Exploring the Forest Cathedral via Longfellow Trail Loop – Cook Forest State Park

Explore the Forest Cathedral at Cook Forest along the popular Longfellow Trail.

– Parking Coordinates: 41.34616, -79.21798 (Large parking lot near educational center)
– Trailhead Coordinates: 41.34678, -79.21740 (The Longfellow Trail starts behind the educational center near the Memorial Fountain)

Hike Details
– Distance and Type: 1.3 Mile Lollipop Loop
– Trail Difficulty: Easy
– Elevation Gain: +/- 310 Feet
– Trail Markers: Blue and Yellow Blazes

Hike Features
– Old Growth Forest of White Pines and Hemlocks that span over 150 feet tall.
– The Longfellow Pine – A 181.3-foot tall White Pine that is one of the tallest in the eastern United States



Trailhead Adventures + Gaia GPS

Gaia GPS is the primary resource I use to plan and guide all my hikes. The pro version of Gaia grants me offline access to all my planned hikes and maps of the entire park. Subscribe to Gaia GPS for access to offline and printable maps. Use this link to save 20% and support our website in the process!



Note: Trail conditions change over time.  If you discover any inaccuracies with this post during your visit, please post a comment below to let us know.

It became clear early on during my Cook Forest State Park trip planning that the Longfellow and Ancient Forest trails were some of the park’s most popular trails. The Longfellow-Ancent Forest Hike carves through the forest of old growth Hemlock and White Pines where trees tower up to 180 feet tall. Moss covered sandstone and well maintained trails only add to the trail’s beauty. Our hike was during the late part of February a few days after a snowstorm dropped almost a foot of snow in the area. The park services used a snowmobile to pack down the snow on the trail making our hike a little easier.


The trail starts off behind the educational center near the Memorial Fountain and gradually gains 300 feet of elevation over the first half mile. The Longfellow Trail passes numerous trees that stand over 150 feet tall including the Longfellow Pine, a 181-foot tall White Pine, one of the tallest trees in the eastern United States. For our hike we passed the first junction for Ancient Forest trail and passed through the Cathedral Area Windthrow where a powerful storm during the late-1950s destroyed this portion of the trail.

Eventually the Longfellow Trail leads you to a second Ancient Forest Trail junction. We took a right at the junction to join the Ancient Forest Trail and hiked the quarter mile along the trail until it rejoined the Longfellow at the first trail junction we passed earlier. After rejoining the Longfellow Trail we proceeded to hike downhill back to the trailhead.

I found our hike on the Longfellow-Ancient Forest loop enjoyable as the old growth forest is beautiful in addition to the surrounding landscapes. The trail system is well maintained and recently fallen tree limbs were cleared from the trail. I recommend hiking this hike in addition to the Indian-Rhododendron Trail Loop for the full Cook Forest – Forest Cathedral experience.

Hike walkthrough

  • (41.34624, -79.21802) – Parking lot near Memorial Fountain.

  • (41.34678, -79.21740) – Pass the Memorial Fountain on the Longfellow Trail

  • (41.34487, -79.21531) – Around a quarter mile into the hike you will pass the Longfellow-Ancient Forest Trail junction. Remain on the Longfellow Trail at this time.

  • (41.34190, -79.21172) – Around three-quarters of a mile into the hike, you will reach the second Longfellow-Ancient Forest trail junction. Turn right at the trail junction to start hiking on the Ancient Forest Trail.

  • (41.34487, -79.21531) – Ancient Forest trail is slightly over a quarter mile in length and will return you to the Longfellow Trail junction you passed earlier.

  • Rejoin the Longfellow Trail and hike back to the trailhead where you started.