Pine Creek Valley boasts hundreds of miles of trails for hikers of all ability levels. Not every trail is created equal though. Some trails are steep and rugged, others are flat and smooth. Most trails have posted signs at road crossings and trail intersections, while some trails have painted blazes on trees along the way guiding the hiker in the correct direction. A good amount of trails are maintained annually by PA DCNR foresters, and many more trails are maintained on a regular basis by a slew of individual and group based volunteers. But some trails throughout this region, a few more trails then you may first guess, are seemingly forgotten. Although these trails are forgotten by many, they are not forgotten by all. Follow along with us as we re-discover more old trails near Slate Run, PA!
Wolf Run Wild Area is a magical spot, which has hosted more visitors than many of us realize. The famed Golden Eagle Trail, oftentimes noted as the best day hike in Pennsylvania, uses Wolf Run Wild Area lands for over half of its 9-mile length. That really pretty stream that flows along Golden Eagle Trail, yep you guessed it, that's Wolf Run. Bob Webber Trail climbs to a plateau within Wolf Run Wild Area, too. Mid State Trail even ducks into these lands for a short bit along its journey from New York to Maryland. Grab your Pine Creek Lizard Map quickly with us and check out the rest of the lands in this Wild Area. How about all of those streams on the lands within Wolf Run Wild Area and in between Golden Eagle Trail and Mid State Trail? And how about those trails within those lands?
All of those trails within Wolf Run Wild Area, the trails which are noted on the Pine Creek Lizard Map do exist...sort of...but they exist in a different fashion then what can typically be expected on State Forest Lands. Just like so many other trails in the northern tier of PA, the trails in this neck of the woods oftentimes follow old logging roads and railroad grades. Such is the case in Wolf Run Wild Area. The trails here aren't necessarily blazed right now, but old roadways can be used to follow the waterways up and downstream through cuts in the plateau.
Gated roads and private property slightly limit access to this wild area, but a few options do exist. Consider pulling your car off the road along Tin Can Road and Mid State Trail on Barrens Road. Here, you can enter by heading southbound on Mid State Trail, then turning right to descend Sebring Branch. Another option is to find yourself, either by hiking or biking up the gated Beulah Land Road, at Beulahland Vista on the Golden Eagle Trail. From the top of this ridge, you can bushwhack downhill along Stradley Hollow until you intersection with the unblazed trail near Left Fork Mill Run.
This section of forest contains a plethora of beautiful mountain streams with cascades. It is especially nice to visit the area in early spring, before bugs and plants become an annoyance. Both Left Fork Mill Run and Right Fork Mill Run have old trails stream side for the length of the streams. Follow either of these trails upstream, but do beware Right Fork Mill Run trail ends at private property, and Left Fork Mill Run eventually ends on State Game Lands 68. Of course the confluence of these two branches, and Mill Run heading downstream after this, is a great spot for an 'off trail' hike. Follow Mill Run downstream the whole way to the confluence with Sebring Branch to experience a beautiful spot deep in the woods of Pine Creek.
As noted above, the confluence of Mill Run and Sebring Branch is quite wonderful. A feint trail does lead uphill along Sebring Branch the whole way to an intersection with Mid State Trail just south of Barrens Road and Tin Can Road.
Although the section of forest described above doesn't feature any of the famous Pine Creek Valley vistas, there are plenty of vistas like these near enough. Make a long day trip, or a two day weekend trip to explore more trails in the area such as Golden Eagle Trail, Dragon's Back Trail, and Hilborn Run Trail. Read more about those trails here: Golden Eagle Trail
For those who use Beulah Lands Road to access Wolf Run Area, be sure to stop in at Cedar Run General store on your way home. Even better, spend the night across the street at Petticoat Junction Campground. Here you can stay in your tent, RV, or even rent out a Yurt beside Pine Creek!
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I had two seriously long days in the woods planned, for an estimated total of 44 miles of backpacking. My plan was to follow a slew of lesser-known trails to create a loop that incorporates both Black Forest Trail and West Rim Trail. I picked this route after studying the Pine Creek Lizard Map. There are countless trails on this excellent map, but some of them are old, neglected, and untravelled. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Winter is a great time to do this kind of exploring. There are no rattlesnakes, nettles, or ticks. Streams are easy to follow, and the cold temperatures can dress up the stream banks with ice sculptures. The lack of leaves creates winter vistas where in the summer there is only endless green. So off I went.