Special Wild and Natural Areas
As part of the Pennsylvania Wilds, Clinton County contains all or part of the following natural or wilds areas. These special wild and natural areas are set aside to protect unique or unusual biologic, geologic, scenic and historical features or to showcase outstanding examples of the state’s major forest communities.
Natural Areas are “managed” by nature and direct human intervention is limited. They provide places for scenic observation, protect special plant and animal communities and conserve outstanding examples of natural beauty. Click here for a PDF of PA’s State Natural Areas
Wild Areas are generally extensive tracts managed to protect the forest’s wild character and to provide backcountry recreational opportunities. Click here for a PDF of PA’s State Wild Areas
Clinton County Natural Areas:
Cranberry Swamp Natural Area – Cranberry Swamp Natural Area is located in Clinton County, south of Renovo. This is a 144-acre mountain bog along the Chuck Keiper Trail in the headwaters of Cranberry Run.
Lower Jerry Run Natural Area - This 892 acre natural area is noted for its old growth pine and hemlock trees. Lower Jerry Run is located in Cameron and Clinton Counties Pennsylvania and is part of the Sproul State Forest. Portions of the Lower Jerry Run Natural Area are adjacent to Bucktail State Park and the Quehanna Wild Area. Lower Jerry Run is a tributary to Sinnemahoning Creek which in turn is a tributary to the West Branch Susquehanna River.
Bucktail State Park Natural Area - This is a 75-mile scenic drive from Emporium to Lock Haven and contains views of some 16,433 acres in the Elk and Sproul state forests. All state owned land visible from PA Route 120 (rim to rim along the Susquehanna River and Sinnemahoning Creek) was legislated “State Park” status in 1933 at a time when the Department of Forests and Waters did not have a state park system. The “Bucktail” is considered a memorial honoring the Civil War volunteers who traveled this route to do their part for the Union. In 1975 it was designated a state Natural Area.
East Branch Swamp Natural Area - East Branch Swamp Natural Area is located along Route 144, south of Renovo. Old growth eastern hemlock shading the headwaters of the East Branch of Big Run in a 186-acre mix of plant communities resulting from turn-of-the-century logging, fires and recent tornadoes.
Forrest H. Duttlinger Natural Area – The Forrest H. Duttlinger Natural Area is a 1,521 acre protected area in Clinton County, Pennsylvania that includes a 158-acre old-growth forest of Eastern Hemlock, American Beech, Black Cherry, Sugar Maple and Northern Red Oak. There are also Eastern White Pines, but a few were selectively logged around 1900. The largest tree is an Eastern Hemlock, 43 inches diameter at breast height and 112 feet tall. The old-growth forest once lay on the boundary of two lumber companies, the Goodyear and Lackawanna, but was apparently spared because of a dispute over a surveying error. The area can be reached by way of a dirt road which intersects PA Rt. 144 about 4.5 miles south of the village of Cross Forks.
Mt. Logan Natural Area - Located east of Castanea in Clinton County, this 512-acre tract contains old-growth hemlock and a Tuscarora Quartzite outcrop.
Rosecrans Bog Natural Area - Comprised of 152-acres of high mountain swamp, this area is located north of Loganton along Cranberry Trail in Clinton County. It contains cranberry, mountain holly, and high-bush blueberry. This bog is located off SR 477 near Rosecrans, PA.
Tamarack Swamp Natural Area- Tamarack Swamp is located northeast of the town of Tamarack, off SR 144 north of Renovo, Clinton County, PA. This 267-acre track supports eight wetland types including the tamarack and black spruce swamp for which it is named. This swamp supports: bug-eating plants, uncommon dragonflies, and black spruce and balsam fir rooted in soggy soils. Birds such as Virginia rail, swamp sparrow, and northern saw-whet owl mingle with black bear, red-spotted newt, wood frogs, and an abundance of other species. The swamp is named for the unusual presence of tamarack, the only native deciduous conifer in the State.
Clinton County Wilds Areas:
Burns Run Wild Area - 2,408 acres - Burns Run, an exceptional value stream, empties into the West Branch of the Susquehanna River, supporting a naturally reproducing population of wild trout. The escarpment of Burns Run Wild Area is covered in a diverse forest of second growth hardwoods. There are individual and small groves of large white pine trees from the nineteenth century. Remnants of an old railroad grade used to haul timber during the logging boom of the late 1800’s are evident, but there are no roads in Burns Run. Burns Run Wild Area is located off SR 144 between Renovo and Snow Shoe.
Hammersley Wild Area -30,253 acres- is a series of wooded valleys containing more than 51 square miles of road less land. The wild nature of the lands supports abundant wildlife, and lack of development has produced pristine streams with wild trout. Although most of the area was logged in the early 1900s, several acres were left untouched and now support old growth hemlock trees three to four feet in diameter. The entire area is forested with some of the best examples of mature woodland in the Commonwealth. The wild area is crossed by eight named hiking trails, many of which follow old railroad grades. The most well-known and best marked and maintained trails are part of the Susquehannock Trail System (STS), which uses the Hammersley, Elkhorn, and Twin Sisters trails here. Take State Route 144 north to Renovo. From Renovo, Hammersley Fork the creek (not the town) is about 16 miles further on 144. Actually, when you see a sign for “Hammersley Fork” indicating a turn to the left, proceed straight on 144 about two more miles. (If you get to the town of Cross Fork, you have gone about four miles too far.) After crossing the creek, turn left on a small paved road, backtrack almost to the creek and turn right on a gravel road.
Russell P. Letterman Wild Area (formerly Fish Dam Wild Area) 4,850 acres- This wild area encompasses 4,715 acres of steep mountains bordering Fish Dam Run, Clinton County. Fish Dam Run can be viewed from a vista along PA 144 south of State Camp. The Russell P. Letterman Wild Area joins the Bucktail Natural Area to the north and PA 144 on the south. This is a rugged and remote area that can only be explored on foot.
M.K. Goddard Wild Area (proposed) - This proposed wild area includes the Mill Run watershed, the Commissioner Run watershed, and a part of the Montour Run watershed. It is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Maurice Goddard, longtime Secretary of the Department of Forests and Waters and the Department of Environmental Resources. Dr. Goddard was responsible for purchasing 2,500 acres of interior land holding, which became the proposed wild area. From Renovo State Route 120 west about 20 miles toward the Clinton/Cameron County line. The wild area is most easily accessed from Montour Road, which is the last road to intersect Route 120 in Clinton County, just east of the county line.
Jesse Hall Picnic Area- This scenic picnic area is located about 3 miles south of Renovo on Route 144. This is a six acre park with a pavilion and picnic tables.
Riansares Mountain- Mount Riansares in Clinton County near Loganton, named for the Duke of Riansares, the husband of former Queen of Spain, who owned lands in Pennsylvania. She requested that the highest peak (2,330’) of her lands be named for him. There is an estimated 10 or more acres of undisturbed old-growth hemlock on steep upper slopes, owned by the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry. This peak was once the location of a fire lookout tower that was recently removed but is still marked by a stone cabin adjacent to its cement footings.
Nature Conservancy West Branch Wilderness - This large, contiguous wild forest in the heart of the High Allegheny Plateau Eco-region of the Pennsylvania Wilds in Clinton County, PA, consists of deep forested ravines, beautiful mountain views, and two high quality native brook trout streams. Vistas on the property afford an unspoiled view that stretches for approximately 50 miles across mountains to the northwest and southeast. Located beside Hyner View State Park, a popular hang gliding area, this forest is a recreational paradise. The Nature Conservancy encourages passive recreation such as hiking, birding, and photography. Take SR 120 west from Lock Haven to Hyner. Follow Hyner Mt. Road to Ritchie Road. Then follow Ritchie Road about 4 miles.