Friday, April 24, 2015

Forbes State Forest, PA - Roaring Run Natural Area

Forbes State Forest - PA DCNR
Agency Spotlight: Forbes State Forest - PA DCNR
Roaring Run Natural Area - PA DCNR
Roaring Run Calls from Pennsylvania - The Denver Post (nice article describing the hike)

GPS Coordinates 40.04788, -79.28859

Roaring Run Trail Parking

Roaring Run Natural Area Brochure - PA DCNR

HIKE DISTANCE:  7.3 miles

This hike is southeast of Pittsburgh and was done to break up our drive on a road trip from New Jersey to St. Louis, MO.
The Roaring Run trail head from the parking area.
Yellow blazes denote foot traffic only.  Blue blazes are for cross-country skiing.
Although blazes are old and faded and sometimes infrequent, intersections seem to be well marked with signs.
The upper part of Roaring Run.
We left the Roaring Run Trail and headed to Painter Rock Road to form a loop returning along Roaring Run, which turned out to be a very good idea.
This shallow crossing is so misleading for what is yet to come.
The parking lot at Painter Rock Road is where I had intended to park but had to turn around and head to a different lot because the I would still be sitting there with my car stuck in ruts had I continued on.
From the parking lot keep left on Painter Rock Road, a gravel road blazed red (no idea what red blazes mean).
On the right, a memorial.
According the the article linked above, these three children died in a sleigh accident.
Continuing up on Painter Rock Road.
Although the rest of the world is turning green, at this higher elevation not much green yet but flowers are blooming.
Painter Rock Road becomes a dirt road as it continues upward.
The blue blazes indicating it's a cross-country ski trail.
Yes, that is snow!
It had snowed the night before up at 2600+ feet and there were patches everywhere.
The McKenna Trail connects to the Painter Rock Trail which is a foot traffic only path.
The Painter Rock Trail runs all along the ridge with seasonal views.  There is supposed to be a "prominent rock break offering numerous vistas of the Roaring Run Valley" according to the brochure, but unfortunately, I did not find this, only partial winter views through the trees.
I was a little perplexed at the yellow/blue blazes.  It's been a footpath but now all of a sudden it is a cross-country ski trail also?  I suppose you have to walk your skis in?
Spring wildflowers everywhere.
Descending down to Roaring Run.
It is ROARING and DEEP and SWIFT and we are supposed to cross here?
That was not happening but I found a woods road on this side that connected back to the blazed trail until...
Yet another deep and swift crossing but this one not as bad as the first.  No problem - I have those nifty boot covers for just such an occasion.
After crossing, the trail, a former logging railroad grade, is nice and smooth and easy until...
... another crossing??!?!?
The boot covers turned out to be a major fail in this case because after about 4 crossings they sprung leaks and filled up before I could completely cross.
It's a gorgeous valley with Roaring Run all along the way.
Thing is, the railroad grade is straight and Roaring Run is curvy so in all I had estimated 30 crossings.
The article referenced above says 28-32 crossings and I read that after the fact so I was not far off.
Stopping to smell the skunk cabbage.
Another one of the 28-32 crossings.
Well, eventually I just gave in and plodded on through even though it was in the 40's with wind chill in the 30's.
Just as my shoes would somewhat drain out, time to cross again.  And again.  And again.
I would guess there were 28-30 bridges back in the day and this might be evidence of that.
Equally tired of crossing Roaring Run.
Thrilled that nobody else was in the lot because I had to go digging in my luggage for dry pants and socks and do a major wardrobe change right there in the parking lot.  Took my toes a loooooong time to warm back up!  But what a gorgeous hike!  Just come on a warmer day and bring water shoes!
Warm, dry and having a snack.
On to Columbus, OH...
... where Shawnee slept in a motel for the night before continuing on to St. Louis.


  1. Great photos.... you and Shawnee are such troopers crossing all that water. Shawnee looks great! What a great dog. You are very lucky to have each other. Thanks for sharing. Joanne

  2. Really nice hike. Thanks for sharing, we are all watching and enjoying Shawnee. So... now I am curious what you will select as a boot cover. If it is light then it is flimsy and rips, and if it is heavier you are carrying more weight. Please let us know what you decide to buy next.

    1. Actually, the boot covers I use work fine for a crossing or two per hike, they are thick plastic, lightweight and fold up flat so they take up no space at all and are great to have in a pinch but I don't think there is anything that will hold up to 32 crossings! You just have to plan on getting wet for this hike, especially this time of year when water is flowing and deep.

  3. Great to see both of you back on the trail!,i hope shawnee is feeling better, what a great side trip, enjoy the rest of your trip to st. louis


    1. Thanks, Brian. She is doing pretty well. Still not fully recovered from her last bout of vestibular disease but I expect she might always be a little wobbly from now on as most dogs don't seem to bounce back as well the second time. However, once on the trail, she straightens out and walks pretty darned straight!


  4. Glad to read your newest installment of On The Road Again W/Miss Shawnee. She sure couldn't complain about not being able to find waters to get her furs wet on this one. But I'm sure you savored every minute wearing nice, warm and dry socks afterward. Will be watching & waiting for the the next trail report of your trip. Hope the next one is a bit drier. ;)

    1. It never felt so good to have dry socks on but it took my feet a very long time to warm up. And yes, the next hike was MUCH drier.


  5. Congratulations to you for successfully navigating a trail network that isn't always marked very well or very obvious. You do well. I'll explain the blaze colors to you. Under a previous regime (Democrats) the blazes were blue for foot trails, red for x-country, and orange for snowmobile. Then the more recent (Republican) regime, the colors were changed to yellow for foot trails, blue for x-country and (I think) still orange for snowmobile). But because the trail blazers are not real hikers, they often don't do a great job of blazing, as you noticed. Painter Rock is obscure, so I have gps'ed it for coordinates. If you ever go back, let me know and I'll provide. Painter Rock really is not very exciting or remarkable except that twice in the past 6 years I have seen rattlesnakes sunning at that location, so I suspect there may be a den in the rocks somewhere. Roaring Run is one of my 5 favorite hiking destinations in W. PA. I'm glad you enjoyed it too, and I loved your photos.

    1. Thanks and thanks for the info. I thought I knew that about the blazes and looked back to see what I wrote and turns out it was just the red that I was not aware of. Having hiked in Forbes State Forest again just yesterday on another road trip, ( there was red and on the brochure for those trails it said red is more narrow and more rocky shared use. But I guess that is subject to change, LOL!