Exploring the Incredible Rimrock Overlook in the Allegheny National Forest

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I always love a good vista. In fact, I’ve visited dozens of great scenic overlooks throughout PA. However, until today, I’ve never written about one of my favorites: Rimrock Overlook.

Rimrock Overlook is located in the Allegheny National Forest in northwestern PA’s Warren County. It sits high above the southeastern shores of the Allegheny Reservoir and offers incredible views over the lake to the west from high atop the hillside (which makes this a great spot for sunset).

The Allegheny Reservoir was created by the controversial damming of the Allegheny River in the 1960s. Today, this 25-mile long lake, which stretches up into New York, is completely surrounded in PA by the Allegheny National Forest.

View over the Allegheny Reservoir from Rimrock Overlook at sunset
The views from Rimrock Overlook are stunning.

This means that the views from Rimrock Overlook offer little other than water and trees, making it one of the most spectacular overlooks in the Pennsylvania Wilds.

While all visits to Rimrock Overlook require hiking, there is an easy and a difficult way to reach this spot. As I’ve only done it the easy way, that will be the focus of this article. However, I’ll include some information at the end of this article on how to take a more challenging hike to reach the vista.

For the easy route, you’ll be parking at the top of the hillside and hiking a short distance downhill to Rimrock Overlook.

Parking lot for Rimrock Overlook in Warren Count PA
There is a large parking lot at the top of the hill that makes the hike to the overlook fairly easy.

For this route, park at the large parking area at the end of Forest Road at the following coordinates: 41.844377, -78.946018.

Forest Road is a well-maintained dirt road that is 2.5 miles in length. A sign at the turnoff for the road along Route 59, the main road along the southern and eastern end of the lake, helps you find your way.

Note that there are no turn-offs along this road, so once you get onto Forest Road, simply drive until it ends at a very large parking lot.

The trailhead for Rimrock Overlook Trail in Warren County PA
The trailhead for Rimrock Overlook.
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At the far end of the parking lot, you’ll see the start of the short trail to Rimrock Overlook.

This trail is comprised of a series of paved and dirt paths, as well as wooden stairs that make the 100-foot descent to the overlook quite easy (Note that the stairs make this overlook not handicapped accessible.) The path winds its way through a beautiful woodland and past some very large boulders on its way to the overlook.

Staircase of the Rimrock Overlook Trail in the Allegheny National Forest of PA
The trail is a mixture of concrete and dirt paths and wooden staircases.

All told, it’s about two-tenths of a mile one way to the overlook. For those that use coordinates, the overlooks can be found here: 41.843183, -78.946432.

Once you reach the overlook area, there are two large stone viewing areas that offer panoramic views of the lake 600 feet below.

Stone Overlooks at Rimrock Overlook near Warren Pennsylvania
Looking out over the stone viewing areas at Rimrock Overlook.

These stone overlooks were likely built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, like much of the infrastructure in the Allegheny National Forest (such as at Tidioute Overlook), and are quite beautiful in and of themselves. However, the views is obviously the star here.

Once you’ve enjoyed the different viewpoints at Rimrock Overlook, you could simply return to your car, but I recommend taking the narrow staircase cut through the giant rock wall down to the base of the rocks. (You can’t miss the staircase when visiting the overlooks.)

Staircase through the rocks on the Rimrock Trail in the Allegheny National Forest
Don’t miss the staircase cut between the rocks to the base of the cliff.

While this staircase is steep and narrow, it’s a lot of fun staring up at the tall cliffs that make up Rimrock Overlook from the bottom, and that alone makes it a worthwhile side trip.

While at the base of the rocks, you might notice that you are on what is known as the Rimrock Trail.

This trail extends a bit over a mile down to a parking area near the lake. If you are looking for a bit more of a hike while visiting Rimrock Overlook, this is the trail to take.

The cliffs of Rimrock Overlook from below along the Rimrock Trail
The cliffs of Rimrock Overlook from below.

While you could certainly park at the top and walk down to the bottom, most people who opt to do the entire trail park at the base and hike the 500 feet uphill to Rimrock Overlook.

If this option sounds more appealing to you, you can find the parking area at the Kinzua Beach Parking Area directly along Route 59 at the following coordinates: 41.852041, -78.954987.

Unfortunately, I’ve always taken the easy route to Rimrock Overlook, so I can’t comment on the trail. However, I do know that it is a popular hike in the Allegheny National Forest, and it requires about 2.5 miles of hiking to do the out-and-back trail to and from the overlook.

Sunset at Rimrock Overlook with trees and the Allegheny Reservoir in the distance.
Another look at the amazing view from Rimrock Overlook.

It’s also worth noting that there’s another popular overlook in this portion of the Allegheny National Forest: Jakes Rocks Overlook.

Jakes Rocks Overlook has the benefit of having some roadside overlooks and offers views of Kinzua Dam. However, in my opinion, if you had to pick one to visit, the views from Rimrock are much better.

Ultimately, regardless of whether you do the easy or the hard route, Rimrock Overlook is a fantastic spot to check out in the Allegheny National Forest. If you happen to be visiting Warren, PA and the Allegheny Reservoir, I highly recommend checking this spot out.

Looking for even more things to do nearby? Check out Bent Run Falls, the Penn-Brad Oil Museum, and the Marilla Bridges Trail.

And, if you don’t mind heading into New York, don’t miss the nearby Bridal Falls in Allegany State Park.

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