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Walk Across the Sky at Kinzua Bridge State Park
In Pennsylvania, we pride ourselves on overcoming the challenges Mother Nature places in front of us. To make the bend of the Alleghenies’ western slopes, we constructed the Horseshoe Curve; to cross the wide waters of the Susquehanna, we built the longest stone arch bridge ever made; when we reached the Kinzua Creek Valley in 1882, we didn’t go around it. We went straight over it, forging the iron and steel we needed for the highest—and longest—railroad bridge in the entire world. Selected as one of the world’s best viewpoints, the Kinzua Sky Walk at Kinzua Bridge State Park is a one-of-a-kind way to see Pennsylvania’s expanse of woods transform into fiery colors for the fall foliage season. The park’s new visitor center offers stunning views, a gift shop, family-friendly picnic areas, guided tours, and more.
Spanning more than 2,000 feet at the height of 301 feet, the Kinzua Bridge was considered an “engineering masterpiece”, a shortcut through the impossible that avoided an otherwise eight-mile journey around the valley. It was a shortcut that would earn Kinzua Bridge State Park a place on the National Register of Historic Places.
But Mother Nature proved to have a side even the industrious Pennsylvanians couldn’t conquer. In 2003, an F-1 tornado tore through the gorge and destroyed most of the steel viaduct. Eleven towers that supported the bridge were torn from their cement bases and deposited on the floor of the valley where they rest today as a demonstration of nature’s awesome force.
Its remnants were given new life, though, and a partial glass-bottom observation deck was made at the edge of the remaining track (now known as the skywalk) 600 feet out. It is here that you’ll catch a breathtaking glimpse of the steel structure, the remains of the collapsed towers, and the Kinzua Creek 225 feet below you. Besides the skywalk and glass-bottom observation deck, you can also view the bridge from the Picture Taking Platform located under the skywalk which provides an interesting “3D” effect. A short side trail from the platform leads to the Kinzua Creek Trail—or vice-versa.
This overlook is the trailhead of the Kinzua Creek Trail, a half-mile, very difficult hike switchbacks to the valley bottom for some close-up views of the fallen towers. Retrace your steps back to the trailhead, the Picture Taking Platform, and avoid the debris field. The easier option for hiking is the General Kane Trail, just over a mile, through hardwood forests of black cherry and maple. You’ll get to see other areas of the forest that the 2003 tornado ravaged. The Kinzua Bridge Scenic Byway is also a designated shared-use hike and bike corridor.
Visit the website for more information on Kinzua Bridge State Par.
Kinzua Bridge State Park
296 Viaduct Road
Kane, PA 16735