Cook Forest + Mosquito Lake

I apologize in advance for the long post. I missed posting yesterday so I’m catching up on the past 2 days. Another thing- we updated our comment section so you can now comment without logging into Facebook if you choose. We ♥ comments.

Our last day in Pennsylvania was hot- really hot. So hot that we spent the afternoon inside with the AC cranking. Neither of us have ever lived somewhere with AC before so this is a real treat. Our big furry dog agrees. He spent the afternoon snoozing while Tim got some work done and I took advantage of the unlimited water supply to do some cleaning.

Cook Forest
Tim in his office (yes that is a beer you see)

We did manage to sneak in some outside time in the morning before the heat was unbearable. A short 25 minute drive took us to the Cook State Forest, a 8,500 acre forest most famous for its stands of huge old growth trees. There is network of hiking trails that meander through the forest and I found a handy guide online with descriptions and locations of all the trails. We chose the 2 mile Cook trail because it started and ended near the Clarion River. Phineas got in his daily swim and we watched vacationers as they floated & paddled down the river.

Cook Forest
Chasing rocks in the Clarion River
Cook Forest
Floating on the river

We saw a few people floating down the river in these two-person rafts.  There was a place nearby crawling with people that rented them along with canoes and kayaks. Looked like fun, but we had to remind ourselves that we’re not on vacation and we can’t do everything fun that we see. Besides, the water was kind of brown and yucky looking. Also there was a huge information sign about water snakes- yikes! I don’t care if the sign said they’re harmless- I think snakes are the grossest creatures ever and you couldn’t pay me enough to go in a river where snakes hang out. Thankfully we didn’t see any.

Cook Forest
Self-portrait by the Clarion River

Our hike through the forest was pretty awe inspiring. Getting a good picture of the massive old growth trees was practically impossible, but here’s a few of my attempts.

Cook Forest
Looking up into the canopy of an Eastern Hemlock- the PA state tree

One of my favorite parts of this hike was the signs located throughout the forest with information about the trees. I’m kind of a nerd when it comes to nature so anytime I can learn while I hike I’m pretty happy. The next picture is of an American Chestnut snag. It was killed by a chestnut blight in the early 1920s and has been hanging out here ever since.

Cook Forest
Chestnut snag

Did you know that birch beer is made from the bark of the Black Birch tree? Now you do.

Cook Forest
Black Birch bark makes Birch Beer (say that 3 times fast)

On the edge of the trail were a bunch of rustic looking cabins for rent. Seems like a great place to vacation (if you don’t have an airstream of course).

Cook Forest
Cabins in the forest

We enjoyed our exploration of western Pennsylvania, but the time had come to continue moving west. Next stop – Mosquito Lake State Park near Cortland, Ohio. Yeah I know…the name is really unfortunate, so far no mosquitos though. Our original intention was to drive straight through Ohio. There was nothing in this state that really called out to us and we’re pretty excited to get up into Michigan and explore the sandy beaches of Lake Michigan. However, we’re trying to maintain a slow travel pace and so far have managed to stick to our no more than 200 miles a day rule. Driving straight through Ohio would have exceeded 200 miles and then some. This is actually a pretty nice park situated on the shores of man made mosquito lake. The majority of sites are wooded and while there are no sites right on the water, the boating access spot is really close to our site, and just a few miles down the road is a five acre dog park and dog only beach!

Cook Forest
Dog park and dog beach

Phineas is pretty sure this is the best idea ever.

Water station + a fire hydrant cause all dog parks need a fire hydrant

Phineas made friends with two standard poodles- Teddy & Ollie. Ollie (the white one) was only 7 months old and recovering from some kind of leg surgery. The vet said swimming was the best exercise for him. The only problem- he was just a pup and didn’t know how to swim. Lucky for him master swimmer Phineas was around to show him the ropes. After watching Phin swim to the ball a few times he ventured out on his own and was soon paddling like a pro.

Teddy & Ollie
swimming pups

The dog swimming area wasn’t very big, but it was enough to make our pooch very happy.

Dog beach

We’ll be here until Monday morning so more pictures of our site (and of us) to come. Supposed to be warm but cloudy all weekend so hopefully we’ll find some hiking near by.

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One Response to “Cook Forest + Mosquito Lake”


  1. cherie

    I concur 100% about the snakes. I hate all snakes. Huge, tiny, in between. Non-poisonous or dripping with venom. Doesn’t matter. And I’m most terrified of water snakes. Something about the way they swim in the water gives me a huge case of the heebie-jeebies.

    I’m so envious that you’re on the road. Anxious for our time to start. Love your blog! :)


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