The peak of Pennsylvania’s elk viewing season is here.
If you thought Pennsylvania’s elk country got crowded in the fall, well, you’re right.
The state is home to about 1,000 elk, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s most recent “minimum count.” That’s an attempt to quantify the size of the herd.
Over the last five years, though, the Winslow Hill area – the centerpiece of the elk viewing range – has been visited by about one million people, according to commission estimates.
That’s 200 people per elk, per year, on average.
“You’re not going to be alone. That’s the first thing you need to keep in mind,” Doty McDowell, information and education supervisor in the agency’s northcentral region office, warns visitors.
Most of the traffic is going to come in the next few weeks. The peak of the elk viewing season – which overlaps with the time when bulls are bugling and fall foliage is at its brightest – is generally considered to run from Labor Day to Columbus Day.
Winslow Hill – which offers free WiFi for the first time this fall — and some of the other viewing areas will get most of the traffic. A map showing where those viewing areas are located can be found by clicking here.
But there is a new option this year.
McDowell noted entry into most elk viewing areas is restricted, for safety reasons and to keep elk coming back.
“The question always was, where can we legally walk up here, where can we get out of our vehicle? The Woodring Farm is the perfect, perfect location,” McDowell said.
The farm is an 88-acre piece of ground located very close to Winslow Hill. The commission, with help from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, acquired it and built a three-quarter-mile hiking trail that leads past fields of warm and cold season grasses, wildflowers and clover, a wetland and observation area. All of those spots hold elk on occasion, McDowell said.
A map of the trail is below.
Woodring Farm Hiking Trail Map
He also recommended visitors check out the Elk County Visitor Center – details are here — and the special events on tap at Winslow Hill.
Elk are visible most often early and late in the day. To keep families entertained and provide some wildlife education over the course of the rest of the day, the commission is offering a number of public programs, from guided nature hikes to movies to lectures on elk, eagles and wildlife crime investigations. The Elk Foundation’s Great Elk Tour – a traveling road show highlighting some of the biggest elk ever seen – will be in the area, too.
The schedule – as it stands now – can be viewed here.
And if you can’t get to elk country?
Check here because the commission’s elk cam – a live video feed on state game land 311 in Elk County – is up and running.
The camera is trained on “a field that typically is a hub of elk activity as the bugling season heats up.” It typically captures shots of “some good-sized bull elk, not to mention turkeys, deer and other wildlife,” the commission said.
The live stream is slated to run until the end of the bugling season, likely sometime in mid-October. The top time to see elk on camera has been late in the afternoon.