Hearts Content Scenic Area

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Hearts Content Scenic Area
IUCN category V (protected landscape/seascape)
Hearts Content Scenic Area (10) (8929491726).jpg
Map showing the location of Hearts Content Scenic Area
Map showing the location of Hearts Content Scenic Area
Location of Hearts Content National Scenic Area in Pennsylvania
LocationWatson, Warren, Pennsylvania, United States
Coordinates41°41′33.3″N 79°15′15.2″W / 41.692583°N 79.254222°W / 41.692583; -79.254222Coordinates: 41°41′33.3″N 79°15′15.2″W / 41.692583°N 79.254222°W / 41.692583; -79.254222[1]
Area120 acres (49 ha)
Elevation1,893 ft (577 m)[1]
Established1934 (1934)
Named foridiom "to one's heart's content"
OperatorUnited States Forest Service

Hearts Content National Scenic Area is a tract of old-growth forest in Warren County, northwestern Pennsylvania. It represents one of the few remaining old-growth forests in the northeastern United States that contain white pine.[2] The area is protected as a National Scenic Area within the Allegheny National Forest.[3]


While many of the region's forests were being clear-cut, the Wheeler and Dusenbury Lumber Company held the 20-acre (8.1 ha) tract of old-growth forest at Heart's Content from 1897 until 1922, when they deeded it to the United States Forest Service.[4] In 1934, the Chief of the Forest Service recognized the old-growth stand and 102 acres (0.41 km2) of surrounding land as a National Scenic Area. The forest became a National Natural Landmark in 1973.[5]

Scientific study[edit]

H.J. Lutz's 1930 study of Hearts Content was one of the earliest quantitative analyses of plant communities in an old-growth forest,[2] and it remains influential in the field of ecology.[6] Lutz concluded that the even-aged white pine stand established following a major disturbance in the 17th century, such as a fire (possibly set by Native Americans during the Beaver Wars); since then, the species has not reproduced under the closed canopy. By relocating and resampling Lutz's original plots, Whitney documented 50 years of changes in the structure and composition of the stand.[6] During this time, dense deer populations have reduced the regeneration of many tree and herb species.[6][7]


Hearts Content represents E. Lucy Braun's hemlock-white pine-northern hardwood forest type.[8] The old-growth forest is from 122 acres (49 ha) to 150 acres (61 ha) in extent, but the scenic area is most famous for its 20 acres (8.1 ha) of tall white pine and Eastern hemlock.[9] Many of these trees have diameters of over 40 inches (102 cm) and heights of over 140 feet (43 m),[2] and most of the white pine are between 300 and 400 years old. American beech is also plentiful in the forest, but is affected by Beech bark scale.[3] Hay-scented fern covers much of the understory due to overbrowsing by deer.[3]


Visitors can walk an easily accessible, 1-mile (1.6 km) loop trail through the old-growth forest.[4] A picnic area, campground and several other trailheads are nearby. A 6.4-mile (10.3 km) cross-country ski trail passes through the area on old railroad grades.[4] There are also numerous camps owned by private individuals in the area.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Hearts Content Recreation Site". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. August 2, 1979. Retrieved May 30, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c Lutz, H. J. (January 1930). "The vegetation of Heart's Content, a virgin forest in northwestern Pennsylvania". Ecology. Ecological Society of America. 11 (1): 1–29. doi:10.2307/1930778. JSTOR 1930778.
  3. ^ a b c "Heart's Content Scenic Area". Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
  4. ^ a b c "Hearts Content Recreation Area". United States Forest Service. April 14, 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-15.
  5. ^ "Hearts Content Scenic Area". National Natural Landmark. National Park Service. May 4, 2011. Retrieved May 30, 2011.
  6. ^ a b c Whitney, G. G. (1984). "Fifty years of change in the arboreal vegetation of Heart's Content, an old-growth hemlock-white pine-northern hardwood stand". Ecology. Ecological Society of America. 65 (2): 403–408. doi:10.2307/1941403. JSTOR 1941403.
  7. ^ Rooney, T. P.; Dress, W.J. (October 1997). "Species loss over sixty-six years in the ground-layer vegetation of Heart's Content, an old-growth forest in Pennsylvania, USA". Natural Areas Journal. 17: 297–305.
  8. ^ Braun, E. L. (1950). Deciduous Forests of Eastern North America. Caldwell, NJ: Blackburn Press. ISBN 1-930665-30-X.
  9. ^ Mary Byrd Davis (January 23, 2008). "Old Growth in the East: A Survey. Pennsylvania" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on February 17, 2012.

External links[edit]