This sprawling natural area located in parts of Westmoreland, Somerset and Fayette counties in Pennsylvania covers more than 60,000 acres. 

Beam Rocks at Forbes State Forest in Pennsylvania (photo courtesy of Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources)

Covering over 60,000 acres and containing about 300 miles of roads and trails, Forbes State Forest in the Laurel Highlands region of Pennsylvania is an ideal destination for anyone who wants to get in touch with nature as the leaves start to change and the snow begins to fall.

Because it covers such a large expanse, the forest has a varying range of topography and wildlife. Travelers can stand atop the highest point in Pennsylvania at Mount Davis (elevation 3,213 feet), hike through the valleys below and explore everything in between.

The state forest was established in 1909, when Pennsylvania bought the land from a lumber company. At that time, almost all the trees had been cut down, but the forest has been replenished and is now home to a variety of animals, including American black bears and bobcats. The federal government’s Civilian Conservation Corps was also active in the area during the 1930s, building roads, trails and cabins. 

During the autumn season, Forbes State Forest is a popular location for scenic drives and hikes to see fall foliage. The Laurel Mountain Division of the forest is the most popular for leaf peeping, with trees typically reaching their peak in mid-October. The half-mile hike out to Beam Rocks is a good way to take in the scenic views without worrying about strenuous terrain. For a more challenging hike, make your way to Wolf Rocks.

Forbes has a lot to offer in the winter as well. Numerous trails are designated for different activities such as cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, dog sledding, snowshoeing and hiking. Visitors are invited to use the forest’s two warming huts, located in the Laurel Mountain and Northwoods areas, to take a break from the cold. Both are stocked with firewood and open year-round. 1291 U.S. Route 30, Laughlintown, Pennsylvania 15655, 740/238-1200,