography are just a few of the exhilarating activities in Cook Forest.

As you explore what Cook Forest has to offer, few activities provide more fun than hiking. Hiking trails abound in the forest, but the most popular trails lead to the fascinating Forest Cathedral. A registered National Natural Landmark, the Forest Cathedral consists of an ancient grove of trees. Having 315 acres of old growth, the Forest Cathedral does not lack ancient trees for hikers to enjoy. Many different specimens of 150+ year-old trees grow in the Cathedral including White Pine, Black Cherry, and Black Birch. Each tree has unique aspects to discover; when you scratch the bark of a black birch tree, it smells like root beer. Black Cherry trees are easy to identify by their rust-colored hairs found on the underside of the leaf. Finally, White Pine trees grow to be quite lofty, averaging 70-80 feet in height; they are the only trees with five needles in a cluster. Imagine the light streaming through this grove of ancient trees, whispering their history, while hiking in Cook Forest. Sunlight shines through each towering tree, exposing neatly woven spiderwebs, and creating an air of peaceful beauty. A beautiful sight to behold, the scenery of the Forest Cathedral attracts many hikers to Cook Forest State Park each year. As you can see, hiking the Forest Cathedral in Cook Forest is an activity you do not want to miss.

Dive into fun with a relaxing day on the Clarion River. Flowing through the heart of Cook Forest, the Clarion River provides fun for all ages. Deeper sections of the river provide magnificent swimming spots. In addition, shallow areas abound where younger kids can wade and splash in the water. However, the most popular way to spend a day on the beautiful waterway is either tubing, kayaking, or canoeing. If you enjoy active ventures, choose kayaking and canoeing; paddling provides an excellent workout. Also, being in a boat is a good way to stay dry if you are not interested in swimming. While kayaking and canoeing are equal in fun, tubing is a more relaxing way to float the river. You do not have to paddle, just kick back and relax as the current takes you. Whatever way you spend a day on the Clarion River, the beautiful scenery will leave you breathless. With the bright green trees reflected in the water, the beautiful shine of the flowing current, and the swirly designs on the rocks protruding out of the water, the views are unforgettable.

View looking up a shallow river with bright green trees lining the riverbank
The beautiful Clarion River. This photo was taken on Hemlock Island.

Clearly, the Clarion River provides a hub for relaxation and fun. You never know how many critters are waiting to be captured by a photograph in Cook Forest. When traveling to the forest, you will notice all different types of wildlife hiding in the surroundings. From the tiny, adorable squirrels and chipmunks that scurry on the ground, to warblers and robins that fly from tree to tree, there never ceases to be a reason to reach for your camera in Cook Forest. Also, nature photography can hone your observant skills. Imagine taking a photography walk, and you hear a rustling in the trees or on the ground. A key to observance is silence, so you don’t scare animals. You have to live in the moment; in tune with the surroundings and movements around you. As you can see, Cook Forest is a nature photographer’s dream destination.

As winter dies away, summer opens up many opportunities for outdoor fun available in Cook Forest. Does hiking the most popular trail in Cook Forest sound fun to you? What about relaxing in a gorgeous waterway? Do you find it thrilling to take photographs of nature? The Keystone State offers the best place to capture a thrilling adventure. Next time you want a vacation, consider the first dip into the cool river water and splashing your friends, causing bellowing laughter to echo around you. The adventure of hiking stunning trails, while birds chirp happily and your anticipation builds, while you imagine what new scenery waits around the bend. Little critters quickly run all around you, evoking the new challenge of capturing a still shot. The multitude of exciting summer activities in Cook Forest will provide an experience that you will never forget.

The photo used in this blog belongs to the author.