The Golden Eagle Trail (GET) is a nine mile loop that is widely considered one of PA’s most scenic dayhikes. This trail has challenging terrain, several vistas, diverse forest types, streamside hiking, gorges, and the cascades of beautiful Wolf Run. The premier feature of the trail is the impressive view from Ravenshorn.
I returned to the GET with Ed and Ken, whom had not hiked this trail before. As usual, I also had a different plan in mind. I noticed some maps had a new trail that connected to the GET, called the Dragon’s Back Trail. This new trail traversed the ridge to the west of the GET and dropped down to PA 414. Our plan was to hike the GET counterclockwise, and then follow the Dragon’s Back Trail and the Pine Creek Rail-Trail to complete the loop.
The day was very hot and sunny. The forests were incredibly green. The climb up to Ravenshorn was tiring, as we passed a pink lady slipper and jack in the pulpits. The heat of the day was magnified by the climb. We made it to the top in good time and followed the ridge to a great view up Wolf Run. Ravenshorn soon came into view with its stunning vista looking down Pine Creek between massive plateaus. The terrain is so steep it felt as if we could just fall into the surrounding gorges. Ed and Ken were impressed.
We descended on a ridge with fascinating rock outcrops and soon reached Wolf Run. This pristine stream creating a cooling breeze under hemlocks. It was a pleasure to hike up the creek has the water tumbled over ledges with moss. The top of the drainage featured a beautiful pine forest with some large trees. We passed a view that was partially overgrown and reached an old grassy forest road. Two other hikers warned of a snake ahead. We did not see it.
Next was Beulahland Vista as it overlooked the rolling plateaus and some distant farm fields for thirty miles. Puffy clouds sailed by as a hummingbird zipped to a tree above us. We passed another view looking down Bonnell Run.
The GET left the old woods road to the left, but we continued straight, following the yellow blazes of the Dragon’s Back Trail. There was no sign for the trail. We climbed gradually Dragon’s Back Trail was well blazed and established. It descended under a scenic hardwood forest. As we continued, the ridge gradually narrowed and pine trees became more common. As the name implies, there were some hills along the ridge, but the trail was not rocky. The trail was close to the steep escarpment above Pine Creek and there were some views through the trees. In winter, the views would be non-stop. The ridge narrowed so we could see down both sides. A climb under more pine trees brought us to a beautiful double vista looking down on Slate Run and Little Slate Run. Pine Creek flowed far below. We sat to take it all in.
We finally left as the narrow ridge provided one more climb until the trail dropped to the right. I took an obvious, unblazed trail to the left that climbed to a view over Bonnell Run. Just further was an extensive old quarry under red pine trees and more partial views across Pine Creek. This could be a great campsite for backpacking, although there is no water. While backpack camping is not allowed on the GET, the Dragon’s Back Trail may make the GET available to backpackers by offering dry campsite options.
I returned to the Dragon’s Back Trail and began the descent (here, where the trail descends, it may be known as the Quarry Mountain Trail). The trail followed long switchbacks along an old forest road. It was actually a nice walk down, although my feet burned a little. There were lots of centipedes on the trail.
We reached PA 414 at a trail sign, crossed the road, and walked down to Tombs Flats. We then turned left onto the rail trail to complete the loop, with views of small, old cemeteries, Pine Creek, and many kayakers. We even saw a bald eagle. The blooms of dame’s rocket surrounded the trail. We reached the car, completing our loop.
The Golden Eagle-Dragon’s Back Trail Loop was an excellent hike. The Dragon’s Back Trail is a great alternative from hiking along Bonnell Run on the GET.
Map and brochure of the Golden Eagle Trail (does not show the Dragon’s Back Trail).
- This loop is about 11 miles.
- We parked at the Clark Run access, 41.438753, -77.510730 on Google maps.
- The Golden Eagle Trail is blazed orange.
- The Dragon’s Back Trail and Quarry Mountain Trail are blazed yellow.
- All trails are fairly well established.
- The Dragon’s Back Trail connects to the GET at the top of Bonnell Run along the old, grassy forest road. There is no trail sign.
- The vista on the Dragon’s Back Trail is located at N 41 27.835 W 077 29.896.
- Before descending, take an obvious, unblazed side trail to a view across Bonnell Run. The view is located at 41.458402, -77.500082 on Google maps.
- The quarry area is located at 41.456895, -77.501868 on Google maps.
- There may be an additional view on the ridge, it appears to be on state forest land, although a cabin road passes it, located at 41.454455, -77.505290 on Google maps. I did not hike out to it.
- The loop crosses PA 414 at this trail sign.
- Follow road down to Tomb Flats.
- Follow the rail trail to the left to complete the loop.