Michaux State Forest encompasses more than 85,500 acres in the South Mountain area of Cumberland, Franklin and Adams counties. Considered Pennsylvania's "cradle of forestry," Michaux is the site of first forestry school, Mont Alto. The forest is named for the French botanist, Andre Michaux, who discovered and named many plants in the 18th century.
Most of the State Forest lands of the Michaux district are located on the metavolcanic and quartzite rocks of South Mountain at the northern terminus of the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains. Forests of oak species, including chestnut, scarlet, northern-red, black, and white oak, along with red maple, black birch, blackgum, hickory, pine and tuliptree dominate the slopes. A mix of oak and pitch pine is common on ridge tops that tower 1000 feet above the limestone valleys of Adams, Cumberland and Franklin counties to the east and west.
Open year round.
(Note: Many places fill to capacity on busy, nice weather days, especially holiday weekends. Please call ahead or visit the official website to get the most up-to-date information before visiting.)
Several locations on the Michaux State Forest provide access for hikers to the 37 miles of the Appalachian Trail located in the state forest. This 2000-mile National Scenic Trail traverses the entire length of the state forest. In addition to the Appalachian Trail, approximately 60 miles of other hiking trails wind through Michaux State Forest.
Picnicking is available at the Old Forge Picnic Area, located 4.5 miles south of the Village of South Mountain. It features two pavilions, picnic tables, grills, restrooms, playground equipment, and an athletic field. One of the pavilions, picnic tables, and grills are ADA accessible, as are the restrooms.
Camping is permitted throughout the State Forest. There are numerous designated primitive campsites without developed facilities within the State Forest that can be reserved on a first come, first serve basis. However, primitive backpack camping is allowed throughout the entire forest. Campers are required to obtain a camping permit at no charge. Camping in groups of 10 or more requires a Letter of Authorization from the District Forester. Primitive backpack campers do not need a permit if they stay no more than one night at any campsite.
Hunting for deer, turkeys, grouse and squirrels is a popular use of the forest during designated seasons. Other than a few safety zones around buildings and picnic areas, hunting is permitted throughout the state forest.
Fishing & Boating
Cold-water fishing is available during the appropriate season in several creeks that run through Michaux State Forest. Stocked trout streams include the East Branch of the Conococheague Creek, East and West Branches of Antietam Creek, Mountain Creek, Laurel and Fuller lakes, and the Waynesboro Reservoir. Warm water fishing is available at the Long Pine Run Reservoir, Waynesboro Reservoir, and Carbaugh Dam. Boating (non-gas powered) is permitted at Long Pine Run Reservoir
The district maintains about 130 miles of gravel roads that can be used for scenic drives. The area is dotted with ponds, lakes, reservoirs and many miles of natural trout streams, all of which serve to create an unusual scenic attraction. Five vistas on the forest offer panoramic views of the forest and surrounding areas.
A 31-mile marked horseback-riding trail is located in the southern portion of the forest. Three parking lots provide access to the trail system. Horses may be ridden on all the state forest roads and trails except the Appalachian Trail, Rocky Knob Trail, Beaver Trail, and Buck Ridge Trail.
A 37-mile marked shared-use trail is open to mountain biking. It features 18 miles of “easy” trails, 11 miles of “more difficult” trails, and 8 miles of “most difficult” trails. Mountain bikes may be used on most roads and trails on Michaux State Forest, and the degree of difficulty varies considerably. The natural areas, Appalachian Trail Corridor, Rocky Knob Trail, Beaver Trail and Buck Ridge Trails are closed to Mountain Biking.
Michaux State Forest maintains 35 miles of designated summer and 42 miles of designated winter ATV trails. ATVs must be registered with DCNR and comply with other regulations. Contact Michaux State Forest District Office for additional information and follow this link to visit the ATV Information pages.
Michaux State Forest offers approximately 132 miles of snowmobile trails as well as four miles of maintained cross-country ski trails. Many additional miles of roads and trails are available for cross-country skiing when snowfall is suitable.
South Mountain Golf Course
Operated as a private concession, this nine-hole course is located on the Michaux State Forest off Pennsylvania Route 233, near the Village of South Mountain. Its location, nestled in the heart of the forest makes it one of the most scenic courses in the area.
The Michaux State Forest is named in honor of Andre Michaux, a French botanist, dispatched by the King and Queen of France in 1785 to gather plants for the Royal Gardens. He and his son Francois Andre Michaux discovered and named a host of flowers, shrubs and trees previously unknown in the newly independent United States.
The Michaux State Forest can boast many of its own firsts in Pennsylvania forestry. The first forest tree nursery was established in Mont Alto in 1902. The State’s first wooden fire tower was erected in 1905 and the first steel fire tower in 1914. In 1903, the Pennsylvania State Forest Academy was established at Mont Alto. It was the first of its kind in the state and only the second in the nation to train professional foresters. Prior to this, foresters went to Europe for training.