It’s elk viewing season here in Pennsylvania.
Last summer, during a particularly hot and humid weekend, myself and a friend backpacked the Elk Trail in Benezette, Pennsylvania. It’s a sixteen mile end-to-end trail that promised us thick forest, tall green ferns and elk sightings.
My first view of an elk happened as I drove the windy road into Benezette. Two elk stood in a local residents yard grazing on the green grass. Sighting elk in a residential yard is not uncommon in Benezette and the surrounding area. But it’s still a sight to see. Our second sighting came shortly after entering the trailhead for Elk Trail. With a stream to our left and a steep hillside to our right, the Elk Trail began not only with thick forest but a tight corridor.
Despite the heat, humidity and lack of rain last season each foot step had to be taken carefully on wet mossy rocks. I paused for a moment to look back and check on my friend when I heard a noise just ahead of me and to the right. Five large elk bolted across the trail, leaped over the stream and disappeared into the dense forest. It happened so fast I never had a chance to snap a picture.
It’s that time of year again when elk sightings become easier. On any given day you can take a hike among the elk.
Elk are visible year-round, but the peak viewing season is late summer into fall, coinciding with the Elk Rut, mating season, which occurs approximately Labor day to Columbus day. You can expect large crowds on the weekends during this time. You’ll also want to plan your trip around early morning and evening viewing opportunities, when Elk are most active.
Please be respectful of both elk and those who live in the local community: respect private property. Please don’t block roads or driveways and do not approach or attempt to touch the elk. Although some of the elk are habituated to human presence, they are not tame. Elk are very strong wild animals, so give them plenty of space!
So if you’re looking for some adventure head out to elk country and take a hike among the elk. For scenic viewing area check out the list below.
When you elk viewing adventure comes to an end and you’ve worked an appetite from all the hiking, be sure to stop in for some great food and drink at the Benezette Hotel.