appalachian mountains

Appalachian Mountains Featured Destination:

Elk State Forest
Emporium, Pennsylvania

In the Pennsylvania Wilds, a two-million-acre expanse of forests and mountains, a herd of antler-crowned elk reign. Pennsylvania's only wild elk thrive and bugle their presence in Elk State Forest, after disappearing from the region over 100 years ago.

Meant to attract female elk, you may find yourself wildly attracted to the bellowing bugles of massive male elk, too. Set out on the Elk Trail, one of 17 trails in the forest, to follow the haunting calls of one of the largest land animals in North America. The 16-mile-long trail goes through prime elk territory, including rocky hollows, forest clearings and old logging roads.

A bull and his harem of 15 to 20 cows are most likely to emerge from the forest in the evenings, especially into clearings made for gas pipelines. Elk have been regularly spotted at one such clearing near Belle Draft Road.

Best Time to Visit:

Your best chance to hear wild elk calls in Elk State Forest is in September, during mating season. The Elk Country Visitor Center in the forest is open seven days a week September through October.

What to Do:

Start your elk watching at the Elk Country Visitor Center, a clearinghouse of all things elk, from history to conservation, and the best place to see and hear the largest herd of elk in the Northeastern United States. The center is surrounded by 200,000 acres of majestic forest, including white and red pines, hemlock, beech, maple and chestnut trees filled with trails perfect for hiking, mountain biking and even snowmobiling in winter. If you prefer to tour by car, take the Elk Scenic Drive along Routes 153, 555, 120 and 144 throughout the Pennsylvania Wilds. Get Directions

Other Appalachian Mountains Destinations:

  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Formed approximately 200-300 million years ago, the Great Smoky Mountains are some of the oldest mountains in the world. The mountains get their name from the fog that often settles over the range. From hiking to wildlife viewing to getting a taste of Appalachian history, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has something for everyone. Get Directions
  • Blue Ridge National Parkway. Across its 469 mile stretch from the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, the Blue Ridge National Parkway winds through the Appalachian Mountains, with stunning views and opportunities to experience Appalachian history, culture and wildlife along the way. Get Directions
  • Shenandoah National Park. Only 75 miles from Washington, D.C., visitors can explore Shenandoah National Park while driving along Skyline Drive as well as hiking and camping in the wooded landscape. Many animals call Shenandoah home, including white-tailed deer, cottontail rabbits and black bears. Get Directions
  • McAfee Knob. With nearly a 270 degree panorama of the surrounding landscape, there are few vistas in the Appalachians that offer better views, making this one of the most photographed sites along the Appalachian Trail. Visitors can reach McAfee Knob by hiking along the Appalachian Trail in Catawba, Virginia. Get Directions
  • Mount Katahdin. The northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, Mount Katahdin is located within Maine's Baxter State Park. A popular hiking destination, one of the most well-known - and dangerous - trails to the summit is Knife Edge Trail, which narrows to a few feet wide during its rise to the top of Katahdin. Get Directions
  • Mt. Washington. The highest peak in New England, Mount Washington is notorious for its erratic weather and world-record-breaking surface wind speeds. Visitors can hike up the mountain or ride the Mount Washington Cog Railway to the summit. Get Directions

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