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This 2000-acre tract is a remnant of the original forest that once covered six million acres on the Allegheny Plateau of New York and Pennsylvania. The old growth forest consists of 300-400 year-old beech, hemlock and some sugar maple. It is the type of forest that greeted early settlers and later supported a vast lumber industry.
The Scenic Area is part of a 4000-acre tract of old growth purchased by the federal government in 1936. The Scenic Area was dedicated for aesthetic purposes and the remaining area was set aside as a Research Natural Area for scientific studies.
In 1973, both areas were added to the National Registry of Natural Landmarks Program in recognition of their unique status.
During early evening hours of May 31, 1985, a devastating tornado moved through the northern half of Tionesta Scenic Area. Its destructive wake can still be seen, a reminder of natural powers well beyond human control.
This secluded area is nearly roadless and offers great opportunities for solitude and nature study. You may encounter white-tailed deer, black bear, fishers, and several bat species. Bird watchers can search for numerous species that prefer old growth forests, like barred owls, northern goshawks, pileated woodpeckers, flycatchers, thrushes, and warblers.
The area is a typical plateau cut by streams, with flat uplands and steep-sided valleys. Elevations range from 1500 feet in stream bottom areas, to 1960 feet on plateau tops. Large rock outcrops can be found throughout this area.
A portion of the North Country National Scenic Trail passes through the Tionesta Scenic Area. This trail can be accessed along the entrance road and is marked with blue diamonds.
The Twin Lakes Trail, marked with gray diamonds, traverses the southern part of the Scenic Area. This trail connects the North Country Trail with Twin Lakes Recreation Area and is 15.8 miles long.
The other trails that take off from the entrance road are not maintained and you are advised to take a topographic map and compass if you want to explore the area.