The 7 Best Scenic Overlooks in the Buchanan State Forest

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An autumn afternoon at Big Mountain Overlook in the Buchanan State Forest

The Buchanan State Forest is home to many sensational scenic overlooks!

Covering nearly 72,000 acres in Bedford, Fulton, and Franklin counties, the mountain ridges in the Buchanan State Forest are perfect for folks looking for magnificent views along Pennsylvania’s southern border.

A scene from Tuscarora Summit in Fulton County PA
A scene from Tuscarora Summit in Fulton County, PA.

And the best part – many of these scenic overlooks are also ROADSIDE, meaning just about anyone can experience the thrill of standing high above the forests and fields below.

So follow along as I show you 7 of the best scenic overlooks in the Buchanan State Forest, along with a few others that border the forest on public lands.

Fall foliage at Bark Road Vista in Fulton County PA
Fall foliage at Bark Road Vista in Fulton County PA

I’ll provide you with maps and GPS coordinates for each scenic overlook, so that you can plug them into your favorite hiking app or navigational device if you choose.

Starting in the western portion of the forest in Bedford County, I’ll then move east in my descriptions.

You, of course, can visit them in any order you like!


1. Warrior Ridge Vista

For stunning fall foliage views, it’s hard to bear Warrior Ridge Vista in Bedford County.

Warrior Ridge Vista in the Buchanan State Forest.
Warrior Ridge Vista in the Buchanan State Forest.

Warrior Ridge Vista is located along Blankley Road in the Buchanan State Forest, approximately 11 miles south of Bedford and just off of Route 326 near the village of Rainsburg.

A map to Rainsburg Vista and Warrior Ridge Vista in Bedford County PA
A map to Rainsburg Vista and Warrior Ridge Vista in Bedford County, PA.

Use GPS coordinates 39.87001, -78.51487 to navigate to this superb southeastern view of Bedford County.

Warrior Ridge Vista in Bedford County Pennsylvania
Warrior Ridge Vista in Bedford County Pennsylvania

And don’t be surprise if you find yourself stopping to take photos of Blankley Road itself on your way to the next vista I’ll talk about!

Blankley Road in the Buchanan State Forest.
Blankley Road in the Buchanan State Forest.

2. Rainsburg Vista

Located 3/4 of a mile further along Blankley Road you’ll encounter Rainsburg Vista, with wide-open views to the north and west.

Rainsburg Vista in Bedford County Pennsylvania
Rainsburg Vista in Bedford County, Pennsylvania.

Use GPS coordinates 39.86386, -78.52488 to navigate to Rainsburg View, and savor the sights of the fertile Bedford County farmland below.

Rainsburg Vista in the Buchanan State Forest
Rainsburg Vista in the Buchanan State Forest

3. Fisher Road Vista

Fisher Road Vista is located in eastern Bedford County, near the Fulton County line.

Fisher Road Vista in the Buchanan State Forest on a summer afternoon.
Fisher Road Vista in the Buchanan State Forest on a summer afternoon.

Use GPS coordinates 40.08917, -78.21628 to navigate to this sumptuous spot with views to the south in the direction of Breezewood.

A map to Bark Road Vista Fisher Road Vista and Summit Road Vista near Breezewood PA
A map to Bark Road Vista, Fisher Road Vista, and Summit Road Vista near Breezewood, PA.

Bark Road Vista is also referred to in some literature as a hang glider launch, although I personally have never witnessed any hang gliders or paragliders launching from there.

Fisher Road Vista in the Buchanan State Forest
Fisher Road Vista in the Buchanan State Forest

4. Bark Road Vista

Located just off Route 30 (the Lincoln Highway), Bark Road Vista offers impressive views to the east, in the direction of McConnellsburg.

Bark Road Vista in Fulton County on a summer afternoon.
Bark Road Vista in Fulton County on a summer afternoon.

The fall foliage views from Bark Road Vista are gorgeous!

Use GPS coordinates 40.00217, -78.13062 to navigate to Bark Road Vista, located near the Sideling Hill Picnic Area along Route 30.

Bark Road Vista in the Buchanan State Forest
Bark Road Vista in the Buchanan State Forest.

The two long barns located in the center of the photo below are a familiar sight to anyone who has even been to Bark Road Vista.

Bark Road Vista in Fulton County on an October afternoon.
Bark Road Vista in Fulton County on an October afternoon.

5. Summit Road Vista

Summit Road Vista is located at GPS coordinates 40.09721, -78.09091 in the Buchanan State Forest.

Summit Road Vista near Sideling Hill in Fulton County PA
Summit Road Vista near Sideling Hill in Fulton County PA

This roadside spot in Fulton County is a favorite of amateur radio enthusiasts as well, so don’t be shocked if you see a scene similar to the one below when visiting Summit Road Vista.

Amateur radio operators at Summit Road Vista in the Buchanan State Forest
Amateur radio operators at Summit Road Vista in the Buchanan State Forest

6. Big Mountain Overlook

Big Mountain Overlook is one of the most impressive and most popular scenic overlooks in the Buchanan State Forest.

To the north you have ridge views of Broad Mountain, Kittatinny Mountain, and Tuscarora Mountain.

Big Mountain Overlook along Tower Road in Fulton County PA
Big Mountain Overlook along Tower Road in Fulton County, PA.

To the south, views in the direction of Fort Loudon and Maryland.

Big Mountain Overlook in the Buchanan State Forest.
Big Mountain Overlook in the Buchanan State Forest.

Also sometimes referred to as Tower Road Vista, you can find Big Mountain Overlook at GPS coordinates 39.95004, -77.93711, along Tower Road in the Buchanan State Forest.

A map to Big Mountain Overlook and the Tuscarora Summit Hang Glider Launch near McConnellsburg PA
A map to Big Mountain Overlook and the Tuscarora Summit Hang Glider Launch near McConnellsburg, PA.

And prepare to be awe-struck if you visit Big Mountain Overlook in mid-October!

A hiker takes in the view from Big Mountain Overlook in Fulton County PA
A hiker takes in the view from Big Mountain Overlook in Fulton County, PA.

7. Knobsville Vista

Located along the fringe of Cowans Gap State Park, Knobsville Vista is a marvelous scenic overlook along the the 84 mile-long Standing Stone Trail.

Knobsville Vista along the Standing Stone Trail near Cowans Gap State Park
Knobsville Vista along the Standing Stone Trail near Cowans Gap State Park.

Use GPS coordinates 40.00052, -77.93462 to navigate to this northwestern view of Lick Run and Knobsville beyond that.

A map to Cowans Gap Overlook and Knobsville Vista in Fulton County PA
A map to Cowans Gap Overlook and Knobsville Vista in Fulton County, PA.

This is yet another must-see spot for fall foliage lovers in Fulton County.

Knobsville Vista along the Standing Stone Trail in the Buchanan State Forest
Knobsville Vista along the Standing Stone Trail in the Buchanan State Forest

Bonus View #1 – Cowans Gap Overlook

Cowans Gap Overlook is located along the Standing Stone Trail / Knobsville Road Trail inside the boundaries of Cowans Gap State Park.

Horse and rider at Cowans Gap Overlook in Fulton County PA
Horse and rider at Cowans Gap Overlook in Fulton County, PA.

A steady uphill hike (or ride – this is an approved bridle trail) of approximately 1.5 miles brings you out to this scenic overlook high above Cowans Gap Lake and the park below.

An autumn day at Cowans Gap Overlook in Fulton County Pennsylvania.
An autumn day at Cowans Gap Overlook in Fulton County, Pennsylvania.

The hike itself, while strenuous, is equally brilliant in the fall!

Knobsville Road Trail leading to Cowans Gap Overlook in Fulton County.
Knobsville Road Trail leading to Cowans Gap Overlook in Fulton County.

Use GPS coordinates 39.99924, -77.93520 to locate Cowans Gap Overlook, although you probably wont need them as the trail and overlook are well-marked and easy to follow.

Cowans Gap Overlook in Fulton County PA
Cowans Gap Overlook in Fulton County, PA.

Bonus View #2 – Tuscarora Summit Hang Glider Launch

Located just off Route 30, the Tuscarora Summit Hang Glider Launch is an exceptional spot to watch adrenaline-junkies engage in the gravity-defying pastimes of hang gliding and parasailing.

A paraglider launches from Tuscarora Summit along Route 30 in Fulton County PA
A paraglider launches from Tuscarora Summit along Route 30 in Fulton County, PA.

Located on a parcel of land owned by the Capitol Hang Glider Association, Inc., this scenic overlook offers an admirable view of McConnellsburg to the west, even on a day without hang gliders / parasailers.

A map to Big Mountain Overlook and the Tuscarora Summit Hang Glider Launch near McConnellsburg PA
A map to Big Mountain Overlook and the Tuscarora Summit Hang Glider Launch near McConnellsburg, PA.

But when the conditions are right and the thrill-seekers are in their element, the scene becomes even more magical!

View from the Tuscarora Summit Hang Glider Launch near McConnellsburg PA
View from the Tuscarora Summit Hang Glider Launch near McConnellsburg, PA.

The brightly colored parasails complemented the fall foliage nicely during this October visit.

A scene from Tuscarora Summit in Fulton County PA
A scene from Tuscarora Summit in Fulton County, PA.

Use GPS coordinates 39.91434, -77.95832 to navigate to the Tuscarora Summit Hang Glider Launch, at the very peak of Tuscarora Summit along Route 30.

A paraglider sails over Tuscarora Summit near the Buchanan State Forest in Fulton County PA
A paraglider sails over Tuscarora Summit near the Buchanan State Forest in Fulton County PA

And be sure to look straight up – you might see parasailers riding the thermals like a flock of buzzards!

Paragliders circling Tuscarora Summit near McConnellsburg PA
Paragliders circling Tuscarora Summit near McConnellsburg, PA.

So there you have it – 7 of the best scenic overlooks in the Buchanan State Forest!

Bark Road Vista in Fulton County PA
Bark Road Vista in the Buchanan State Forest, Fulton County, PA.

Plus 2 bonus views, for a total of 9 extraordinary scenic overlooks

in Bedford and Fulton counties!

Tuscarora Hang Glider Launch in October 2020
Tuscarora Hang Glider Launch in October 2020.

Nearby Attractions

Check out “The 7 Best Things to Do at Cowans Gap State Park” for directions to the top attractions at this magnificent Fulton County state park.

A fisherman at Cowans Gap State Park.

The Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike, quite possibly the most unique bike trail in all of Pennsylvania, spans portions of Bedford and Fulton counties in the valleys below several of the scenic overlooks mentioned in this article.

Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike Rail Trail at Rays Hill Tunnel.
Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike Rail Trail at Rays Hill Tunnel.

The highlights of this 13-mile long bike trail are 2 abandoned turnpike tunnels at Rays Hill and Sideling Hill.

Bicycling the Sideling Hill Tunnel in September 2020.
Bicycling the Sideling Hill Tunnel in September 2020.

You can find maps and directions to the parking areas at either ends of the bike trail in my write-up “Exploring the Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike”.

Aerial view of the eastern portal of the Sideling Hill Tunnel along the Abandoned PA Turnpike.
Aerial view of the eastern portal of the Sideling Hill Tunnel along the Abandoned PA Turnpike.

“The 12 Best Scenic Overlooks in Huntingdon County” will introduce you to a dozen magnificent vistas in nearby Huntingdon County.

The Ledges Trail Overlook in Huntingdon County at Trough Creek State Park.
The author at the Ledges Trail Overlook in Huntingdon County.

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