Hearts Content National Scenic Area
is a tract of old-growth forest
in Warren County
, northwestern Pennsylvania
. It represents one of the few remaining old-growth forests in the northeastern United States that contain white pine
. The area is protected as a National Scenic Area within the Allegheny National Forest
While many of the region's forests were being clear-cut
, the Wheeler and Dusenbury Lumber Company held the tract of old-growth forest at Heart's Content from 1897 until 1922, when they deeded it to the United States Forest Service
. In 1934, the Chief of the Forest Service
recognized the old-growth stand and of surrounding land as a National Scenic Area. The forest became a National Natural Landmark
H.J. Lutz's study of Hearts Content was one of the earliest quantitative analyses of plant communities in an old-growth forest, and it remains influential in the field of ecology
. Lutz concluded that the even-aged white pine stand established following a major disturbance
about 350 years ago, such as a fire; since then, the species has not reproduced under the closed canopy. By relocating and resampling Lutz's original plots, Whitney documented 50 years of changes in the structure and composition of the stand. During this time, dense deer
populations have reduced the regeneration of many tree and herb species.
Hearts Content represents E. Lucy Braun's
hemlock-white pine-northern hardwood forest type. The stand's dominant tree species include hemlock
and white pine. Many of the hemlocks and white pines have diameters
of over and heights of over . Most of the white pine are between 300 and 400 years old. Beech bark scale
affects many of the beech trees. Hay-scented fern
covers much of the understory
due to overbrowsing by deer.
Visitors can walk an easily accessible, loop trail through the old-growth forest. A picnic area, campground and several other trailheads are nearby. A cross-country ski trail
passes through the area on old railroad grades
. There are also numerous camps owned by private individuals in the area.