At the southern end of the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon is the small town of Blackwell. From this location there are a number of opportunities available for circuit hikes. One such hike includes the Bohen and West Rim Trails. Starting out on the Bohen Trail, you pass two waterfalls and climb along the Bohen Run as you head to the top of the Pine Creek Gorge. Near the top the Bohen Trail comes to an end as it terminates at the West Rm Trail. Heading west from this point, you will follow the West Rim Trail to the top of the gorge, with views towards the town of Blackwell, and follow the trail as it circles round and descends towards its southern terminus at Rattlesnake Rock. A short hike on the Pine Creek Rail-Trail takes you back to the town of Blackwell for an 8.4 mile circuit hike.
|Trailhead:||N 41° 33.40'
W 77° 22.94'
|Trail Length:||8.4 miles|
|Hike Time:||5 hours|
|Near:||Near Blackwell PA|
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To reach the trailhead you simply follow route PA414, coming from either the north or the south. From the south, take the PA44 exit off of US220. After 12.3 miles you will bear right onto PA414 and then stay on this road for another 24.8 miles until you reach the town of Blackwell. After just entering the town of Blackwell you will see a small parking are just off to your right. This parking area is used by people canoeing Pine Creek as well as hikers of the Mid State and Bohen Trails. If you are coming from the North I would suggest route US15 to the Liberty/PA414 exit. From this exit, just stay on PA414, through the town of Morris, for 15.6 miles.
Our hike starts by walking south on route PA414 for approximately 500 feet, crossing Pine Creek on the concrete bridge. Once you cross the creek, look to your right for the Bohen Trail sign and climb over the guide rail to start the hike proper.
For the next 0.5 miles you will climb up and away from the creek, sometimes steeply, especially at the start of the trail. After the climb you will then begin a gentle descent to a rock outcropping at about 0.8 miles. When leaves are not on the tree, you would have nice views of the creek below. Continuing on for a little over a tenth of a mile will bring you to the first waterfall: Jerry's Falls. You can turn right off the trail a little bit before the crossing of Jerry's Run to get a better view of Jerry's Falls.
From Jerry's Run the trail begins to descend once again to Pine Creek. At 1.4 miles there is a blue-blazed side trail heading off to the right. Turn right here and head down to the banks of Pine Creek. The blue-blazed trail starts to climb once again at 1.7 miles but you will want to stay along the creek. Soon you will come across an impressive camp site at the confluence of Bohen Run with Pine Creek.
Take some time to rest here before you start heading up along Bohen Run. There is a trail on the left bank of the stream. It isn't blazed but it can be easily discerned from the surroundings. This trail gets a little narrow and slippery in places, but after a tenth of mile you will come upon the Bohen Run Falls. Once you have spent some time enjoying he falls, retrace your steps back to the blue-blazed trail and turn right.
Soon the blue-blazed trail ends, after a bit of a steep climb, and you'll find yourself back on the yellow-blazed Bohen Trail. The Bohen Trail continues the ascent up and away from Pine Creek, following the south-west banks of Bohen Run, which you'll see flowing swiftly to your right.
Bohen Trail, once part of the Mid State Trail, comes to an end at its intersection with the West Rim Trail. At this point you'll have hiked 2.7 miles since the start of the hike. Unfortunately the climb is not finished, so take a break at this intersection before continuing south on the West Rim Trail.
At 3.4 miles the climb for this hike is mostly complete as you reach the top of the gorge. In another tenth of a mile you will come across the only vista on this hike. From this view high above Pine Creek you will see the village of Blackwell in the distance and the start of this hike. In the distance is Gillespie Point on top of the Matterhorn of Pennsylvania.
Continuing on from the vista, the West Rim Trail continues westward away from the edge of the gorge. At 4.2 miles you will cross a dirt forest road. Continue past the gate her, following the orange-blazed West Rim Trail. In about 0.2 miles you will see a relic from days-gone-by to the left of the trail: a dynamite storage shed. My guess is that dynamite is no longer stored here, but you may want to keep open flames and lit cigarettes at a distance, just to be safe.
About 4.7 miles into the hike the walking on level terrain ends as the trail begins a long, gradual descent. Over the next 1.5 miles the trail descend 1000 feet back to the valley floor. At 6.5 miles you will reach the end of the West Rim Trail at its southern terminus. The Rattlesnake Rock rail-trail access area is located here. Cross the road and the parking area to find access to the trail on your right. Once onto the rail-trail, turn left and begin the 1.9 mile walk back to Blackwell.
The total distance for this hike is 8.4 miles and we probably take about 5 hours to do. The waterfalls are the highlights of this hike as well as the vista looking over the gorge. If looking for a challenging but doable hike in the Pine Creek area, then I would highly recommend doing this circuit hike.