Years ago, local trail legend Bob Webber would lead a rambling hike near Algerine Wild Area and Slate Run, PA. Bob would lead visitors along official and unofficial trails throughout the forest. You see, for decades Bob was the person responsible for building and maintaining most of the trails in this forest. One of these trails, which helps to create a loop hike from Slate Run, PA, had been forgotten, but a local trail running group, PA Trail Dogs, found this trail again and have recently been re-opening the trail for an upcoming trail challenge. This challenge, called the Slate Run 25k, is set for its first year this summer. Follow along below for an exciting breakdown of this 25k route, which is an ideal adventure for hikers, backpackers, and trail runners alike.
Begin on the westside of Pine Creek in the area known as Slate Run. There is day-use parking behind Hotel Manor, and possibly some more spots about one-half mile further along Slate Run Road. Most of the hike today will be on Black Forest Trail. You can begin your hike where Black Forest Trail (orange blazes) crosses through the parking lot behind Hotel Manor. Find the stunning footbridge and use it to cross over Slate Run. Enter Algerine Wild Area immediately after crossing Slate Run and follow the orange blazed trail. A long and difficult climb begins almost immediately. Be sure to have water on this hike; other than one fairly reliable spring, which is noted on our Pine Creek Lizard Map, most of the plateau within this Wild Area is dry.
As with most climbs in the Pine Creek Valley, the steep terrain is worth the effort. Old rock quarries exist about halfway up this climb and offer an excellent excuse to take a breather and enjoy the views.
Several vistas and viewpoints exist on both sides of this loop hike around Slate Run. Do beware, snakes also love these sunny, rocky outcroppings, so be sure to inspect where you step and sit along this hike!
After you pass a rather obvious Lizard Spot, Black Forest Trail descends along Red Run towards a confluence with Slate Run in Little Morris. Those looking for a great overnight option will find a few backpacking campsites between the trail and Red Run before reaching Little Morris. Car campers can call ahead to obtain a free permit to camp in a number of primitive spots near Little Morris and 7-Mile Camp. Others still will use the area nearest the waterfalls pictured above as a resting place to enjoy lunch.
Now come back to Bob Webber and a trail that he used for years to avoid road walking along Francis Road. Recently this trail was found again, and opened by DCNR and PA Trail Dogs. Although not completely re-opened just yet (the trail needs signs, blazes, and some work near stream crossings), this trail will be a gem beginning in spring of 2019! This old trail, noted on the Pine Creek Lizard Map, stays on a steep cliff in between Slate Run and Francis Road. The trail leaves Slate Run after a while to climb along another tributary, crossing it multiple times, before connecting with Old Supply Trail.
Cross Francis Road and follow the signs to Old Supply Trail. This trail provides a gentle climb, which is always welcome in this part of the state, alongside a small mountain stream. Enjoy this section of forest, but do wear long pants in summer as the wood nettle can be quite irksome.
There may be a few primitive campsites along Old Supply Trail for those planning on spending the evening in the woods. Old Supply Trail eventually meets with Black Forest Trail and another campsite opportunity. Turn left on Black Forest Trail back towards Slate Run. This section of trail generally follows alongside or through the small mountain stream of the hollow. The climb can be tough, but a beautiful, small mountain pond is the reward at the top.
Enjoy the pond, then the view a bit further along the trail, then really begin to go downhill fast shortly after the view. Black Forest Trail abruptly leaves the plateau and immediately descends quickly and very steeply towards Slate Run. Enjoy the excellent views along this spiny ridgeline leading to the valley below!
I held my breath with each up and down, stopping every so often to let out some tears. The creek was rushing and beautiful this morning. The sun was bright, the sky was clear, and the temperature was perfect. Approaching the finish, I couldn’t hold back the tears anymore. Before the last climb, I took one more glance at the water and smelled the pine that surrounded me. I will always belong out here. The forest took care of me this week, I will forever be thankful.