11 Best Places To See Black Bears In PA

Black bear in meadow feeding on the tall grass

Pennsylvania is known for its diverse wildlife, and one of the most iconic species you can experience up close is the American black bear. With a population of over 20,000, these elusive creatures can be found throughout the state, but some destinations are particularly rich in sightings.

So whether you’re an avid nature enthusiast or simply looking for an unforgettable adventure, get ready to explore the best places to see black bears in PA.

Get Ready to Spot Black Bears

Whether you’re a seasoned wildlife watcher or just starting, the state’s rolling hills and dense forests offer the perfect backdrop for spotting these marvelous creatures in their natural habitat. Here are a few good locations to start.

1. Allegheny National Forest

View of Kinzua Lake through the tree in the Allegheny National Forest

Located in the northwest section of the state, the Allegheny National Forest is a vast expanse of over 500,000 acres, making it the perfect spot for wildlife enthusiasts to explore. The forest’s rugged terrain and thick foliage provide the ideal habitat for the elusive black bear, ensuring visitors have a good chance of spotting them.

With ample hunting and fishing opportunities, the ANF offers a unique blend of outdoor activities for visitors to enjoy. Hikers can explore over 200 miles of trails, while those seeking a more challenging experience can try their hand at rock climbing or mountain biking. For those interested in history, the forest is also home to several fascinating historical sites and museums.

Whether you are an experienced outdoorsman or a newcomer to the world of wildlife, Allegheny National Forest is the perfect destination for a bear-watching adventure. With its vast size and diverse array of activities, it’s easy to see why this beautiful forest is a favorite spot for nature lovers from around the country. So pack your bags, strap on your hiking boots, and head to the Allegheny National Forest for an unforgettable experience!

2. Rothrock State Forest

Hiking trail through the dense underbrush in Rothrock State Forest

Located in the heart of PA, the Rothrock State Forest is a natural wonderland covering over 96,000 acres of land. This vast forest is a perfect destination for nature enthusiasts and wildlife photographers alike.

One of visitors most exciting experiences here is spotting bears in their natural environment. The Rothrock State Forest is home to a sizeable population, making it a great place to witness these marvelous creatures up close.

With its varied topography, the forest offers diverse areas to spot these magnificent mammals, whether along the rolling hills, at the edge of the valleys, or deep in the woods. Hikers and bikers can explore the many trails while keeping an eye out for these beautiful animals. One of the popular trails is the Mid-State Trail, which provides an ideal vantage point to catch sight of these animals in their natural surroundings.

Visitors can also enjoy scenic drives on the forest’s well-maintained roads. The forest is open year-round, and visitors have plenty of opportunities for an exciting wilderness adventure throughout the year.

Moreover, there are many other activities to partake in the Rothrock State Forest, including fishing, camping, picnicking, and even bouldering! With such a varied range of outdoor activities for visitors to enjoy, the Rothrock State Forest is a one-stop destination for every nature lover.

3. Ricketts Glen State Park

Hiking Trail through Ricketts Glen State Park, Pennsylvania

Nestled in the beautiful mountainous region, Ricketts Glen State Park is a true hidden gem of the East Coast. With over 13,000 acres of lush greenery, lush forests, and 26 miles of scenic hiking trails, there’s no shortage of beautiful sights to see.

But one unique feature of Ricketts Glen State Park is its thriving population of black bears. So for wildlife enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike, it’s the perfect place to catch a glimpse of them as they roam in the wild. 

The park’s beautiful terrain boasts 22 named waterfalls, which provide the perfect backdrop for a sighting. So whether hiking along the Falls Trail System or camping in one of the park’s many sites, keep your eyes peeled for these shy creatures.

Not only does Ricketts Glen State Park offer incredible wildlife viewing opportunities, but visitors can also enjoy a variety of outdoor activities. From fishing in the park’s many streams and lakes to kayaking and backpacking, there’s no shortage of adventure to be had here.

4. Cherry Springs State Park

High overlook of forested mountains

Cherry Springs State Park is an excellent destination for spotting local wildlife, notably the black bear. Covering over 82 acres of beautiful Pennsylvania wilderness, the park is located in Potter County, which is widely known for its black bear population. 

Cherry Springs State Park is especially popular among hikers and campers due to its stunning dark sky views and its role as one of the best stargazing destinations in the United States. However, its wild beauty also attracts all kinds of wildlife, including deer, wild turkey, and, of course, black bears.

If you’re interested in observing them, it’s important to note that they are most active in the early morning and late evening. In addition, visitors should keep a safe distance from the bears and not approach or try to feed them. It’s recommended to watch black bears from a safe distance.

Overall, if you’re seeking a chance to experience nature up close and personal, Cherry Springs State Park is definitely worth visiting. So pack your binoculars, camera, and hiking shoes, and head to Cherry Springs State Park for an unforgettable experience.

5. Tioga State Forest

Rough and steep Turkey Path Trail leads to the bottom of the gorge

Tioga State Forest, located in north-central Pennsylvania, is a gem for nature enthusiasts, especially those looking to spot a bear. The forest spans over 160,000 acres of land and boasts breathtaking views of mountain ranges, pristine lakes, and endless hiking trails. In addition, the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon is located in the forest, and it is one of the largest areas of woodland in the state.

One of the most exciting things about the forest is the opportunity to spot a bear in the wild. With its diverse ecosystem of deciduous forests, streams, and wetlands, the forest provides the perfect setting for these elusive creatures. 

Aside from the bear sightings, plenty of activities to enjoy within the forest exist. Hikers can take on the challenging trails, while those who prefer a more leisurely pace can opt for a picnic at one of the state parks or along one of the streams. Fishing enthusiasts will be delighted that the forest is home to trout, bass, and catfish.

In conclusion, Tioga State Forest is a must-visit destination if you’re looking for a thrilling wildlife experience. Its vast size, diverse ecosystem, and numerous wildlife viewing opportunities make it truly unique. So, pack your bags, grab your camera, and head to the Tioga State Forest for an unforgettable adventure.

Keystone Answers Fun Fact: Black bears are surprisingly fast. They can reach speeds of 35 miles per hour!

6. Michaux State Forest

Two people canoeing at Long Pine Reservoir in Michaux State Forest, Pennsylvania

Nestled in the heart of South Central PA, Michaux State Forest is a picturesque destination for those looking to experience nature’s beauty and wildlife. Covering over 85,500 acres of land, Michaux State Forest offers ample opportunity to witness the magnificent black bear.

Michaux State Forest is home to various animals, including white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, and grouse. Visitors can also enjoy the lush green forests, streams, and miles of trails that wind through Michaux’s beautiful landscape. During the fall season, the forests’ leaves turn into stunning shades of autumn, making it an ideal destination for nature lovers.

Michaux State Forest has many miles of trails, making it a paradise for hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders. Thirty-seven miles of the Appalachian Trail runs through the state forest, offering breathtaking vistas of the countryside. Additionally, visitors can engage in activities such as fishing and camping.

7. Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

Water fall in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Pennsylvania

When it comes to viewing bears in their natural habitat, few places can compare to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Located in the northeastern United States in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, this massive recreational area covers over 70,000 acres of land. It features breathtaking landscapes that are perfect for observing wildlife.

In addition to the abundance of wildlife roaming the park’s forests, visitors can enjoy hiking, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, and camping. The park boasts over 100 miles of trails, several lakes and rivers, and an array of campgrounds, lodges, and cabins.

But what truly sets the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area apart is its unique natural beauty. The park is home to stunning waterfalls, towering cliffs, and dense forests, providing visitors an unparalleled opportunity to immerse themselves in the natural world. And if you’re lucky, you may catch a glimpse of a black bear as it forages for food or plays in the woods.

8. Ohiopyle State Park

Small water fall in Ohiopyle State Park, Pennsylvania

The magnificent Ohiopyle State Park is the southern gateway into the Laurel Highlands of the southwestern part of the state. This serene park spans over 20,000 acres and features abundant natural beauty. But there’s one specific reason that draws visitors from near and far – the park’s thriving black bear population.

Visitors to Ohiopyle State Park have the unique opportunity to glimpse these majestic creatures in the wild. The park’s sprawling forests and lush greenery offer the perfect backdrop for these awe-inspiring animals. So whether you’re an avid wildlife enthusiast or just looking for an adventure, Ohiopyle State Park has something for you.

Aside from wildlife, Ohiopyle State Park offers many other features to suit any interest. Thrill-seekers can experience the exhilarating white-water rapids of the Youghiogheny River, while hikers can explore over 80 miles of scenic trails. The park also offers camping, fishing, and picnicking facilities for a complete nature experience.

With its stunning natural beauty and incredible wildlife, Ohiopyle State Park stands out as a must-visit destination for anyone who appreciates the great outdoors. Don’t miss out on the chance to see these charismatic black bears while exploring all the park has to offer.

9. Bald Eagle State Park

Green meadow in Bald Eagle State Park, Pennsylvania

Nestled in the heart of central Pennsylvania, Bald Eagle State Park is a hidden gem for anyone looking to witness one of nature’s most magnificent creatures: the American black bear. Covering over 5,900 acres, Bald Eagle State Park offers ample opportunity to view these awe-inspiring animals.

The park is home to all kinds of wildlife and boasts beautiful forests, F.J. Sayers Lake, and stunning mountain vistas, making it a perfect destination for nature lovers of all kinds. The park features over 14 miles of hiking trails, including the popular Skyline Drive Trail, which offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Additionally, visitors can enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities, including fishing, boating, and camping.

So if you want to see some of Pennsylvania’s most beloved creatures, there’s no better place to visit than Bald Eagle State Park. With its beautiful scenery, incredible wildlife, and endless opportunities for outdoor adventure, it’s a must-see destination for anyone looking to experience the natural beauty of the central part of the state.

10. Sinnemahoning State Park

View of the George B Stevenson dam reservoir, Pennsylvania

Nestled in the stunning mountains of the Pennsylvania Wilds, Sinnemahoning State Park is a breathtaking natural paradise that offers visitors unparalleled opportunities to immerse themselves in the great outdoors. This park spans an impressive 1,910 acres of lush forest, pristine streams, and rolling meadows and is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike.

The park is situated between the Elk and Susquehannock State Forests and is home to a healthy population of black bears. Visitors are often treated to sightings of these magnificent creatures as they roam the forest in search of food.

Additionally, the park boasts a large viewing platform that provides visitors with an excellent vantage point for observing wild animals in their natural environment, including elk.

Sinnemahoning State Park also features the picturesque Sinnemahoning Creek and the George B. Stevenson Dam, which offers ample opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. The area is also home to a variety of wildlife species, including white-tailed deer, ospreys, bald eagles, and more.

This location is an outdoor lover’s paradise with 6 miles of scenic hiking trails, pristine fishing streams, and numerous campsites. So whether you’re looking to observe bears in their natural habitat or simply soak up the serene beauty of the Pennsylvania wilderness, this breathtaking park will captivate and inspire visitors of all ages.

11. Loyalsock State Forest

Two fishermen in the Loyalsock State Forest, Pennsylvania

Located in the northeastern part of the state, Loyalsock State Forest spans over 114,000 acres of stunning natural beauty. It is the perfect place to view black bears in their natural habitat. The forest’s diverse landscape, which includes rolling hills, lush greenery, and winding streams, provides an idyllic environment for these majestic creatures.

But that’s not all there is to see in this incredible forest. From awe-inspiring waterfalls to rugged hiking trails and crystal-clear streams teeming with trout, the Loyalsock State Forest has something for everyone. And with its diverse wildlife, including deer, fox, and coyotes, there’s always something new and exciting to discover around every corner.

While exploring the forest, visitors can also enjoy a range of recreational activities, such as hiking, camping, and fishing. The forest has numerous trails, including the famous Loyalsock Trail, which spans 59 miles and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding wilderness.

In addition, Loyalsock State Forest has several unique features that make it an excellent destination for nature enthusiasts. For example, the Canyon Vista lookout provides stunning panoramic forest views and is the perfect spot for birding. The Haystacks, a cluster of rock formations, is another must-see attraction in the forest.

Venture into the Wild

In conclusion, Pennsylvania is a truly remarkable state that offers a unique and unforgettable experience to anyone wishing to see black bears as they roam in the wild. From the tranquil forests of the Pocono Mountains to the rugged terrain of Ricketts Glen, there is no shortage of awe-inspiring places to witness these magnificent creatures roaming free. 

Who knows? With a bit of luck and patience, you may catch a glimpse of these incredible animals in their natural element.

Photo of author


I was born and raised in Pennsylvania; I love to travel, visit new destinations, explore unique locations, and meet great new people. However, sometimes, you don't need to travel far from home to find new adventures, so I decided now was the time to learn more about this great state I call home.