PA Great Outdoors: 10 Free Things to Do in Cook Forest

Lexis Twentier

Lexis Twentier

Published April 20, 2020 4:35 am

cook forestWhen you are looking for something fun to do that are easy on the wallet, we have the answer.

Here is a list of 10 FREE things to do in and around Cook Forest State Park. Come tour the Cook Forest area and experience all its natural beauty.

1. Seneca Point and Fire tower: The fire tower in Cook Forest was built in 1929 and is 87.5 feet high. The fire tower is no longer in use, but the public can ascend to one level below the observation tour and experience a panoramic view the beauty of the Clarion River Valley below. Seneca Point is just a short hike from the fire tower where you can view another stunning angle of the surrounding mountain slopes and river for a picturesque and serene view of the state park and beyond.


2. Trails: Hiking is a popular hobby for visitors to Cook Forest. With 47 miles of trails in varying degrees of difficulty, Cook Forest is popular with novices to experts.

3. Clarion River: The Wild & Scenic Clarion River winds through Cook Forest. The forest and the river are perfectly suited for water activities such as canoeing, kayaking, tubing, fishing and swimming. Large rocks dot the shores and afford the chance to enjoy the sounds of the water and the wildlife at any time of day.

4. Forest Cathedral: Cook Forest is Pennsylvania’s finest and largest old growth forest. The area known as the Forest Cathedral is filled with towering ancient pines and hemlocks and is designated as a National Natural Landmark. The center of the Forest Cathedral is a short hike on Longfellow Trail.

5. Bear Town Rocks: is located near Clear Creek State Park. While the main attraction is the collection of enormous rocks and rock formations with massive house-sized boulders created by glaciers. It is also a great place view wildlife and plants. You are also able to climb to look out upon the scenic views of the Clear Creek and Clarion River Valleys.

6. Clear Creek State Park: The park is 1,901 acres in Jefferson County. It boasts a large area for camping, with rustic cabins, and access for fishing and paddling. Clear Creek was first opened in 1922. It contains a beach along the creek where you are guaranteed to cool off on even the hottest summer day.


7. Mountain Laurel: Come see beautiful pink and white blooms of Pennsylvania’s State Flower. The Western Pennsylvania Laurel Fields are located near Clear Creek State Park and the town of Sigel in northern Jefferson County. In 1929, a regional gas company purchased the land from local farmers and opened the fields to the public in 1935. It was later acquired by the Bureau of Forestry in 2006. The Laurel Fields are a beauty to behold. The area is open to the public from Memorial Day to Labor Day but the best time to see them in spectacular bloom is during June.

8. Living History Events: Each year Cook Forest hosts events that bring history to life. During the Memorial Day holiday visitors can enjoy Living History Weekend. In mid-June the forest is alive with sights and sound of the annual French Indian War Encampment. The event features live battle reenactments, cannon firing, and trading posts.

9. River Road: River Road offers easy access to miles of an award-winning waterway. A tributary of the Allegheny River, the Clarion River is approximately 110 miles long. In Cook Forest, a portion of the Clarion River has a roadway that runs parallel starting at the bridge and ending in Elk County. Beautiful scenery and abundant wildlife can be seen from the road, either along and in the river or in the adjoining forests.

10. Sawmill Center for the Arts: It opened in the 1970’s with the vision of Verna Leith. Her goal to turn an old mill into a facility for local artisans and craftspeople to display and sell their masterpieces and has been open seasonally since then. In the early 1980’s a theater in the round was constructed as a venue for community theater groups to perform. Popular events like the Herb & Fiber Festival, Wood Carvers Festival, Chainsaw Carvers Round-up, Antique & Vintage Market, Gingerbread Tour, and Festival of Trees highlight the annual calendar.


Whether you climb the fire tower or fish in the Clarion River, make your summer an inexpensive and relaxing adventure in Cook Forest. Find these and many of other options to explore in Pennsylvania’s Great Outdoors region online at


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