The Allegheny Outdoor Club can find its roots as far back as 1939.
And those roots are continuing to run deep.
While the Allegheny Hiking Club, founded by Ike Reed and Bob McKay in 1939, disbanded as a result of World War II, it took 25 years before the concept of an outdoor club in the region was reborn.
In 1968, Warren County residents Ted, who was a silviculturist at the Northeastern Forest Research Station in Irvine, and Nancy Grisez restarted the hiking club, but to more accurately reflect the group's outdoor interests, renamed it the Allegheny Outdoor Club.
"From that small beginning, the club now has more than 120 members, including six charter members and our activities include hiking, bicycling, canoeing and kayaking and cross-country skiing," according to President John Young.
And while the group's travails have taken members from New York City to Niagara Falls to Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., the heart of their work lies in improvement efforts within the Allegheny National Forest.
"Throughout the years the club has been active in creating and maintaining a number of local hiking trails," Young explained. "Foremost among these is the North Country National Scenic Trail, which was completed in 1992 and stretches 96 miles within the Allegheny National Forest. The club also laid out the popular Toms Run Trail at Hearts Content and maintains the Interpretive Trail there as well."
Bill Massa said that, according to former AOC President Don Dorn, "the early AOC was responsible for design and layout of approximately 50 percent of the North Country National Scenic Trail in the ANF, a distance of about 50 miles, in the 1970s.
"A plaque in honor (of) the NCT work done by the AOC is permanently in place on the trail at the mouth of Nelse Run where it empties into Sugar Bay along Route 321 in McKean County. It is said to be in one of the most scenic sections of the long trail."
And that's not all.
"Bradford (Ranger District) has worked with AOC to harden approximately 1,200 feet of trail from the Morrison Trailhead Parking Lot to the main trail loop intersection," said Julie Moyer, recreation team leader on the Bradford District. "AOC applied for grants through Pennsylvania State DCNR and Keystone Trail Association and collected donations from Shell Appalachia and American Refining Group to fund the project."
"The Morrison Trail is considered one of the premier trails in the ANF along with the NCT and the Minister Trail," said Massa, who said that FCIMcKean inmates completed much of the work.
In addition to trails maintained, "AOC member and trail 'boss' Gene Cornelius maintains a Volunteer Services Agreement between the club and the Forest Service," explained Massa, "authorizing the AOC to do trail maintenance work on the forest. The agreement has been in effect for many years."
The group, whose website can be found at alleghenyoutdoorclub.org, was also involved in the development of the bird watching and trail platforms at the Big Bend Recreation Area and maintains six miles of roads in Warren County, and two in McKean County, as part of PennDOT's Adopt-a-Highway program.
But the AOC isn't resting on its laurels.
In addition to weekly activities, "the AOC plans," according to MASSA, "to replace a bridge on the NCT over Twomile Creek near Ludlow, using funds leftover from the Morrison Trail project. The club is working with Julie Moyer and Jerry Dixon of the Bradford Ranger Station to effect this replacement in 2014."