The Allegheny Front Trail encircles Black Moshannon State Park. There is also a cross connector trail that bisects the Black Moshannon State Park. This cross connector trail consists of two trails, the Moss Hanne Trail and the Shingle Mill Trail, allowing you to hike the AFT in either a western or eastern loop. This hike was done on the cross connector, specifically the Shingle Mill Trail. This small loop used 2 miles of the Shingle Mill Trail and returned on a dirt, forest road. The Shingle Mill Trail, and this hike in particular, was flat, with only minor elevation change, and could have just as easily been hiked in comfortable walking shoes.
|Trailhead:||N 40° 55.02'
|Trail Length:||3.7 miles|
|Hike Time:||2 hours|
|Near:||Black Moshannon State Park.|
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The trailhead for this hike is found along route PA504 in the parking area by the beach access at Black Moshannon State Park. To reach the trailhead 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 11.7 miles (18.5 miles from I80) and you will enter the main area of the Black Moshannon State Park. Just prior to crossing the bridge, turn right into the beach access parking area. We parked at the furthermost point from the main road in the parking area, just off Black Moshannon Road.
It was a sunny, but somewhat chilly, spring day. Shari and I packed a sub and two drinks and had a little picnic before our hike. The wind was cold coming off the lake, but the sun felt good beating down on our faces. After a quick bite to eat, we headed south along the lake shore to the dam and trailhead for this hike.
Just a short distance past the dam, following a yellow-blazed trail, we crossed to the west banks of the Black Moshannon creek. Just after crossing the bridge we saw the signs for the Shingle Mill Trail and it's blue-blazes heading north alongside the creek bank. We turned right here and started our hike on the Shingle Mill Trail.
The trail was free of obstacles and quite flat as it followed the Black Moshannon northward. At 0.4 miles into the hike we did climb up the bank side a little to avoid getting wet. We weren't up in elevation for long, only about 200 feet or so, till we dipped back down to the stream. The trail, for the most part, followed the meandering stream as it traveled through rhododendron thickets and stands of hemlocks and white pines.
At 1.2 miles into the hike we had to cross a small stream that flowed in from our left. Being early spring there seemed to be plenty of water in this stream. However, in late summer my guess is that this stream could possibly dry up. There were a few other wet sections along the trail, but for the most part we kept our feet nice and dry.
Shortly after crossing this stream we had our second and final climb of the hike. This climb was a little steeper than the first and offered us a chance to get our heart rates up a little. The climb came to an end as we headed over the only rocky section of this hike on our way back down to the creek.
About another quarter mile of hiking brought us to a pipeline clearing, about 1.6 miles onto the hike. Here the pipeline crosses the stream in a large, double walled, steel pipe. I contemplated walking across the stream on the pipe but changed my mind when I saw the pipe looked a little slippery, not to mention it was a long distance to the other side of the Black Moshannon, and it looked to be running deep and fast at this point.
At 1.9 miles from the trailhead we came to an end of our hike on the Shingle Mill Trail. The trail continues following the Black Moshannon northward until it meets up with the Allegheny Front Trail. However this hike had Shari and I crossing the stream on Huckleberry Road and walking the Black Moshannon Road back to the trailhead. The hike back to the trailhead was peaceful as we walked along the dirt road with the sun just starting to dip below the western horizon. After 1.8 miles of hiking we found ourselves back at the car just as the evening chill was starting to set in.
If you are looking for a nice hike to do with children, or don't have a lot of time to do a hike, then I would highly recommend this adventure. The trail was relatively flat and well maintained. There were a few wet areas along the trail, but these were easily avoided. And the stroll along the Black Moshannon offers a lot of nice views that you'll be glad you had the opportunity to see.