Winter Activities Around Cook Forest

The Cook Forest area has numerous possibilities for enjoying the outdoors during the winter months. You can snowshoe (or hike) in beautiful Cook Forest State Park. There, you'll find almost 30 miles of excellent hiking trails available to snowshoers. Or, you can enjoy cross-country skiing on well groomed cross-country ski trails in the park.

If you're interested in wildlife photography or simply enjoying nature, you can try otter spotting along the Clarion River. And you can always spend a few hours ice-skating or sledding at Cook Forest Ice Skating Pond. For more information on winter activities around Cook Forest, give us a call. We'll be happy to answer your questions.


Cook Forest State Park boasts of nearly 30 miles of hiking trails that are open for snowshoeing during winter. There are three groomed trails available for this activity: Toms Run Road, Fire Tower Road, and a section of Forest Drive. However, please note that cross-country skiers have the right of way on groomed trails, and you should avoid snowshoeing in their tracks, whenever possible.

One of the most exciting events for snowshoers is the "Snowshoe Cook Forest at Night: Fire Tower Road," which is a three-mile interpretive snowshoe program conducted annually in March. The adventure begins from Nuthole Cabin to Seneca Point, and along the way, you'll learn how to identify animal tracks and explore the Seneca Point Cave. The specific date for this event varies from year to year, so it's best to check with the Pennsylvania DCNR to get the exact date. Fire Tower Road is the closest to Hominy Ridge Cabins and Gift Shop.

Otter Spotting

Location: Clarion River
Distance from us: 5.0 miles

One of the most entertaining animal species to watch is the river otter. And one of the best times to watch river otters is in the winter. The river otters that inhabit the Clarion River tend to be very active in the winter. They play in the snow, slide down ice covered river backs, and generally clown around. Since otters don't hibernate in the winter, they spend a lot of time out and about, hunting food such as fish, frogs, and snakes.

River otters in the Clarion tend to be out in the morning hours. Occasionally, folks around Cook Forest will organize an otter watch. Typically, held in February, an otter watch is really fun to be a part of. Usually hot chocolate and fresh coffee are part of the watch.

Regardless of whether you join in on a scheduled otter watch or simply hike to the Clarion River and try your luck spotting river otters, you'll want to carry a good set of binoculars or a spotting scope. Either of those will improve your chances of seeing river otters in their natural habitat.

Cross-Country Skiing

Location: Fire Tower Road, Toms Run Road, and Forest Dr
Distance from us: Varies

Cook Forest State Park has three groomed trails for cross-country skiing: Fire Tower Road, Toms Run Road, and part of Forest Drive. Note that these trails are also open to snowshoers.

Other trails are available, but are not groomed. Night time cross-country ski events are occasionally held during the winter months, usually in January and February. Call us for details. 

Ice Skating

Location: Cook Forest Ice Skating Pond
Distance from us: 2.5 miles

Cook Forest State Park has a lighted ice-skating pond that is open in the winter. The park provides a beautiful setting for a day, or evening, of ice-skating.

The nearby area also has around 10 acres of slopes available for sledding. The Cook Forest Ice Skating Pond is just off River Road, about 2.5 miles from Hominy Ridge Cabins and Gift Shop.

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