Last week I posted about attending the elk rut, and how awkward it is to explain to a seven year old just what the elk do. The photos in that post were from Benezette, specifically the Elk County Visitor’s Center and the fields and roads around it. But there are several places in Elk County to view the animals. Two of my favorites are Hick’s Run and Winslow Hill.
To the east of Benezette on PA 555 is Hick’s Run, which has an enclosed blind with several viewing locations. Even when the elk aren’t in rut, Hick’s Run is a delightful place to visit. The pathway to the blind runs through a stand of old-growth pine, and in addition there’s a small family burial plot to explore. It’s a bit disconcerting at dusk to be wandering around the stones of the Hicks and Dent families and hear the elk bugling. There is a free state forest campsite, with chemical toilets, located two miles down Hick’s Run Road. And while there’s no hiking trail in the immediate vicinity, the forest roads make for a nice walk.
Another good viewing spot is Winslow Hill, three miles up Winslow Hill Road from Route 555. Even aside from the elk this is a nice place to stop, because the view of the surrounding hills is breathtaking. And there are picnic benches a hundred feet or so from the observation area, so you can have lunch while taking in the scenery.
Both Hick’s Run and Winslow Hill observation areas feature offroad parking. While its tempting to just pull over somewhere and and watch for elk, please don’t. Elk County gets 75,000 visitors between August and October during the rut, and traffic can be heavy on the local roads. Enjoy viewing the elk, deer, wild turkeys, bear, and other animals at the viewing areas, not someone’s driveway or lawn.