Description - The current forest plan sets objectives for sound multiple-use forest management which includes the maximum sustained yield of high quality timber products; protection of watersheds for the maximum yield of potable water; the exploration and the wise development of mineral resources; and providing the types of recreational opportunities available only from large tracts of forest land.
- The Tuscarora State Forest derives its name from the Tuscarora Mountain which passes through this region. The mountain was named for the Tuscarora Indians, a tribe adopted by the Iroquois Nation and allowed to migrate to this region around 1714. Located in three distinct divisions, the 90,512 acres of the Tuscarora State Forest are open to hunting, fishing and general outdoor recreation.
The original forest consisted of hemlock in the stream bottoms with chestnut and oak on the slopes and mountain tops. Lumbering began in earnest about 1901 by large lumber companies such as the Perry Lumber Company, Oak Extract Company, East Waterford Lumber Company and the Pine Creek Lumber and Timber Companies. The great logging era ended in 1930 with the completion of logging on the Vincent Lumber Company lands in Licking Creek.
The first state purchase of land was 7,608 acres bought in 1902 from J. Preston Thomas at $1.72 per acre on the Juniata-Mifflin County Line in Licking Creek Valley. Originally called the Rothrock Forest Reserve, this tract was later merged with the Pennypacker and McClure Reserves to form the present Tuscarora State Forest.
A major development came in 1933 with the establishment of Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Camps at Bell Furnace, Wynn Gap, East Licking Creek, Cole House, Union Hollow and Laurel Run. Work activities included construction and maintenance of roads, trails and bridges. The CCC also developed the state parks, picnic areas and scenic overlooks.
Detailed forest resource plans have been developed for the Tuscarora State Forest. The current plan sets objectives for sound multiple-use forest management which includes the maximum sustained yield of high quality timber products; protection of watersheds for the maximum yield of potable water; the exploration and the wise development of mineral resources; and providing the types of recreational opportunities available only from large tracts of forest land.
The concept of multiple-use has been an increasing factor in the management of State Forest land. There are three municipal watersheds located wholly or in part on the Tuscarora State Forest; these supply water to Shippensburg, Mount Union, Mifflin and Mifflintown. In addition, a small emergency water supply for Lewistown is located on Minehart Run. Timber management is also an important activity. The sale of timber products from the Tuscarora State Forest returns money to the Commonwealth's general fund, while providing a stable resource base for the forest products industry of the area. The annual allowable cut for the Tuscarora State Forest is 3.6 million board feet of sawtimber and 15,700 cords of pulpwood.
Recreation - Recreation is receiving increasing emphasis in the management of the Tuscarora State Forest. Four State Forest Picnic Areas and three State Parks offer a wide variety of recreational opportunities. State Parks in the area include Colonel Denning, Big Spring and Little Buffalo.
Fowler Hollow State Forest Picnic Area was constructed by the WPA and has facilities for picnicking, hiking and fishing. Fowler Hollow also has an 18-site primitive campground with a trailer dump station, picnic shelter and ball field.
Kansas Valley State Forest Picnic Area was originally established as a fishing camp. It now provides picnicking, fishing and hiking opportunities. Prior to State ownership, the area was the site of the Gibbon's Homestead and an up-and-down, water-powered sawmill.
County Line State Forest Picnic Area provides picnicking and fishing opportunities in southeast Huntingdon County and southwest Mifflin County. A picnic shelter and ball field are available.
Karl B. Guss State Forest Picnic Area, established in the early 1960's, is located in northwest Juniata County and has facilities for picnicking and fishing. A ball field is also available.
A snowmobile trail system of over 100 miles provides excellent snowmobiling during snowy winter months.
Special wildlife habitat improvement projects continue to increase the game and non-game wildlife populations. A total of 121 miles of State Forest roads provide some of the finest views in Pennsylvania and are used by sightseers, hunters, fishermen and lumbermen.
There are 48 miles of major trout streams in the Tuscarora State Forest. In addition, there is brook trout fishing in numerous small tributaries of the larger streams. Special fish habitat improvement devices have been installed in Shermans Creek, Fowler Hollow Run and East Licking Creek.
Hunting for deer and turkey is extremely popular in the entire State Forest. The squirrel population fluctuates with the success of the acorn crop, while the grouse population is usually low. Bear and wildcat are extremely rare. Other wildlife such as fox, raccoon, opossum and non-game birds are relatively abundant.
Tuscarora State Forest has an abundance of hiking trails:
The Tuscarora Trail is the northern portion of an extensive 220 mile by-pass route of the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia. Approximately 23 miles of this hiking trail crosses the Tuscarora State Forest. Backpack camping is permitted along the State Forest portion. There is only one shelter along the entire trail and that is in Fowler Hollow. The trail is marked with orange blazes.
The Flat Rock Trail is about 2-1/2 miles in length and extends from Colonel Denning State Park to the Flat Rock Vista which overlooks the Cumberland Valley.
The Tunnel Trail, one mile in length, leads to the ruins of two narrow gauge railroads. The ruins, in the vicinity of Big Springs State Park, are all that remain of the hope and determination of railroad officials and the hard work of laborers at the turn of the century. A display case containing information is located at the trail head in Big Spring State Park.
The Iron Horse Trail provides a 10-mile-loop hiking trail between Big Spring State Park and the Bryner Forest Headquarters. The trail follows the grade of Perry Lumber Company and Path Valley Railroads.
Other Hiking Trails: An additional 167 miles of short, local hiking trails are located throughout the Tuscarora State Forest. The majority of these trails have signs at the starting point and termini.
Climate - Pennsylvania generally has a moist climate with cold winters and warm summers. The Tuscarora State Forest area generally has cold winter months with temperatures averaging from 24 to 28 degrees Fahrenheit (-4 to -2 degrees Celsius). The area's average summer temperatures range from 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit (20 to 22 Celsius).
The Tuscarora State Forest is located in Mifflin, Juniata, Huntingdon, Franklin, Perry and Cumberland Counties approximately 25 miles due west of Harrisburg.