8 Must-See Attractions in the Forbes State Forest

Cole Run Falls surrounded by fall foliage.

The Forbes State Forest encompasses more than 50,000 acres in western Pennsylvania, spanning Westmoreland, Somerset, and Fayette counties.

Fall foliage around Beam Rocks in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania.
Fall foliage around Beam Rocks in the Forbes State Forest.

The forest is named in honor of British General John Forbes, who was a prominent figure in this area during the French and Indian War in the 1750s.

The British flag flying over Fort Ligonier.
The British flag flying over Fort Ligonier, constructed by order of General John Forbes.

From scenic vistas to waterfalls to the highest point in Pennsylvania, here are 7 must-see attractions to check out in the Forbes State Forest!

Reflections on the pond at the picnic area on the site of the former Blue Hole CCC camp.
Reflections on the pond at the picnic area on the site of the former Blue Hole CCC camp in the Forbes State Forest.

1. Mount Davis – the Highest Point in PA

Mount Davis in the Somerset County portion of the Forbes State Forest is the highest point in Pennsylvania!

Highest Point in Pennsylvania road sign at Mount Davis.
Highest Point in Pennsylvania road sign at Mount Davis.

At 3,213 feet above sea level, this idyllic mountain setting is home to some incredible views of the surrounding Laurel Highlands.

Deer Valley Lake as viewed from Mount Davis Observation Tower in Somerset County PA
View from Mount Davis.

The observation tower at Mount Davis is probably the most well-known overlook on the mountain.

The observation tower at Mount Davis in Somerset County.
The observation tower at Mount Davis.

But there are several other ground-level overlooks nearby, and you find directions to them HERE.

High Point Lake Overlook along South Wolf Rock Road on Mount Davis.
High Point Lake Overlook on Mount Davis.

2. Wolf Rocks Overlook

Wolf Rocks Overlook in the Forbes State Forest is an outstanding scenic vista and rock formation in Westmoreland County.

Springtime at Wolf Rocks Overlook in the Forbes State Forest
Springtime at Wolf Rocks Overlook.

The hike to Wolf Rocks Overlook takes place on a relatively flat, sometimes rocky, 2 mile trail (one-way).

A map of the Wolf Rocks Trail in the Forbes State Forest.
A map of the Wolf Rocks Trail in the Forbes State Forest.

The payoff is at the western terminus of the Wolf Rocks Trail, where it dead-ends into a 180° view of Linn Run State Park and Westmoreland County.

November morning at Wolf Rocks in the Forbes State Forest.
November morning at Wolf Rocks in the Forbes State Forest.

3. Beam Rocks Overlook

Beam Rocks Overlook in the Forbes State Forest offers a fantastic 180° eastern view from high above the treetops and the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail below.

An October morning at Beam Rocks in the Forbes State Forest.
An October morning at Beam Rocks Overlook.

The hike to Beam Rocks Overlook involves a one mile out and back hike along a well maintained trail, with less than 100 feet of elevation change between the parking area and the overlook.

The Beam Rocks trail head in Somerset County Pennsylvania.
The Beam Rocks trail head in the Forbes State Forest.

4. Spruce Flats Bog

Spruce Flats Bog is one of the most unique ecosystems in all of Pennsylvania – a high altitude bog featuring plants and trees found nowhere else in the state.

How to find Spruce Flats Bog in the Laurel Highlands region of Pennsylvania.
Spruce Flats Bog in the Forbes State Forest.

Bogs are typically found at much lower altitudes – Spruce Flats Bog sits on a mountaintop at 2,720 feet above sea level.

The boardwalk at Spruce Flats Bog in the Forbes State Forest.
The boardwalk at Spruce Flats Bog.

5. Fish Run Falls

Fish Run Falls in the Forbes State Forest may be the prettiest little waterfall in Westmoreland County that you’ve never heard of!

Fish Run Falls in the Forbes State Forest.
Fish Run Falls in the Forbes State Forest.

Fish Run Falls is located adjacent to the Pittsburgh, Westmoreland, and Somerset Railroad Mountain Bike Trail, or PW&S Trail for short.

Bridge over Fish Run along the PW&S Bike Trail in the Forbes State Forest.
Bridge over Fish Run along the PW&S Bike Trail.

Not only is the waterfall beautiful, but it’s located next to a historic railroad aqueduct built more than 120 years ago!

Stone viaduct built by the Pittsburgh, Westmoreland, and Somerset Railroad around 1899.
Stone viaduct on Fish Run built by the Pittsburgh, Westmoreland, and Somerset Railroad around 1899.

6. Cole Run Falls

Cole Run Falls is probably the most popular waterfall in the Forbes State Forest.

The author at Cole Run Falls in the Laurel Highlands.
The author at Cole Run Falls in the Forbes State Forest.

One of the great things about Cole Run Falls is the number of angles you can view and photograph it from.

A snowy scene at Cole Run Falls in the Laurel Highlands.
A snowy scene at Cole Run Falls in the Laurel Highlands.

There are additional waterfalls downstream from Cole Run Falls as well, and you’ll find directions to them HERE.

A summer scene at Cave Falls on Cole Run in Somerset County, PA.
A summer scene at Cave Falls on Cole Run.

7. The Blue Hole

The Blue Hole is basically a deep roadside swimming hole in the Forbes State Forest.

Fall foliage at the Blue Hole in the Laurel Highlands.
Fall foliage at the Blue Hole in the Laurel Highlands.

In the fall it more resembles the “gold hole”, perfect for long-exposure leaf swirl photos.

The Blue Hole in the Forbes State Forest.
The Blue Hole.

The Blue Hole is located just a few minutes west of Cole Run Falls, so if you stop at one, make sure to see the other!

A map to the Blue Hole in the Forbes State Forest in Somerset County PA
A map to the Blue Hole in the Forbes State Forest in Somerset County PA

If navigating by GPS, use coordinates 39.97254, -79.29808 to find the Blue Hole.

Intersection of Blue Hole ROad and Grindle Ridge Road in the Forbes State Forest.
Intersection of Blue Hole Road and Grindle Ridge Road in the Forbes State Forest.

8. Blue Hole CCC Camp Picnic Area

In the early 1930s, the Blue Hole Picnic Area in the Forbes State Forest was home to a bustling Civilian Conservation Corps camp, resembling a small village.

Picnic area where the Blue Hole CCC camp once stood in the Forbes State Forest.
Picnic area where the Blue Hole CCC camp once stood in the Forbes State Forest.

Between 1933-1937, the 200 young men stationed here built 7 fire towers, 21 miles of roads and trails, planted trees, and redirected waterways.

Historical photo of the Blue Hole CCC camp, part of a display at the current picnic area where the CCC camp once stood.
Historical photo of the Blue Hole CCC camp, part of a display at the current picnic area where the CCC camp once stood.

Today only the bridge over Fall Run remains, along with a few stoneworks and foundations.

Bridge over Fall Run near the entrance to the former Blue Hole CCC Camp in the Forbes State Forest.
Bridge over Fall Run near the entrance to the former Blue Hole CCC Camp.

If navigating by GPS, use coordinates 39.95800, -79.27999 to find the Blue Hole CCC Camp Picnic Area along Fall Run Road.

A map to the BLue Hole CCC Camp PIcnic Area in the Forbes State Forest, Somerset County Pennsylvania.
A map to the Blue Hole CCC Camp PIcnic Area in the Forbes State Forest.

Nearby Attractions

Adam Falls at Linn Run State Park (not to be confused with Adams Falls at Ricketts Glen State Park) is a picturesque 12 foot tall waterfall in Westmoreland County.

Looking down on Adams Falls at Linn Run State Park after heavy spring rains.
Looking down on Adam Falls at Linn Run State Park after heavy spring rains.

The abandoned hunting lodge at Linn Run State Park is a remarkable set of ruins from the early days of “retreat camping” in western Pennsylvania.

Remains of the McGinnis Rod and Gun Club on land that is now part of Linn Run State Park.
Remains of the McGinnis Rod and Gun Club on land that is now part of Linn Run State Park.

Mill Creek Falls is located on State Game Lands 42 in Westmoreland County.

Fall foliage around Mill Creek Falls in Westmoreland County PA.
Fall foliage around Mill Creek Falls in Westmoreland County, October 2021.

Laurel Hill State Park is comprised of 4,062 acres of mountainous, wooded terrain in central Somerset County.

Fall foliage along the beach at Laurel Hill State Park.
Fall foliage along the beach at Laurel Hill State Park.

Kooser State Park occupies 250 wooded acres along Route 31 in Somerset County.

Fall foliage at Kooser Lake in Somerset County.
Fall foliage at Kooser State Park in Somerset County.

Ohiopyle State Park in Fayette County is THE BEST water-themed state park in western Pennsylvania.

Fall foliage at Cucumber Falls at Ohiopyle State Park.
Fall foliage around Cucumber Falls at Ohiopyle State Park.

The Barronvale Covered Bridge is close to the Blue Hole, the Blue Hole CCC Camp, and Cole Run Falls in Somerset County.

A blue sky summer morning at the Barronvale Covered Bridge in Somerset County PA
A blue sky summer morning at the Barronvale Covered Bridge in Somerset County PA

Did you enjoy this article?

If so, be sure to like and follow PA Bucket List on Facebook, Instagram, and/or Pinterest to learn more about the best things to see and do in Pennsylvania!

Click on any of the icons below to get connected to PA Bucket List on social media.


Pennsylvania’s Best Travel Blog!

Rusty Glessner is an award-winning photographer, lifelong Pennsylvanian, and creator of the PA Bucket List travel blog.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here