Places We Protect

West Branch Forest Preserve


Susquehanna River mist seen from a West Branch Wilderness overlook.
West Branch Wilderness Susquehanna River mist seen from a West Branch Wilderness overlook. © George C. Gress

Situated in the heart of Pennsylvania’s High Allegheny Plateau, the West Branch Forest Preserve offers an unspoiled view for 50 miles.



Adjoined by state conservation lands and in close proximity to Hyner View State Park, a popular hang gliding area, The Nature Conservancy's West Branch Forest Preserve is nestled within an area many consider to be a recreational paradise. In addition to supporting opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, the preserve serves as a research and demonstration project for sustainable forestry, earning Forest Stewardship Council certification—the global gold standard for forest management—in 2008. Since then, TNC has implemented many activities designed to restore degraded forest and establish new, high-quality early and late-successional forest at the preserve.

Threats to This Preserve

Nearby natural gas drilling and gas transmission activities threaten to fragment forests, which could compromise water quality in the area. Illegal ATV trespass has also been observed on parts of the property. New forest pests are being introduced through increased human activity, and are threatening the health of our forests.

Over-abundant deer, considered by some to be a bigger threat to eastern forests than climate change, jeopardize the preserve's ecological health. In response, TNC has installed trail cameras in order to monitor the health and habits of deer located on the preserve.

Milestones at This Preserve

TNC purchased the 3,034-acre West Branch tract from a private owner because it connected with existing state-owned holdings in the Sproul State Forest and Bucktail Natural Area to connect a total of 18,000 acres.




Daily, from dawn to dusk


The preserve and neighboring Sproul State Forest harbor white-tailed deer, black bear, wild turkey, grouse, timber rattlesnake, bobcat, numerous warblers and birds of prey, and native brook trout. The area also boasts abundant wildlife, including river otter, fisher and a recently reintroduced elk herd.


3,034 acres

Explore our work in this region

In addition to a variety of outdoor recreational activities, visitors to the West Branch Forest Preserve have an opportunity to witness all of the activities implemented at a sustainably-managed, working forest. These include vegetation control, mowing, prescribed fire, herbicide application, warm season grasses, enrichment plantings, wood biomass harvests and a one-acre hybrid American chestnut research orchard.

A historic depression-era stone craftsman cabin serves as the property’s base camp. Certain activities are prohibited, including trapping, horseback riding, camping, fires and off-road vehicle use.

West Branch Forest is enrolled in the Pennsylvania Game Commission's (PGC) Forest Game and Deer Management Assistance Program and is an active participant in the Quality Deer Management Association. Public access hunting is permitted and encouraged in accordance with PGC regulations. Additionally, fishing is permitted, in accordance with Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission regulations, at Johnson and Ritchie runs—two streams that have been rated "Class A Wild Trout Waters" due to healthy populations of naturally reproducing native brook trout.


View of mountain ridges covered in trees.
West Branch Forest Preserve
The West Branch Forest Preserve is situated in the heart of Pennsylvania’s High Allegheny Plateau.

Support Pennsylvania Nature

Help TNC and partners sustain a vibrant future for the communities and wildlife that share Pennsylvania’s diverse landscape.