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Black Forest Trail - Northeast Loop

15.8 Miles
Strenuous
1
Time to Hike: 9 hours
PA Wilds
Added:
May 05, 2022
Updated:
May 10, 2022

The Black Forest Trail - Northeast Loop is a strenuous 15.8-mile loop hike in Slate Run, Pennsylvania that features stunning 180-degree views of the Slate Run canyon (a section of Pennsylvania's Grand Canyon), waterfalls, including Little Morris Falls, Rhododendron Falls (Slate Run swimming hole), cascades along Red Run, and two old quarry sites that feature additional views and some large boulders for rock climbing.

Trails
This hike follows several named trails and roads in a clockwise order: Slate Run Road, Black Forest Trail (orange blazes), Old Supply Trail (yellow blazes), Francis Road, Alcinda Trail (yellow blazes, bisector in Algerine Wild Area).

Hike Description
This hike begins at the Black Forest Trail (BFT) trailhead behind Hotel Manor in Slate Run, PA and follows the Black Forest Trail in a clockwise direction, first starting by following Slate Run Road with orange blazes that lead uphill. The trail will quickly take a right-hand turn to follow Slate Run as it meanders its way north adjacent to the creek. Along the way, backpackers will find plenty of campsites.

Mountain Spine Climb to Vista - Mile 2.1 to Mile 3
Around mile 2.1, hikers will reach the first difficult ascent - which is arguably the hardest climb in the entire hike. The trail will cross Slate Run Road one more time before climbing the mountain ridge. Along the way, hikers will pass rocky outcroppings and eventually reach a 180-degree vista located around mile 2.5. This vista gives hikers a view facing upstream along Slate Run in addition to views that peer into the Pine Creek Valley including a view of the Dragon's Back mountain ridge line. During the Spring (early May), hikers may find beautiful red columbine wildflowers growing along this mountain spine. The Black Forest Trail continues to climb the mountain until the ~3-mile marker where the trail levels out a while before the hiking becomes easier (for several miles).

Slate Run Vista - Mile 3.15
Just after ascending the mountain, hikers are rewarded with yet another view of the surrounding mountains above Slate Run around mile 3.15. This vista has a bench (as of May 2022) for taking a break.

Reflection Pond - Mile 3.8
Around mile 3.8, hikers will reach a 100-year lease camp (a camp leased out for 100-years by the state to a private individual/family); however, just beyond this camp is a pristine reflection pool where hikers can stop to enjoy the beautiful pond before hiking on. The water in this pond is almost crystal-clear, making for a unique stop along the hike.

Old Supply Trail Junction - Mile 4.4
Around mile 4.4, hikers will reach the next named trail in this loop system - the Old Supply Trail (yellow blazes). This trail descends the mountain along Foster Hollow (passing some small scenic waterfalls) before it begins to follow Manor Fork creek. This yellow-blazed trail is seldomly-trafficked, which means it's not maintained as well as the BFT, but still is not difficult to follow. Hikers will have to cross Francis Road around mile 5.6 - just aim for the guardrail on the opposite side of the road, hike down to the creek, and turn around - the yellow blazes continue onward through these woods.

Creek Crossings - Mile 5.7 to Mile 6
As hikers approach mile 5.7 (from the trailhead), they'll encounter 3 creek crossings along Manor Fork along the Old Supply Trail. Here, we decided to remove our shows and socks (despite carrying extra socks and shoes!) to make the creek crossings easier. In the dead of Summer, these creek crossings are likely a lot more shallow; however, the deepest section during early May 2022 was approximately 1.5-feet deep.

Manor Fork Falls - Mile 6.44
Around mile 6.4, hikers will reach another service road crossing - here is yet another 100-year lease camp and behind it is a multi-tiered waterfall that cascades below the bridge in the road and continues cascading down the creek. Unfortunately, without walking on the camp property, you can't really get a good photo of this waterfall without being down in Slate Run; however, the Upper Falls portion appeared to be about 10-feet tall.

Rhododendron Falls / Slate Run Swimming Hole - Mile 6.9
As hikers are making their way along the Old Supply Trail, around mile 6.8, they may notice a waterfall cascading down Slate Run located ~200-feet down in the valley. Here, we decided to bushwhack to this waterfall and found a beautiful deep swimming hole carved out by the strong currents of the 4-foot waterfall we decided to name Rhododendron Falls. Note that the bushwhack to reach the waterfall follows a steep mountainside with loose rocks. This swimming hole, as of May 2022, has 2 rope swings located on each side of the creek which sit about 10 to 15-feet above the water, meaning this swimming hole must be at least 15 to 20 feet deep at the center. The Upper Falls portion of the waterfall is approximately 3-feet tall. Both sections of the waterfall are about 10-feet wide.

Rhododendron Falls to Francis Road / BFT - Mile 7 to 7.7
Between Rhododendron Falls and Francis Road / BFT, hikers will pass one precarious section of the trail where it skirts above an insanely-steep mountainside where the plunge below is at least 60-feet or more down to Slate Run below. Hikers should be aware of this and use caution when hiking this section.

Francis Road to Little Morris Falls - Mile 7.7 to 8.5
Once on Francis Road, hikers will be following the Black Forest Trail once again and will find another vista that provides views of the surrounding mountains above Little Morris Falls around mile 7.75. Hikers will follow Francis Road for a short distance before the Black Forest Trail makes a right-hand turn to head towards the campsites near Little Morris Falls. After passing the campsites, hikers will reach Little Morris Falls around mile 8.5. Little Morris Falls is about 6-feet tall and no more than 10-feet wide at its base. There's a small footbridge that crosses Morris Run, making this an easy creek crossing. The bedrocks around Little Morris Falls makes for a nice lunch spot as well.

Algerine Wild Area, Red Run, & "Protein Rock"
Just after Little Morris Falls, hikers will officially enter the Algerine Wild Area. The Black Forest Trail will skirt around the mountainside, adjacent to Slate Run, before it starts ascending the mountain along Red Run. Along Red Run, hikers will find a nice bouldering rock - nicknamed "Protein Rock" around mile 9.1. As of May 2022, white chalk handholds could be found on this rock, indicating that it is indeed used by boulderers. After passing Protein Rock, hikers will have to cross Red Run once (the last creek crossing) which is not very deep.

Red Run Ascent - Miles 9.5 to 10.1
Between miles 9.5 and 10.1, hikers will be faced with the strenuous climb up the mountain along Red Run. Here, the trail follows a rock field, passing large glacial deposits littered within Red Run on the way up. A keen-eyed hiker may even notice the slate rock mountainside with rock outcroppings (located on private land) to the left-hand side as they slowly ascend this Algerine Wild Area mountain. Additionally, there are a multitude of small cascades within these large rocks in Red Run - a couple of photos provided (albeit not great) show some of these waterfalls, one was nicknamed Step Falls for its obvious appearance. These waterfalls are generally 2 to 7-feet tall and may be dried up during the Summer.

Red Run Vista - Mile 10.15
At the top of the mountain climb along Red Run is a nice vista that peers back down into the Red Run area, which we named Red Run Vista. This is the perfect spot to take another break before continuing the hike.

Algerine Vista - Mile 10.25
Just after the Red Run Vista is yet another rocky outcropping of a vista, nicknamed Algerine Vista. This is a very similar view to the previous Red Run Vista; however, when leaves are off of the trees, this one gives hikers a view of the rocky mountain located adjacent to Red Run (noted on the hike up). From here on out, the hike within the Algerine Wild Area is mostly-flat, long, and a bit boring, as there isn't much to see.

Alcinda Trail - Mile 10.75
Around mile 10.75, hikers will reach a junction with the yellow-blazed Alcinda Trail. Here we followed this entire trail (approx. 0.3-miles long) to bisect the Black Forest Trail to shorten our hike. After the Alcinda Trail, the hike continues to be mostly-flat, with some undulation, until hikers reach the next junction.

BFT / Algerine Trail Junction - Mile 12.1
At mile 12.1, hikers will reach a junction with the BFT and the Algerine Trail - stay right to head south along the Black Forest Trail.

Algerine Quarry Vista - Mile 14.1
Around mile 14.1, hikers will enter an old quarry site (noted by the cut-out mountainside and piles of shale rock), but this old quarry also boasts a 180-degree view of Slate Run as well. There are technically two vistas here - one to the north and one to the south - with some trees that sit between the two; however, hikers get a 180-degree view facing north and south of the mountains that surround Slate Run.

Algerine Boulders, Quarry Vista, and "PA Hoodoo" Rock Stacks - Mile 14.7
Between miles 14.7 and 14.8, hikers will find some unique points-of-interest along the hike. First, hikers will walk into yet another old quarry site where large boulders, approximately 35-feet tall, tower overhead. These boulders are a great spot for rock climbers and some white chalk handholds on the rock indicated that people have climbed here before. Just beyond the climbing rocks is a less-than-stunning view of the surrounding mountains. And just behind the vista, is a small trail that leads to some human-made rock piles, nicknamed the "PA Hoodoos".

Mountain Descent to Parking - Mile 14.8 to 15.8
After passing the last quarry site, hikers will make their way down the last section of the mountain. The trail follows a mostly-gradual path until the very end of the mountain ridge where it becomes a bit more steep with loose shale rock. After descending the mountain, the BFT will curve around in a horseshoe shape - here, a keen-eyed hiker may notice the old railroad grade that the BFT follows back to parking. Hikers can even see the old railties in the ground, as they make small bumps in the terrain. This old railroad was likely used by the logging industry over 100-years ago. Finally, hikers will cross the metal bridge to reach the parking lot to wrap up this 15.8-mile loop hike.

Camping and Backpacking
Backpackers will find plenty of campsites along this hike. Please follow all state forest rules and regulations when dispersed / primitive / backcountry camping.

Parking
Hikers can find a large parking lot behind Hotel Manor, at the coordinates provided. The lot is large enough to fit about 12-vehicles.

Pets
Dogs are allowed if leashed.

Warnings
Timber Rattlesnakes: This trail follows a lot of rocky terrain and passes many rocky outcroppings which are all attractive to the Timber Rattlesnake. Between the months of late April and early October, these snakes could be out on the trail, just off-trail in the brush, or sunning themselves on rocks. Be careful, watch for rattlers, and be mindful of their presence.

Steep terrain: This hike follows some very steep mountain ridges in addition to some super-steep mountainside walk (especially on the Old Supply Trail). Watch your step, take your time, and do not underestimate how the landscape can change over time (i.e. landslides, etc).

Bushwhacking: To reach Rhododendron Falls and the Slate Run swimming hole, hikers will have to buchwhack a bit down some steep, rocky, and loose mountain terrain.

Water: Hikers should consider bringing at least 1 gallon of water with them on this hike or at the very least, 32oz of water and a water filter to refill.

No cell service: During this trek in May 2022, I had virtually no cell service with Verizon. The only place Verizon seems to be available in small amounts is closer to the first mountain climb off of Slate Run Rd, but that was it.

View more trails near Slate Run, PA

Hazards

Ticks - Lyme Disease More Info (CDC)
Snakes
Poison Ivy/Oak
Falling rocks or scrambles

Surface Type

Dirt

Seasons

All

Blaze Color

Orange
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1347 '

Total Change
3974 '

Ascent
3985 '

Descent
Black Forest Trail - Northeast Loop default picture

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15.8 miles
Trail added
May 05, 2022
Updated on
May 10, 2022

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