A local tourist attraction is getting attention nationwide by way of an article in USA Today.
The Longhouse National Scenic Drive was recently listed in the nationwide newspaper as one of the “51 Great Scenic Drives.” The list includes one drive in each state plus the District of Columbia to promote summer road tripping in the U.S. Local experts in each state were asked to nominate their favorite scenic drive.
The byway is a 36-mile loop that circles the Kinzua Creek Arm of the Allegheny Reservoir and takes people some of the most beautiful scenery in the Allegheny National Forest.
The drive “offers breathtaking views of the hardwood forests and water from the high plateau. Don’t miss Rimrock, a rock outcrop and overlook above the Kinzua Creek Arm of the Allegheny Reservoir,” wrote Cara O’Donnell, a consultant with the Pennsylvania Tourism Office, who recommended the drive.
People throughout the United States have taken notice.
“Our phone started ringing before we even knew we were mentioned,” said Linda Devlin, executive director of the Allegheny National Forest Visitors Bureau, the tourist promotion agency for McKean County. The visitors bureau’s contact information is listed in the article. “This only reinforces what we already knew – we have a spectacular scenic byway right in our backyard.”
This jaunt, which takes place on route 59 and 321 as well as Forest Road 62, also has plenty to offer in addition to the scenery. There’s camping, hiking, boating, swimming picnicking and fishing opportunities, too.
“Longhouse” refers to the large, communal log dwellings that housed the area’s Seneca Indians centuries ago ‑ what they called “kanohsaas.” It also stands symbolically for the alliance of the Six Nations of the Iroquois. The Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Tuscarora, and Seneca tribes were collectively the “people of the longhouse,” with the Senecas being keepers of the west gate. The byway received its “national scenic” distinction in 1990.
Jake’s Rocks is a must-see spot while on the byway.
Earthen footpaths fan to picnic tables, while a narrow, paved footpath explores the brink of the rim to snare two vantages: North Overlook and South Overlook. South Overlook peers out toward Kinzua Dam; North Overlook has views of the reservoir.
Another must-see sight is another rock formation.
Rimrock Overlook is a natural rock outcrop explored by divided and winding stone stairways; it overlooks the Kinzua Creek arm of Allegheny Reservoir.
Between the two viewing platforms, you may choose to take the spiral, pinched stairway that descends a fissure to the base of the cliff. While making your descent, watch both your head and your footing. At the base of the 100-foot cliff, you can admire the sheer face of the outcrop and discover a spring.
The North Country National Scenic Trail, the longest scenic trail in the U.S. and the longest trail in the Allegheny National Forest, winds through this area for those who want to get out and stretch their legs. This is one of three designated National Scenic Trails in the state and provides vistas of the reservoir.
Camping opportunities can be found at the Dewdrop Recreation Area, Kiasutha Recreation Area and Red Bridge Campground. Red Bridge Campground, which occupies the site of a former Civilian Conservation Corps camp and later, a World War II German prisoner-of-war camp. Today, this reservoir-side campground draws only willing prisoners, and the sentence is relaxation.
“People sometimes forget that the state records for walleye and northern pike are held at the Allegheny Reservoir,” Devlin said. “There’s great fishing here.”
Trophy size muskellunge fish are also caught here.
Be sure to check out the flora and fauna while you are there.
Mountain Laurel should be at its peak this week, according to a spokesperson from the Allegheny National Forest.
According to the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, there is a persistent myth that the designation of State flower affords mountain laurel a protected status. This is not true. However, no one may remove any plant from public or private land without the landowner’s or land manager’s permission. But there are no legal restrictions on the cultivation of mountain laurel.
Pictured, Rimrock Overlook provides great views of the Allegheny Reservoir and is located on the Longhouse National Scenic Byway.
Photos courtesy of the ANFVB