Boomerang Backpacking

Susquehannock Trail

There is a "through-the-looking-glass" quality to some of the more remote eastern trails. One minute, you're on a highway, a mere ribbon of asphalt away from towns, gas stations, hamburgers, and telephones; the next minute you are out there, with porcupines and deer and red-tailed hawks for company. The Susquehannock Trail (also referred to as the Susquehannock Trail System) offers 85 miles of peace and quiet and a surprisingly remote and secluded hiking experience in one of the East's most densely populated states. On one trip, we didn't see any other hikers in a whole week, although I must admit that the week we chose spanned the New Year's holidays.

Forested throughout, the trail is well-marked and well-maintained, and it can be hiked any time of year. Meandering up and down a combination of old Civilian Conservation Corps fire-roads, logging roads, railroad grades, and cut hiking trail, it offers lovely woods-walking, and the occasional challenging climb (although none that lived up to the threat of ominously-named Cardiac Hill). It's a perfect length for a week's trip, give or take a day, depending on your hiking style. If you want a longer hike, you can extend your loop via two connector trails that link the Susquehannock Trail with the nearby 42-mile Black Forest Trail, also a loop, and well worth a trip in its own right. (We didn't see hikers on the BFT, either, on a Thanksgiving weekend hike.)

Location: North central Pennsylvania in Susquehannock State Forest about 20 miles south of the New York State line and 10 miles east of Coudersport, PA.

Distance: 85 miles; 120-mile option.

Maps: Both the Susquehannock and Black Forest trails are well marked and adequately described in locally-produced guidebooks with accompanying maps.

Contact: Susquehannock Trail Club, PO Box 643, Coudersport, PA, 16915. For the Black Forest trails: Tiadaghton Forest Firefighters Association, c/o Bureau of Forestry, Box 5091, South Williamport, PA 17701.

The route: The northern trailhead is on US6; the southern trailhead is on PA 144 near Ole Bull State Park. Cross Fork is the approximately half-way point and a good resupply stop.


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