Located in the heart of Pennsylvania’s elk country, the North Fork Lodge represents a first-rate recreational property in one of the premiere hardwood growing regions of the world. The property has served as a gathering place for generations, offering a multitude of activities including a ski and sledding hill, fishing and boating, hiking, hunting, and trap and skeet shooting. With approximately 6,943 acres, there is outstanding privacy in one of the largest contiguous tracts available in western Pennsylvania. Access is via a well-groomed private access road leading to the heart of the property and it’s 1920-era stone hunting lodge picturesquely located overlooking a large fishing pond. A strong wildlife management program has produced quality bear, turkey and whitetail deer hunting and has created a mosaic of landscapes for wildlife, with over 35 actively managed food plots attracting a host of species. The North Fork Creek Trout stream runs thru the property adding an extra dimension for the recreationist. Various age classes of black cherry, red oak, soft and hard maple and a variety of other species provide the base timber inventory which provides good long-term appreciation potential. An extensive network of internal roads provides access throughout the property for recreation and to the timber reserves. The property is conveniently located near the town of St. Marys and within easy reach of a number of eastern US metropolitan areas.
Just the Facts
- Encompassing 6,943± acres, this is one of Pennsylvania’s largest properties owned by a private individual
- Borders Elk State Forest and State Game Lands on three sides
- Excellent deer, bear and turkey hunting as a result of quality habitat and careful wildlife management
- Significant marketable timber resource of varying age classes provides sustainable income stream
- Water resources include North Fork and West Creek streams with brook trout, the main lake, and a stocked bass pond
- Historic buildings include the authentic stone lodge built in 1921, adjacent kitchen and dining facility with additional lodging, ski chalet, and accessory buildings
- The facilities can comfortably accommodate 30-38 guests
- Excellent internal road system with approximately 150 miles of roads and several new bridges
- Additional amenities include ski/sledding slope, skeet and trap shooting
- Located 8 miles northeast of St. Marys in Elk County, PA, in the heart of Pennsylvania deer and elk country
- St. Marys is home to over 13,000 people and is located between 120 - 300 miles of New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Pittsburgh and Cleveland
- Pittsburgh, PA: 120 miles, 2.5 hour drive time
- Buffalo, NY: 125 miles, 2.5 hour drive time
- Philadelphia, PA: 270 miles, 5 hour drive time
- New York, NY: 300 miles, 5 hour drive time
- The Clarion Wild and Scenic River: rafting, fishing and wildlife
- Allegheny National Forest: hiking, hunting and wildlife
- The West Branch of the Susquehanna River: fishing
- Sinnemahoning State Park: elk viewing and eagle’s nests
Acreage (Deeded & Leased)
Deeded Acres: 6,944±
Total Acres: 6,944±
TIMBERLAND AS AN ASSET CLASS
Over the last several decades, timberland investment has become an emerging asset class contributing tangible and durable strength to a balanced portfolio. Timberland investment can be loosely defined as the acquisition and management of high-quality timberlands to produce a long-term financial return. Key features of timberland include biological appreciation, positive market dynamics, low correlation against other asset classes, and soft values such as ecosystem services, conservation potential, and other related outputs.
Timberland joins a variety of other asset classes in providing a hard-asset alternative to equities and fixed income instruments, the mainstays of investment portfolios for many years. As a real asset, timberland holdings derive their value from their utility: wood and wood products are in wide demand and only face a rising demand curve as populations and economies grow. Further, there is exhaustive academic research that supports timberland’s ability to hedge inflation, an important component of any wealth preserving portfolio. In other words, timber prices tend to rise during periods of high inflation, thus providing an excellent inflationary hedge.
Timberland returns are largely driven by biological growth, which also reduces return volatility. Simply put, trees continue to grow regardless of market conditions. Asset value can be stored on the stump with minimal cost until such a time as market conditions favor liquidation. Biological growth creates cash-flow optionality and is unique to this asset.
Positive market dynamics of timberland assets relate to a strengthening economy, population growth, and the simple fact that wood and wood products are used in almost every conceivable category of consumption. Environmental regulation and residential encroachment further narrow the supply of available high-quality timberlands and, thus, the two intersecting curves speak to very favorable long-term potential for a sound return on investment from timber lands.
Low correlation to most other major asset classes suggests that timberland investment can directly influence the overall volatility of an individual or institutional portfolio. Finally, for those interested in socially responsible investments, timberlands also provide significant ecosystem level returns in the form of clean air, clean water, wildlife habitat, and other related goods. As markets emerge for water, carbon and other specific quantifiable outputs, ancillary revenue streams may emerge over the long run.
There is no conservation easement on any portion of this property. Excellent potential exists for a new owner to monetize the conservation values of this property through establishment of a conservation easement.
- Main Stone Hunting Lodge built in 1923
- Dining Hall built around the same time, with additions in the 1940s and 1960s
- Trap and Skeet facilities built in the early 1960s
- Ski Chalet built in the early 1970s
- 40’ x 60’ garage built in 1968
The dining hall offers a commercial kitchen, large dining/meeting area, a second bar, and another five bedrooms with three full baths and two half-baths provide the common area. The ski chalet is located at the base of the ski and sledding hill, next to the bass pond. The shop building provides all the necessary work space and equipment storage. In all, 30 – 38 guests can be lodged in the facilities at one time, depending on single or double occupancy.
In both the hunting lodge and the dining hall, the current owner has provided extensive remodeling and updates. In 2007, three new forced air propane furnaces were added. Later, in 2009, updates include new roofs and windows and four bathroom updates. That year, there was also insulation and knotty pine ceilings added to both structures. The garage and skeet range received new roofs in 2016 and 2015, respectively. New 50-ton bridges were added to the access road in 2014 and 2016. All aspects of the property are exceptionally well-maintained.
A concrete dam, which provides a fishing pond at the confluence of the North Fork and West Creeks, was extensively refurbished in the 1940’s.
North Fork has participated in an extensive management plan to help balance the natural structure of Pennsylvania’s big woods. All species flourish and have benefited from select cuttings and strategic food plots. The road systems offer sunlight and browse for nearly all the wildlife and provide access to every corner of the property.
There are two lakes that are a joy for kids and grown-ups alike. The first, fed by the North Fork and West Creeks, is filled with trout, while the second hosts nice populations of bass and other pan fish.
The hunting seasons in Pennsylvania runs nearly year-round with few times in which there is no hunting available. Spring gobbler season begins in April, while deer hunting extends well into December. In the few in between months, a variety of lesser species may be hunted to keep the outdoor adventures going. A detailed list of species and seasons can be found on line at the following URL:
Aside from the hunting and fishing opportunities, there are approximately 120 miles of roads and trails accessible by four-wheeler, horseback, or foot making this a great property for the motorized recreationist, equestrian or muscle-powered enthusiast. Ski/sledding hill and trap shooting….
Active timber management in the years prior to 2007 reduced the timber volume down to 12-inch cuts and an occasional, smaller clearcut. Extensive expansion of the road networks occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s with the most recent 12-inch entries occurring around the mid-2000s prior to the current owner’s tenure on the property. Currently on the property there is outstanding regeneration of cherry, oak, maple and other commercially valuable trees. Timber cruise data is available upon request.
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I had been looking for the right property for several years and Elliott Davenport’s insight into the quail plantation market and his ability to think strategically was instrumental in helping me find our new place. Elliott was helpful on all technical aspects of contracting and due diligence. His post closing help with hiring and contractors made the process much easier as well.