by Vinny Curtis
As fall turns to winter and fair weather recreators retreat to their cozy houses while they wait out what they deem the cold, miserable, “Why would I want to hike in this weather?” season, others are eager to break out equipment that has lain in closets and basements for eight or more months out of the year. They are constantly alert to the weather forecast, praying for snowfall, and a snowfall that will stick and STAY.
Where do they go when the snow finally falls? To the mountains, and a lot of them head to Tiadaghton State Forest, for good reason. The 2,000+ foot mountaintops offer over 40 miles of groomed cross country ski trails once the snow arrives, and that doesn’t include 60 miles of Pine Creek Rail Trail. With historic land use that involved logging by train, old railroad grades traverse the forest and offer excellent opportunities for gently sloped trails perfect for skiing.
Tiadaghton was the first district to build designated cross-country ski trails on state forest land, constructed largely by former employees Bob Webber and John Eastlake (of Black Forest Trail acclaim). They were built in the 1970s under the direction of a combat-wounded WWII veteran and former member of the infamous 10th Mountain Division, district forester Francis X. Kennedy.
Tiadaghton State Forest has become an ideal destination for cross-country skiers across the state.
Pack up your gear, pick a trail below, and make your way to the Black Forest to satisfy that craving of putting skis to snow!
Pine Creek Rail Trail: 60-miles of this nearly level trail is groomed by Tiadaghton and Tioga State Forest staff.
Baldwin Point: This easy 2.8-mile (one way) trail leads to a scenic vista overlooking Young Woman’s Creek.
Broken Tip: This easy 2.6-mile loop is located south of Williamsport and passes a scenic vista looking northeast.
Francis X. Kennedy: This intermediate 4.6-mile loop adjoins the Sentiero Di Shay Trail and is named after a former district forester.
Sentiero Di Shay: A 13.2-mile trail that connects the Francis X. Kennedy, George Will, Ruth Will, and Pine Bog trails.
Pine Bog: An easy 1.9- mile loop traversing dense conifers, beautiful skiing after a fresh snow.
George B. Will: The first cross-country ski trail built in the district; this easy, 5.6-mile loop is named after a former forest ranger who was skiing the Black Forest as early as 1914.
Ruth Will: A fun 2.9-mile loop that passes a fire tower and includes a downhill if skied counter-clockwise. Named after George’s wife Ruth, who manned the fire tower for over 30 years.
Bear Paw: An easy 3.5-mile loop above Ravensburg State Park that shares a portion of its path with the Mid-State Trail.
Pitch Pine: An easy 2.4-mile loop that borders the Miller Run Natural Area and passes a vista overlooking Miller Run and the Pine Creek Valley.
Forest Fridays is published weekly by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Forestry.