This rugged, beautiful loop combines the classic Golden Eagle Trail and the Hilborn Trails and should be on the list of any hiker looking for a challenge. Along it are stunning views, deep gorges, old growth trees, and cascades. And it can only really be dayhiked, adding to the challenge. Camping is not allowed on the game lands or the Golden Eagle Trail. There are some state forest lands along the Dragons Back Trail that may allow camping, but there are no established sites. Theresa joined me on this hike.
We began by hiking the orange blazed Golden Eagle Trail (GET) counterclockwise. We trekked up to Ravenshorn, passing several trail runners. After enjoying the views, we descended on the narrow ridge passing rock formations down to Wolf Run. The trail along Wolf Run is a favorite, with beautiful cascades and slides in a deep gorge. Wolf Run can be dry in the summer. As we hiked up the run, we enjoyed some giant hemlock and pine trees. At the top, we saw a nice view and then hiked a grassy forest road to beautiful Beulahland Vista, probably the most bucolic and serene vista you could hope to find. We did a quick side hike to Bonnell Run Vista where we saw a group of Amish hikers.
We retraced our steps back to grassy Beulahland Road, which is not blazed. We hiked it for over a mile until there was a road climbing to the left, we took it. It brought us to stunning Twin Mountain Vista, a favorite of the hike. It reminded me of being in the Catskills. The trail now followed an unblazed ATV trail, but it was easy to follow as we hiked the ridge and made a short climb, and then a gradual descent to another great view from a meadow. The descent steepened to a great view looking across the gorge of Hilborn Run. From there, the trail became very steep as it threaded its way down to the rail trail.
We took a break at the rail trail where a sign pointed us towards the Hilborn Run Trail; again, not blazed but easy to follow. At first the trail was a gradual climb as it entered the gorge. We took a side trail to the left which brought us into the heart of the gorge, it was beautiful but not the right route. We returned to the proper trail. The climb began to get steeper, but never as steep as the Hilborn Bald Trail. We enjoyed some giant hemlock trees and the climb seemed relentless. We finally reached the top and the GET where we saw two hikers, but our route took us right onto a grassy forest road, which was unblazed. The yellow blazed trail began where the forest road ended.
We hiked the ridge which gradually became narrower above the Pine Creek Gorge. We then ran into Ericks and Dave, who were thruhiking the PA Wilds Trail. They were getting close to the end of their incredible journey and were looking a little tired. After talking, we headed down to Webber’s Vista, named after Pine Creek icon Bob Webber who built many of the trails in the area. The view was great as it looked down on Slate Run.
Next was the descent of Quarry Mountain Trail, but first we went straight on an old road along the ridge to enjoy an incredible view looking up Slate Run. The descent was moderate as we switchbacked down the mountain to PA 414. We crossed the road and followed the rail trail to the left enjoying wildflowers, an old cemetery and great views of beautiful Pine Creek as people fished and kayaked. This area is incredible.
The rail trail brought us back to the cars, ending our exhausting but beautiful hike.
This hike is about 16 miles long and has about 7,000 vertical feet of climbing and descending. It is one of the most challenging and beautiful dayhikes you can do in the state. After finishing, celebrate with a meal and beverages in Slate Run or Waterville.
Parking is at 41.438796, -77.510714. For the map above, brown trails are not blazed, but are easy to follow.