March 2011: Forbes State Forest - Quebec Run Wild Area

Hopwood, Pennsylvania

Forbes State Forest takes its name from General John Forbes, a Scotsman who led a methodical march on French-held Fort Duquesne in 1758. Forbes commanded the cutting of a wagon road out of the wilderness over the Allegheny Mountains, building a series of fortifications along the way to serve as supply depots. Forbes’ army was repulsed in its first attack on Fort Duquesne in September and he fell back to wait until spring for his next attempt. In the interim Indian support for the French fell apart and on November 25, 1758 the British were able to occupy a deserted and burned fort. Forbes immediately ordered the construction of a new fort between the rivers, which he called Fort Pitt after British Secretary of State William Pitt the Elder. Gravely ill from his campaign, Forbes left a week later, heading back to Philadelphia to die. His stay in the area was short but his legacy long-lasting. Before he left he named the settlement “Pittsborough.”  

Quebec Run, covering 7,441 wooded acres, is one of 16 state forest areas designated as a “wild area” - no amenities, no developments, including access roads. The forest on the east slope of Chestnut Ridge is laced with a honeycomb of footpaths and abandoned logging roads that make possible a variety of canine hiking loops. Budget at least two hours for any route you devise however. The hemlock and rhodedendron-shaded waters of Quebec Run that split the forest are a prime destination for most visitors. These lively waters are traced by the Rankin Trail that is intersected by a trio of trail to compose hiking loops. Deeper incursions lead to Tebolt Run and Mill Run. Just off Mill Run are the the ruins of an old water-powered grist mill. Quebec Run and Tebolt Run are mostly for frolicking but Mill Run is deep enough to support a doggie swim.

Standing along Skyline Drive atop Chestnut Ridge is the last fire tower in the Braddock Division of the Forbes State Forest. Built in 1937, the 80-foot high tower is no longer manned but is open to the public briefly in the fall for unparalleled views of three states. The grounds also house a cabin once used by the full-time fire watcher, plus a pavilion and a topographical marker.

Hopwood; east of town off US 40. At the top of the mountain turn south on Skyline Drive after the Laurel Summit Inn. Go 1.8 miles past Laurel Caverns and bear left where the road goes downhill to the right. This is unmarked and unimproved Quebec Road. Drive carefully down to the parking area on the right in 1.3 miles.