The Kinzua Bridge State Park is located in McKeen County in the northern portion of “PA Wilds” and centers around the remnants of a bridge that has been repurposed into a skywalk. The original bridge was constructed in 1882 and was the largest railroad bridge of its time, but needed to be upgraded to carry larger loads, so it was rebuilt in 1900.
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The bridge was undergoing restoration when it was damaged by a tornado in 2003. Many of the pillars fell and were left as they were as a testament to the awesome power of mother nature.
The skywalk is built atop the pillars that survived and the bridge has been retro-fitted to allow visitors to safely walk out to the end where there is a small area of glass that visitors can walk over.
The glass doesn’t look very transparent due to the sun’s reflection, but I can assure you it feels like you’re standing about 300 feet off the ground when you look down!
The same feeling can be felt by peering over the edge of the railing:
Kinzua Creek Trail
Kinzua Creek Trail begins not far from the wooden overlook by the visitors center and winds 0.4 miles down the steep gorge to the creek below. Did I say the trail is steep? It leads down a number of switchbacks with a few well-placed benches for extended breaks.
The views were 100% worth the steep slope. Looking up from the base of the gorge really drives home the massive effort undertaken to construct this bridge. Even by today’s standards, it would be a large construction project.
Once you reach the base of the gorge, the hike levels out, and winds over a small creek to the debris field.
From below in the debris field, the steel beams lay crumpled and torn in such a way that you can almost hear the popping of rivets and grinding of steel as half the bridge was toppled by winds and flattened across the valley.
I’m so happy they left these original beams to showcase the destructive power of tornados. I personally believe this feature is one of the most amazing parts of the park, and a sure reason to return year after year.