Golden Eagle Trail

View from Raven's Horn, Golden Eagle Trail

View from Raven’s Horn, Golden Eagle Trail

Located near the scenic village of Slate Run in the beautiful Pine Creek Gorge is the Golden Eagle Trail, a nine mile loop trail that is considered to be among Pennsylvania’s finest.  The trail has it all- stunning views, deep gorges, streams, waterfalls, rock outcrops, and scenic forests of pine and hemlock.I met Steve and Ashley under cool, gray skies.  A thin layer of snow powdered the mountains.  We began the loop with a hike up Bonnell Run.  The trail was icy and slick.  The path followed an old grade above a falls and then eventually met the stream in a narrow mountain valley with pine and hemlock.  Small cascades danced into pools.  The trail crossed the small creek several times.  As we ascended, bare hardwoods covered the slopes and we tackled a steep trail as the wind blew stronger.

We reached the top and were treated to a fine view looking into the gorge.  A view to the north soon followed, overlooking farms and ridges that disappeared into the clouds.  We got something to eat in the cold air.

The trail passed an unmarked trail to the left; I could only assume this leads to the fantastic Bob Webber Trail to the south of the Golden Eagle Trail.  Another view looked down Wolf Run.  The trail through the headwaters of Wolf Run featured beautiful forests of hemlock and pine in a narrow gorge.  The meandering trail through these stunning forests was a highlight of the hike.  The snow dusted hemlocks offered some gorgeous scenery.  We continued down Wolf Run as waterfalls began to announce their presence in the deep, narrow gorge.

Falls on Wolf Run

Falls on Wolf Run

The trail along Wolf Run was often covered with ice, so we had to be careful.  The trail became a narrow, white ribbon along the steep slope of the gorge as the creek roared below.  The gorge became more and more narrow, as the creek below was surrounded by cliffs and ledges.  The trail stayed higher on the slope, but we still had to watch our step.  Broad mountains rose around us through the bare trees.

A climb followed up a precipitous ridge offering numerous views of the gorge.  We passed odd rock formations, including one rock tower that was honeycombed; you could see through it.  The trail ascended up the ridge until we reached the premier highlight of the trail- the spectacular views from Raven’s Horn.  The view is incredible as it looks over the peaks, cols and ridges to the south.  The terrain is varied and vast.  Even on this gray day, it was breathtaking.

A long descent followed to the edge of a meadow with more views.  Here we saw four or five deer.  We returned to the car and drove to Slate Run for a meal at the Hotel Manor.  I was last at the Hotel Manor about 15 years ago after hiking on the Black Forest Trail.  It was a dark cabin with a lot of character.  I think a huge cheeseburger and fries were about $2.00 and I distinctly remember Yuengling drafts were fifty cents.  The beer tasted so good after hiking in the summer heat. The old cabin burned down and now it is a contemporary timber-framed building with large windows overlooking Pine Creek.  The meal was very good, but the drafts were not fifty cents.  Regardless, it was great to be back at Pine Creek; it is a special place.

The Golden Eagle Trail is an impressive introduction to the beauty of the Pine Creek region.

More pictures.

Map and brochure of the trail.


SGL 57- Joe Gmiter Trail and Sorber Mountain

Ice flows along the trail

Ice flows along the trail

Despite being a short drive from my house, and the longest trail in the county, I had never hiked the Joe Gmiter Trail.  Ironic, since I have hiked trails all over the country.

So, the other weekend, I decided it was time to check this one off my list.  Or at least try.  I knew the trail was in tough shape, nor ideally routed since it simply follows the game lands boundary.  But at over 8 miles, it is a rather significant trail.  It was named after a president of the Susquehanna Trailers Club, a local hiking club that built the trail.

It was a clear, sunny day as the temperatures steadily rose.  The trail is primarily blazed orange, although there are old, multi-color markings as well, and some side or connector trails.  The hike began with some promise as it climbed along a field with some views before heading up the ridge through laurel, only to go back down, and then steeply back up to the top of the ridge.  As I said, the route of the trail makes little sense in relation to the terrain.  As a result, there is hiking along the side of slopes and seemingly pointless turns, and ups and downs.  If there is snow, some kind of traction on ice is a good idea.

After a level walk, the slick trail went straight down before disappearing into a jungle of blowdowns at a “no trespassing” sign.  We found an orange blaze and battled through the blowdowns.  The trail turned right as the blowdowns receded.  A descent followed between some neat multi-color ledges and we reached a pond on private property next to the trail.  We descended to a field with some nice, pastoral views.  But the trail and blazes were nowhere to be found so we bushwacked up the slope until I reached a rock wall where the blazes returned.

We took a break at some large ledges and decided to leave the trail and simply bushwhack.  It seemed pointless to follow the trail through a morass of blowdowns, up and down steep slopes.  We crossed a pretty stream and then another ravine.  There were some hemlocks, slowly dying due to the adelgid.  There were also some huge hardwoods, whether it be ash or oak.  It was the finest feature of the trail.  We rejoined the trail along a nice section as we hiked up and over ledges with piles of porcupine droppings.  The blowdowns soon returned and our battle resumed.  It seemed the blowdowns were mostly downslope along the mountain.

The trail steeply descended into another ravine and another climb took us into a forest with huge hardwoods.  After another battle with intense blowdowns we followed an old forest road behind a home.  We left the grade, and the trail, as we bushwhacked along the slope of the mountain.  A climb followed to the top where there was a knoll of pines and then a hike along the ridge until we reached a small valley.  The bushwhack continued down through thick laurel where we reached the trail again.  As luck would have it after all the blowdowns, it was wide, clear path along an old grade.

The trail took us to an open area where there was recent logging.  This area provided extensive views of the surrounding mountains as the sun began to set.  We followed the logging road back down to the car.

It was good to finally hike this trail, or as much as I could.  It is in very rough shape and appears largely abandoned.  Not surprising since it is not really worth hiking due to its route being unsustainable, and at times illogical.  This is too bad since there are some nice scenery and forests on Sorber Mountain.  Unless the trail is re-routed to a more sensible and scenic loop, I doubt I’ll be back.

Regardless, it was good to be in the woods.

More pictures.