Posted by: davepidgeon | December 15, 2008

A winter hike for the birds

Snow in the Pacific Northwest. Wicked winter storm in the northeast. Hey, can Mother Nature send some of that frost here to Pennsylvania; the state’s northern tier to be specific. Here’s why:

If after Christmas Day you’re looking to test out those new snowshoes you found under the fraser fir, look to the Golden Eagle Trail in Pennsylvania’s Black Forest region. You get over nine miles two gorgeous gorges, several vistas of the surrounding canyons and solitude.


Snow covered rocks mark the Raven's Horn vista along the Golden Eagle Trail.

Snow covered rocks mark the Raven's Horn vista along the Golden Eagle Trail.

The above image is the Raven’s Horn, a southeast facing rock outcrop you earn after hiking up 800 feet over about 1.5 miles. According to A Falcon Guide: Hiking Pennsylvania, a must-have book if you live in or near the Keystone State, your total elevation gain for the loop hike is about 1,400 feet, most of it gained between miles 2 and 5 as the trail meanders up the Wolf Run drainage. You’re rewarded again with another view, this one of surrounding farmland.

I have hiked this trail twice, once in winter and another in the fall, and I have seen just one other person passing through. I also should note there is no backcountry camping permitted along the Golden Eagle Trail. If you think this region has ample opportunity for backpacking, you’re right because the 42-mile Black Forest Trail is nearby.

To reach the Golden Eagle Trail, take U.S. 220 and then go north on PA 44 for about 12 miles. At the intersection with PA 414, head east for another 11 miles until you reach the trailhead at Bonnell Run. The trailhead is along Pine Creek.


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