Guide to Photographing Kinzua Bridge State Park (Pennsylvania)

Many landscape photographers enjoy photographing bridges, and if you are looking for a truly unique bridge, Kinzua Bridge State Park in McKean County, Pennsylvania is well worth a visit. While it’s not very well known, even for people like me who live in Pennsylvania, it is unlike any other bridge that you can visit.

The bridge was originally built in 1882, re-built in 1900 to support heavier locomotives, and destroyed by a tornado in 2003. Part of the bridge still remains, while other towers lie in the valley where they fell. The state park includes 600 feet of the bridge that has been reinvented as a skywalk with a nice viewing area at the end. You can walk out over the valley and look down at the massive towers that were taken down by the tornado. Far across the valley you can see the other end of the bridge still standing. Eleven of the bridge’s twenty towers now lay at the bottom of the valley. They have been left as they fell in order to show the power of the forces of nature.

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Guide to Photographing Kinzua Bridge State Park (Pennsylvania)

The bridge was once known for being the longest (2,053 feet long) and tallest (301 feet high) railroad bridge in the world, and the state park existed well before the tornado damage.

Guide to Photographing Kinzua Bridge State Park (Pennsylvania)

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Kinzua Bridge State Park is located 4 miles north of U.S. Route 6 at Mt. Jewett on State Route 3011. It is pretty much in the middle of nowhere, although it is not difficult to access. The best way to find it is to use the GPS coordinates: latitude 41.75915, longitude -78.58681. That will take you to the parking area. The state park website also says you can use the following address:

1721 Lindholm Road
Mount Jewett, PA 16740-9800

At the parking area there is an information kiosk with a short video that gives some history of the bridge. With a short walk you will be at the entrance to the bridge/skywalk.

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Guide to Photographing Kinzua Bridge State Park (Pennsylvania)

The park includes a viewing area near the bridge where you can get a nice view and take photos.

Guide to Photographing Kinzua Bridge State Park (Pennsylvania)

Of course, you can also walk onto the skywalk and take photos from there. There is also a section with a glass floor that allows you to stand on the skywalk and look down to the valley. The photo below was taken from the viewing area at the end of the skywalk.

Guide to Photographing Kinzua Bridge State Park (Pennsylvania)

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There is also a trail that leads down into the valley. When I was there in the fall of 2014 I took the short hike down into the valley, but from researching for this article it seems as though much of the valley and that trail is prohibited. I didn’t see any signs and there were other people in the area as well, so that has either changed, the info on the website is outdated, or it isn’t marked very well at the park. So if you visit please check for yourself ahead of time and watch for signs at the park to indicate which areas are restricted.

Guide to Photographing Kinzua Bridge State Park (Pennsylvania)

The trail is quite steep, but well worth the effort. Once down in the valley the trail leads to a small bridge that crosses the creek and leads right to the base of the towers that have fallen. From there you can look up some 300 feet to the skywalk and imagine the force that it took to bring down the towers and about half of the bridge.

Guide to Photographing Kinzua Bridge State Park (Pennsylvania)

If you’re in the area of northwestern Pennsylvania I would definitely recommend setting aside some time to visit Kinzua Bridge State Park. Learn more about the park here.

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