Family Fun at Fred Woods Trail

After seeing ONE picture in the Elk State Forest map, Fred Woods Trail has been on my trail bucket list.  Fred Woods Trail is a 4.57 mile loop on Mason Hill Road in Elk County, Pennsylvania.  It is known for some AMAZING rock formations, which can be found on the north side of the trail.  A trail guide can be found here.

One weekend in Benezette, I suggested to Bryan that I take our kids, ages 9 and 12, along with their two friends, ages 7 and 13 up to Fred Woods for a short hike.  So, I packed all four kids in the truck and made my way down 555 listening to the some chatter that indicated excitement for some and reluctance for others.  I just wasn’t sure how hiking with four kids in the middle of July was going to go!

Turning onto Mason Hill Rd, we drove 2.75 miles up to the parking area where we unloaded all the kids, got everyone’s sneakers on (don’t try this in sandals!), and made sure everyone had water.  There is a .76 mile path to the loop, and I tried to quell the whining with promises of “really cool rocks.”  Two falls, one scratched knee, and one scraped side (WATCH FOR THE ROCKS ON THE TRAIL!!!!!), things were NOT looking good… until we started finding, well, COOL ROCKS.


And they climbed, and climbed, and fell some more, but spirits were high!  What was supposed to be an hour or so trip, turned into a solid 5 hour adventure.


What I didn’t realize was how large the rock formations are a couple miles in… as big as houses!  The kids were amazed, and I was impressed with some serious eye candy.

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I think that everyone was in awe.  The girls walked around with me, in sheer amazement, and as boys will be boys, they did more climbing.



After this, everyone was getting pretty tired, so we hiked out the way that we came.  I have to say that although we didn’t make the whole loop, it was totally worth it to watch all the kids having SO MUCH FUN in the woods!  What a beautiful, and memorable, experience for all!  We are surely going back for another rock climbing adventure soon!

Post any Fred Woods memories or adventures in the comments below!

Happy Trails,


Bucktail Path… Miles of Ferns and Mt. Laurel!

I. love. trails.

I started running trails in the spring of 2015, and it has kind of become an obsession for me.  I have one trail running friend who loves checking out new spots, and we actually stumbled upon this stretch of the Bucktail Path by accident after we bypassed another trail head.


Bucktail Path is a 34 mile trail that starts in Sinnemahoning, Pennsylvania and traverses through the Johnson Run Natural Area and Elk State Forest.  Our intentions were to run the Square Timber trail, near the village of Sterling Run in Cameron County, but we drove right past!  After studying the map, we changed plans and were aiming to pick up Bucktail at the trail head at the intersection of Stillhouse Rd. and Ridge Rd. (see red arrow on the above image). Parking is problematic, so we ended up driving a bit further and parking at the Square Timber Vista, which was another spectacular, serendipitous find!

Square Timber Vista

For a full map, please see the PA DCNR website here.  This was a hands-down GORGEOUS trail!  We ran about three trail miles out and back (see red dot on the map for our turn-around point), and could not stop saying how beautiful the scenery was.

Bucktail Path

There is some weaving in and out of the woods across a gas line right-of-way, but even these clearings were stunning!  Back in the forest, there were ferns as far as we could see!  The trail was very friendly, and very run-able.  We did do quite a bit of climbing, but more between miles two and three (and on the back-side, of course).

Ferns along Bucktail


I would have to say that one of my favorite aspects to this run was the fact that the Mountain Laurel were blooming!  On May 5, 1933, the Mountain Laurel was declared the Pennsylvania state flower by Governor Gifford Pinchot, and for good reason!  This showy shrub blooms across our beautiful state from June through July, predominantly in wooded areas.

Mt. Laurel in bloom

Native Mt. Laurel

Just a short drive from Camp Eagle’s Nest, this section of the Bucktail path is a perfect day hike (or run!) for the intermediate level trail enthusiast!  Make plans for a June hike, and you will not be disappointed by the spectacular floral display!

Happy Trails,