Planning a Fall Foliage Tour? Check out these vistas in the heart of Elk Country…

When the stifling heat of August inevitably rolls around, my thoughts drift to the sights and smells of Autumn.  Cool, crisp air with the smell of fall leaves drifting on the breeze, the stunning display of nature as our trees turn brilliant shades of red, yellow, and orange, as Mother Nature prepares for her long winter hibernation.

A couple weeks ago, I stayed in Benezette to make for a shorter drive to Prowl the Sproul, an awesomely difficult 10k race in Hyner, Pennsylvania.  Aside from having to attend the race, the dog and I were free to explore Elk and Cameron counties the rest of the weekend.  A “tour” of nearby vistas has been on my blog bucket list for a couple months, so the dog and I hopped in the Subaru with the Elk State Forest map in hand.

(See the map at the end of this post for the visual of our route, highlighted in fuschia!)

Starting Point: Bucktail Overlook

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This vista showcases a southeast view of the Bucktail State Park Natural Area, which stretches from Emporium to Lock Haven, boasts forest land that is abundant with trees such as sycamore and river birch, which thrive in the river valley.  Elk, whitetail deer, bear, and other animals call the Bucktail Natural Area home as well, along with many species of birds, plants, reptiles, and amphibians.

After the Bucktail overlook, I headed west on Mason Hill Road into the village of Sterling Run.  This is NOT a route that should be attempted in snow and ice unless you have tire chains!  Once in the village of Sterling Run, I turned left onto Highway 120 towards Emporium, making a right onto Hunts Run Road.  After another right turn onto Whitehead Road, and another right, it becomes apparent that Ridge Road is aptly named.

Logue Run Vista

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On the East side of Ridge Road, is this spectacular view overlooking Logue Run, a tributary of the First Fork of the Sinnemahoning Creek.

Not boasting any spectacular views, but still having some picnic-potential, is the Whitehead Pavillion, just a short drive south from the Logue Run Vista.

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Steps lead from Ridge Road to the Pavilion
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Pavilion with Picnic Tables

Unnamed West-Facing Vista

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The next stop on the vista tour was this unnamed spot, facing west, overlooking Whitehead Run, still stunning!

Norcross Run Vista

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Vista overlooking Norcross Run

This vista was not my favorite.  As you can see from the picture, the land immediately adjacent to the road has been timbered, and though the view in the distance is nice, the fallen trees and brush isn’t too visually pleasing.  The vista overlooks… you guessed it, Norcross Run!  Though the view is somewhat tainted by the timbering, it is still worth a stop!

Square Timber Vista

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This isn’t the first time I have posted about the west-facing Square Timber Vista, it is situated less about one mile from access to the Bucktail Path, for more information about that stretch of the trail, see my blog post here.

This is a stunning overlook that provides a view for miles over the Square Timber Wild Area, which consists of 8,461 acres of steep hills and deep valleys.


If you follow Ridge Road, it eventually leads down the hill to Grove Hill Township Road, and back onto Highway 120 in between Sterling Run and Driftwood.  Below, you can find a map of exactly where we went.

As a side note, if you see Brooks Run Fire Tower signs and your interest is piqued, the hike from the intersection of Brooks Run Road and Ridge Road is one solid mile up hill, and the tower is fenced in with barbed wire around the top.  Neither the 11 year old dog nor I were pleased >:(

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One tired beast…

I hope this helps our readers with some ideas for planning a trip to see the fall foliage this year in the PA Wilds!  What are your favorite things about fall?  Comment below!

Happy Vista Viewing,

Jennifer


Tour Map