A few weeks ago I visited a friend in Pennsylvania and we had the opportunity to spend a few days hiking the Black Forest Trail. This beautiful trail in central PA is a 42 mile loop, but we decided to just do the top half of the trail - the "North loop" - an easy (just kidding!) 23 mile trek that we tackled in about 48 hours. This is one of the views that met us near the end of our journey: the most amazing cairns I've ever seen! I guess these huge structures are built by decades upon decades of backpackers coming through and carefully piling one rock on top of another. They looked like ancient structures, and at first we wondered if they might be natural. After looking back on this hike, I wanted to type up some of my favorite camping recommendations
We drove a few hours from my friend's place in Pittsburgh. Once we got out of the city it was an easy and pretty drive. We stopped at Wolfe's General store for a few last minute supplies (licorice vines and tootsie rolls...only the essentials!) and then drove over a bridge and headed uphill to the trailhead. The trail was beautiful, and throughout our hike was largely void of people. If you have the luxury of being able to start on a Thursday or Friday rather than a weekend date, I'd highly recommend it!
The landscape was lush and green, so distinct from the dry California habitats I'm used to. I felt like I was in a tropical rainforest: rushing water and shady humidity everywhere. Most of the trail is covered by thick trees (a big bonus for me, as someone who burns really easily!). That didn't mean it was easy, though: the Black Forest Trail is known for having lots of ups and downs, extensive periods of climbing at sharp, 45-degree angles upslope followed by steep descents into green stream valleys. It certainly didn't disappoint. Those upslopes were painful at times, but it was a super rewarding hike and definitely doable even by the two of us (it had been a year or so since either of us had been backpacking). And at the end of our satisfying, 48-hour, 24 mile journey we stopped back at Wolfe's General Store for an ice cream before heading home.