Rimrock Overlook-Allegheny National Forest


Rimrock Overlook, Allegheny National Forest

Rimrock is the most popular overlook in the Allegheny National Forest.  From the parking area, I hiked the trail down along large boulders to two vistas from the top of the cliffs.  Mist shrouded the Allegheny Reservoir far below.  I could see across the vast, forested expanse of the national forest.


A unique feature at the overlook is a staircase that goes down through a cave or chasm.  It is very narrow, a slightly slanted, making it a little awkward.  Due to the rain, drops fell from the cliffs and ledges.


I reached the bottom of the cliffs and explored them.  There were huge overhangs and sheer rock walls.  The massive rocks were separated by narrow cracks.  In hot weather, these cracks blow out cold air.  Moss and lichens adorned the rocks as the mist covered them in a glaze of moisture.


The Rimrock Trail, a fairly new trail, leaves the base of the cliffs and descends to the Kinzua Beach picnic area, it is a little over a mile long.


The vista is good for both sunrises and sunsets due to its southern exposure.

Rimrock also features a picnic area and restrooms.  When exploring the Allegheny National Forest, be sure to visit Rimrock.


More photos.


Jakes Rocks-Allegheny National Forest


View of the Allegheny Reservoir from Jakes Rocks.

Jakes Rocks is one of my favorite places in the national forest.  It features impressive cliffs, overhangs, crevices, and vistas.  It is also home to a premier mountain bike trail system, called the Trails at Jakes Rocks.


While Rimrock Overlook is more popular, I actually think Jakes Rocks are more beautiful.  The views are more interesting and the cliffs are larger.


From the parking area, take the paved trail to the right of the restrooms.  This paved trail continues straight to a vista which provides a view to the backside of the Kinzua Dam.  Right before the vista, look for an obvious, unblazed dirt trail to the right; this is the Indian Cave Trail and descends to the bottom of the cliffs.  This trail does not have a sign.  Be sure to hike this trail when visiting Jakes Rocks.


The Indian Cave Trail descends over stone steps and explores the base of the massive cliffs, colored with springs and moss.  The cliffs are truly impressive as they rise through the trees.  Reach a massive overhang with a huge boulder.  This overhang is interesting to explore.  The trail continues along the base of the cliffs and reaches a deep crevasse through which I hiked with dripping moss.


From the crevasse, the path is much narrower.  It winds its way along the base of the cliffs and climbs to the second vista.  It is narrow and steep.  I did not hike this trail; I turned around at the crevasse and retraced my steps to the paved trail.


The paved trail at the top of the cliffs explored large boulders and some unofficial side trails that went to the edge of the cliffs.  I soon reached the second and more impressive vista as it looked down on the Allegheny Reservoir with all its bays and coves.  The reservoir curved off into the distance.  A remarkable view and probably the finest in the national forest.


The paved trail looped around and returned me to the parking area.   Jakes Rocks is a beautiful place that is a highlight of the Allegheny National Forest.


Jakes Rocks is described in Hiking the Allegheny National Forest.

More photos.



Exploring the Allegheny Reservoir


Sunset over the Allegheny Reservoir from Willow Bay.

The Allegheny Reservoir is the centerpiece of the Allegheny National Forest (ANF) and is one of the most scenic lakes in the country. The reservoir is 24 miles long, covers over 12,000 acres, has almost 100 miles of forested, undeveloped shoreline, numerous bays, and mountains that rise 800 feet over the water. Large boulders dot the shore. The reservoir also has several campgrounds. The water is very clean and clear.

The reservoir was created in 1965 with the completion of the massive Kinzua Dam, one of the largest in the east. Any visit must include the dam.


After hiking the Marilla Trails, I needed a place to stay for the night and luckily Willow Bay Campground had a few sites open. I was treated to an incredible sunset across the reservoir as the dark mountains rose over the water.

There is so much to see and do in and around the reservoir, whether it be hiking and mountain bike trails, scenic overlooks, camping, waterfalls, kayaking, boating or fishing. This is truly the perfect getaway.



The North Country Trail passes along the eastern shore of the lake offering great camping, streams, and deep woods, not to mention views over the water. The Morrison Trail is an excellent loop with cascades, great camping, streams, and giant boulders. The Tracy Ridge Trail system offers the most views along the shore, passing two campgrounds that can only be reached by hiking or boating. There is also a trail from Kinzua Beach to Rimrock Overlook.


The Bent Run waterfalls near Kinzua Dam are beautiful as the water tumbles over giant moss covered boulders.



Do not miss Rimrock and Jakes Rocks overlooks. Both feature giant cliffs, overhangs, picnic tables, and great views over the reservoir.


Mountain biking

There is a new, world class mountain biking trail system at Jakes Rocks that cannot be missed. It features giant boulders, streams, and has trails that are easy to difficult.  The trail system is being extended and has attracted riders from all over.


The reservoir features four developed campground with restrooms and showers: Willow Bay, Dewdrop, Kiasutha, and Red Bridge. They tend to be very popular. Willow Bay has the best sunsets, while Dewdrop and Kiasutha are good for sunrises. If you like to hike, Dewdrop and Willow Bay are closest to trails. Dewdrop is closest to the mountain bike trails at Jakes Rocks.

There is one more primitive, and quiet, campground, Tracy Ridge. It has water and pit toilets. The sites are wooded. It is on the mountain away from the reservoir, but it is close to several hiking trails.

Boat-in and hike-in campgrounds

The reservoir is unique in having five primitive campsites that can only be reached by hiking or boating: Hopewell, Handsome Lake, Pine Grove, Hooks Brook, and Morrison. They tend to be small, with anywhere from 13 to 38 sites. Only three can be reached by hiking trails: Hopewell, Handsome Lake, and Morrison. They are known for their beauty. All have water.


The scenery and undeveloped shoreline makes the reservoir an ideal kayaking destination. There are many bays and large boulders to explore. The reservoir is also perfect for an overnight trip, where kayakers can stay at one of the boat-in campgrounds.

More photos.