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4.25.2021

PA Classic Covered Bridges List Bucket List: Twenty of Our Favorites

There are so many beautiful and classic covered bridges across the state, with 197 to be exact. That is a lot of covered bridges, and out of that large number, there are a few that stand out for being especially beautiful, well preserved, and in spectacular natural settings. For more information about each covered bridge, click the names of each covered bridge for a link to their separate articles. To see all of the covered bridges that we have written about, check out our covered bridges tag category. For more information about the state's collection of classic covered bridges, our favorite resource is pacoveredbridges.com

Each covered bridge title features a link to an article showing the locations of each bridge. We love all 197 covered bridges within the state, but the following spans stick out as our favorites. 

McConnells Mill Covered Bridge

One of only a few Howe Truss covered bridges in the state, and one of the largest examples overall, this stunning covered bridge is only eclipsed by the beauty of the overall setting. It crosses the particularly strong and beautiful Slippery Rock Creek in the midst of a nicely wooded gorge and next to a historic mill at McConnells Mill State Park. The preservation of this 19th century industrial and natural tract is one of the great triumphs of what the PA State Parks system has accomplished. 

Academia-Pomeroy Covered Bridge - Juniata County

The Academia-Pomeroy Covered Bridge is the longest covered bridge in the state, and a great collaborative effort has ensured that it will last for generations to come. This covered bridge is located in a pretty remote area within Juniata County and is well worth the effort to seek out.

Packsaddle Covered Bridge - Somerset County

This is a really well preserved covered bridge, though what makes this covered bridge stand out is the natural setting in which it presides. It traverses a creek at the crest of a waterfall, which makes this covered bridge a must-see for connoisseurs of covered bridges and waterfalls alike. I am a huge fan of both of those things, and the combination of the two is just spectacular.

Forksville Covered Bridge - Worlds End State Park

Pretty much all of these covered bridges are in bucolic settings, which is not surprising, considering their location in Pennsylvania. The setting for the Forksville Covered Bridge is just incredible though. It crosses over the beautiful Loyalsock Creek in Loyalsock Gorge and Worlds End State Park. It leads to an old village area, which includes the awesome Forksville General Store and Inn, an unexpected place to find an epic Philly cheesesteak, and more. The bridge dates back to 1850, it is giant at 153 feet, and it has these cool window portals on the side, complete with small roof awnings over each one. 

Sachs Covered Bridge - Gettysburg

Sachs Covered Bridge is an idyllic crossing that has been dubbed the "most historic covered bridge," which is definitely a great way to describe it. It was built in 1852, when Gettysburg was just another bucolic agricultural area. Little did they know that eleven years later, the area would face unfathomable carnage as the Union Army laid defeat and started the final retreat of the Confederate Armies en route to the expansion of freedom in this country. Both armies are said to have utilized this crossing during the battle. As for the bridge itself, it is stunning. The lattice work is on the sides is unusual, especially for a covered bridge of this size. It crosses a creek and small pond area that are a draw for people that go fishing. It is a pleasant and beautiful place to visit.

Bowser Covered Bridge - Bedford County

This covered bridge is within a cluster of many covered bridges within Northwestern Bedford County, and the county as a whole, which really makes this covered bridge stand out. It was the first out of the series of covered bridges that we saw in that area, and we ended up driving right to it. I will say that it initially found us instead of us finding it. The natural setting in which it is located is beautiful, but the bridge itself is what really makes it stand out. It is located within short reach of Blue Knob State Park, which is home to the state's second highest point, which makes seeking this covered bridge out a prime location for a beautiful afternoon scenic drive/road trip.

Mercers Mill - Chester and Lancaster County Covered Bridge

I was awestruck by this covered bridge when I first saw it. The setting of it, within a dramatic rugged gorge and woodlands after driving through seemingly endless farming fields, made seeing this covered bridge in this location a surprise. We initially sought out this covered bridge and as we were approaching it on Google Maps, we wondered if we maybe had the wrong location or what, but then the covered bridge and gorge came into view, seemingly out of nowhere. It is perfectly taken care of and in a stunning setting. 

Geiger Covered Bridge - Lehigh County

This covered bridge is a personal favorite of mine and it really introduced seeking out covered bridges for me, back in my initial years of driving. My first two years of college were completed at Lehigh Carbon Community College, and I would purposefully commute on the backroads to avoid the backups on Route 309 in this section. With my roundabout way of going, I would cross two covered bridges, the Rex Covered Bridge and Geiger Covered Bridge, which both span Jordan Creek, in and around the Trexler Lehigh Game Preserve. Of these two Geiger Covered Bridge is the span that is most memorable to me, specifically for its size and its vertical planked siding and stepped square planks in its entry portals, something that is uncommon for covered bridges. As far as personal memories go, this covered bridge has the most for me in general, though it aesthetically stands out when compared to the other covered bridges in the state. 

Wehr Covered Bridge - Lehigh County

The stonework entries are what really makes this span stand out for me. Its setting within a public park on the beautiful Jordan Creek also enables easy access to appreciate the span as well. 

East and West Paden Twin Covered Bridges - Columbia County

Instead of making one giant covered bridge span, or in tying two spans together on a bridge pier, this covered bridge was created with two separate bridges that are built off of a large bridge pier in the center of a creek. I think this was a pretty ingenious plan in regards to cutting down on maintenance. The result is that it creates a uniquely stunning view. The surroundings are beautiful as well, within a mature forest and creekside area. Instead of being used for vehicular traffic, the bridge and surroundings have been converted into a large public park and picnic area, complete with picnic tables within the covered bridges, making these two covered bridges stand out as being the coolest picnic pavilions ever. 

Josiah Hess Covered Bridge - Columbia County

The Josiah Hess Covered Bridge is another beautiful bridge that stands out for its beautiful surroundings. Its creek crossing and wooded setting are idyllic. Similar to its nearby neighbors, the Twin Covered Bridges, it also does not carry vehicular traffic and has a picnic table in the middle of the span. Perfect places to go on a lovely afternoon picnic. 

St. Mary's Covered Bridge - Huntingdon County 

St. Mary's Covered Bridge is named after the church that is on one end of the bridge. It is the last remaining classic covered bridge in Huntingdon County and it is beautiful. Additionally, the creek that it crosses is a great trout fishing spot.

Colemanville Covered Bridge - Lancaster County 

The bridge and setting of this covered bridge are just awesome. The bridge is just massive, and it is surrounded by a rugged gorge with giant trees. This is one of the few times that I have gone up to a covered bridge and just been completely awestruck with its size. 

Dreibelbis Station Covered Bridge - Berks County

This was my favorite covered bridge prior to the restoration that was completed last year. I have not had the chance to visit since it was renovated, but one of the primary aspects that left me awestruck with this bridge, aside from its massive 160 foot+ length was the fact that it retained its original wooden support structure. Not many covered bridges of this magnitude remain with their original structure intact. 

The refurbishment of the bridge over the last year had the original support structure with steel and the original covered bridge structure was rehabilitated and placed upon the new bridge. While I really enjoy the aesthetic look of these bridges getting preserved and kept with minimal visibility of the steel support structure, I feel like some of the creaky character of these bridges is lost. The huge upside to these types of rebuilds are that they preserve the idea of the bridges and give them modern weight limits so emergency vehicles and others can cross them. I am not sure if I prefer the addition of a steel structure or if the original structure gets preserved and a new bridge crossing is constructed in a different place. Without knowing that a steel structure was added, it is tough to tell the difference and I do like the fact that the bridges get a strong second wind with steel reinforcement. The bridge definitely needed some refurbishment, and I am glad that it got preserved for generations to come instead of it being taken out and replaced with another boring poured concrete crossing. 

Banks Covered Bridge: Lawrence and Mercer Counties

On the border of Lawrence and Mercer Counties sits a pretty covered bridge. It just happens to have a crossover with one of my favorite TV shows of all time, The West Wing. The bridge was used in the filming when the area was used as a stand in for Indiana in the first episode of the fourth season in which President Bartlett campaigns during the primary for the election to his second term in office. While covered bridges are generally in agrarian areas, this one is actually located immediately adjacent to cornfields and a wooded setting. This Burr-Arch Truss bridge is just beautiful. 

McGees Mill Covered Bridge: Clearfield County 

McGees Mill Covered Bridge in Clearfield County is the last remaining covered bridge across any of the main branches of the Susquehanna River. When we first visited this covered bridge, we ended up stumbling upon it in a random drive and were amazed at its beauty. It is in a really cool forested spot as well. At 122 feet, this is a relatively substantial bridge, though it has been reinforced with steel, a process which we talked about earlier in this article. 

Kidds Mill Covered Bridge: Mercer County

This is one of the few remaining covered bridges with a Smith Truss. The unpainted wooden slats give it a more rustic look than the others we have listed here. It is also the only remaining covered bridge that is completely in Mercer County, which is not really a huge distinction, considering half of Banks Covered Bridge is also located in Mercer. This covered bridge is a great model for the community value that can be offered with the preservation. It has been bypassed by a newer bridge and converted to pedestrian traffic only, complete with a public park area. It is a great place to relax.

Knapp Covered Bridge: Bradford County

This classic covered bridge was recently rebuilt, and it is the tallest within the state. It comes up pretty unexpectedly in a rugged and unexpected location. Similar to the last covered bridge that we talked about, it too has unpainted wood, leading to a more rustic look. This rustic look fits in so well with the rugged surroundings. The crossing dates back to 1860.

Knoebels Covered Bridge

The Knoebels family has a history of saving old structures and giving them new life. The most substantial of which is the perennial coaster favorite, Phoenix, a masterpiece designed the Herbert Schmeck of Philadelphia Toboggan Company for Playland Park in San Antonio, Texas. The amusement park in Texas went out of business and the Knoebel family wanted to build a substantial wooden roller coaster. For pennies on the dollar compared to new construction, the park moved the entire priceless and legendary coaster, piece by piece, from Texas, and reconstructed it at their amusement park where it is world renowned for being one of the best. Over the years, the Knoebels have put their prowess in construction to use, gathering rides and more for the amusement park from other parks that have gone out of business over the years, in addition to building two roller coasters from the ground up that were based upon prior classic designs. 

One of the most substantial early projects for the family in relocation involved the relocation of an entire classic covered bridge from Benton, thirty miles north east of the park, in 1936. It is one of the few classic covered bridges in the state that is both privately owned, and well maintained. The Knoebels family is uniquely qualified to pull off this task, with a spectacular staff of skilled carpenters and access to their own lumber yard. The covered bridge is one of two on the property, which serve as central recreation points for visitors to the park. 

Be sure to check out all of these awesome covered bridges, along with the rest that the state has to offer. To see all of the covered bridges that we have written about, check out our covered bridges tag category. For more information about the state's collection of classic covered bridges, our favorite resource is pacoveredbridges.com.  


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