ELK COUNTY >> Hearing a bull elk bugling across a hollow on a misty, frosty autumn morning is a sound not to be forgotten. Viewing these regal relatives of our whitetail deer also leaves an impression. Elk County is known across the state as the place to be for viewing elk, although the state's elk herd are found also in Cameron, Clearfield and Clinton counties.

Pennsylvania Game Commission on Sept. 4 will dedicate its new Winslow Hill Viewing Area at a ceremony beginning at 1 p.m. Following the dedication, agency representatives will give an energetic start to the fall wildlife viewing season by announcing its plans for more public facilities, as well as the agency's fall program schedule centering on elk and wildlife viewing.

Game Commission Executive Director R. Matthew Hough said the facilities and activities underscore the wildly growing interest in viewing wildlife, particularly elk.

In 2014, more than 400,000 wildlife enthusiasts visited the Winslow Hill portion of State Game Lands 311 and the nearby Elk Country Visitor Center to view elk. This was a higher number of visitors than was predicted, and well more than existing facilities could accommodate.

PGC has contracted with a Williamsport, Pa., engineer to create improved viewing platforms, more parking areas and safer traffic patterns.

Winslow Hill, in the village of Benezette, has two viewing areas with off-road parking. There are trails and dirt roads available for backwoods exploration throughout the game lands.

The elk population in Pennsylvania is more than 700 animals, spread out over a range of about 850 square miles, according to the Clinton County Chamber of Commerce website. Still, most people want to view the herd that lives in the mountains around f Benezette. As you travel west from Lock Haven on Pa. 120, you will see a sign that you have entered the Pennsylvania Elk Range.

Other wildlife you can see in the area are white-tailed deer, black bear and fox. For birders, there are wild turkeys, Eastern towhees and many other songbirds found throughout.

Directions to Winslow Hill Viewing Area: From Pa. 555 in Benezette, turn onto Front Street, then turn right onto Winslow Hill Road. Go about 2.5 miles. The dedication will take place at the viewing area off Dewey Road.

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