Black Forest Trail

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Sierra Club MWROP Backpacking Trip:
Black Forest Trail, North Central Pennsylvania

October 5 - 8, 2007, Friday morning to Monday evening

North central Pennsylvania

Carpool meeting time & place:
Friday morning, Oct 5, 7:30 AM, see directions at bottom of page

Updated 9/28/07

Trip Description:

The Black Forest Trail is one of the most famous and scenic in PA, many regard it as among the best trails in PA. It is also one of the most rugged plus it's in an Old Growth forest. This will be an ideal time of year with Fall foliage at or near its peak. This is the best backpacking time of the year in the Mid-Atlantic region. We will cover 42 miles in 3.5 days with 2000' to 3000' of elevation gain per day. This is a strenuous trip on steep, rugged trails with many stream crossings which is suitable for experienced, fit backpackers, and strong dayhikers (who have prior backpacking experience) only. We will backpack one half day on Fri, all day Sat & Sun, and finish by mid afternoon on Mon. Estimated temperatures are 60-80F during the day, with 40-60F at night.

Each participant is required to provide their own gear and food. Plan on carrying food for Friday dinner to Monday lunch, plus energy snacks. Assume that fires are not permitted and that all cooking will be done on backpacking stoves. People who do not have the necessary equipment can rent the large items (tent, backpack, sleeping bag, stove) from some of the local backpacking stores. We will carpool to and from PA and I will provide a list of participants. Trip size is limited to a maximum of ten people. 

Some Necessary Items

  •  sturdy, broken in hiking boots that fit you properly
  •  teva's (river sandals), sneakers, or aqua socks for stream crossings & swimming holes
  •  3500 to 5500 cubic inch backpack that fits you properly
  •  tent or bivouac sack
  •  sleeping bag plus pad
  •  rain gear
  •  some extra clothes
  •  sunscreen, sunglasses, hat with brim
  •  wool sweater or fleece jacket
  •  light but warm knit hat
  •  lightweight gloves (optional) or extra socks
  •  flashlight, extra bulb and batteries
  •  compass, map
  •  toilet paper, trowel
  •  waterproof matches
  •  pocket knife
  •  biodegradable soap, wash cloth, towel
  •  swimsuit
  •  stove and fuel for three days
  •  food for Friday dinner to Monday lunch + energy snacks
  •  water bottles or bladders, water filter, be able to carry 96 oz of water
  •  necessary personal first aid items
  •  bug repellent - may not be necessary in October
  •  50' of lightweight rope to hang a bear bag

Common Items

If people want to share tents, water filters, first aid kits, stoves, or meals, you can work that out for yourselves from the participant list which will be emailed. We really only need one stove, first aid kit, and water purifier for every two or three people. I will try to coordinate this somewhat.

Guidebook & Maps


PA Department of Conservation & Natural Resources
Bureau of Forestry
423 E. Central Ave.
S. Williamsport, PA 17702

Black Forest Trail guidebook & topographic map are available from:

Tiadaghton Forest Fire Fighters Association (the publishers of the guidebook & map - $12.00 for the latest version - 2003)
POB 5091
S. Williamsport, PA 17702

Health Problems

If anyone has a health problem that I should know about, please tell me before you pass out.


Bring more food than you would normally eat. As a backpacker, you will appreciate the concept of food as fuel. Bring things that are lightweight, tasty, and nutritious but also easy to prepare, cook, and clean up after. Also bring foods that will not spoil in the heat. Plan a menu from Friday dinner to Monday lunch plus energy snacks. Extra points for meals that pass the "Lick Test". Don't know what the "Lick Test" is? Shame on you, go back to square one, do not pass go, do not collect $200.00, and read Colin Fletchers book "The Complete Walker" before the trip. I first read this book over thirty years ago, there are updated editions today which are still a great reference. I consider this book to be the Old Testament of Backpacking, Backpacker Magazine is the New Testament.


Each person should carry at least two quarts or liters of water per day. A third empty 1 liter bladder is required - it weighs nothing when empty and allows increasing your water capacity by 50% if desired. We will try to camp near a stream each day for drinking water (which must be treated), washing, and swimming. They are having a drought in PA, just like here, so be ready to carry up to 3 quarts, 96 oz, of water if necessary.

Leave No Trace

We will practice "Leave No Trace" backcountry ethics. This means that we pack out all of our trash and garbage. It also means that we do not use soap or shampoo to wash in mountain lakes or streams. Just swimming in the water without using soap works pretty well all by itself for getting clean. Use a folding basin and/or wash cloth and soap/shampoo a reasonable distance away from lakes or streams to wash more thoroughly. It's okay to use a tiny amount of biodegradable soap directly in the lake or stream just to wash your hands and face. Also the no-rinse body wash and shampoo works fairly well if its too cold to get in the water. This is what they use on the Space Shuttle and Space Station.


The only costs will be the voluntary $2.00 Sierra Club MWROP donation, money for gas for the drivers ($25-30/rider), Fri lunch, and Mon dinner.

Trip Leader:

Ted Fryberger
6259 Deep River Canyon
Columbia, MD 21045
Phone: 443-917-2902Website:

Driving Directions to Carpool Location:

Columbia Crossing II Shopping Center, Columbia, MD

Since most people are coming from Maryland and this is on the way we will meet here to carpool.
For those who don't know, Columbia is in-between Baltimore and Washington, DC on Route 95.

From Rt. 95
175 W to Columbia
go through 2 or 3 traffic lights (depending on whether you were north or southbound on 95)
DO NOT take Gateway Drive (if you do, loop all the way around and come back to 175W)
Exit right onto Snowden River Parkway Ramp
Right onto Snowden River Parkway
Left at first traffic light onto Dobbin Rd
Second right into the Expo Design Center parking lot - 6100 Dobbin Rd
Park at the front of the parking lot closest to Dobbin Rd.

I'm driving a blue Nissan 350Z

Friday, Oct 5
Meet at 7:30am (I know it's early, but we have a long drive, and have to cover 7+ miles of trail)

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