PA Wilds Trail

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Many beautiful views are along the PA Wilds Trail.  This one is over Slate Run on the Black Forest Trail.

The PA Wilds are a best kept secret in the eastern U.S.  While crowds descend on the White Mountains, Adirondacks, Shenandoahs, and Great Smoky Mountains, you can have the isolated natural beauty of the PA Wilds all to yourself.

Here, in an area as large as Vermont, are 29 state parks, over 2 million acres of public land, hundreds of miles of trails, and thousands of miles of rivers and streams.  This area has some of the largest forests and darkest skies between New York and Chicago. The PA Wilds covers a vast area of elevated, forested plateaus with countless canyons and gorges. There are waterfalls, vistas, giant rocks, old growth forests, wilderness, dark skies, meadows, and wild elk. Mountain laurel covers the higher elevations, as jungles of rhododendron grow along the streams.

The PA Wilds offer incredible hiking opportunities, with the largest network of long distance backpacking trails of any place in the east. Amazingly, most of these trails link together, creating a continuous hiking route from Parker Dam State Park to the Pine Creek Gorge. This remarkable hiking resource is unparalleled in the east.

Hikers taking it in

I’d like to propose the PA Wilds Trail (PAWT), a 200-215 mile route that crosses the PA Wilds along various trails. It is easily one of the most scenic and diverse hiking routes in the east. From southwest to northeast, it begins at Parker Dam State Park on the Quehanna Trail and ends at the northern terminus of the West Rim Trail, near Colton Point State Park. The PAWT is not a trail in its own right, but rather a route that follows other existing trails, connecting them along a common thread.  The route also follows roads and one short off trail section.

Morning hike

I have hiked most of the trails along the PAWT, but I have not thru-hiked it. From my experience, this is the most scenic and feasible route within the vast system of trails in the PA Wilds.

A trip report from the Fall of 2019 by someone who hiked most of the PAWT (the first attempted thru-hike), complete with descriptions and photos.

A trip report of a July, 2020 thru-hike with a trail journal and photos.

Many of these trails are described in Backpacking Pennsylvania.

Photos from along the trail route.

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View on Teaberry Trail

PA Wilds Trail (PAWT)

Distance: A linear route of approximately 200-215 miles from Parker Dam State Park to the northern terminus of the West Rim Trail near Ansonia and Colton Point State Park. All distances are approximate. 

Sunrise over Mosquito Creek Gorge

Blazes: State forest hiking trails (Quehanna, Donut Hole, Susquehannock, Black Forest, West Rim, and Mid State Trails) are blazed orange. Connecting and side trails along the PAWT are usually blazed yellow, but blue or red are also used.  There is one off trail section and some roadwalking.  For the attached maps, only orange is used as that is the most common blaze color.

Presently, the PAWT does not have its own blaze, trail insignia or symbol.

Trail conditions: Variable. Some trails are well-established, others less so. The route is generally “followable” although there is one off trail section.  Expect many stream crossings without bridges.

Terrain: Moderate to very difficult. From Parker Dam, the route is moderate but builds in difficulty to the challenging Black Forest Trail section. Heading north from Blackwell, the terrain gradually becomes more moderate. Sections of the trail are steep and require ascents or descents exceeding 1,000 feet.  Overall, the PAWT is considered challenging.

Parking: Main trailheads and parking area are designated as “P1”, etc , on the maps. The trail crosses many roads with pull off parking.

Highlights: Isolation, scenic streams, vistas, waterfalls, gorges, glens, canyons, meadows, wild elk, swimming holes, superb camping, and quaint villages.  The PAWT has 40-50 vistas and about ten streams with waterfalls or larger cascades.  Fall foliage is excellent and peaks in early to mid October. Mountain laurel is common along the trail and blooms in mid June. Rhododendron is common along some streams and blooms in early July.

Beautiful

Issues: Parts of this route are rarely hiked and isolated. Some sections of the route will be brushy and less established; blazes may also be infrequent, particularly on the Donut Hole Trail section. There is a period of roadwalking near Kettle Creek State Park and between the Golden Eagle and Mid State Trails.  There is one short, off trail section.

Cascade and pool on Sanders Draft

Amenities: Parker Dam State Park has seasonal camping, showers, and snack bar. Kettle Creek State Park has seasonal camping and showers located off the trail. There are two post offices near the route, in Sinnemahoning and Cross Fork.  There are also restaurant/bars in Sinnemahoning, Slate Run, and Cross Fork. The route also goes through or near the villages of Cross Fork, Slate Run and Blackwell where there are small stores or restaurants. 

Red Run

Why hike this when I can hike more famous trails? No crowds, plentiful and available primitive camping, and remarkable diversity of scenery.  This route provides very beautiful scenery. The route is isolated, while introducing hikers to four rural communities. If you are looking for something different, this is the hike for you.

Who maintains these trails?  Mostly volunteers, along with the Bureau of Forestry.  Please support the Keystone Trails Association, Mid State Trail Association, and Susquehannock Trail Club.  Help maintain trails as you hike by clipping back brush, picking up litter, or clearing sticks and tree limbs from the trail.

Choose your own adventure!  The PAWT is envisioned as a primary route through the PA Wilds that connects many other trails along which hikers and backpackers can choose alternate routes.   The PAWT enables alternate adventures along the Susquehannock, Donut Hole, Quehanna, Mid State Trails, and the Bucktail Path.  It is even possible to connect to the Chuck Keiper Trail via the Garby Trail.  These possibilities are unparalleled in the east, if not the entire nation.

View north from Hemlock Mtn

History of the PAWT.  The trail was first proposed by Jeff Mitchell in 2018.  Initially, the idea was to have the North Country Trail routed through the PA Wilds.  However, the North Country Trail Association was not interested at the time.  As a result, the PAWT was born.  The original route used the Donut Hole Trail, T Squared Trail, Black Forest Trail, Long Branch Trail, and Mid State Trail, ending near Arnot.  In 2020, the route was changed as presently described because it was felt to be more scenic, and it was important to include the Hammersley Wild Area and Pine Creek Gorge/PA Grand Canyon.  The first thru-hike attempt was in 2019 by Jason English.  In 2020, at least four others successfully thru-hiked the trail, they were: Dave Gantz, Eriks Perkons, Kristin Joivell, and Kevin Busko.  

The future.  Hopefully the PAWT will become an established hiking route- a conduit to introduce hikers to the PA Wilds, its beauty, and vast trail network.  Instead of hikers focusing on individual trail systems, the PAWT redefines what is possible and will  spread hikers across the entire system of trails.  The PAWT route will also be modified to ensure the most scenic and rewarding hike.

Possible future changes may be taking the trail off the road near Kettle Creek State Park,  establishing a connector between the Golden Eagle and Mid State Trails, or creating a trail to eliminate the off trail section in the Hammersley Wild Area.

Other long hikes in the PA Wilds.  The PA Wilds feature the finest opportunities for long-distance backpacking of any place in the eastern US.  What are some other long distance hikes?

PA Wilder Trail: a concept born out of the PAWT that encompasses the Bucktail Path, Donut Hole Trail, Garby Trail, and Chuck Keiper Trail.

Susquehannock-Black Forest Trail Loop: a 120-130 mile loop along the Susquehannock Trail, North Link Trail, South Link Trail, and Black Forest Trail.

Eastern States 100 Loop (ES 100): hike the route of the premier trail run endurance race around the Pine Creek Gorge region with its views, cascades, deep gorges, rock outcrops, scenic streams and hemlock forests.

Mid State Trail: the northern half of this trail crosses the PA Wilds and features vistas, history, gorges, waterfalls, state parks, scenic villages, swimming holes, and beautiful streams.

Thru-hiking.  Thru-hikers can follow the recommended route, any or all alternate routes, or any route of their choosing (as long as roadwalking does not exceed fifteen miles) between the southwestern and northeastern terminus of the PAWT (Parker Dam State Park and Ansonia).  A thru-hike can also be achieved by using an alternate eastern terminus, such as Arnot Road on the Mid State Trail in the Tioga State Forest.  This flexibility is in keeping with the PAWT’s “choose your own adventure” character.

Legend.  For the maps below, the letters have the following meanings:

R: restaurant, bar, cafe.

S: Store, market.

PO: Post office.

P1, P2, etc: Primary parking areas.

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Red Run

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Section 1: Parker Dam State Park to Caledonia Pike

 

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Map 1 

Parking: P1 on map (Southwestern Trailhead at Parker Dam State Park) 41.194414, -78.506488

Amenities: Seasonal camping, showers, and snack bar at Parker Dam State Park

Highlights: cascades, meadows, some views, isolation, beaver dams.

Description: This section follows the orange blazed Quehanna Trail. It follows the southern section of this classic loop as it is more scenic than the corresponding northern section.  The beginning of the PAWT is in the beautiful Moshannon State Forest.  Hike old grades along scenic Laurel Run with rapids and pools. Hemlocks adorn the creek and there are some potential campsites. Cross some dirt forest roads and descend along Alex Branch with cascades, hemlocks, and camping. Expect wet areas.

There are some nice views from meadows and drop to Trout Run with more cascades, boulders, and hemlocks. Hike up a beautiful stream valley dotted with boulders and cross the top of the plateau. Descend along another stream with beaver meadows and climb gradually to Caledonia Pike. This section ends at Caledonia Pike.

Mosquito Creek

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Section 2: Caledonia Pike to Sinnemahoning

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Maps 2 and 3

Parking: P2 on map (Beaver Run Shallow Water Impoundment) 41.261333, -78.258122.  P3 on map 41.278731, -78.140134

Amenities: None

Highlights: vast meadows, views, cascades and small waterfalls, ponds, spruce and pine forests, rugged gorges, rhododendron jungles, scenic streams, isolation, chance to see wild elk.

Description: This section follows the orange blazed Quehanna Trail, then follows a variety of yellow blazed side trails, to return to the northern section of the Quehanna Trail. With diverse scenery and great isolation, this section is a highlight of the PAWT.  Portions of this section are in the diverse Elk State Forest.

From Caledonia Pike, descend to beautiful Gifford Run at an old log splash dam. Cross the run and follow downstream with rapids and boulders. Climb up a side stream to some rock outcrops and ledges with views that are largely grown over. Cross Merrill Road and the top of the plateau with hardwood forests. Reach the yellow blazed East Cross Connector (ECC) at Lost Run Road, on which you will turn left, leaving the Quehanna Trail. Follow the road a short distance and then turn right, descending along a small stream and then above Mosquito Creek.

Return to Lost Run Road and cross Mosquito Creek on the road bridge. Hike up the road and follow the ECC to the left. Descend to Meeker Run with cascades. Good camping can be found further up the ECC. Turn left onto the Crawford Vista Extension, which leads to a beautiful vista over the Mosquito Creek Gorge. This is a great view for sunsets. Continue on the Crawford Vista Trail. Cross some meadows and a wet area. Descend along boulders to Mosquito Creek and a footbridge. There is camping here. Turn right onto the beautiful Bridge Trail.

Meadows on Bridge Trail

The Bridge Trail follows Mosquito Creek with its rapids and boulders, and then crosses vast fern meadows that are reminiscent of Dolly Sods. Look across the stream valley with large white boulders. Return to the ECC and turn left on it. Crossing more meadows along Beaver Run. Reach a large, beautiful pond, known as the Beaver Run Shallow Water Impoundment. Hike the ECC around it and then turn right onto the Marion Brooks Loop, also watch for signs for the Lincoln Trail. This section features beautiful pine and spruce forests. Follow the Lincoln Trail to P2.

Crawford Vista

Follow a grade to the east, this may be known as the Lincoln or Teaberry Trails. Cross the Quehanna Highway and another small meadow. Reach a nice vista from a cliff looking over Paige and Red Runs. Descend to Paige Run, a gorgeous place with giant moss covered boulders, cascades, and hemlocks. Ascend to more ledges with nice views. Return to the ECC at Roaring Run, on which you turn right. Follow the ECC to the Quehanna Trail and turn right.

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Descend Porcupine Draft with cascades and then follow Red Run Road. Leave the road, cross Red Run on a bridge and reach a beautiful section of boulders, cascades, pools, and thick rhododendrons. Hike along beautiful Sanders Draft and climb to the plateau with more meadows and hardwoods. Reach Arch Spring and a narrow view of Little Fork Drafts deep gorge. Reach Hoover Road, where this section ends.

Little Fork Vista

Continue to follow the orange Quehanna Trail and cross some pipeline swaths, ideal places to see wild elk herds. Cross some small meadows and reach the top of Laurel Draft where there is a campsite. Descend scenic Laurel Draft. The trail stays well above the creek, but you can see the boulders and cascades in this beautiful gorge.

Cross Wykoff Run Road and reach P3. Cross Wykoff Run over a bridge and begin a climb up scenic Upper Pine Draft with small cascades. At the top, pass some meadows and reach the yellow Old Sinnemahoning Trail (OST). Leave the Quehanna Trail and turn left. Follow the OST, which is an old road, across the top of the plateau. Expect the trail to be not very well established and to see blowdowns. Hardwoods predominate along the trail. Descend to Jerry Run Road. Turn left and walk to Wykoff Run Road and continue into Sinnemahoning, where this section ends.  Enjoy the views over the Sinnemahoning Creek from the bridge.

This section also has an alternate route, called Alt. 1, for those that want to explore more of the Quehanna Wild Area.  Upper Jerry Run and Foley Draft are both very scenic with cascades, pools, boulders, moss, laurel and hemlocks.  Alt. 1 also has meadows.

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Section 3: Sinnemahoning to Trout Run Road

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Maps 4 and 5

Parking: P4 on map. 41.376331, -77.929178.  Check with Kettle Creek State Park if overnight parking is permitted here.

Amenities: Post office and bar in Sinnemahoning, about a mile off the PAWT. Willows Restaurant is on the PAWT, where Wykoff Run Road meets PA 120. Seasonal campground and showers (off trail) at Kettle Creek State Park. Water and restrooms at the state park.

Highlights: scenic streams, Kettle Creek Vista, Kettle Creek State Park.

Description: Cross the large Sinnemahoning Creek. Willows Restaurant is just ahead and features good food at fair prices. Enjoy the surroundings, Sinnemahoning is beautiful with the giant creeks, towering plateaus, and railroad bridges. Appalachia at its best. Follow PA 120 East, pass PA 872 and cross a bridge over the First Fork Sinnemahoning Creek. Reach the non-existent village of Jericho and make a left on a road; notice the orange blazes. This is the start of the Donut Hole Trail (DHT), which the PAWT will follow to Kettle Creek State Park.  This section is the vast Sproul State Forest, the largest state forest in Pennsylvania.

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The DHT is a lonely trail and is one of the least hiked sections of the PAWT. Hopefully, the PAWT will bring more footsteps to it. The DHT is not well established and can be overgrown in places.

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Follow the road and then hike up Ellicott Run, a steady climb of 1,000 vertical feet. Cross the top of the plateau, reach a pipeline swath and then Montour Road; follow the road for about a mile. Descend into a stream valley with a small creek and climb gradually back to the rolling plateau. Descend along another small stream to scenic Cooks Run. Hike up Cooks Run with some possible camping and climb to Crowley Road with a view. The DHT then reaches a highlight, Kettle Creek Vista, a stunning view over Kettle Creek Reservoir and the foothills to the north. Truly beautiful.

Here, you have a choice.  The PAWT continues north to the Hammersley Wild Area into beautiful, remote and rugged country, with a bushwhack.  The PAWT was routed through the Hammersley because it is one of the most scenic and isolated places in the PA Wilds, and it would include Cross Fork, a strategic place for hikers to resupply and enjoy a little civilization.  If you prefer to avoid that, continue east on the DHT to the Susquehannock Trail.  

The PAWT descends on the Butler Trail into a gorge. Reach the Nature Trail loop in a beautiful wooded cove.  Turn right on the loop and reach a camping area at Kettle Creek State Park.  Hike the campground road down to Kettle Creek Road and turn left.  This is the longest roadwalk on the PAWT, at about 6 miles, but it isn’t bad.  The road is usually not very busy and you can enjoy views of the lake and mountains.  Turn left onto Trout Run Road.    

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Section 4: Hammersley Wild Area (Trout Run Road to Cross Fork)

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Map 6

Parking: P5 on map, located at 41.482063, -77.818385.

Amenities: bar, store, and post office in Cross Fork.

Highlights: Hammersley Wild Area, isolation, old growth forests, cascades, scenic streams.

Description: The Hammersley is one of the gems of the PA Wilds, the premier wilderness in the region and a place of great beauty and isolation.  As a result, it was important to find a way to include this landscape along the PAWT.  It is located in the vast Susquehannock State Forest.  Keep in mind the yellow blazed trails in the wild area are not heavily used, can be brushy, and may require some route-finding.  There is also a short bushwhack along Hammersley Fork between Cow Run and the Susquehannock Trail (STS).  

Hike up Trout Run Road and turn right onto the yellow Summerson Trail, cross a creek and enter a primitive camping area used by car or RV campers.  Veer right and cross the creek on the yellow Lock Branch Trail.  Alt. 2 is a scenic route with cascades, gorge, historic grades, hardwood forests on the plateau with laurel and hemlock. 

The Lock Branch Trail makes a steady, almost enjoyable, climb up the plateau on an old grade.  A gorge is below.  Enjoy the scenic forests.  At the top are extensive hemlock and pine forests with good camping potential.  Enter the Dutlinger Natural Area and enjoy the impressive old growth forests.   Turn right onto the Beech Bottom Trail and enter the heart of the old growth hemlocks, a truly magical place.  Hike the trail down the glen with glades of ferns.  At the bottom is a cascade and campsite.  Turn left on the yellow trail and hike up the Hammersley Fork, enjoying views of the pristine stream.  At an intersection with other yellow trails, turn right and cross the fork without a bridge.  Continue up the beautiful, wooded valley to some campsites.  The trail climb up the bank and into a hemlock forest.  Cross a side stream and descend to the Hammersley Fork again, and cross it.  Pass some large boulders, climb up the slope and follow sidehill with beech to Cow Run.  

Now the bushwhack begins, simply hike up Hammersley Fork.  The forests are fairly open with ferns.  When the west side becomes too steep, cross the fork to the east side and intersect the STS.  Upstream on the STS, about a mile away and off the PAWT, is the Hammersley Pool.  A great place to swim and camp.  Alt. 3 is ideal for those who want to explore more of the wild area with the pool, creeks, and superb views from the Hammersley Meadows.

Now, follow the orange STS to Cross Fork.  Hike up a gorge, cross the level plateau, and make a winding descent to PA 144.  Walk to the scenic village of Cross Fork, surrounded by mountains.  There is parking, a store, post office, and a restaurant/bar.  Cross Fork is a beautiful respite along the PAWT, and the approximate half-way point.  

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Section 5: Cross Fork to Black Forest Trail

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Maps 7 and 8

Amenities: Primitive campground at Dyer CCC Camping Area.  Shelter at Scoval Branch.

Highlights:  Scenic streams, isolation, spruce and pine forests, CCC history, historic railroad grades.

Description:  The STS leaves Cross Fork and climbs to the plateau.  Cross some pipeline swaths and descend to stream valleys with hiking along creeks.  Hike along Porter Branch and the Donut Hole Trail (DHT) joins from the right; the DHT is a fine alternate route for the PAWT from Kettle Creek State Park.  For the next nine miles, the STS and DHT follow the same route.    There is a shelter at Scoval Branch.  Hike along a pipeline swath and continue to hike in and out of valleys with creeks separated by wooded plateaus and ridges.  Cross Twelvemile Road and begin a steep climb back up the plateau.  The DHT leaves to the right as the STS heads north across the level plateau.

At Big Springs Road, the PAWT leaves the STS and follows the North Link Trail, comprised of individually named trails such as Railgrade, Big Springs Ridge, and Spruce.  The route follows old railroad grades with streams and deep spruce and pine forests.  Reach the Dyer CCC Camping Area, which is primarily intended for horse riders, but open to hikers too.  Turn right onto Dyer Road, and turn left onto a road before crossing the creek.  Follow the scenic Dyer Farm Trail on an old grade across a meadow and into spruce and pine forests.  Hardwoods then prevail in the scenic gorge with cascades and potential camping. Reach County Line Branch and cross the creek without a bridge; this can be difficult in high water.  Reach the iconic orange blazed Black Forest Trail (BFT) and turn right onto it. 

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Section 6: Black Forest and Golden Eagle Trails

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Maps 9 and 10

Parking: P6 on map: 41.471421, -77.502262. P7 on map: 41.438924, -77.510689. 

Amenities: Hotel Manor, a restaurant, and a small store at Slate Run.  Tomb Flats and Black Walnut Bottom campgrounds.  Camping is not permitted along the Golden Eagle Trail.

Highlights: Stunning views, waterfalls, cascades, rock formations, gorges, Pine Creek, rail trail.

Description: This is possibly the most rugged and scenic section of the PAWT.  Expect rugged, steep climbs and descents, often exceeding 1,000 vertical feet, numerous vistas, and even some falls and cascades.  This is in the Tiadaghton State Forest.  You will also see more hiking traffic on the Black Forest (BFT) and Golden Eagle Trails (GET).  From the Dyer Farm Trail, the BFT climbs the plateau with meadows and views.  Descend into a valley and pass an intersection with the T Squared Trail.

From the T Squared Trail, follow the BFT and climb to PA 44 and a parking area. Rolling terrain follows to a view. Follow Trout Run Road and stay on the road where the BFT leaves to the right.  Stay on the road and veer left onto Big Trail Scenic Road. Follow to the yellow Cut off Trail on the left.  Follow this trail down to the BFT.  Follow the ridge to Hemlock Mountain with three excellent views. An extremely steep descent follows the Naval Run with camping. Follow a grade above the scenic stream and cross the creek above a falls.

Another steep ascent follows to a ridge with more excellent views. There is a steep descent to Little Slate Run with more great campsites. Climb to the plateau, drop into Foster Hollow, and leave the BFT, following the yellow Old Supply Trail down into a gorge with cascades.  Alt. 4 is an option to cut miles; it features two vistas, one of them being spectacular.  Cross Slate Run Road and follow a yellow trail down Manor Fork with several stream crossings.  Reach a cabin and follow the yellow trail to the left as it crosses the steep sides of the gorge with sidehill, a unique experience. Reach Francis Road and the BFT.  Follow the BFT to the right.  Descend to Slate Run and reach the scenic falls on Morris Run.  Hike up a Red Run, a scenic stream valley with camping.  The climb steepens with cascades and falls over rocky terrain.  Reach the plateau with fine views.

Cross the plateau with more views and then descend to Slate Run, passing old quarries and more excellent vistas.  Cross Slate Run over a bridge behind the Hotel Manor.  Cross the bridge over Pine Creek and turn right on the Pine Creek Rail Trail.  Follow the rail trail for 3-4 miles, passing two campgrounds along the way, and Alt. 5, Quarry Mountain Trail.  Alt. 5 is more direct, has a fine view and forested ridge, but avoids the excellent scenery along the Golden Eagle Trail.  

Reach P7, cross PA 414, and begin the GET, hiking the loop to the right.  Climb to the stunning Ravens Horn and hike up Wolf Run with many slides and cascades.  As you near the top of the plateau, there are beautiful pine forests and Beulahland Vista is breathtaking.  Leave the GET and follow the unblazed Beulahland Road to the right, a gated forest road.  Do not miss the stunning Twin Mountain Trail, a short hike off the PAWT route.  

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Section 7: Golden Eagle Trail to Blackwell

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Map 11

Parking: P8 is located in Blackwell at 41.556172, -77.381766.  Fills up on weekends.

Amenities: Small store in Blackwell.

Highlights: Isolation, scenic streams, waterfall in Hoyt Hollow, Mid State Trail, Gillespie Point and views.

Description: Follow Beulahland Road from the Golden Eagle Trail; this road is unblazed and is a forest road. Do not miss a side hike to see impressive Twin Mountain Vista.  Reach Barrens Road and turn right; walk this country road for about three miles.  Reach the Mid State Trail (MST) and turn left.  The MST is blazed orange, the longest trail in the state, and it is well maintained.  Follow the MST all the way to Blackwell.

The MST dips in and out of forest gorges and valleys with fine scenery.  Cross Trout Run and hike up Hoyt Hollow with a nice waterfall.  The next highlight is the climb up to Gillespie Point with its superb views of the Pine Creek Gorge region.  A fairly steep descent follows down to a road and hike into the scenic village of Blackwell where there is a small store for re-supply or ice cream.  The MST continues north on the rail-trail, but the PAWT leaves the MST to follow the Bohen Trail, and onto the West Rim Trail.  An alternate hike for the PAWT is to follow the MST to Arnot Road.  

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Section 8: Blackwell to Ansonia (West Rim Trail)

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Maps 12 and 13

Parking: P8 is in Blackwell and located at 41.556172, -77.381766. P9 is the Northeastern Terminus at Ansonia, located at 41.739185, -77.433067.

Amenities: Restroom and water at Bradley Wales Picnic Area. Bar and restaurant just north of the terminus.

Highlights: Waterfalls, Pine Creek, great camping, superb views, Pine Creek Gorge/Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, Barbour Rock.

Description: The final section of the PAWT ends with a bang as it explores the beautiful Pine Creek Gorge along the popular West Rim Trail. This is in the Tioga State Forest. From Blackwell, cross the bridge and turn right onto the yellow Bohen Trail, a beautiful trail with pine trees. Enjoy Jerry Run Falls, which the trail crosses on top, and views looking down on Bohen Run Falls. If flowing well, it is well worth your time to hike off trail to the bottom of this falls.

Reach the orange West Rim Trail (WRT) and turn right. The reminder of the PAWT is on this classic trail. Enjoy beautiful woodlands and the coves of small streams with cascades. As you hike north, views of the gorge become more common. There are many fine campsites along the side streams. Reach Bradley Wales Picnic Area with more great views. North of here, the views really pick up, making it a highlight of the entire PAWT. At Burdic Run a side trail goes to the top of Burdic Run Falls, the tallest near the PAWT at 70 feet in height. It is difficult to reach the bottom of the falls.

The WRT meanders around Colton Point State Park, but returns to the gorge in dramatic fashion with a hike along the rim of the canyon. Reach famous Barbour Rock, the emotional end point of the PAWT, and its stunning views. The WRT makes a gradual descent to the parking area to its northern terminus, and the northeastern terminus of the PAWT along Colton Road.

Enjoy your accomplishment of hiking one of the most rugged and scenic routes in the East. While in the area, visit Wellsboro, a beautiful town. We hope you have enjoyed your journey across the PA Wilds.

More photos along the PAWT:

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Quehanna Trail over Red Run.

A post shared by Jeff Mitchell-Outdoors Author (@hiking_mitch) on

12 thoughts on “PA Wilds Trail

  1. This trail looks great! I would like to possibly include it on a free and opensource mapping project I’m working on of long trails around the world. Do you have an email address, or other way to connect, that you feel comfortable sharing here, so that we could discuss further? I’d include the name of my project in this comment, but I don’t mean to use your site as an advertisement.

    Thanks!

  2. On map 7 you show an alternative route marked in green. Is this just a high water route to avoid the many crossings on Greenlick? That would be nice, but it also misses the Scoval Branch STS shelter.

  3. This is a really terrific idea. How does one go about getting a trail made official — surveyed, blazed, sign-posted, etc? This seems like a worthwhile venture that I’d be happy to help with in whatever way I could. It could really be a showpiece trail for the whole state.

    • Thanks. It’s a work in process, it may be an official route at some point, but for now it will be a “hiker generated” route. I think it can be one of the finest trails in the eastern US that will showcase the beauty of the PA Wilds while bringing tourists and dollars to local communities.

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