Black Forest Trail - North

 
I would like to thank Scott Adams of http://www.pahikes.com and some hiker dude called Pennsy for their guidance as I researched this trip.

 

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Description: The Black Forest in PA is a small part of the Tiadaghton State Forest. It is to PA what Dolly Sods is to WV, one of the prized gems of that state’s crown hiking jewels. The Black Forest Trail proper (BFT) is a 42 mile circuit that takes you through valleys and along ridge tops. It is interspersed with easy flat walks and rocky steep ascents and descents, some averaging 1100 feet elevation change in less than 0.7 miles. That’s steep! The hiker is rewarded by his/her effort with astounding views of the surrounding peaks and valleys and an assortment of forest types ranging from Pine Plantations, giant Hemlocks and Red Spruce to a mixture of Hardwoods and other deciduous trees. Wildlife you might encounter include, but is not limited to, turkey, grouse, deer, raccoon, porcupine, screech owls and black bear.

 

As this description implies, it’s not necessary to hike the entire 42 mile circuit to enjoy the Black Forest. You can either setup a shuttle or use the many additional ski trails, forest trails and roads to form shorter loops. The following describes what I consider to be the northern section of the trail which is connected by the Pine Bog Trail, Blackberry Trail and less than 0.5 miles of forest road walking. Maps and details for the southern section, using the same cross connectors, can be found here.

Google Custom Directions

There is parking on either side of Rt44. DO NOT PARK IN FRONT OF THE WHITE HUNTING CABIN ON BIG DAM HOLLOW RD DURING HUNTING SEASON!!! The hike begins at a set of steps between the cabin and Rt44. Look for the orange circles.

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Printable/Downloadable Map 1

Printable/Downloadable Map 2

View 3-D Map

Zipped National Geographic. TOPO! GPS and Universal GPX Files

GPS Text File for Non-TOPO! Users

 

 

Trail notes: The Black Forest Trail (BFT) is blazed with orange circles (shown in red on the map). The cross-country ski trails and other footpaths are either blazed in blue circles or blue rectangles. The mileage breakdown for a 3 day trek is 5.6 – 6.4/ 10.1 – 10.9/8.5. The exact distance traveled for day 1 and 2 depends on where you camp. You can vary the distances but beware: There is only one unreliable water source after you climb out of the first valley until you descend again to Slate Run. This source is not near a campsite.

 

Day 1: Walk down the steps and follow the trail as it parallels Big Dam Hollow Rd. Pass another Hunter’s cabin on the right. In 0.39 miles the Sentiero Di Shay Ski Trail comes in from the left and shares the tread for a bit. You will witness three nice views between here and the first night’s camp. In another 0.98 mile the Ski trail leaves on the right.

 

In 1.75 miles arrive at a camp w/small stream. Continue on. In 1.56 miles you will descend to Francis Rd. Turn left on the road. In about 0.36 miles turn right onto a RR grade. Soon leave the grade and descend on a footpath to Morris Branch Rd. Turn right here, passing a kiosk on the right and crossing the Francis branch of Slate Run on a concrete bridge.

 

Turn right off of Morris Branch Rd onto a footpath that leads to a footbridge over Morris Run. A nice campsite is to the left, before crossing, right beside a waterfall.

 

If you wish to continue, cross the bridge and climb steeply for a few yards to a pretty level RR grade. In the next mile you will pass 3 nice campsites before reaching a steep rocky climb out of the valley. Before these sites there is an unmarked trail to the right that goes down to the stream. I do not know if there is a campsite there. (A recent site visitor insures us there is.) Two campsites will be on the right and the third is right at the base of the hill on the left, across a stream. Unless you had gotten an early start and plan to reach the lower portion of Slate Run by day’s end I would go no further until the next day.

 

Day 2: From camp climb approximately 700 feet in less than 0.7 miles to the top of the eastern ridge. Almost immediately you will be rewarded with back-to-back views of the Slate Run valley and surrounding ridges. Continue on for about 0.48 miles. The junction of blue blazed Alcinda trail will be on the left. You can use this as a short cut but you will miss another great view. Stay on the BFT and descend along a boulder field to this view. Continue on and in 0.68 miles from the last trail junction pass the Alcinda Tr on the left again.

 

In about 0.4 miles you will pass some unmarked trails on the right that lead to some gigantic table rocks. Continue straight on the BFT for 0.67 miles to the junction with blue blazed Algerine Tr on the left. Make a hard right to stay on the BFT. In 0.74 miles pass a small spring on the left and in another 1.22 miles arrive at a dry campsite and the remains of a quarry. From here you can enjoy a 180 degree view of the forest.

 

From here the tread follows the old quarry road to a smaller quarry w/view. In about 0.71 miles from the upper quarry the road will rap around the mountain to the left. Leave the road, descending steeply on a footpath. Near the bottom the grade will lessen somewhat and switchback to a wide ford of Slate Run at 0.77 miles from leaving the quarry road.

 

Here you may find a sign leaning on a tree directing you to turn left to a footbridge during periods of high water. As of this writing that bridge is not usable, having been severely damaged by high water. Cross the run and turn right to pick up the trail which passes through a huge camping area before climbing to a RR grade. You will follow this grade through beautiful pines on the left and Hemlocks on the right.

 

Pass a orange blazed spur trail on the left (0.28 miles from the ford) that leads out to parking and the official 0.0/42.0 BFT trailhead. Continue straight. You will descend on a footpath to another RR grade. Turn left onto the grade. The trail will leave and then rejoin the grade before finally climbing on a footpath to Slate Run forest road 1.32 miles from passing the official trailhead spur. Turn right onto the road and then left back onto a footpath.

 

Switchback through High Trestle Hollow to the spine of the ridge. Climb steeply through the rocks of “ The Lemon Squeezer”, passing 2 great vistas before reaching yet one more just beyond the summit. In about 1.19 miles from leaving the forest road pass High Trestle Trail on the right. In 0.3 miles arrive at camp Foster Hollow hunting cabin and tonight’s campsite. DO NOT CAMP NEAR THE CABIN!!! There are places to camp around the pond plus more sites hidden in the woods that can be reached by short spur trails. The pond water is potable after filtering/treatment.

 

Day 3: Follow the trail around the pond and descend along a steep rocky trail for 0.67 miles to the junction of the Foster Hollow Trail on the right. The old sign still calls it the Old Supply trail. There is a campsite at the confluence of 2 streams. I didn’t show it on the map since both streams were dry as of this writing. Make a hard left turn here, continuing to follow the BFT, and climb steeply along another rocky drainage to the top of the plateau.

 

In 0.65 miles from the Old Supply Tr junction, cross Old Mountain Road (no sign here). The BFT will parallel this road for about 0.8 miles before arriving at the signed junction of Pine Hollow and Manor Fork roads. Turn right onto Manor Fork Road. Soon turn left onto signed Old Mountain Road. In 0.2 miles arrive at a driveway on the right that leads to a green hunting cabin. On the other side of the cabin there is an obvious footpath that crosses a stream on a split log bridge before connecting with blue blazed Pine Bog Tr (Left and right, no sign here). Either direction will get you out to Rt44. I have you turning left here. In about 0.59 miles both sides of the Pine Bog Tr will come together. Continue straight, passing the unsigned junction of Senterio Di Shay Ski Tr on the right. In another 0.39 miles the trail joins a driveway before ending at a parking area near Rt44.

 

Cross Rt44 and follow the Blackberry /Sentiero Di Shay Trails west. Almost immediately the George Will Trail will join in from the left. It will soon also leave on the left. Continue straight. The Ski trail will leave on the right. (Note: If you know in advance that the water level on County Line Branch will be high or treacherous or if you prefer a quicker route back to your car for other reasons turn right here and follow the Ski trail until it reconnects with the BFT about 0.5 miles from Rt44.) Stay straight. In about 0.63 miles from crossing Rt44 the orange blazed BFT will come in from the left. Stay straight to continue on the BFT. The Blackberry Tr ends here.

 

In about 0.7 miles you will arrive at the last vista of the trip before descending through a field of huge boulders. Cross County Line Branch in another 0.6 miles. There is great camping here and further up the stream. Turn right onto a RR grade and follow it upstream. Follow the blazes carefully. There are places where the trail leaves this main grade on the west side of the stream and crosses the branch to the east side only to rejoin the main grade at other places. At some point the trail will leave the main grade for good as it (the main grade) turns more westerly and up the Dyer Branch. The trail will follow another grade due north. Follow it. Including the initial crossing you will cross the County Line Branch 20 times. This can be tricky during periods of high water.

 

At 2.05 miles from the first ford arrive at a forest road. Turn left here. Pass a spring on the right and then a leased hunting cabin. An orange blaze is mounted on a game trellis. Cross a small stream on a bridge. In 0.23 miles pass a campsite in the pines on the left and Dyer/North Link Tr also on the left. In another 0.28 miles pass junctions of the Ski trail on first the left and then the right. Walk around a forest gate at 0.29 miles and in another 0.28 miles reach RT44. If you parked near the hunting Cabin at the start of the trek cross the road to get back to your car.

Printable/Downloadable Directions and Trail Notes

Critique this outing ________________________________________

Name: Dick/Roger                                                                                                               Hike: Black Forest Trail - North

05/11-13/13                                                                                                                        Rating: 3-4

 

Critique: We delayed starting out by one day due to weather, but still passed through rain in Williamsport on the way! In total the Williamsport area received 1.80 " of rain from 5/09-12. View this as the lower limit for defining the trails as being "high water"! Checking the rainfall in the area, particularly in the Spring, is a must before going! This is critical because during Day 2 you have to ford Slate Run... there is no bridge left because it continually was washed out! If you can't ford it you have to backtrack up to the Old Quarry Road and go right down to an old steel bridge on Pine Creek, then up Rt44 for over a mile to the Black Forest circumnavigation parking area above Slate Run. We forded Slate Run in high water (mid-thigh running around 6mph). Neither of us will ever do that again...extremely dangerous and foolish! On the positive (and sane) side, it's a really nice hike! The ridges have oceans of mountain laurel. Next year we'll go back around the first week in June when it reported blooms up there! The lower elevations have very nice conifer groves. The vistas are pristine in terms of seeing no signs of civilization! The trails are well maintained with only a couple of rocky spots! The first night we camped at the furthest campsite up Morris Branch before the climb out of the valley! It would handle 3-4 tents, the second site was also nice, but smaller (2 tents). The first along the branch was not as good! (We didn't go down the initial path to see whether there's a good site there)! The second night we camped at Foster Hollow! Multiple level sites near the pond including off trail in the woods! The pond water was very clear and flowing through from and into a creek! Whether this continues thru the summer is a question, but it looks as if it would! Because of high water we chose to take the Sentiero Dishay ski trail (marked as the "high water alternative") back up north instead of going further west to the BFT on County Line Creek! It had some bogs and places where it was hard to follow. The Dishay is now clearly marked off of the Blackberry Trail! However, where it meets Meadow Rd. the road crosses and now continues west. When widening the road they apparently wiped out any visible blue blazes. Go right on Meadow Rd for about fifty yards to the other side of the creek where you'll see ample blazes on the left side of the road Also, there is a new road that you'll cross before coming to Gravel Rd. We're guessing that they're getting ready to "frack" in the area! Oh yes, by the way, it was snowing and sleeting while hiking (13th of May).. not detrimental to enjoying the hike though!! Bottom-line: With less rainfall immediately before it, and with the laurel in bloom, this would be a really outstanding hike! It was a very nice one as it was! Stopping at the Bullfrog Brewery in Williamsport on the return provided closure!

 

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Name: Jordan Abbott                                                                                                         Hike: Black Forest Trail - North
Date: 3/23-26/13                                                                                                               Rating: 4

Critique: We began from the start/end point on the map right off of 44 - you can't miss the trailhead (it's right before the Potter County GOD's Country sign), and because of the snow we parked in the hunting lodge's drive- granted you're able to park and not block anything.

The trail's well blazed and there are only a few parts where it might get tricky. There's a pretty gnarly stream crossing about half way in- be prepared to pay the Indians to cross/chalk the wagons- ha but seriously, be ready to get wet. There's a pretty large campsite on the other side of this loop so if the water's cold, you'll have an opportunity to get warm/bed down (summer levels will probably be lower and barefoot would be an option).

Past that obstacle a ways in, the author notes in his trail notes that you'll pop out on a road and 'go some ways' until you see a hunting cabin to which you'll pick up the loop bringing you back around. I appreciate the author's detail in his site, but distances would have been very nice. Take a right where there's a deer fence, then you'll come up to an intersection, you'll continue straight past one cabin (with a deer hook outside), then maybe another- eventually you'll see the cabin you're aiming for at about 3-4 o'clock. There's an outhouse on the right, and the driveway is pretty long- see it and that's it!

We didn't get to finish out the trail (winter weather was getting reaaaal bad at this point), but instead chose to walk up 44 to our car.

It's definitely the Dolly Sods of PA, with the difficulty as well ha. Don't get me wrong for all of the hills you're rewarded with amazing views!

Look forward to doing the entire loop soon!

 

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Name: .com                                                                                                                Hike: Black Forest North
Date: July 23-25, 2011                                                                                             Rating: 5

Critique: Maps & trail notes were perfect once we were on the BFT itself. Driving directions say that from the Black Forest Campground, it is "about 2 miles" to the road on the right--it is 2+ miles to that turn off. There is a hunting lodge, newly built, with a small parking area for 3 cars--does that belong to the hunters? We parked there.

We arrived a bit later that expected, due to avoiding a detour area (an email to the Tiadaghton State Forest provided exact directions to avoid that detour). Day 1 we hiked to the first campsite, 3 tents stayed, 4 went up to the first trail to the right (an excellent tent site right on the water w/ a waterfall) and 2 hiked on further (due to miscommunication about the 4 at the side trail tent site). All good, and we re-grouped easily on Day 2. Definitely hot on Day 2, and those steep climbs, you called it the Lemon Squeezer, jeesh! We had a beautiful lunch across Slate Run, however we should've walked another 30 yards to a gorgeous swimming hole--you know about that one? Good to keep it secret!

Day 2 we ended at the pond. At first 4 hiked on to the next tent site but that was bone-dry, so they returned. We found 9 very nice sites, all spread out between the pond and the nearby woods. Beautiful pond, water was fine, but those bullfrogs were at it all night long! One hiker had to move her tent at midnight in order to get some sleep! The pond had a scummy-looking surface (pollen), but the water itself was quite clear, deep and very cold, indicating that it was drinkable after treating/filtering.

Day 3 there were 7 who started hiking out (2 took a longer time getting ready but knew the way out). More steep ups to reach another lovely plateau, then we heard thunder and that soon turned into quite a t'storm, lightning, thunder & rain in the woods. By that time we decided to use the "bail-out" route and save the 20 crossings of Slate Run for another time. We got back to the van a bit earlier, changed to dry clothes and drove out. Lunch was at a Ruby Tuesday's.

I'd give this hike a 5, outstanding area, varied terrain, and almost total solitude. The use of cross country ski trails offer flexibility to this hike should there be a need.

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Name: John                                                                                                                  Hike: BFT (total loop)
Date: 5/20-5/22 2011                                                                                               Rating: 5

Critique: Just a few things. I did this during extremely high water after 5 straight days of rain (and an overall crazy wet spring), and hikers should be warned that high water makes this hike quite challenging. My map includes two "high water" detours which were necessary, one to go around Slate Run and the other on the Sentiero Di Shay to avoid flooding along County Line Branch. Other ascents and descents were totally washed out. Even on flat trail sections, the trails were stream-like at times. I went clockwise, and the detour around Slate Run was not marked, FYI, but I found it using my map and guidebook (The Chuck Dillon one). Great campsites at Navel Run, Callahan Run, Yellow Jacket Hollow, and along Red Run. If you take the Sentiero Di Shay high water route, there is a section that is difficult to navigate due to logging-- coming from the south, turn right on the logging road for 200 yards before finding the blue blazes on a survey marker. Saw a nice rattler on
the trail around there too. I'll do this hike again, preferably in autumn (low water!).

 

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Name: Chris                                                                                                                 Hike: Black Forest Trail - North
Date: 10/2-10/3/2010                                                                                             Rating: 5

Critique: We hiked the northern loop of the Black Forest Trail over two days, October 2nd & 3rd. The first day we started at the trail head in Slate Run and camped that evening at the campsite at mile ten (in the BFT guide book) for a total of 15 miles. The climb that morning out of Slate run up to Fosters hollow was all it was supposed to be, the vistas on the way up were beautiful. The decent down to County Line branch was a little technical with a good quarter of a mile of a rock scrabble. Once down to the branch we crossed the water at least 18 times before we crossed 44, in the spring I would take the high water route. We stayed the night in hammocks with the temps getting down into the upper 30s. Sunday we hiked the remaining 10 miles back to the trail head. The water fall you pass on the way to Red Run is beautiful, the climb up and out however tested my cardio. The last vista we came to was on the way back down to Slate Run (around mile 2 in the BFT guide book) it was truly breathe tacking. It was also a little odd; in full sun at 2:00 in the afternoon there was not a rattle snake to be seen. The last water crossing was Slate Run, and I had to take of my shoes and socks to cross it. It was actually a refreshing way to finish the hike. We didn't see much in the way of wild life this trip, just a few grouse and lots of bear sign. I'm glad we hiked the BFT, I'm certain that it lives up to it's reputation as one of the best trails in Pa.

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Name: Tim Marshall                                                                                                   Hike: BFT (total loop - 42 miles)
Date: numerous dates in the past                                                                          Rating: 5

Critique: I have hiked this trail numerous times in the past, going back 12 years. My backpacking bud, Jeff, and I have not been back for several years but are planning a return trip this spring. We have hiked this trail both fast and slow taking as many as 5 days to do the entire loop. The slower pace has allowed for a good deal of exploring trailess areas and spending maximum time at prime vistas. We would recommend the Hemlock mountain overlook area for a vista campsite. Great morning sunshine for those "cold" AM hours. I agree about the numerous climbs...they are challenging but do not fail to reward with great vistas. You need to make certain that you are in relatively good shape, however. Rattlesnakes have proven to be regular residents of the rock outcrops and upper flat areas. If you take a dog, just keep this in mind.

 

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Name: Reid                                                                                                                  Hike: BFT (total loop - 42 mile)
Date: 5/21/09                                                                                                            Rating: 4

Critique: Great hike, tough as nails though. The elevation changes are no joke, and the steep inclines can be treacherous with a full pack and will slow you down. Overall a great hike, though, and the weather was perfect but for a sprinkle on the third day in.

We did the whole loop over the Memorial Day weekend, in on Thursday, May 21, and out on Monday, Memorial Day. Did the route backwards from the prescribed route, and saw few hikers coming the opposite direction, and had little trouble finding space at the campsites.

WATCH OUT FOR RATTLESNAKES. We surprised at least two big suckers right on the trail during the hike. Other than some wild turkeys and the rattlesnakes, we did not encounter much wildlife to speak of.

Only complaint: when we hiked out, we were all hankering for our post-hike burgers and beers, and headed immediately for the former Waterville Hotel (now the Waterville Tavern) that had been suggested by many other hikers. We had nine campers in our group, and they wouldn't push two tables together to accommodate us, because "the owners don't want us to push tables together" as the waitress told us. Needless to say, they lost our business (well over $300) to the Pine Creek Lodge (I think is the name?) down the street. DO NOT GO TO THE WATERVILLE TAVERN, as it seems they don't care for hikers' business anymore. The Pine Creek Lodge served us wonderfully, and all future hikers of the BFT should take their business here instead of the Waterville Tavern.

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Name: Gerard Viau                                                                                                     Hike: Black Forest Trail - complete
Date: 10/3/08 10/6/08                                                                                            Rating: 5

Critique: Three of us did the full BFT loop (North and South) in the fall as the leaves were turning and it was amazing. We started at the trailhead near the Hotel Manor and hiked counter-clockwise for the full loop. The vistas got better as the hike progressed leaving some of the most amazing views for the end of the hike a nice reward for our hard work. Why didn't we do this hike sooner!

Day 1: 15 miles (17 if you including our rocky start). Started out a bit rough by going the wrong way obviously it would have been fine since the BFT is a loop, but we wanted to go counter-clockwise and we were still groggy from the night before. After one mile in the wrong direction, we figured it out and turned around. It rained a bit in the morning and cleared up by 2pm, so our wet feet had a chance to dry out by the end of the day. We saw three other hikers on this first day (2 of which were planning to do the full loop.) We had lunch by a stream and camped for the evening at a relatively small campsite. Starting a fire that night was a challenge because all of the wood was wet, my friend donated some of the pages from his Ernest Hemingway book to get it started what a lifesaver. Temperature dropped to around 34 degrees at night, but we all slept well after a long day.

Day 2: 12 miles. We enjoyed some varied terrain: boulders, heavily wooded forest, an open meadow, and some clear flats. The morning gave us a little stretch of hiking downhill, but then we quickly came to a steep incline at mile 16.5 (about 500 feet in half a mile); that gave the legs a good wake up call. Mid-morning we came across a black bear and her two cubs about 15 yards in front of us; thankfully, there was some brush and trees between us so they did not feel threatened and just moseyed on. We stayed at a great campsite at mile 27 with a water source right next to us (Callahan Run). Temperature crept up a bit to around 37 degrees.

Day 3: 12 miles. Easily the hardest day of the trip, partly because we started out with a 1,000 ft incline over 1.3 miles brutal. We stumbled upon a Ruffed Grouse (PA state bird) in the late morning before we stopped for lunch at an amazing vista it was the boost we needed. We planned to only do 9 miles today, but a lack of water forced us to keep pushing on and it was worth it. We camped at Foster Hollow Pond with unobstructed views of the stars and enjoyed our last night on the BFT. Temperature stayed up at around 38 degrees.

Day 4: 3 miles. This last day was easy given we only had a handful of miles to finish up so we took our time packing up camp and hitting the trail, and still finished up before 11am. And on the way home, we got burgers at the Waterville Hotel.

If you haven't done this hike and you're looking for a challenging and amazing trail this is it. Enjoy.

 

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Name: zach                                                                                                                 Hike: Black Forest Trail North and South
Date:11/22-24/2008                                                                                                Rating: 4

Critique: Great hike in all.

Cold cold cold. Had two nights of sub 20 degree weather and 5 inches of snow. had to really push myself to finish on the last day. I went left from the Slate Run trail head and was able to return in 3 full days of trekking. Scenery was beautiful but wouldn't recommend hiking it this late in the year (November 22-24) unless you want a challenge and are prepared for the cold.

Ran into bear hunters throughout the final day, all were friendly and surprised to see a hiker.

 

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Name: Jonny                                                                                                               Hike: Black Forest trail
Date: 6-19-08 to 6-20                                                                                               Rating: 5

Critique: This is a beautiful hike with many vistas. Many streams to cross, we did the entire BFT in 2 days. I parked just off rt44 at the county line start/end point. we started at noon on day 1 and decided to camp at the campsite on Slate Run, which was .77miles past the old quarry rd. We got their at 6:00pm very nice camp site, lots of pines.


Day 2 we left campsite at 10:30am. After crossing a forest rd climbing up to the top is the hardest climb, but it is the best overlook on the trip. plus we saw 2 rattlesnakes laying on the rocks on the edge. My friend was able to catch one and hold it. Perfect place to rest or eat lunch, just watch were you walk rattlesnakes blend in well up there. We got back to the truck at 5:15pm. I wouldn't recommend doing the entire loop in 2 days unless you're in good shape. It is a advanced trail.

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Name: Ron                                                                                                                   Hike: Black Forest Trail North
Date: May 24-26/08                                                                                                  Rating: 5

Critique: Lead this hike for the Mountain Club of Maryland over the holiday weekend. The weather was perfect all 3 days and that prompted more folks to enjoy the woods. We were able to get the best campsite for night 1 which is an unmarked trail that leads about 1/4 mile downhill and is right beside the creek. There is room for about 8 tents here. The 2nd night we camped beside Foster Hollow and slept to the sounds of the peepers. This hike is not complete without stopping at the Waterville Hotel for burgers on the way home. Thank you Mike for maintaining such a valuable website!

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Name: Hitman                                                                                                             Hike: Northern Section BFT
Date: 10/28/07-10/30/07                                                                                      Rating: 4.5

Critique: Great hike!  Went with my dog and followed your itinerary for a three day hike.  Got a little worried heading up to the trail on 44, didn't think it was going to be that far on 44.  Got a late start on first day but made it to first campsite by dark (barely)  Second day is tough at the beginning and the end but got into camp at Foster Hollow in the early afternoon thanks to the flat sections separating the tough early and late sections. Great scenery.  The large rock quarry was a spectacular spot for lunch and I actually took a nice long nap there.  The last day was mostly just a walk out and the scenery was less impressive though the descent over the boulders was fun.  All in all a great hike and I would highly recommend it in fall with the color changes.  Thanks for the recommendation.

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Name: PowderKeg                                                                                                   Hike: Black Forest Trail - North
Date: 10/6/07                                                                                                          Rating: 4.5

Critique: Absolutely beautiful vistas and a spectacular hike.

A couple of items that might be helpful:

The parking area on Rt 44 is 2.3 miles past the driveway of the Black Forest Inn. If you get to the God's Country sign you went just a little too far. It's easy to miss as the trail indicator is just a wooden post.

Also, a correction: after the unmarked trails to the table rocks, where the Algernine trail goes off to the left, you want to make a hard RIGHT to continue the BFT (directions above are mistyped, but once on the trail it's quite obvious what you need to do).
(Correction noted and the change made.)

Also, the spring mentioned in the directions and on the map was dry during my hike.

And, I'm a sucker for nice campsites. If you can manage it, I recommend camping either at the second vista after the steep climb that is supposed to start Day 2 (there are two campsites just a few yards past the second vista). This is where I camped and the sunset over the mountains was fantastic.

And the first quarry looks like one of the most gorgeous campsites I've seen, at least in fall... maybe not shady enough for hot weather. It would be tough to get there on Day 1.

Be warned, with the spring being dry, you really need to carry enough water to last from the three "Day 1" campsites all the way to to Slate Run... only an issue if you're planning to stay at one of these alternate campsites.

The descriptions and directions in this guide were spot-on. Thanks for such a fine job and such a great hike.

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Name: Bob Tarabula                                                                                                Hike: Black Forest North
Date: 6/23-6/25/07                                                                                               Rating: 4

Critique: Beautiful Hike.  We drove to Williamsport on Friday and hiked Sat-Mon.  First day was easy and we stayed at the second of the 3 camps.  Did not see the third site and the second day.  Found 4 different kinds of salamanders in the creek.  Second day, tough climb to start.  Had lunch at the quarry under the birches.  That's where we found our only rattler of the trip hiding under a rock.  The way down to slate run was tough, lots of lose rock and sliding.  The second climb was the toughest, already hiking 8+ miles and I barely made it.  The third day was easy and fun.  We stowed our backs at the parking area at PA44 and picked them up on the way home.  I would change few things.  Maybe go in reverse, camping at the creeks, pond, or Slate Run depending on when I started.  That would leave a 5 mile day and the third day and more time for the drive home.  I highly recommend leaving packs at the parking area at PA44 making the hike west of 44 easier, going either way.

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Name: Scott Adams                                                                                                Hike: Black Forest Trail - North

Date: 9/16/2005                                                                                                     Ranking: 5

Critique: Nice job on your TR of the Black Forest Trail. Glad you liked the hike and the region: the BFT is my favorite trail in all of PA. Hope to catch up with you and hike along next year when you return to finish the remainder of the trail.

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Name: Bob Gabart                                                                                                   Hike: Black Forest - North
Date: 11/14/2005                                                                                                   Ranking: 4

Critique: The Black Forest Trail is a nice hike. There are steep climbs and a few rocky areas but it generally has good footing and there are miles and miles of flat trail. A few recommendations on camp sites. On day 1, the sites by the creek are ok, but the ground is cold, hard and damp. If it were me, I would get water by the creek and then climb out of the canyon. There is a nice big spot when you get to the top that has a fire ring but no water. Also, on day 2, I would not camp by Foster Hollow Camp. It's a little too Blair Witch for me. If you hike just a 1/4 mile more down into the canyon, there is a nice spot by the creek.

M.R. Hyker Note: Bob may be right for fall/winter hikes but I like to be near water in the summer and am opposed to carrying any extra weight on my back unless I have to. Re: the campsite down in Foster Hollow: The streams there are quite seasonal so beware.

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Name: Craig                                                                                                              Hike: Black Forest Tr - North BP
Date: 5/29/06                                                                                                          Rating: 4.5

Critique: This was a great hike and thanks for the information. The info is very accurate. We followed the instructions and to confirm, there is a beautiful stream-side campsite on day one about a 1/4 mile on the side trail that was mentioned. However, on day two we had the added mileage of cutting day one a bit short and we also passed the pond campsite (pond looked too stagnant and there be skeeters out) and went another .67 miles to the next indicated campsite which in turn shortened day 3.
The only critters we saw besides the chipmunks and squirrels was some rattle snakes that like to bask in the sun on the rocks at a couple of the scenic overlooks.

The only negative critique of this write-up is on the getting there directions. Not being familiar with the area, the mile distance on 44 to where the starting trail marker is would be helpful (about 2 miles past the Inn). We passed it and finally stopped to ask directions after going about 6 miles too far.


This is great place to be. ENJOY IT!
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Name: Mike                                                                                                               Hike: Black Forrest Trail - North Loop
Date: 6/7/2006                                                                                                        Rating: 5

Critique: This had to be one of the best hikes I've done. The trail head is a couple of hundred feet before the sign that says "Welcome to Potter County- God's Country"...they don't call it that for nothing! There are forest beds of Fern and Groves of Pines that are gigantic. Rock scrambles, Flat Rock vista's, and area's of thick brush. I went just after rains that flooded out much of PA, and also when forest growth was at it's max. Long pants, waterproof mid-weight boots, trekking poles, and high gaiters worked out well with my 40# pack and 15 or so stream crossings on the southern end of the loop ( the deepest being 16" or so). The nicest campsites with water are by Foster Hollow, Slate Run creek, and Dyer Branch Creek. There is one killer hill, over 1000' gain in less than a mile, I planned that one for the end of the day...and slept really well that night. There was one rattlesnake that I missed finding in a little bush on one of the rock vista's after the boulder field.!
 I was leaning down to look at a head bobbing garter snake when I moved my pole into the bush, and out he went a rattling. The wild blueberries were everywhere, and darn good tasting. I plan on going back in the fall for the other half. Thanks for the info Midatlantichikes.

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Name: Stefan                                                                                                            Hike: Black Forest Tr-North
Date: ???                                                                                                                    Rating: 5

Critique: SSHHHHHH...don't tell too many people about this place!

One of the best PA backpacking hikes, forget the AT. I belong to a hunting club by the trail. I backpacked most of it. I Plan to return and GPS the entire trail this Spring/summer. I consider this an intermediate/experienced backpacker trail. Depends on the weather and conditions, three days is humping it hard for this 42 miler.

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