Hike the Black Forest Trail, Pennsylvania

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black forest trail pennsylvania

A top-down view into the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania.

I swear this trail is giving me amnesia. Over the last two hours or so, I felt the grind as I climbed yet another thousand feet out of a deep, steep gorge. But at the summit of Hemlock Mountain, my memory of the struggle is wiped totally clear: Pine Creek cuts into the forested, emerald hills, creating what locals call the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. I want to get lost in the view across the 400-foot-wide ravine, but I cannot linger. Up next is a thousand-foot descent followed by a 1,300-foot climb. Chances are good I’ll forget those hills as well. But I’ll always remember having this land of wilderness, waterfalls, and bubbling springs all to myself. 

Turn-by-Turn from the Village of Slate Run

1) Note the orange blazes. The 42-mile Black Forest Trail is a long and winding route with connections to other nearby trail systems, but it’s well-marked.

2) Start by hiking north up a 1,200-foot ridge. After a few miles, give all the elevation back as the trail bottoms out at Slate Run (mile 6), a primo trout stream.

3) At mile 13, the trail crosses PA-44. After a long descent along County Line Branch, climb to the Barrens (mile 19), where stunted forest allows for downcanyon views.

4) Cross PA-44 again at mile 23.5, followed by a series of climbs and descents in and out of small tributaries of Pine Creek.

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