Finding the area
Hearts Content Recreation Area is located 15 miles southwest of Warren, PA. From the Mohawk exit of U.S. Route 6, take Pleasant Drive south for 11 miles. At the hard curve, turn left onto a gravel road; go south for four miles to Hearts Content. The Hearts Content Recreation Area is split by State Route 2002, the campground on the south side of the road and the scenic area on the north side.
N 41 41.437
W 079 15.277
Open May 1 through October 29, 2023.
Reservations can be made at Recreation.gov. Availability opens 180 days out, with a rolling day to day window.
There are First Come/First Serve sites available.
- $12.00 per night
- $14.00 for a site with shelter
- Group site ranges from $40 to $150 per night depending on size of the group
Each of the 26 family campsites contains a picnic table, fire ring, and tent pad. Two sites also have lean-to shelters and charcoal grills. Vault toilets and pressurized water are available.
Hearts Content National Scenic Area, a lovely, old growth, remnant timber stand, is located next to the picnic area. Here stand 300 to 400 year old white pine, hemlock, and beech.
Interpretive Old Growth Trail – starts at the north end of the east side parking lot and winds about one mile through this timber stand before returning to the picnic area. All facilities in the day use area are universally accessible to people with disabilities. Facilities include a picnic area, pavilions, toilet, and interpretive materials.
Cross-country Ski Trail – This 10.5 kilometer (6.4 mile) trail utilizes old railroad grades, roads and existing trails to form several loops for your skiing pleasure.
Hickory Creek Wilderness – The trailhead currently starts near the grassy parking area at the west side parking area near the pine plantation. This trailhead is scheduled to be moved to provide a setting more appropriate to a Wilderness experience. This 8,663-acre area is replete with solitude, serenity, and wildlife; no motorized equipment of any kind is permitted. A 11-mile loop hiking trail weaves its way through the rolling terrain, climbing in and out of the valleys.
Orienteering Course – is a self-guided course that allows you or your group to follow, at your leisure. It is a permanently marked route as an introduction to the sport of orienteering.
In the mid 1800’s, a 20 acre parcel was protected from logging by the Wheeler and Dusenbury Lumber Company. This parcel of original forest, often called “old growth” or “virgin” timber was donated to the Forest Service in 1922. In the following decades, more land was purchased to make up the Allegheny National Forest as we know it today. In 1934, the virgin timber area and 102 acres of the land surrounding it was designated a “Scenic Area” by the Chief of the Forest Service. The Civilian Conservation Corps built the pavilions and the campground south of the road in 1936. The Scenic Area was dedicated as a National Natural Landmark in 1977.
The original forest was a mixture of white pine, Eastern hemlock, and American beech, with a multi-layered understory of hobble bush, witch hazel, and many other species. Time, weather, insects, and disease have all affected the forest in different ways, along with a high population of deer. These have changed, and will continue to change, the species composition – the look and feel – of this forest with implications far into the future. The oldest of the existing trees, mostly white pine and Eastern hemlock, are estimated at 300-400 years old. Many of the other trees in the stand are younger and have come in through natural succession, displaying multiple vertical layers of vegetation typical of a natural – not human-influenced – forest and occasional open gaps where large old trees have fallen and young seedlings and saplings are filling in to renew the forest.
Wildlife species around Hearts Content are typical of what is found throughout the rest of the forest. There are a variety of birds including birds of prey, songbirds, and some shore birds. Mammals range from tiny voles and chipmunks to white-tailed deer and black bear.
Most of the area outside the Scenic Area and campground is heavily forested with second and third growth Allegheny hardwood timber type. This is a mix of black cherry, maples, birch, beech, red oak, and many other species. Hemlock and white pine are frequent members of a stand, either in small clumps or as individuals. Understory vegetation is usually fern in varying degrees of density, with a mixture of grasses, sedges, and wildflowers. Mosses and lichens grow in damp, shady areas on downed trees and rocks. Rock ledges and boulders can be found on steeper hillsides, adding variety to the scene.