Harrisburg – Hunters and outdoor enthusiasts heading to Pennsylvania’s state forests this fall will find additional roads open in 18 of the 20 state forest districts, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) recently announced.
“This improved accessibility, coupled with DCNR’s promotion of deer hunting, benefits forest regeneration and the broader ecosystem,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “DCNR will open more than 533 miles of state forest roads that are normally for administrative use only. They will again be available to hunters, hikers, foliage watchers and others visiting state forests this fall.”
With the additional access to administrative roads, more than 3,250 miles of state forest roads will open during the state’s bow deer season, which begins Saturday, October 1 and closes Friday, November 18. See a list of administrative roads that DCNR managers plan to open this season.
Many of these trails will remain open through other hunting seasons, through January 2023. Forest managers can close these trails at any time if weather conditions warrant, to prevent damage or deterioration to trail surfaces or surrounding forest. .
DCNR and the Pennsylvania Game Commission continue to update a new interactive map of state forests and playgrounds in Pennsylvania. Visit the DCNR website to access a new interactive map.
The map offers information on the Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) and Disease Management Areas, and details on recently opened roads, logging activity, forest office contacts and more.
“Regardless of whether they’re hunting deer, bear, turkey or small game, hunters in our state forests will find that more than 90 percent of that land is now within a half-mile of an open road,” said State Ranger Ellen Shultzabarger. “We encourage safe and responsible use of the additional trails as we share our forests this fall and winter.”
High-quality hunting is offered in many state parks, including those in the 12.5-county Pennsylvania Wilds region, where state forests often surround them. Visit the DCNR website for more information related to hunting opportunities on DCNR lands.
Modern, inexpensive campgrounds can be found in many state parks. Reservations for state park campgrounds can be made online or by calling 888-PA-PARKS (888-727-2757), Monday through Saturday, 7:00 am to 5:00 pm, excluding Thanksgiving. Thank you, Christmas and New Year. .
Primitive camping, where a motorized vehicle is not used for storage or transportation during the camping experience, on state forest land is also an option, providing hunters with a backcountry camping or hunting experience.
When camping primitively on the same state forest site for more than one night, a camping permit is required. Camping permits, issued by the managing forest district, are also required when motor camping on state forest land and when camping on designated sites.
Many of these campgrounds are near Pennsylvania state parks and registered forest land. The Game Commission’s Deer Management Assistance Program, which allows hunters to harvest one or more antlerless deer when properly licensed.
Hunters traveling to some central upstate areas are reminded that some hunting areas and travel routes may be affected by activities related to the Marcellus Shale.
Some state logging roads may be temporarily closed during drilling operations or other peak periods of heavy use to reduce potential safety risks.
Some of the state forest administrative roads will only open during the second week of the traditional rifle season, because they cannot handle the heavy traffic expected in the first week of that season.
The two- or three-month openings will be in effect only when there is minimal threat of damage or deterioration to road surfaces or forest surroundings.
After the last day of the regular firearm antlerless deer season on December 10, many state forest roads that are open for travel year-round are opened for joint use by snowmobiles and licensed motorized vehicles, including hunters and other recreational users.
After December 10, forest maintenance staff will prepare many state forest roads to allow snowmobile travel when conditions permit, so be very careful as you may run into a conditioner or snowmobile on joint-use state forest roads during this period.
A four-wheel drive high-rise vehicle with tire chains may also be required at this time, depending on road conditions.
Because state forest roads are snowmobile-friendly and not plowed or rutted like most other public roads, they can also be impassable at times due to deep snow or icy conditions.
Visit the DCNR website to learn more about its 20 state forest districts and 121 state parks.