In the northeast section of the Allegheny Front Trail, the AFT shares the trail with another group of trails commonly known as the Rock Run Trails. The Rock Run trail system is made up of five shorter trails; the Headwaters Trail, the the Ridge Trail, the Valley Trail, the Woodland Trail, and the Entrance Trail. The AFT merges with the Rock Run trail system following a short section of the Ridge Trail and all of the Headwaters Trail and Entrance Trail. This after-work hike had us walking a section of the Rock Run trail system. We decided to park at the Allegheny Front Trail trailhead along route PA504 and then hike back the Entrance Trail to the south loop of the Rock Run Trails. We would then hike around the south loop, crossing over Rock Run and returning to the Entrance Trail via the Woodland Trail.
|Trailhead:||N 40° 55.02'
W 77° 58.62'
|Trail Length:||7.1 miles|
|Hike Time:||3.5 hours|
|Near:||Black Moshannon State Park|
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This after-work hike had us walking a section of the Rock Run trail system. We decided to park at the Allegheny Front Trail trailhead along route PA504 and then hike back the Entrance Trail to the south loop of the Rock Run Trails. We would then hike around the south loop, crossing over Rock Run and returning to the Entrance Trail via the Woodland Trail. This was somewhat ambitious for an after work hike, being about 20 miles from work and hiking a little over 7 miles. I thought we would be hard pressed to finish this by dark.
To reach the trailhead for this hike, you will need to make your way to route PA504, also known as Rattlesnake Pike, which is off of alternate route US220. If you live locally, you can probably find your way to PA504. If you don't live locally, the best way to get here is to get on route I80. Regardless if you are traveling east or west on route I80, you will want to get off at exit 158. Once you exit, head south on alternate route US220/PA150. Route PA150 will leave to your right as the road then merges with route PA144. Continue on, heading south, and in a short while route PA144 will leave to your right as well. Keep on driving straight until you have traveled 6.8 miles since you exit I80 and bear right onto route PA504. Continue on PA504 for another 7.2 miles (14 miles from I80) and you will see a parking area on your right. This is where the Allegheny Front Trail crossed route PA504 and you'll also see the AFT trail sign here as well. Park the car and get ready to start your hike.
The trails on this hike are blazed both orange and blue. The orange blazes mark the Allegheny Front Trail while the blue blazes mark the Rock Run Trails. To start you can follow the orange blazes, but you need to keep your wits about you when you get to the point where you cross Rock Run as you will then be following blue blazes only. If you continue to follow the orange/blue blazes you'll be adding another 2 miles to this hike as you will discover that you need to back track to the bridge crossing.
The four of us started off by hiking back the Entrance Trail. The trail had a nice, gradual descent for over a mile as it made its way through woodland and mountain meadows. The trails passing through the meadows were well maintained and cleared. There were a number of huckleberries and blackberries along this section of the trail, and we all took our turns stopping to pick a few.
At 1.4 miles into our hike we had a short ascent which wasn't any longer than a quarter of a mile. After cresting the small incline, we continued on our downward hike. I was informed many times during this part of the hike that since this was a circuit hike, we would have to climb back up during the end of our hike.
The Entrance Trail came to an end at the intersection with the Headwaters and Woodlands Trail, about 1.9 miles into our hike. We paused here a moment to get a quick drink. There is a trail register here, so take a moment and sign in. We turned left at this intersection, following the orange and blue blazed Headwaters Trail.
We crossed a small, intermittent stream with a possible campsite at 2.1 miles and the trail jogged to the right just a short distance ahead. At 2.4 miles the trail makes a sharp turn to the right once again as we picked up an old logging grade. The trail was now following the western bank of Middle Branch of Rock Run.
We hiked on for another 1.1 miles where we came to the cross-connector located in the middle of the Rock Run trail system. At this point, the AFT follows Ridge Trail to our left, however we turned right on the blue-blazed only trail, crossing Rock Run on a very rickety old bridge. After a tenth of a mile, and 3.6 miles into our hike we came upon the intersection of the Valley Trail and the Woodlands Trail. We turned right here and began our gradual ascent on the Woodlands Trail.
The Woodlands Trail follows an old railroad grade for about 0.6 miles before the trail turns to the left. We had a slightly steeper climb on this section of the trail as we passed through some interesting rock formations. At 5 miles into our hike we crossed a dirt road which I am assuming grants access to a leased cabin. There are signs along this road marking the Rock Run Trails. Continuing on for another two tenths of a mile and we found ourselves back at the intersection with the Entrance Trail. After a short break we turned left and retraced our steps back to our cars.
The hike was a little over 7 miles and we were able to complete the hike in about two and a half hours. As we made it back to our cars the sun was setting but we were able to complete our after-work hike before dark.
The Rock Run Trails offer hikes of varying lengths and can even be incorporated into an overnight backpack. The trails are also a favorite for cross-country skiers and snowshoers during the winter months. Even though there were some descents and climbs, the elevation change over the entire length of trail was minimal. With the close proximity to Black Moshannon State Park, the Rock Run Trails would make a great hiking destination for campers and visitors to the park.