Public Media for Central Pennsylvania
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Kinzua Skywalk to close on and off for three years, local economies are bracing for the effects

A side view of the Kinzua Skywalk at Kinzua Bridge State Park.
LaKeshia Knarr
PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship
A side view of the Kinzua Skywalk at Kinzua Bridge State Park, which will close on and off for three years starting in November. The project is expected to finish in the fall of 2027.

The Kinzua Skywalk and Kinzua Creek Trail in McKean County will close for three years starting in November, only reopening for two months each fall.

The PA Wilds, a 13-county tourism region in north central Pennsylvania, said tens of thousands of people visit the Skywalk every year, and the closure will likely impact nearby communities that rely on the tourism revenue.

Wesley Robinson is the press secretary for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. He said there's no danger to visitors now, but there are structural concerns with the skywalk.

“We want to make sure that it's reinforced and that we don't have any issues like we had last summer. We had some high winds, [and] they closed the park for a couple of days out of an abundance of caution," Robinson said.

Robinson said work on the skywalk will replace steel in some of the supports that have thinned because of environmental exposure. There will be temporary closures starting in September. The long-term closure will begin November 19 and last until the fall of 2027.

Visitors walking on the Kinzua Skywalk at Kinzua Bridge State Park.
Hunter Casilio
PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship
Visitors walking on the Kinzua Skywalk at Kinzua Bridge State Park. During the upcoming closure, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will do work to reinforce steel beams that have thinned from environmental exposure.

Ta Enos, the CEO of the nonprofit PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, said the PA Wilds Center has applied for DCNR funding to help with public awareness messaging around the closures and reopenings.

“We know first hand how important the park’s foot traffic is to rural small businesses, so we are trying to be proactive and line up some additional funding to support extra advertising campaigns and similar efforts,” Enos said. “Openings and closures like this, over a multi-year period, can cause confusion for the traveling public, so we want to be the best partner we can to help get the word out."

The PA Wilds Conservation Shop and Visitor Center at the Kinzua Bridge State Park will stay open. Staff are trained to guide visitors to other nearby attractions and rural communities.

Brandy Schimp is the mayor of Kane, which is about a 25-minute drive from the Kinzua Bridge State Park.

“Because it's such a valuable place to so many people here, most of us understand that work needs to be done in order to keep things up and running," Schimp said.

The Allegheny National Forest Visitors Bureau says there are tourism revenue concerns for businesses in the area. But the bureau hopes people will still visit for outdoor recreation and other attractions like the Zippo Museum and the Penn-Brad Oil Museum.

“I think a lot of effort has been put forth within our communities and the region to make it so that when people come for the bridge, there's a lot more than just that," said Kate Kennedy, the Executive Director of the Kane Area Development Center.

Kennedy, who is also a board member for WPSU, said she is hopeful the tourism effects in Kane and in the area will not be drastically affected by the Kinzua Skywalk closure.

The last few hundred yards of the Knox and Kane Rail Trail will also be impacted during the closure, but a detour will be provided so people can continue on to the park visitor center.

DCNR said it will also make improvements to the visitor experience during these closures. Work will include new plexiglass at the end of the skywalk, since the old glass section had become foggy and difficult to see through. Renovations will also replace the handrails along the skywalk.

Sydney Roach is a reporter and host for WPSU with a passion for radio and community stories.