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.
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.
Map and brochure of the trail.