Experience the Trails of Pennsylvania

Black Forest Trail: Hiking from Naval Run to the Trailhead

During Labor Day weekend of 2003, I had the opportunity to experience the thrills of hiking; something that I had not done for many years (when I was much younger and more nimble). My reintroduction was done with the help of my friend Mark as he led me on a section of the Black Forest Trail in north central Pennsylvania. Turn the clock ahead one year, to Labor Day weekend of 2004. In what I hope to be an annual event, Mark and I, along with his wife Cathey and my girlfriend Shari, ventured back into the woods of Tidaghton State Forest and the Black Forest Trail to do a nice weekend, overnight hike.

Trailhead: N 41° 27.48''
W 77° 30.86'
Total Elevation: 4984'
Trail Length: 10.5 miles
Hike Time: 6.5 hours
Hike Type: Shuttle
Difficulty Rating: 103
Near: Along PA44 and PA414
around the village
of Slate Run in the
Tiadaghton State Forest.

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This was my second hike on this section of trail and Mark's third. We decided to hike this section of trail again as it was a hike that we felt both Shari and Cathey would really enjoy; well blazed trail, obstacle-free pathways (for the most part), breath taking vistas, as well as a few uphill challenges.

The trailhead for this hike (using the coordinates listed above) is located just along Pine Creek by the town of Slate Run. It can be reached, coming from the south, by taking route PA44 north at the intersection of US220 in Jersey Shore. Just past Waterville, you will take a right off of PA44 onto route PA414. Once you turn onto route PA414 set your odometer and drive for 14.1 miles. As you approach Slate Run you will turn left and cross Pine Creek. At the intersection after the bridge, turn left down the dirt road and follow it to the end, near Naval Run, and park in the parking area provided. If coming from the north, once you enter the town of Slate Run, turn right, cross the bridge, and then turn left at the intersection and follow the road to it's end.

The four of us, Waxman, Cathey, Tumbleweed, and I, along with Storm and Bud, started our hike on a nice, warm, early September day. On this hike, the hardest part is out of the way at the begriming of the hike, where you climb over 600 feet in less than a half mile.

After getting our initial ascent out of the way, we took a small break to refresh ourselves. While sitting along the trail, four mountain bikers passed us, heading down the trail and the steep climb that we just conquered.

After our little break we were back on the trail. At about 2 miles into the hike we came upon our first vista. The vista looked back down Naval Run and allowed us to view the trailhead as well as the steep climb. There is a register for the trail at this vista, and Cathey entered our hike onto it's pages.

From the vista for the next 1.25 miles the trail is relatively flat as it makes it's way along a ridge line. About 0.3 miles from the vista the trail merges with a dirt road that allowed us a more leisurely pace as we called all walk beside one another and talk. While hiking down this section of the trail we ran into our first group of hikers. Three young gentleman were hiking the Naval Run loop. We paused to talk with them a bit as well as take a group picture for them.

At 3.25 miles, and for the next mile, the trail turned off the dirt road, descended along a small stream, climbed back up somewhat, and then continued down a relatively steep descent. At the bottom of this downhill climb we were along side Little Slate Run at a very nice, secluded campsite. We ate lunch here an refilled our water bottles.

After about a half hour we were off again, traversing up the mountainside, following Little Slate Run. It was very humid in this small valley and we soon worked up a good sweat. At five miles into the hike there is a small vista that looks down Little Slate Run. Finally, at 5.6 miles our climb was over and we emerged onto another dirt road.

At 6 miles the Black Forest Trail veered off of the dirt road to our left. At this point all of us were getting hot and tired, and the ladies were anxious to get to camp. So we decided to continue hiking down the dirt road. I had recalled from the maps that this dirt road headed in the general direction of where we wanted to go. I also had my GPS unit with me, and stored in it's memory was my hike from last Labor Day, so as long as the dirt road was heading in the right direction we would continue to walk on it.

Hiking on the dirt road was less strenuous than hiking on the trails and we all conserved a good bit of energy by hiking the road. At about 7.75 miles we arrived at our destination: a small campsite on the BFT situated along a serene mountain pond.

For our evening meal that night we had shells and cheese along with fried ham steaks. We stayed up until after 10:00, sitting by the fire and enjoying the surroundings.

The next morning we were up early, just shortly after 6:00. We prepared breakfast, got fresh water, and tore down the campsite. We started our second day of hiking refreshed and ready to roll.

It was foggy and overcast on our second day of hiking. The trail was relatively flat for the first 3/4 mile and then we started a long, somewhat steep, descent. On the climb down off of the mountain, a little over a mile from our campsite, we enjoyed a nice vista looking down Slate Run.

At the bottom of the descent our trail was detoured somewhat as work was being done on Slate Run Road to replace a culvert. We crossed Slate Run Road an followed the trail alongside Slate Run for the rest of the hike. One and a quarter miles after crossing Slate Run Road, a little under three miles from our campsite, we reached the official trailhead of the BFT and the end of our hike for this trip.

After the hike we went back to the trailhead to pick up Waxman's vehicle and then headed to the old watering hole in Waterville for the usual Mountain Burger and a beer(s). This was the second Labor Day that Waxman and I spent hiking the Black Forest Trail and we hope to continue that tradition on Labor Day weekend of 2005.


After a strenuous climb at the beginning of our hike, we all take a moment to rest, drink some water, and eat some gorp.

Our first vista of the day. From here you can see the climb that we did earlier with the distant peak where we had our break, pictured above.

Mark takes in the view from the vista as well.

Mark, Cathey, and Shari taking a breather. Cathey records our hike in the trail register.

After a hard day of hiking, Storm rests by the fire at our campsite. This was a very nice campsite along side a mountain top pond.

Mark poses for a picture.

Shari keeps an eye on the fire while Mark takes off his boots to let his feet breath a bit.

Mark, Storm and Cathey working their way down the last descent of the hike on the second day.

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