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 worked closely with DCNR officials to reopen this gem for a new 2019 trail challenge. This challenge, called the Slate Run 25k, utilizes several hiking trails in the area to create an ideal loop for those looking for a challenge. Follow along below for an exciting breakdown of a route, which is very similar to the Slate Run 25k. This loop 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 some more spots about one-half mile further along Slate Run Road. Most of the hike today will be on the orange blazed Black Forest Trail. You can begin your hike where Black Forest Trail crosses through the parking lot behind Hotel Manor. Find the stunning footbridge, pictured above, and use it to cross over Slate Run. Enter Algerine Wild Area immediately after crossing Slate Run and follow the orange blazed trail closely.
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. The climb begins with several steep switchbacks, but the trail soon finds an old woods road to follow uphill.
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, during the summer months, snakes also love these sunny, rocky outcroppings, so be sure to inspect where you step and sit along this hike!
Continue to follow the orange blazed Black Forest Trail on top of this plateau for a few miles as it meanders through the hardwood forest to occasionally pop out at vistas overlooking the famous Slate Run.
After you pass two rather obvious Lizard Spots, Black Forest Trail descends along Red Run, pictured above, 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 this trail isn't signed just yet, it is well blazed and easy to follow. Utilize your 2nd Edition Pine Creek Lizard Map to spot the exact location of the beginning of this trail near Little Morris. (Note - it is not on the 1st Edition).
This old trail begins as an old road, but does include exciting narrow single track sections along a steep cliff above Slate Run. The trail leaves Slate Run after a while to climb along another tributary, crossing it multiple times, before connecting with Slate Run Road and Old Supply Trail.
Cross Slate Run Road and follow the signs to Old Supply Trail. Note: Slate Run Road is an excellent bail-out option back to your vehicle in Slate Run. 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 are a few small 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!
The steep descent literally spits you out on Slate Run Road. Switchbacks here were updated by Keystone Trails Association in 2018. Check for cars along Slate Run Road before crossing the road bridge and stepping over the guardrail on the opposite side for another steep descent. This descent is brief though, and ends at an old grade along Slate Run. Follow Black Forest Trail and this grade the whole way back to Slate Run and your car. Do note, the trail along Slate Run is well above the creek itself, and often the creek is inaccessible due to steep slopes.
With over 300 miles of non-motorized trails, tons of gravel and dirt roads, and 24/7 access, Rothrock State Forest is a true gem for year-round outdoor recreation near State College, PA. Although the forest roads are not maintained in winter, a few parking lots along the perimeter of the forest provide ample access in almost any conditions. Below, we've chosen a few of our favorite very difficult trail loops accessible in the winter from one of these parking areas. The following loops are best for those who enjoy challenging, steep, and rocky climbs and descents.