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Mount Davis Area

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Information

Source: Pennsylvania DCNR

Mt. Davis was named after John N. Davis, an early settler and former owner of the site. He was a Civil War veteran, land surveyor, and naturalist. It is said that he could readily identify all the wildlife and wild plants in the region, and was familiar with the various rock formations. This area is unique in that the central feature is a rock, 3,213 feet above sea level. This rock is the highest point in Pennsylvania.

Most of the 5,685 acres of State Forest Land surrounding Mt. Davis were purchased by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1929 (subsequent purchases were made in 1942, 1967, and 1980). In 1935 an observation tower was constructed on the site. Mt. Davis was first given recognition as an area of special significance in 1945, when it was declared a State Forest Monument.

In 1974, 581 acres surrounding the High Point were designated a State Forest Natural Area. Because of the 1935 development at High Point, the seven acres immediately surrounding it were not included.

Unusual circular patterns of stone, formed by frost action over thousands of years, occur near the base of the observation tower.

Portions of Negro Mountain (on which Mt. Davis is located) have been severely burned by wildfires in the past. In these areas, trees, shrubs, and wildflowers that are present elsewhere on the mountain have been eliminated. Pioneer species have replaced the latter.

The Casselman River is the main drainage for the area, and sweeps around Negro Mountain before reaching its confluence with the Youghiogheny River.

Negro Mountain

For 150 years after the first colonies were established, Negro Mountain was untouched by the settlers. The Allegheny Front presented a barrier to western migration. Treaties with the Indians in 1754 and 1758 forbid occupancy west of the Allegheny Mountains. Only a few adventurous traders and trappers wandered along the Casselman River before 1690. Political and economic interest in the western territory developed during the mid 1700's. The British and French were both interested in claiming the territory for themselves. It was during this period that Negro Mountain its name. Several versions of the story exist, but all agree that a large, powerful black man valiantly distinguished himself in battle with the Indians. Thereafter, the mountain on which he died and was hastily buried in an unmarked grave, became known as Negro Mountain.

Negro Mountain is about 30 miles long, and located in the center of the Allegheny Plateau. It lies between Laurel Mountain on the east and Allegheny Mountain on the west. It is one of the oldest geological rock formations in the area, evidenced by the different rock outcroppings along the ridge. The terrain is deceptive. The mountains are not sharply elevated, and their smooth water washed surfaces give them a low profile. These mountains are slightly elevated projections on a plateau that averages 1,900 feet above sea level.

Weather is an important factor for the region. Annual temperatures range from -30 degrees to 95 degrees in Fahrenheit. Frost has been observed at some point during every month of the year. Annual rainfall ranges from 38 to 42 inches. It is not uncommon for snow depths to reach 3 to 4 feet by mid-winter.

Civilian Conservation Corps

The 1930's had a profound effect on Negro Mountain. President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the CCC in 1933 to provide jobs for more than 200,000 young men during the Great Depression. A CCC camp was established in June at a site on Tub Mill Run. The camp was in operation until July 1937. During these four short years, many improvements were made. This group of men constructed North and South Wolf Rock Roads, Shelter Rock Road, Vought Rock Road, and many miles of fire access trails. Springs were developed to supply water for fire fighting. The existing shelter at Mt. Davis Picnic Area was also constructed by the group. Other projects include telephone line construction of the Negro Mountain fire tower, timber stand improvement, tree planting, seed collecting, bridge construction, stream improvement projects, and feeding wildlife.

Camping Information

Camping in the Forbes State Forest is restricted to backpack-type camping. Camping out of vehicles or campers is not permitted. Permits for camping are required only if campers stay more than one night at any campsite. All campers are encouraged to obtain a permit in case you are overdue or if someone needs to reach you.

Campers must:

  • Camp at least 100 feet from any stream
  • Camp at least 200 feet from and out of sight of roads
  • Camp at least 25 feet from and out of sight of any trails
  • Keep field privies at least 200 feet from any water source
  • Pack out all trash
  • Not have campfires when wildfire danger is high

Mt. Davis Features >

Mt. Davis Trails >

Information Trails Features Pictures
Somerset County, PA Somerset County, Pennsylvania
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