Birding · Commonly Backpacked · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Wildlife
Do not bring in firewood from outside of the Allegheny National Forest.
Need to Know
Camping is permitted along the trails with some restrictions. No camping is permitted within 1500 feet of the Reservoir.
There are fee-collected campsites at the Tracy Ridge Campground and Hopewell and Handsome Lake sites near the reservoir. Fees are collected on the honor system and are first-come-first-served locations.
Leave No Trace ethics are required.
Winter running is permitted here, but Tracy Ridge Campground closed in the winter. There is alternate parking about a mile north of the campground entrance with an alternate trail to the trailhead.
Campfires are permitted so long as they are in a fire ring and properly extinguished when departing.
Hunting is permitted in the forest. Be sure to dress in bright colors, especially during deer and turkey seasons.
Tracy Ridge offers a multitude of different, interconnected trails and loops deep in the Allegheny National Forest. All of the loops add up to about 35 miles of trails. The outer loop is approximately 14 miles, starting and ending at the Tracy Ridge Campground. Ten miles of this trail joins the North Country National Scenic Trail along the Allegheny Reservoir. This forest is dense, so there are only a few vista points.
The trail system is marked primarily with gray markers, except where it joins the NCNST, which uses blue markers. Most of the joined trail is double marked. The outer loop is a challenging trail. Slopes along the reservoir and the streams are steep. There are rock ledges and large boulders on the steeper hillsides. The interconnecting loops offer varying degrees of difficulty from easy to difficult. The trails start out mostly flat from Tracy Ridge Campground and many runs can be done without much terrain change. Getting to the reservoir, however, requires traversing the slopes, which can be very steep.
The areas around Johnny Cake Run and the Reservoir are beautiful. Dense copses of oak and pine give way to the relaxing trickle of the streams. It is easy to feel far removed from urban life. Depending on the time of year you go and the loop you choose, you may not encounter another person on the trail. Summertime on the trail is, of course, more popular. Hopewell and Handsome Lake Campgrounds can be accessed by boat.
Flora & Fauna
Most of the area is heavily forested, primarily with oak, and scattered with beech, black cherry, and hickory. Hemlock is found in small groves along the streams, and some magnificent old white pines can be found in scattered locations. At least three vistas have been established that offer magnificent views of the reservoir, and opportunities to view wildlife—deer, squirrel, grouse, and turkey are plentiful.
Bears and Coyotes
There are black bears in this forest. Practice good bear safety and keep your food out of your camp and properly suspended. Bears don't always hibernate all winter. Even if they do, the coyotes don't. Coyotes are also very plentiful. Tracks are common on the trails. A pack of coyotes took down a deer less than a mile from my camp in mid-January.
Shared By: Aaron Campbell