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Old 10-16-2020, 10:59 PM   #1
Tomcat
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Black Forest Trail PA

Last week I hit the Black Forest Trail as an overnighter. The hike was much easier than the hype on how difficult the trail is. I wasn't sure if I could do it as an overnight trip with the short days but I covered 27 miles on the first day- the miles really just flew by especially on the plateau. There are lots of views and the foliage was decent. Much of the first wave of color blew off the trees with heavy winds but still plenty of color. Water was scary low. Many of the smaller streams were dry.

I have the full TR with lots of photos at my website at the link below.
http://www.tomcatsadventures.com/202...est-trail.html









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Old 10-17-2020, 06:00 AM   #2
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A lot of people tend to overrate the difficulty of trails in the Mid-Atlantic states, I've noticed. This trail in West Virginia is another one that was much easier than I expected it to be based on the reviews online. I also wasn't surprised that one of the only people who thought otherwise (and wrote "Relatively easy trail compared to other trails labeled as hard on All Trails") primarily hikes in the Adirondacks.

Nice photos! Will check out the entire post when I have some more time since I'd like to hike more of the Black Forest Trail in the future. Only got around to Hemlock Mountain so far, which was breathtaking from the overlook spots...

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Old 10-30-2020, 07:13 PM   #3
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I think the BFT is often rated as hard because it's being compared to other trails in the region. Most people hiking it are at least somewhat local, so it makes sense to compare it to the West Rim Trail or Quehanna Trail instead of something from the High Peaks or Colorado.
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Old 03-12-2021, 11:24 AM   #4
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Yeah, the BFT isn't easy by any measure- it's definitely up there in terms of physical challenge when compared to all other backpacking trails in PA, which tend to be at least a little bit easier. But when you compare it to something like the ADK High Peaks, for example, it becomes clear that the spectrum of trail difficulty can and does range much further into the "challenging" end of things than what the BFT can provide.
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Old 03-12-2021, 06:42 PM   #5
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For those who have done a fair amount of hiking in Pennsylvania, what would you say are some of the toughest hikes in that state? So far, I've only come across a few that gave me a decent workout:

- Jack's Mountain, which someone on Summitpost wrote has the most elevation gain in the state. While I can't verify that, both approaches (1,000 Steps and the SST from Route 655) were fairly steep by PA standards.

- Tuscarora ("Big") Mountain from Cowan's Gap in the initial section before it flattens out. Also, the spur trail from Tuscarora to Hogback Mountain felt a lot longer than it was.

- Hyner View's trail that goes down roughly 1,000 feet in a mile before heading back up. This one lived up to its name, the "Hyner View Challenge Trail."

- Gillespie Point on the Mid-State Trail. Not the longest hike in the world by any means, but one that gets increasingly steeper before reaching the ridge.

- Blue Knob, the state's second-highest peak, has some ski trails with slopes that will give you a big mountain feel if you hike there when the ski resort isn't operating.

Some people say the Minister Creek and Rimrock Overlook trails in ANF are challenging, but I didn't find them to be all that bad personally.
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Old 03-13-2021, 10:05 AM   #6
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Black Forest Trail is still up there for sure if you're traversing longer distances each day. Same with the Susquehannock Trail System- that has a number of ~1,000 foot ascents and descents and if you're trying to hike the trail quickly you've got a fair amount of elevation gain/descent every day.

When I did the STS I did it in 4.5 days- ~5 miles the first half day and then ~20 miles per day for each of the days after that. That was definitely a workout- I lost several pounds of body weight by the end of it.

The Chuck Keiper and Allegheny Front Trails both also have some decent climbs but I would not rate them as physically challenging overall as the BFT or even the STS.
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Old 05-13-2021, 01:36 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hikingandwildex View Post
URL="https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/west-virginia/north-fork-mountain-trail-to-chimney-top"]This trail[/URL] in West Virginia is another one that was much easier than I expected it to be based on the reviews online. I also wasn't surprised that one of the only people who thought otherwise (and wrote "Relatively easy trail compared to other trails labeled as hard on All Trails") primarily hikes in the Adirondacks.
Have you done the full North Fork Mountain traverse? It's a route that I'd like to do at some point. I've hiked half of it- lead it as a day hike with a Syracuse University Outing Club group during the Outing Club's annual spring break trip to WV. We started at Seneca Rocks, climbed to the summit of the rocks from the visitor's center, then followed a pipeline from there up to the ridge, turned south, and hiked along the ridgeline to the southern terminus at US 33.

The full traverse is also frequently touted as a particularly "challenging" backpacking trip but honestly, once you are up on the ridge it's mostly a pleasant stroll by ADK High Peaks standards- ups and downs to be sure but easy hiking most of the way through with non-stop views for relatively little effort along the way. I think the real challenge is carrying enough water- at 25 miles in length, it's more than most can do as a day hike (even in the easier south to north, all-downhill-direction) an water availability is limited- so it does demand some careful logistical planning.

If you have a sharp eye, not far from the south end of the trail you can spot a memorial marking the spot where a 4 year old child was lost and succumbed to the elements in 1891.
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Old 05-13-2021, 06:02 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSettahr View Post
Have you done the full North Fork Mountain traverse? It's a route that I'd like to do at some point. I've hiked half of it- lead it as a day hike with a Syracuse University Outing Club group during the Outing Club's annual spring break trip to WV. We started at Seneca Rocks, climbed to the summit of the rocks from the visitor's center, then followed a pipeline from there up to the ridge, turned south, and hiked along the ridgeline to the southern terminus at US 33.

The full traverse is also frequently touted as a particularly "challenging" backpacking trip but honestly, once you are up on the ridge it's mostly a pleasant stroll by ADK High Peaks standards- ups and downs to be sure but easy hiking most of the way through with non-stop views for relatively little effort along the way. I think the real challenge is carrying enough water- at 25 miles in length, it's more than most can do as a day hike (even in the easier south to north, all-downhill-direction) an water availability is limited- so it does demand some careful logistical planning.

If you have a sharp eye, not far from the south end of the trail you can spot a memorial marking the spot where a 4 year old child was lost and succumbed to the elements in 1891.
I hiked the northern part of the North Fork Mountain Trail from Smoke Hole Road to the Redman Trail junction, with detours to Chimney Top (a short Class 3 scramble with outstanding views that you won't want to miss) and the North Fork Benchmark (a horrific bushwhack that I wouldn't recommend to anyone who isn't a complete masochist).

That stretch offers some of the finest views I've seen anywhere on this side of the country, right up there with the likes of Marcy/Algonquin/Cascade despite not being 360 degrees. There are 180-degree viewpoints everywhere off the side of the trail. If you're like me, you'll probably spend as much time at the countless overlook spots as you will on the actual hiking trail. I was completely blown away by the scenery!

As you mentioned, the most difficult part is the initial push up the mountain. I rated the "climb" from the northern terminus as being moderate, though others I passed that morning found it to be a bit more difficult than I did. YMMV. For someone like you who's used to hiking in the Adirondack High Peaks, it shouldn't be challenging at all. Once you're on the ridgeline, it's an incredibly easy and flat hike with fewer ups-and-downs than you would encounter on the Finger Lakes Trail. Any reasonably fit hiker could easily do 4-5 mph on the NFMT.

You're right about water availability being a primary concern on this arid mountain. Hiking Upward's guide mentions a spring around the midpoint that may or may not be reliable. I would recommend treating this as a desert hike for all intents and purposes.

The journey you took from Seneca Rocks to NFMT's southern terminus might be an itinerary for me to consider since I was planning on visiting Seneca Rocks later this year -- likely in the autumn. I never even thought of that option until you mentioned it. That sounds like a great backpacking trip.
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