Actually, Hall Barn is better used as one stop in a daylong reconnoiter of the Allegheny River than as a destination unto itself. It’s one of my favorite places in the region to spend an hour or so walking the short paths and spotting birds and other wildlife.
Hall Barn, along Route 62 in Hickory Township, Forest County, Pa.
Not to mention the bats.
The U.S. Forest Service, which with partner organizations manages the property on the Allegheny National Forest, says as many as 1,000 little brown and big brown bats make their home in the barn each summer,with space for as many as 5,000 more in a nearby bat “condominium.” The best time to see them is as dusk, of course; the Forest Service says most of them leave to feed through an open window best viewed from the parking lot.
An educational placard from the U.S. Forest Service on the premises of the Hall Barn in Forest County.
You’re very likely to see migratory or nesting birds on the property, depending on the time of year. Common yellowthroats and yellow warblers are certainties in spring and summer. So are raptors, like the redtailed hawk that spiraled over the property on June 15. A new sighting that day was two yellow-billed cuckoos who had the run of property.
The view from the parking lot of the Hall Barn in Forest County.
The Forest Service said the barn was built in the 1930s but later abandoned. The Forest Service acquired it in 1979 and began managing it for wildlife by way of fruit and nut trees, shrubs and grasses and herbs. A single trail meanders through the property, leading out of the reclaimed space to the treed border at the Allegheny River. Eastern bluebirds and bald eagles also are likely sightings here.
An educational placard placed at the Hall Barn in Forest County by the U.S. Forest Service.
The barn itself is off limits for entry, but the property, which is unstaffed, is free to visit. There are no facilities on the property. It is an easy drive out of Tionesta, and from Tidioute and points north makes for a nice place to stretch the legs if you’re making a lazy day’s drive alongside the river. There are outfitters and river access points along Route 62, as well as restaurants in and around Tionesta. Through Tionesta, without stops, it’s about 1 hour and 40 minutes from Erie. Tionesta proper is about a half-hour drive from Cook Forest State Park and 40 or so minutes from Oil Creek State Park.
On the southeast side of Tionesta is Tionesta Lake and its recreation area. Maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, it features camping, boating and fishing opportunities and an information center.