Exploring the Ruins of Kunes Camp in the Quehanna Wild Area

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Kunes Camp in the spring of 2020.

The ruins of the abandoned Kunes Camp in the Quehanna Wild Area of Clearfield County are a testament to backwoods construction ingenuity.

They’re also a reminder of a controversial Cold War-era move by the State of Pennsylvania that evicted hundreds of camp owners from this remote area to allow a private company to turn it into a hub of secretive nuclear research.

Steel door to the abandoned nuclear jet engine testing facility in Cameron County PA
Steel door to the abandoned nuclear jet engine testing facility in Cameron County.

Thankfully, the forest has erased many of the scars of this mid-50’s boondoggle (with millions of dollars of taxpayer-funded clean-up thrown in for good measure), and you can now enjoy a peaceful out-and-back hike to see the remnants of this once-proud hunting camp that was ingeniously built between two massive boulders on a clearing in the Quehanna Wild Area.

Top-down view of Kunes Camp in the Quehanna Wild Area
Top-down view of Kunes Camp in the Quehanna Wild Area

How to Find the Abandoned Kunes Camp

The ruins of the abandoned Kunes Camp are both easy to find and easy to hike to.

Directions to the abandoned Kunes Camp in the Quehanna Wild Area.
Directions to the abandoned Kunes Camp in the Quehanna Wild Area.

The parking area for the Kunes Camp Trail is right along the Quehanna Highway in Clearfield County, at GPS coordinates 41.21636, -78.17210.

An easy-to-spot-landmark for the parking area is a large mile marker with a “3” carved into it, directly across the road from the parking area.

Kunes Camp parking along the Quehanna Highway
Kunes Camp parking along the Quehanna Highway

There is also a “Kunes Camp” post near the highway, on the same side of the road as the parking area and trailhead.

Kunes Camp Trail sign near the Quehanna Highway.
Kunes Camp Trail sign near the Quehanna Highway.

The trailhead is marked by a large boulder with a “Kunes Camp Road” sign on it.

Kunes Camp trailhead near the Quehanna Highway
Kunes Camp trailhead near the Quehanna Highway

The hike is approximately 0.9 miles one-way, from parking area to the camp ruins.

Trail to the abandoned Kunes Camp in the spring.
Trail to the abandoned Kunes Camp in the spring.

The trail is well-worn, basically flat the entire way, and yellow-blazed.

The yellow-blazed Kunes Camp Trail in the Quehanna Wild Area.
The yellow-blazed Kunes Camp Trail in the Quehanna Wild Area.

If you hike this in the spring or summer, you’ll encounter some of the finest fern-covered forest you’ve ever seen.

A meadow of fern along the Kunes Camp Trail in the Quehanna Wild Area.
A meadow of fern along the Kunes Camp Trail in the Quehanna Wild Area.

Exploring the Ruins of Kunes Camp

As you draw near to Kunes Camp, the forest gives way to a clearing and a field of massive boulders.

The rectangular-shaped Kunes Camp was constructed using two of these boulders for the side walls.

A young hiker at Kunes Camp in the Quehanna Wild Area.
A young hiker at Kunes Camp in the Quehanna Wild Area.

This gives Kunes Camp its unique appearance, while also contributing to its longevity despite being abandoned nearly 70 years ago.

The abandoned Kunes Camp in early spring.
The abandoned Kunes Camp in early spring.

It’s really impossible to miss Kunes Camp as long as you stick to the Kunes Camp Trail, as the trail literally passes THROUGH the ruins of the camp.

Entrance to Kunes Camp in the Quehanna Wild Area.
Entrance to Kunes Camp in the Quehanna Wild Area.

Kunes Camp can be found at GPS coordinates 41.20741, -78.18259.

Standing in the doorway of Kunes Camp in the Quehanna Wild Area.
Standing in the doorway of Kunes Camp in the Quehanna Wild Area.

The wooden roof has long since rotted away, and trees now grow up out of the floor.

Kunes Camp Trail passing through the abandoned camp.
Kunes Camp Trail passing through the abandoned camp.

What is probably most remarkable about the abandoned Kunes Camp is how straight and intact the window and door frames still are, a tribute to the craftsmanship that went into building this hunting camp.

Window at Kunes Camp in the Quehanna Wild Area
Window at Kunes Camp in the Quehanna Wild Area

The two ends of the camp were meticulously constructed of stone and mortar, seemlessly melded into the long boulder walls.

Back wall of the abandoned Kunes Camp in the Quehanna Wild Area.
Back wall of the abandoned Kunes Camp in the Quehanna Wild Area.

The camp is approximately 40 feet long and 15 feet wide.

The Abandoned Kunes Camp filled with snow.
The Abandoned Kunes Camp filled with snow.

The sloped roof would have allowed rain and snow to sheet off easily, as well as providing ample headroom.

Hiking through Kunes Camp in the Quehanna Wild Area.
Hiking through Kunes Camp in the Quehanna Wild Area.

The old chimney now lies in the middle of the floor, yet is still largely intact.

Inside view of Kunes Camp in the Quehanna Wild Area.
Inside view of Kunes Camp in the Quehanna Wild Area.

There are some remarkable moss and fern formations growing on and around the foundation of Kunes Camp.

Mossy rocks around the back of abandoned Kunes Camp.
Mossy rocks around the back of abandoned Kunes Camp.

As well as a labyrinth of rock passageways to explore.

Rock formations near Kunes Camp in the Quehanna Wild Area
Rock formations near Kunes Camp in the Quehanna Wild Area

No doubt many tall tales were told and good times were shared within these four walls.

Remnants of the fallen chimney inside the abandoned Kunes Camp.
Remnants of the fallen chimney inside the abandoned Kunes Camp.

The ghosts of the past may still haunt the abandoned Kunes Camp in the Quehanna Wild Area!

Door and window frames at abandoned Kunes Camp in the Quehanna Wild Area.

Nearby Attractions

There are several more outstanding sights to see close to the abandoned Kunes Camp in the Quehanna Wild Area.

How to find Kunes Camp in the Quehanna Wild Area
Points of interest in the Quehanna Wild Area.

The abandoned nuclear jet engine bunkers, which I mentioned earlier, are a fascinating and troubling part of Cold War-era history that played out here in Central Pennsylvania.

Abandoned nuclear jet engine testing bunker entrance.
The Abandoned Nuclear Jet Engine Testing Bunkers in the Quehanna Wild Area.

Wykoff Run Falls is a much more natural part of the landscape, also located just a short distance from Kunes Camp.

A fisherman at Wykoff Run Falls in Cameron County
Wykoff Run Falls in the Quehanna Wild Area.

And Table Falls is another small but almost-roadside waterfall in the Quehanna Wild Area.

A September view of Table Falls, flowing high and clear on Paige Run.
A September view of Table Falls, flowing high and clear on Paige Run in the Quehanna Wild Area.

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