August 9th we met up with my in-laws to head deep into the heart of the Allegheny National Forest. We had already taken the boys camping 3 times this summer, and my in-laws were itching to get out with us, and have some fun in the woods.
Jen and I had scouted Red Bridge Campground during our May camping trip, and had quickly placed it very high on the list of future trips. Managed by the Forest Service, and right on the shore of the southern arm of the Kinzua Resevoir, Red Bridge Campground is prime place for campers and boaters alike.
We found this out very quickly when we arrived at 4pm to pick our campsite. Being relatively early on a weekend, I thought we'd have no problem getting the perfect site, boy was I wrong. By 4pm 80% of the campsites were occupied, and another 10% were reserved. We drove each loop trying to make a judgement call on what would be the best site.
Instead of adjoining sites we found a large site where both my camper, and my in-laws truck could fit. They would be using a pop-up tent that secures in the bed of the pickup, so our set up turned out to be ideal. We made couple adjustments then I hiked down the driveway to the self-service station. While there are 2 camp host sites, the campground is largely self-service, which I think is ideal.
The site was conveniently located to both vault and flush toilets, plus a shower room. Thick woods lent to the air of deep woods privacy, and the 10pm noise curfew is honored. Both nights we stayed, we were shocked at how quiet and peaceful the campground was overnight, despite being near capacity.
Shortly after going to bed Friday night we heard a bit of rustling in our campsite, then a shout from my mother-in-law. We turned our flashlights on, and shined them out of the window, just in time to see a good sized black bear stroll through our campsite. Unpreturbed by our commotion in the camper I decided to get out and just be sure he was scared out of our site. He left without incident, but what a way to start our camping trip!!
After a nice day trip on Saturday to the Kinzua Railroad Bridge, we returned to camp and hiked around some more. My oldest son and I explored the walk in sites. Their are 8 sites that are accessed by a small trail leading from a secluded parking lot. If you like the privacy of deep woods camping and want to experiment with campground camping, these sites are ideal. Heavily wooded, and seperated from the primary part of the campground with RV's.
Then we met up with Jen and our youngest and hiked to the opposite end of the campground where a fishing pier is positioned. This handicapped accessible pier was being used by a young family after some panfish, but happy to have a bite on any of their lines. Not surprising for late summer. The water is warm, and the fish have been dogged for months now.
Saturday night was uneventful, and we had a nice relaxing Sunday morning as we cleaned up camp. I wouldn't hesitate to stay their again, although I would attempt to make reservations, just in case.
Sites to see while there:
- The Kinzua Dam is quite a site to see, accessible by heading north on Rt 321 then west on Rt 62, the Kinzua Dam is the reason for the resevoir, and all the activities available there.
- The Kinzua Railroad Bridge, Skywalk. South on 321 to US 6 then east on US 6 for about 20 min, you'll find one of my favorite spots. After a tornado ravaged half the bridge in 2003 the state of PA refurbished the remaining bridge to be one of the most scenic vistas available in all the National Forest.
- At the junction of Rt 321 and US 6 is the town of Kane. A boom town of the lumber rush, Kane grew during the oil rush as well. Now a quaint town in the heart of the National Forest, there are several shops to see, but I'd urge you to stop at Bell's Meat Market. With over 20 varieties of house made sausages you can not go wrong.