The Buzzard Swamp Wildlife Management area is cooperatively managed by the Allegheny National Forest and Pennysylvania Game Commission. It is a 1,122-acre special area that emphasizes wildlife management dynamics and outdoor recreation through education, outreach, science, policy and multi-use trail design and sustainability. This area offers one of the best Wildlife Watch and Photo-Ops experiences in the forest.
In the early 1960’s, the US Forest Service and the Pennsylvania Game Commission created a chain of 15 ponds. The area was intensively managed for waterfowl, furbearers and warm water fish. Encouraging mature and niche forest habitat that supports woodland bird species, bear habitat and cavity nesting and dwelling creatures such as the endangered Timber Rattlesnake was also on the agenda.
An amazing parade of waterfowl can be seen all year round. Early spring and fall are the busiest times. During the spring migration, over 20 species of waterfowl and wading birds can be spotted. Look for the Herring Gulls, Wood Ducks, Mallards, Hooded Mergansers, Blue and Green-winged Teals, American Coots and more. In early Autumn, Canada Geese and wading birds including the Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Double-breasted Comorant and Lesser Yellowlegs make an appearance.
It is wise to be observant. You might miss seeing the Raptors, Wood Turtles, .Black Bear, Deer, and the Coyote. The best way to stay safe when watching wildlife is to give animals room to move.
Bring your binoculars and camera. Camp in the forest at the Loleta Recreation Area located just five miles north for convenient access and a weekend Bike Safari.
Buzzard Swamp Wildlife Mgmt. Area Trail Connections
Songbird Sojourn Interpretive Trail
Mileage / Blaze: 1.5 miles, Gray Diamonds, Hiking Only
Self-guided nature trail. Access is via the Forest Road 157 trailhead. The trail travels over an old railroad grade. Pamphlets are available at the trailhead and the Marienville Ranger Station, 2 miles north of Marienville on State Route 66.
The dikes and meadows around the ponds create a 11.2 mile system of interconnecting, relatively flat multi-use trails for mountain biking, hiking and XC skiing. It's a quiet and scenic mountain bike safari with lots of opportunities to view wildlife. Most of the trails are not marked, so watch the informational signs for directions.
Connecting Forest Roads 130, 131 and 157 are usually open to the public. These gated roads are available for use by mountain bicyclists. Remember to close all gates behind you. All other roads in the unit have restricted access and will be limited to administrative use and project work.
The trails loop around the Buzzard Swamp and Muddy Fork, skirt along streams and travel through wildflower filled meadows and beautiful mixed forest of Black Cherry, Maple, Oak, White Ash and Tulip Poplar. Trail conditions do vary seasonally. Some of the trails travel through open meadow areas that offer little shade. The Forest Service occasionally mows the meadow grass but in between those times, and especially in late summer the grass can get overgrown. In the spring or after a downpour the trails can be extremely wet, muddy and practically under water in spots.
Disclaimer: Plan ahead and know the rules, bike with a trail buddy or two, wear and bring proper gear, know your ability level, wear blaze orange during hunting season and watch out for other trail users. Entry into waterfowl propagation area prohibited – and do not disturb nesting birds.
Two trailheads provide access to the Buzzard Swamp Wildlife Management Area.
Buzzard Swamp 157 Trailhead
The southern section tralhead is located on Forest Road 157, 1 mile south of Marienville on Loleta Road. The Songbird Sojourn Interpretive Trail (1.5 mile loop self-guided nature trail) starts at the trailhead.
Buzzard Swamp 376 TrailheadThe northern trailhead is located on Forest Road 376, 2.5 miles east of Marienville on Lamonaville Road.
Allegheny National Forest
Website: Allegheny National Forest