Exploring the Blue Waters and Forested Hillsides along the Southern Shores of the Allegheny Reservoir
If you look at a map of northern Pennsylvania, you will likely notice a lot of green. That’s because much of this area is protected by a combination of state parks, state forests, and national forests. There are many great things to do hidden away in these forests, including the beautiful Allegheny Reservoir.
The Allegheny Reservoir is the second-largest lake that is at least partially located in Pennsylvania, with a portion of it crossing the border into New York. The lake was created in 1965 when the Kinzua Dam, which controls the flow of the Allegheny River, was completed.
The land that was flooded by the lake was some of the most fertile land on the Allegheny Reservation of the Seneca Nation. However, their attempts to stop the valley from being flooded were futile, and the Allegheny Reservoir was created, destroying the last Native American Reservation in Pennsylvania.
While there’s no denying the controversial creation of the lake, there’s also no denying the amazing recreational opportunities for visitors to the region. The southern shores of the Allegheny Reservoir lie within close proximity to Route 6 and downtown Warren, offering travelers in this area easy access to the lake’s amenities.
While many enjoy boating and fishing on the lake, there are many fun ways to enjoy the lake from the shore. The most obvious are the roadside viewing areas. As you drive along Pennsylvania Route 59 along the southern bank of the reservoir, there are multiple places to stop and view the majesty of both the Allegheny Reservoir and Kinzua Dam.
The view points start from just below the dam, where the green waters of the Allegheny River look like someone dyed the river a crystal-clear green. The next viewing area, which can be reached by both car and foot, gives visitors a close-up view of the 179-foot Kinzua Dam, along with both the lake and the spillway. If you only visit one overlook along Route 59, make it this one.
A short distance further east, a small visitor center and vista give visitors an amazing view of the lake that seems to never end. From here, visitors can head up to Jakes Rock Overlook, one of the best overlooks on the lake or continue down Route 59 toward Rimrock Overlook and the Allegheny Reservoir beach.
At Jakes Rock Overlook, a short, paved path heads to a stunning overlook. The path winds its way through the forest and offers visitors a chance to see some of the beautiful natural scenery in the area. There is also a mountain bike trail system that is being built here that will soon draw visitors from all throughout the region to this portion of the lake.
A bit further east along Route 59 is the turn off for Rimrock Overlook. Rimrock Overlook is a short walk from the parking area and offers an amazing view over the lake. While it would be even better if the trees weren’t quite as tall, this overlook still rivals some of the most impressive ones you’ll find anywhere in Pennsylvania.
From the overlook, visitors can squeeze through a very narrow stairwell cut between the rocks to get down to the area below the viewing area. From here, it’s possible to walk along the base of the cliffs or even hike all the way down to the parking area at the Allegheny Reservoir beach.
The beach, which can more easily be accessed by car, gives visitors a chance to dip their toes into the lake. While the area is not large and is partially lined with concrete, it is, to the best of my knowledge, the only place along the shoreline where swimming is allowed. The small group of people who were swimming during my visit seemed to have a great time at the beach, and it’s a perfect spot for both kids and adults to cool off and enjoy the water.
Another great place to visit along the southern shore of the Allegheny Reservoir is Bent Run Falls. This waterfall cascades down the hillside next to a small trail. Just below the parking area is a small 8-10 foot waterfall that provides a peaceful place to relax and enjoy the beauty of the region.
I’ve visited many lakes in Pennsylvania, and the Allegheny Reservoir is one of the best in terms of natural beauty, accessibility, and seclusion. A visit to the southern portion of this lake is perfect for travelers looking to enjoy the peacefulness of life along the lake shore.