Climbing a Fire Tower in Cook Forest State Park

I’ve been feeling a bit down lately, since my last real adventure was at Niagara Falls almost 2 months ago, and my grandparents just left for a 10-day vacation.

I needed to get out of the house, and I needed to do something!

I was already planning to travel back to my hometown to visit family, so I researched a little, and decided I would make a quick pit-stop at Cook Forest State Park.

A few side notes before we begin:

  • I’ve been to Cook Forest State Park before, but I didn’t know it was a State Park. I though it was just a campground!
  • I’ve been saying the name wrong my entire life. It is Cook Forest, but I’ve been calling it Cooks Forest. (Sounds more natural right!)
  • I can’t believe I’ve never explored here before. It’s a 15 min. detour on the route from where I live to my hometown. I’ve literally passed this place hundreds of times!

Alright let’s get started!

As I said, I researched a bit before I left, and the first stop I wanted to make was at the Seneca Point Fire Tower.

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The overlook and fire tower are at the middle of a one way scenic drive loop. The drive is absolutely gorgeous, and I highly recommend the 1.5 mile drive, even if you don’t have time to explore the trails and fire tower.

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Right before the overlook and fire tower, there is a small parking lot with bathrooms, picnic tables, and info; that’s where I started the hike up to the overlook.

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I had been told that the overlook had a great view of the Clarion River, but I was sadly disappointed. The trees were quite overgrown, and I could only catch a small glimpse of the river.

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Although the hike wasn’t totally unfortunate, because the walkways up to the overlook seemed like they were straight out of a National Park info guide!

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Next, I hiked up to the fire tower. Closer to my hometown, probably 30 min. from Cook Forest, there is another fire tower (the Marienville Fire Tower) that is pretty run down. It’s completely enclosed in fence, the top is hard to see because of the dense tree population, and it looks like the stairs are falling apart.

And, I totally get that. These fire towers are old! So, as I hiked up to the fire tower at Cook Forest, I was expecting the same conditions as the Marienville one.

Except, it wasn’t like the Marienville one at all! It wasn’t gated, there was a clear view to the top, and you were allowed to climb to the top!

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I’ve always wanted to climb to the top of a fire tower. I guess it’s because I grew up in a National Forest!

I climbed halfway, and thought to myself, this isn’t high at all, so I continued climbing up the last 5 flights of stairs, and then I started feeling claustrophobic, even though it’s open air. But, I was more than halfway, so I had to finish it, right?

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I made it to the top, even though I was feeling pretty terrified, and Oh My God, the view was stunning. It was so worth it to climb all those stairs! It was so quiet and peaceful, that I wish I would have packed a lunch or something, as I could have easily stayed up there for hours.

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Climbing that fire tower, easily hits in my top 5 life experiences so far. I can’t even begin to describe how amazing it was.

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I highly recommend visiting Cook Forest State Park, and checking out the fire tower! It will definitely be on my go to list for next summer!

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