Yesterday I hiked a portion of the Black Forest Trail, one of the hiking trails along Pine Creek on the western edge of Lycoming County. Other hiking trails in that area are the Golden Eagle Trail and the Bob Webber Trail, but those trails include steep climbs so they can be a bit of an ordeal. The Black Forest Trail will probably become my favorite since it has a long stretch which is completely level. It is ideal for when you want to take a long walk in the woods without really exerting yourself.
Black Forest Trail is up around Slate Run, a small village along Route 414. To reach the trail you turn left onto Slate Run Road just before you reach Wolfe’s General Store. After crossing the bridge over Pine Creek you turn right, drive pass the Hotel Manor, continue up Slate Run Road until you reach the trail parking area which is just a place to park along the road. If that parking area is full you can drive further up the road until you see a sign posting a 15 mile speed limit for a turn. The parking area just before that sign is where you park for another section of the trail that leads to a incredible vista view.
But that is getting ahead of my tale. I parked at the primary trail head parking area. There was only one car already there. The trail makes a sharp decent until you reach the trail register where you can choose to go left or right. I initially chose right but I encountered some obstructions and the trail just took me back to Slate Run Road where there didn’t seem to be anywhere to continue. On my way back I went slightly off trail to reach Slate Run. I saw a couple hiking on the other side of Slate Run with their dog even though the trail did not appear to cross this small creek.
When I got back to the Black Forest Trail register I went left. This part of the trail continues for a very long way on a former railroad grade so the trail is perfectly level and fairly wide. It is this part of the trail that seems ideal for casual hiking. After about an hour hiking in that direction you will come back to a turn in Slate Run Road. This is where the 15 MPH sign is located with another parking area. Although the Black Forest Trail appears to end here it will continue on the other side of the road once you walk pass the turn in the road. This part of the trail is a steep climb to one of the most spectacular vista views I’ve seen in the area. You will find a 300 degree view of the mountains including a long view down the Pine Creek Gorge. You have to earn it through a very strenuous climb but it is definitely worth the effort. However, if it is a hot and muggy day, I don’t think you should combine these hikes because that really saps your strength.
On this hiking trip, I brought along my new camping stool, the TravelChair Slacker Chair Folding Tripod Camp Stool. I thought this stool was a little too heavy to bring along on a hike but it is not too bad. The real problem is that it won’t fit in a backpack and carrying it around is very awkward. It has a shoulder strap but the strap is way too short. Eventually I clipped it to my backpack to keep it out of way. I’m going to buy a shoulder strap to replace the one that came with it. Nevertheless, this camping stool was very useful because it allowed me to take a rest anywhere on the trail.
By the time I got back to the trail register I was so drained of energy that I could barely climb back up to the parking area. It had become hot and muggy by then and my shirt was thoroughly soaked with sweat. I forgot to bring a change of shirts. After recovering a bit in my car, I drove down to Hotel Manor for lunch. This hotel offers a great view of the Pine Creek and the Pine Creek Gorge through its large chalet windows which you find in many grandiose hunting lodges. I ordered a fairly basic meal of burger, fries, and a Pepsi but the burger was pretty good. Not exactly fine dining but not fast food fare either. They had a large stuffed black bear so I took a photo of that. After lunch I went to Wolfe’s General Store to see if they still rent bikes for the Pine Creek Rail Trail. Although they do seem to offer this service, I had just eaten a large meal and was too tired from hiking to do any biking.
Instead of heading back home straight away I decided to go to the Woolrich Outlet Store. Woolrich sells outdoor clothing. I’ve been hiking in the same clothes I wear at the office which is a little too formal. I especially wanted something to replace my white dress shirts. So at the Woolrich Outlet Store I bought two checkered shirts, one short sleeved and one long sleeved, for $63.00. I think that is still too expensive but since Woolrich is a local company I can count on their clothes being locally fashionable. Their outdoor clothing has to be fashionable for outdoor recreation in the area.
After leaving the town of Woolrich I drove through McElhattan and decided I might as well stop in at Zindel Park to take some photos with my new camera. I passed the old Henry W. Shoemaker estate, Restless Oaks. This spooky old house now has a For Sale sign so I guess there is no interest in preserving the legacy of the folklorist Shoemaker. On the way back from Zindel Park I saw a deer but I spooked him when I stopped my car to take a photo.