All Eyes soon to be on Groundhog Celebrity Punxsutawney Phil, near forest treasure Cook Forest State Park

February 2 marks Groundhog Day, a Pennsylvania tradition to predict the arrival of spring. According to folklore, if the groundhog spots his shadow after coming out of winter hibernation, then winter will go on for another six weeks. If he comes out of his hole and doesn’t spot it, then it’s a sign that spring is on the horizon. The town of Punxsutawney, PA—where Groundhog Day originated—celebrates the tradition with an annual festival, awaiting the prediction of Punxsutawney Phil, the towns’ groundhog.

hillside_parkinfo[1]Pennsylvania boasts more than just Groundhog Day; it is also home to Cook Forest State Park—one of America’s top 50 state parks according to National Geographic Traveler. More than 8,500 acres of its breathtaking terrain stretch across northwestern Pennsylvania, sheltering some of America’s finest White Pine and Eastern Hemlock timber strands. Cook Forest State Park is also the first Pennsylvania State Park to be recognized as a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service.

Bordered by the Clarion River, Cook Forest State Park encompasses a mixture of natural landscapes including rivers, rolling hills, and mountains.

Nine old growth forest areas are situated within Cook Forest State Park. The most popular are Swamp, Seneca, Cathedral, and Cook Trails. The old growth forests are remnants of ancient trees that appeared after a drought and fire back in 1644. Cook Forest State Park has some of the oldest White Pine and Eastern Hemlock tree, dating back 370 years.dcnr_008364[1]

The Forest Cathedral Natural Area is one of the largest old growth forests of White Pine and Eastern Hemlock trees in Pennsylvania. Several of the pines exceed three feet in diameter and rise 200 feet. Trees that grand are nicknamed “William Penn Trees” because they’re more likely to be 300 or more years old, and date back to the era of William Penn, the first governor of “Penn’s Woods.” The name Pennsylvania, which translates roughly as “Penn’s Woods,” was created by combining the Penn surname (in honor of William’s father, Admiral Sir William Penn) with the Latin word sylvania, meaning “forest land.”  The Forest Cathedral has been designated for protection as a state park natural area.

Some other ancient tree species hidden in the forest include strands of Red and White Oaks, Red Maple, and Black Cherry trees.

Icreek-620x300[1]n addition to the remarkable trees Cook Forest State Park boasts, the forest garners another treasure. Nestled within the Seneca old growth forest area are the remains of a natural mineral spring that produced waters with white sulfur and iron. The spring was believed to possess healing powers and was so popular in the 1900s that a boardwalk encased by gaslights was lit 24 hours a day so visitors could bathe and drink from the spring.

Cook Forest State Park is one marvel worth visiting. If you should ever find yourself in northwestern Pennsylvania, go explore the towering trees that adorn the area and allow yourself to be mesmerized by the daunting beauty of this National Natural Landmark.

Comments for this post are closed.