Daycation: Blaze a trail with family-focused fun near Clear Creek State Park
May 7—A rural roaming adventure awaits with a daycation to Clear Creek State Park in Sigel.
Family-friendly activities abound amid the scenic park that encompasses more than 1,900 acres in Jefferson County.
"It's pronounced Sig-ul," said local Seth Crate. "This area has a classic, old-fashioned charm."
Nature enthusiasts come from far and wide to explore the Clear Creek State Forest, which spans more than 16,500 acres in Jefferson, Venango, Mercer, Clarion and Forest counties.
The Clarion River and Clear Creek Valley, where the park gets its name, flow through the park that was established in 1919.
Recreation activities include hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, boating, horseback riding, mountain biking and sightseeing.
The park was formed after the forest was depleted when iron and lumber companies clear-cut trees during the late 19th century.
Clear Creek is open year-round, from sunrise to sunset and is located off Route 949, about 80 miles and less than a two-hour drive from Pittsburgh.
Farm-Themed Family Fun
Kim Lucas has been at the helm of Farmers Inn as owner and operator for more than 40 years.
Visitors to Farmers Inn discover a one-stop day-filled destination complete with a wildlife park and petting zoo, Amish furniture, ice-cream window, restaurant, driving range, bulk foods store, bakery, gift shop, mini-golf and panning for gold.
"It's a place to spend most of the day for everyone. It's all about the family," said Lucas, who grew up a mile down the road in Sigel. "People are a little disconnected from farms nowadays, so it's nice that they can come and see all of this. We're surrounded by nature and customers say they just like being outdoors."
"This is all homemade — like grandmom's cooking," Lucas said of the restaurant inside a barn.
A giant mural depicting the inside of a working hay-filled barn, complete with a relaxing barn cat, flanks an entire wall in the main dining room.
Seasonal menu items include apple dumplings in the fall and strawberry and peach shortcakes in the summer.
"We have broasted chicken. That's the item we can't take off the menu," Lucas said.
The restaurant was destroyed by fire in 2017 and reopened less than a year later. Lucas is happy to put fire memories behind her and focus on the future and her guests.
"We're celebrating our 46th season and we have some good cooks that have been here for years and years," Lucas said.
Lucas works everywhere and all over the grounds, from cuddling a baby hedgehog over at the zoo or greeting and seating customers in the restaurant.
Although the name implies lodging, there's no room at the inn.
"She's one of the hardest working people around," Crate said.
Crate, 21, has worked at Farmers Inn for six years.
He said he enjoys meeting tourists from all over the country who arrive looking for a wholesome, family-focused outdoor experience in a rural setting. Visitors are able to feed goats and deer in the petting zoo.
"We have bears, mountain lions, wolves, kangaroos and exotic animals. That's a big draw for the families. This is a popular area," Crate said.
Farmers Inn is located at 759 Shaffer Road, 10 minutes from I-80 off exit 78.
A Rockin' Place
Massive rock formations entice hikers and explorers to Beartown Rocks, a popular hiking spot that some call "rock city," offering a scenic overlook among a maze of giant sandstone boulders.
Some of the rocks are bus-sized, house-sized and downright oversized.
Formed by glaciers more than 20,000 years ago, visitors can enjoy traversing a sometimes rocky terrain that comprises about four miles of unmarked trails. Surrounded by forest trees, kids and adults alike are fascinated by the giant rocks, one of the largest outcroppings of boulders in Pennsylvania, most of which have weathered, honeycomb patterns.
A wooden staircase leads to a deck/overlook offering a sweeping view of Clear Creek State Forest.
Find Beartown Rocks by driving Corbett Road southeast from Route 949 and looking for the signs.
With more than 77 miles of trails to traverse, Clear Creek State Park has designated 20 of those miles as hiking only.
The largest network of hiking trails is found in the southern half of the Kennerdell Tract.
Pine Rock Loop in Clear Creek Tract features distinct rock formations and a cascading stream.
Tadler Run Trail offers a 4.9-mile loop near Sigel that is popular for bird watching and picnics and offers views of the Clarion River.
Trails are ranked in three levels of difficulty — easiest, more difficult and most difficult.
The Ox Shoe Trail is a self-guided one-mile loop beginning and ending at the Nature Museum. The trail follows Clear Creek and educational signposts provide insight into the logging industry.
For a map of all 22 trails, visit dcnr.pa.gov.
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Joyce Hanz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joyce by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .