In 2015, the Keystone Trails Association, in conjunction with DCNR, held their twelfth annual Prowl the Sproul. This hiking event showcases some of the premiere hiking trails in the Sproul State Forest. The hikes are led by DCNR personnel and in some cases provide access to seldom visited corners of the state forest. During my participation in Prowl the Sproul, I opted to take a hike on the Eagleton Mine Camp Trail (EMCT). I had hiked this trail in 2006 and this hiking opportunity allowed me to explore more of the EMCT.
|Trailhead:||N 41° 11.39'
W 77° 41.34'
|Trail Length:||10.5 miles|
|Hike Time:||6 hours|
|Near:||North of Lock Haven,
off of route PA120 .
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There are two trailheads for the Eagleton Mine Camp Trail; an east and a west. Both provide ample parking and are found along Eagleton Road. For this hike we parked a car at the eastern trailhead as this is where we would be finishing our hike. We then shuttled to the western trailhead to start the hike. To reach this trailhead you will need to find your way to route US220. You will want to head towards Lock Haven. Once you reach the Lock Haven exit you will be on route PA120. Continue on PA120 for 9 miles. Once you pass a "Welcome To Sproul State Forest" on your right you will need to pay close attention for Eagleton Road, which will be on your left. Turn onto Eagleton Road and continue for another 8.8 miles. The trailhead is on the left and marked with a sign. Turn left here and in about 200 feet you'll see the parking area.
Our hike started with a gradual descent on the EMCT on a part of the trail called the Shear Trap Trail. After a mile our descent ended and we began gradual climb that got a bit steeper at 1.5 miles. At 1.9 miles our climb ended as the trail emerged onto the Slaughtering Ground dirt, forest road.
We walked along Slaughtering Ground Road for a little over six tenths of a mile before a trail sign indicated that the EMCT beared off to the right. Turning here we had a two mile, gradual descent through a mixed woods forest. We passed through many oaks and maples, as well as a stand of young white pine. We were lucky enough to see a relatively large American Chestnut on this section of the trail.
At 4.6 miles our descent ended as we crossed Mill Branch stream near a recently renovated leased camp. We walked past the camp and turned left onto a gravel forest road. Soon we turned right about a camp access road and paused by the camp to enjoy our lunch.
After a satisfying lunch, we packed up and continued our hike on the EMCT. We had another climb to do, with a short reprieve about half way through the hike. At 6.7 miles our climb stopped as we began a steep descent towards Left Branch Boiler Run. After a couple switch backs we reached the southern bank of Left Branch Boiler Run at 7 miles into the hike. It is at this spot that Prince Farrington had set up still during prohibition to provide the locals with a source of alcohol. His still was in operation until 1948, when it was raided by the Federal Government and shut down.
From here we had an easy, gradual descent along the stream bank. At 7.8 miles we crossed the stream at its intersection with Boiler Run proper. We stopped here for a bit to talk to some gentleman that was doing some work at their family cabin erected here. After a short break we were back on the trail, starting our climb away from Boiler Run.
Over the next 0.6 miles we climbed 400 feet to a ridge top. This section of the trail is also known as the Bootlegger Trail in reference to the still located in the Boiler Run valley. After hiking for about 0.2 miles across the top of the ridge we began a descent into Buckhorn Hollow. There is a small stream that runs down Buckhorn Hollow and the trail crosses it on a well built bridge before beginning another ascent.
Even though this ascent was rather steep for the first tenth of a mile, it soon began to traverse across the face of the ridge, for which we were happy because it was getting quite hot and humid at this point of the hike. At 9.3 miles into the hike the trail began to follow the remains of an old railroad grade. This was the railroad grade that connected the mines at Eagleton with Lock Haven.
After changing direction three times on the railroad grade switchbacks the trail left the railroad grade and followed an abandoned forest road back towards Eagleton Road. After crossing the road at 10.1 miles, it was a short four tenth of a mile hike until we finished at the other trailhead of the Eagleton Mine Camp Trail.
This trail was enjoyable to hike, even though there were a few places that needed some attention. This southern section of the EMCT provided a variety of terrain that made the trail enjoyable to hike. Just like all of the hikes that I've done over the years during Prowl the Sproul, I was not disappointed with this outing.