Trail Map – see page 2 of this PDF. The Mid-State Trail is the orange trail in the middle of the page. While that trail is long, Penns Creek Path is the shorter section in the middle.
Trails: Penns Creek Path (note: This trail is shared with the Mid-State trail in this section – blazed orange.)
[TL;DR: A perfect day. I did this hike with my dad, six plus miles on a rail trail. I didn’t have a paper map of the route, but you really can’t get lost, the trail is an old rail bed. Even though the temperatures reached into the 80s, there was a nice breeze the entire time.]
The last time I hiked rail trails was over two years ago, so this would be the first rail trail in a while. And I haven’t been in Pennsylvania in a while either. A trip out to see my parents afforded me the time to hike this trail. A quick note on the day. The park websites in Pennsylvania are not like what I normally link to when I hike in New Jersey or New York. And, it took quite a bit of searching to find an online “map” of the hike. If you know of better resources, please leave a comment and I’ll update. Take Route 45 to Weikert Road. Follow that to the end. Cherry Run Road will come in from the right (at a bridge.) The road will continue to diminish until you come to the Cherry Run Road parking lot which will be heavily used by fisherman. The rail trail (portion of the Mid-State Trail) will be to the right. If you take the woods road at the end of the parking lot, it will take you to the Fish And Game cabin (which is what we did.) Ultimately that trail will intersect the Mid-State /Penns Creek Path.
There was bright sun and 80 degree weather while we hiked. I’m normally half way done with trails by the time we reached the trailhead at 10:00. And there were a good number of people out and about; I’d say the majority of people were fishing Penns Creek, which will be right to your left on the way out on this out-and-back trail. There are plenty of views of the creek, and you will pass many spur trails that head down to the water for fishing access; some of those trails are sketchier than others.
I didn’t miss the Mountain Laurel blooms this week, it was all over the trail. I’d guess this area of Pennsylvania is a week behind New York in terms of blooms.
Here’s a good shot of what the trail looks like.
About a mile down the trail you will come to a bunch of locations where there are many rockfalls. Part of me wanted to scramble up, but it would have taken quite a while. I believe the top of this would be parts of Sawmill Mountain.
Looking left (across the creek) you can see the ridgeline of White Mountain. And yes, I believe there is a trail along that ridge.
Near “the end” of this section of the trail you will come to a little cottage with a picnic table out front. This makes a great place to stop for a snack. About a quarter of a mile down the path from there you will come to the old rail tunnel. The tunnel was upgraded/fixed/improved in 2015 – you don’t need a headlamp when going through (though it might be nice.) I’m told it was very dark before the improvements were made.
Continuing on past the tunnel you will pass a couple of residences before you come to the bridge over Penns Creek. Water was low today due to the fact that we haven’t had much rain. There were lots of people fishing, though no one seemed to have caught anything. Here’s a shot of Penns Creek looking north.
The trail will continue past some camps to a western parking area for Po Paddy State Park. (If you click on the hiking tab on the website, you’ll see mention of the Penns Creek trail (outside the park) and its description.) The Mid-State trail turns left at the parking area and heads into Po Paddy State Park. We continued down Penns Creek trail for a while, which followed the creek on our right. Ultimately, we turned around and retraced our steps. However, the trail crosses the creek and continues on.