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Discussion Starter #1
So a fellow hiking and hunting co worker has sparked my interest in the Black Forest Trail 41.2 mile loop hike. So after looking up the maps and reading a little bit about the hike i was thinking of giving it a try sometime when i have some vacation time stored up and some more exp in hiking. Im in roadway construction and most weekends in summer i end up working, but it just so happens due to restrictions on the memorial day weekend i will have friday to tuesday to plan a trip and seeing that this is my only chance for the near future to actually plan a long trip i am thinking of taking on the BFT. From the website i read water is through the trail so im planning on taking a water filter pump and tablets a small burner and dehydrated food, a single person tent and sleeping pack. the basic things. Im looking for any information from anyone that has taken on the BFT or any other 3 day hikes, or things im not think of. I believe it said it is a 3 day hike. When i say im a greenhorn i dont mean i have no idea what im doing i have done camping in the past and have done my fair share on hiking up and down steep mountains after turkeys and deer. I only consider my self greenhorn due to the fact i havent hiked many trails. So any information on the trail, time, tips, or good snacks to take along would be great. I will most likely be going alone as none of my friends are hiking material but being the holiday weekend i imagine there will be more then a few other people on the trail with me.
 

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My wife and I gave the BFT a try a few years ago. We had planned on doing it in 4 days, hiking about 12 to 13 miles the first 3 days and finish up the mileage to the car on day 4. We parked at the trail head at Slate Run Road. After about 5 miles, I had a catastrophic boot failure and had to turn around due to my feet bleeding. Turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to us on our hiking adventures because the 30% chance of rain on what would have been days 2 and 3 turned into all day downpours.

Here's what I remember doing my research and from the first 5 miles.

We had originally wanted to have Pine Creek outfitters shuttle us to the trail head so we wouldn't leave our car unattended for 3 nights. The guy at Pine Creek outfitters said he would feel safe parking his car at the trail head. Well when we parked, the first thing we noticed on the ground was shattered window glass, so that was a terrible feeling, but we decided to go ahead any way.

Doing the trail counter-clockwise, you will immediately have to ford Slate Run and then climb up a hill.

Lots of rattlesnakes were encountered once at the top of the first hill. We saw 5 total, all at rocky vistas. I had guide book warning of them, and totally forgot until I stepped onto a vista and was immediately rattled at.

From what I remember in the guidebook, towards the end of the trail (if hiked counter clockwise, so the southwest portion), the elevation rises and drops 1000 ft 5 times in 5 miles.

It was a really nice trail from what we had hiked. In a normal weather season, there seemed to be plenty of water available.

One longer trail the we successfully completed was the West Rim trail on the Pine Creek Gorge. We did that in 4 days, hiking about a mile in on the first day due to a late start. The next 2 days we did about 12 or 13 miles, and saved a short hike to Blackwell on the last day. That trail is not a loop, so you would have to shuttle cars. I enjoyed that trip a lot. There are many campsites overlooking the canyon rim. Plenty of water opportunities as well. There aren't a ton of drastic elevation changes, but there's enough to make it challenging. I believe my GPS had about 4500 ft of ascent for the whole trip.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
So are you saying it wasnt worth the hike or just a good thing that you didnt go any furter due to the upcoming rain? I would do the gorge hike but i dont really like the thought of paying to shuttle me back to my vehicle. And as far as the rattle snakes go i dont have a problem with snakes as long i know they are there, were they easy to spot or where they more off the trail?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
The west rim trail as far as hiking it goes is there a halfway point that one could hike halfway then return back to your truck or even just shorting it up for a full 2 day trip instead of 4?
 

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Good thing we didn't go any further due to the rain. We would have been about 20 miles in when the rains came. I would have loved to complete the trail otherwise. It looked great.

We encountered rattlesnakes every time there was rocky vista, so the blended in pretty well. They always gave a rattle when we were still at least 10 feet away, so we had plenty of warning. We never encountered any walking through the woods.

As far as the west rim trail goes, I would guess there was probably at least 1 campsite every 5 or 10 miles. While no official halfway point that I'm aware of, you could easily do an out and back trip.

Here's a pretty good map: http://www.pahikes.com/trails/west-rim-trail
 

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I hiked the BFT twice so far. Once with the Boy Scouts around the early 70's. The second time was 2 years ago. We started at the trail head and parked our car there. Was worried about it but when we got back it was ok. I think your supposed to sign in at the DCNR office. There is also a register box at the trail head to sign in. There is a parking lot down by the stream, but you have to hike a mile or so up the road to get on the trail. We also crossed the stream at the start so that was interesting in fast water. It was raining the first day but stopped toward the evening. The next day wasn't bad but started pouring at dusk and continued to rain all night long. So the 3rd day we hiked the extra miles since it was still raining and got back to the car late that afternoon. We were planning on 3 nights and 4 days, but cut down some other trails and dirt roads for about a 32 mile hike. Having the BFT map really helps out. Saw one garter snake right on the trail. It was during the fall so maybe that's why we didn't see anymore. People we talked to at the store told us to look out for bears. Never saw any. Every morning it's just about straight up the mountain and toward late afternoon you go down the mountain to a camp site. Never had a problem with water. It was hard to find fire wood at the camp sites. There were spots on the trail were not well maintained. We saw only 1 other hiker and he was hiking in the opposite direction. I am probably done hiking the BFT. It's a tuff trail for a 55 year old.
But it is a beautiful hike.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Ive done some research and printed out a couple of maps i want to still take on the trail but its 150 miles from home for me so its not like i can just pick n go anytime and with this upcoming hoilday weekend i dont want to have to miss work so i changed my mind and im not going to tackle all 42miles this time i am going to start at a different location and take on the northern half about 25 miles with a few short cuts if i feel its taking me to long and i need to hurry home. Ive already got my pocket stove, fuel, compass, water pack and canteen, water filter down to 0.01 micron and water pure tablets, backpack, sleeping bag and a cheap purple single dome tent someone got me when i was a kid and its never been used. Im making up some meals and getting a GSI cooking set this weekend. Anything im missing?
 

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There should be a lot of water there. Whistle for the potential bear sightings. Hiking poles. It is steep up and down over a lot of rocks. If you have gaiters I would take them. There are short cuts along the trail. Other side trails and roads that connect back onto the trail. Have fun and let us know how you make out.
 

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Ditto on the trekking poles. I don't care what age you are, if you can take weight and pressure off your knees, do it.
 

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The Black Forest Trail has been my favorite since the 70s as well . Have hiked it solo twice and often with others . I must say that the climbs are quite tiresome at any age , but the reward of vista worth it . Once on a May hike I encountered only 3 people in 4 days . Very remote areas to enjoy solitude . Snakes are aplenty and bear sightings are a good possibility ,adding great adventure to the trek . Travel as light as you can and carry water just to sip on while on ridges , as water is accessible in the drainages . Take your time and stretch out the days , pause at the well deserved vistas and streams . Have a great trip !
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I'm getting poles this weekend I forgot to buy them last time I was in town along with rain gear. From my hunting trips to the near by areas I can only guess I'll have no cell service? Snakes are my only concern I've played with alot of them as a kid but always avoided the venomous ones. I've had plenty of near encounters an know to avoid sows n cubs I will be taking my handgun just for protection. I'll be taking a camera as well thanks.
 

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Don't forget to leave a detailed plan of what your doing, or possible doing (shortcuts), with at least one trustworthy person.
 

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I was at the top of Slate Run road last weekend at the 44 juncture and had some reception with Verizon.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
So from reading that can I expect to cross chest deep stream?
 

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We did have some cell service at various spots on top of the mountains.
to carrying a gun. I carry a small one. Probably just piisss off a bear, but you are back in the middle of no where, so you never know who you meet up with. You do cross several streams, the biggest I think is Slate Run. With all this rain they will be high, not sure about the chest high though. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Okay good I really didn't want to wade chest deep in a river before July haha and I will be taking my 23 glock with me.
 

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Thinking about hiking this at some point. Anyone hiked this trail recently? Any advice for a Spring 3 day hike here?
 
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