Weiser State Forest
8 of Weiser State Forest’s 16 Tracts Run Through Carbon, Columbia and Schuylkill Counties.
Weiser State Forest is located along the ridge and valley region of eastern Pennsylvania’s Appalachian Mountains. It covers nearly 30,000 forested acres on 16 separate tracts over seven counties, including Dauphin, Carbon, Columbia, Lebanon, Montour, Northumberland and Schuylkill. The forest also includes the Sheets Island Archipelago on the Susquehanna River in Dauphin County.
Like all of Pennsylvania’s state forest lands, PA DCNR’s Bureau of Forestry manages the Weiser State Forest District. Each forest within the state system functions as a dedicated “working forest.” In that regard, PA DCNR protects and maintains state forest lands for a variety of different uses. Often, the PA DCNR utilizes state forest land for access to pure water, recreation, plant and animal habitat, responsible retrieval of timber and natural gas among many more uses.
Throughout Pennsylvania’s coal and timber boom of the mid-19th century, the state witnessed the severe depletion and often complete destruction of its natural spaces. Early conservationists stepped in to create Weiser State Forest to help bring back thousands of acres of forest. Today, after a century of dedicated forest management, the once-cherished old growth forests of Pennsylvania are bouncing back. These carefully managed and protected tracts are open to the public and begging to be explored.
Here’s How You Can Enjoy Weiser State Forest in NEPA
Hiking, biking, camping and so much more.
Almost all of the 16 tracts within the Weiser State Forest District allow public access via trails, administrative and public roads and state and federal highways. Many of the forest tracts also connect to PA State Game Lands. The PA DCNR, PA Game Commission and PA Fish and Boat Commission regulate all recreational activity within the state forest system. Please consult individual state forest districts for current access, recreation and public safety advisories.
Hiking and Biking
About 33 miles of shared-use trails for hiking and 28 miles of biking paths spread out over Weiser State Forest’s 16 tracts. And nearly 50 miles of state forest road, including 30 miles within Schuylkill and Carbon Counties, provides visitors easy access to relatively flat, hard surface road for walking, jogging and biking. You can even access a few miles of the Appalachian Trail from Weiser State Forest land on Blue Mountain near the Schuylkill/Berks County line.
The Roaring Creek Tract spanning Northumberland and Columbia Counties features the popular Roaring Creek Trail. The hardened, 8-mile trail is a favorite for hiking, jogging and biking. The main trail also connects to roughly 6 miles of unique Mining Paths dating back to the early 19th century.
The district offers plenty of opportunities for horseback riding on many of its marked, shared-use trails. Riders should consult Weiser State Forest for trail restrictions regarding horseback riding access.
The Penn Forest Tract in Carbon County features 11 connected, shared-use trails open to horseback riding, hiking, biking and cross-country skiing. The Boundary Line Trail spans nearly the entire forest tract perimeter.
Throughout the winter months, you’ll find over 40 miles of shared-use trails for snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. These trails are located primarily within the Port Clinton, Haldeman and Greenland tracts. Snowmobiles are permitted only after the official close of firearms deer season. Please consult PA Game Commission for annual hunting season schedules.
Fishing and Hunting
Weiser State Forest features plenty of cold and warm water fishing opportunities. Many streams, rivers and reservoirs allow catch and release fishing. The Port Clinton Tract, which splits Schuylkill and Berks Counties features Rattling Run, a celebrated wild trout tributary of Catawissa Creek.
Hunters will find ample opportunity within Weiser State Forest for a variety of game including black bear, deer, turkey, grouse and squirrel. Weiser also provides roughly 12 miles of administrative roads throughout the district to allow hunting opportunities for persons with disabilities.
The Jakey Hollow Natural Area on 59 acres just north of Bloomsburg remains popular among local hunters and provides access via the Crawford Trail and an informal path and trail system.
Backpack camping is permitted along hiking trails throughout Weiser State Forest. Hikers are prohibited from staying more than one night at trailside campsites. Several tracts within the district also provide motorized roadside campsites with parking, picnic tables and fire rings. All motorized campsites require no-cost permits issued by the PA DCNR. The Port Clinton Tract in Schuykill County offers five motorized, roadside campsites.
Featured Image (Top) Courtesy of PA Dept. of Conservation & Natural Resources