In spite of our best efforts, our winter projects rolled right up to the beginning of spring. Normally this is okay, but the tail end of our winter was more spring-like than some of the first weekends of the actual spring.
Due to the ugly weather (and some other things), we have had a heck of a time getting out to enjoy the fruit of those winter project efforts. Something that needed rectifying and pronto!
So, we set our sights on 5/20/17 and decided this would be a trip with Klondike. Initially, we tried to put a rookie trail ride together. When scheduling became an issue for people to tag along, we changed it up and decided to visit the Allegheny National Forest for some solo overlanding fun. 😛
The Allegheny National Forest covers just over half a million acres in Northwest Pennsylvania. While the area is wild and beautiful, it also lies in a rich oil and gas region. In addition to the O&G production, logging is also present which means, over time, the area has become full of roads and trails now under the control of the US Forestry Service.
It didn’t take us long after entering the region to find one of these roads and start exploring…
We quickly realized that the area was far too large to cover in one weekend so we set our sights on the north-central area (south of the Kinzua Dam, along the river and Kinzua creek/bay). Our plan at this time was to come back for another area in the future (more on why we may not later).
This new strategy meant hitting some pavement again to work toward that target area, but we needed to stretch our legs. So before the cruise there we made a quick stop for a super short hike at the Tidioute Overlook.
It was a pretty neat spot that had a nice view of Courson Island on one side and of Tidioute City at the other. The nicer thing by far, was the leg stretch!
Before long, we were back in the woods and on dirt. All of the roads were pretty well maintained. Often so much so that it was easy to find yourself gawking and moving a touch too quickly. A situation soon to be reprimanded for by the rogue holes that were sparse but prevalent.
After a long run on Hook Run Road (FS-160) we ended up stopping at Jakes Rocks. Here, we took in another short hike and a few overlooks.
The Allegheny River was not the only sight to see on this little hike. There are many outcroppings of large rocks that host interesting vegetation and critters.
This tree is proof that where there is a will, there is a way…
On our way back out I got caught partially in the moment and on a mission at the same time. This little bee was fun to watch hopping from flower to flower faster than I could ever muster a camera focus. This was the closest I got.
After a bunch more dirt road exploring we decided to set our sights on finding a campsite. Dispersed camping is allowed in many places throughout the forest and you can spot areas that are set up for it.
Knowing where you can and cannot be, however, is another matter and proved to be rather difficult. We have always had good luck with National Geographic maps and, while we consult several other sources, they have proven to be very reliable and our “go to” for navigation. Unfortunately, we found a very high level of inconsistencies with all of our navigation sources. We used Gaia Maps, Maplets, Google Maps, NatGeo Maps, The Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM), and the Jeep’s GPS/Map (which is actually quite good). Sadly, we had a hard time finding consistency among any of them on what roads we were able to be on and, as soon as we thought we had it figured out, we came across a closed gate or sign stating otherwise.
Eventually, we did find a nice secluded spot to set up camp and we were at least fairly certain we were allowed to be there.
This site proved to be pretty amazing really. It was about a mile down a dead end, two-track dirt road and from the time we turned on it until the time we left the following morning, there was not another human soul to be heard or seen. We did have a few visits from a noisy turkey and a nosey raccoon that tested our trash bin.
We all slept pretty amazing but broke camp fairly quickly after breakfast to beat out weather we thought was headed our way.
Once rolling again, we got some cellular reception and learned that weather was still out a few hours so we made a few stops before heading home. The first was an overlook of the Kinzua Point and Complanter Bridge.
Just a short jaunt down the road was the Kinzua Dam.
The walkway at the dam had several flowering bushes and trees all along it and, since I am still working out all the features of my new camera, I decided to snap a few shots.
Then on the way out we spotted something that supports my theory that Pennsylvania is thirty years behind the rest of the country…. Kegan didn’t even know what this was. 😛 This said, I don’t remember ever needing to put $0.50 in one or there being QR-codes on them. 😉
This was the first real run with the trailer and Klondike pulling it. For the most part, everything went absolutely great. I did have an issue with the rubber skirt I added to the fenders to fully cover the tires that needs worked out but I think it will be a pretty easy fix. Klondike, on the other hand, was both amazing and horrible… She performed much better than expected in every way except fuel economy which is the entire reason we have this rig! I hate to admit it, but we saw tank averages as low as 10.8 MPG. This is a major bummer and will likely impact our uses for her in the future.
As for the Allegheny National Forest, the date restrictions and limited availability of >50” wide vehicles, along with the uneasy feeling of knowing if you are legally where you should be will likely prevent us from spending much time there in the future.
If ATVs, dirtbikes, or side-by-sides are your thing, this is a really neat place you should check out. Even mountain bikers have more resources available than “highway legal vehicles”. There is always hiking, but from what we could tell these trails are largely multi use or more designed for multi-day backpacking.