A few weeks ago I met up with some friends from college for our regular backpacking trip. We headed further west this time, to the Black Forest Trail (BFT). We began at Slate Run to do a loop of about 20 miles or so along the BFT and side trails. Our route followed the BFT counterclockwise from Slate Run, left on Francis Road, left on Old Supply Trail, right onto the BFT, straight onto Manor Fork Road, left onto Gas Line Trail, straight onto BFT, straight onto a yellow trail, left onto Naval Run Road back to the parking area. This loop offers some of the best views of the BFT, waterfalls, great camping, without being too challenging.
The weather was incredible, with sunny skies, warm temperatures, and a nice breeze. The climb from Slate Run is long, but gradual as it follows a narrow ridge with views through the trees. At the top we enjoyed a couple of fine views over Slate Run gorge. The trail meandered through a forest with extensive mountain laurel and rock outcrops with more views. We reached the top of Red Run at another beautiful view over the deep gorges and large rocks on the far side of the gorge. The descent was steep and rocky, but the scenery was excellent with many waterfalls and cascades over the large rocks and boulders. We hiked along beautiful Red Run, passing campsites above the rushing water. We reached Slate Run, as the sounds of rapids filled the forest. We climbed, leaving the BFT, and turned left onto Francis Road, passing a few more views, and then we descended to Slate Run Road.
We turned left onto the blue blazed Old Supply Trail as it followed sidehill up above Manor Fork. It appeared the trail was being worked on with new sidehill. The blazes became infrequent, but the trail was obvious. As we neared Foster Hollow, the trail was hard to follow; I recommend you stay near the creek. We camped at the bottom of Foster Hollow at a nice site.
The sun returned the next morning as birdsong filled the forest and frost covered our tents. We climbed up Foster Hollow with its cascaded over mossy rocks. It was a scenic trail. We passed two guys camping and soon turned right onto the BFT. A steep climb ensued through a beautiful hemlock forest and a spring bubbling out the ground. At the top, the trail leveled and soon entered a beautiful pine forest with another spring and campsite. A roadwalk followed on Manor Fork Road, a gravel road to the Gas Line Trail. The trail soon returned us to the BFT along a ridge with many vistas of the Pine Creek Gorge. The views were beautiful in the bright sun. Matt and I even walked on the Jerard Trail a short distance off the BFT to see the Stone Seat vista and its view of the distinctive peak of Gillepsie Point in the distance.
As we descended, we passed more views and then the trail steeply switchbacked down to Naval Run. The mountains really looked rugged and imposing as we descended. We checked out Naval Run Falls from above and then took a yellow blazed trail to Naval Run Road, which we followed to the parking area.
The BFT is a beautiful trail and I think everyone enjoyed the hike. This loop includes a lot of the BFT’s highlights without being too hard. It is a nice option for those not wanting to do the entire loop.
We celebrated at the Hotel Manor with a meal and beverages, surrounded by the gorge as fisherman stood in Pine Creek, trying their luck. It was great to be back on the BFT in the beautiful Pine Creek region.
Black Forest Trail map.