Hickory Creek Wilderness Trail is a 12.4 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Limestone Twp, PA that offers the chance to see wildlife and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, trail running, camping, and backpacking and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.
Directions from Warren, PA: The trailhead parking lot is located at the picnic area within Hearts Content Recreation Area, 15 miles southwest of Warren, PA. US 6 and Township Road T3005 meet in the middle of Warren at the Hickory Street Bridge. TR. 3005 begins here, crossing the Allegheny River toward Warren General Hospital (bear left away from the hospital after you cross the bridge). Follow TR. 3005 about 11 miles to its junction with a marked township road which leads to Hearts Content Recreation Area (four miles).
A lovely walk in the woods, like most of the Allegheny National Forest. The trail is in a Wilderness Area and the blazes are being deliberately allowed to fade. The footpath is occasionally hard to spot, especially in areas without much undergrowth; there are also some spots where large new-fallen trees are blocking the footpath and picking it up on the other side can require a little bit of casting about. Aside from the occasional challenge in trail-finding, though, my husband and I found the hiking to be very easy, even speedy, without much in the way of elevation changes. Not much in the way of notable geographic features, but the trail does travel through several kinds of habitat, even passing a few small meadows.
In early September we found low water at Coon Run and Jack's Run, although both did have enough water to be viable water sources for camping. Good established campsites readily apparent from the trail at both of these streams. On the east side of the loop the trail approaches a small unnamed feeder branch of Hickory Creek that also appeared to have adequate water and some established campsites further off the trail, although we did not investigate these personally. Smaller side streams and springs were generally dry.
We visited during Labor Day weekend (September 3-4) and saw 5 or 6 other groups of backpackers (in addition to numerous dayhikers on the section closest to the trailhead). In the morning, birding was excellent although we did not see any larger wildlife. Because it's a wilderness area, human noise from ATVs, gunfire, motorboats, etc, was at a minimum. (Yay!)
An additional note: I think the trailhead and connector trail have been moved from the original description above. Parking is no longer at the picnic area; there's a separate trailhead parking lot directly off Hearts Content Road -- look for a sign.
Hiked this trail this past weekend and did an overnight with some friends. Pretty good trail overall. I like how you get a little bit of everything on this loop (inclines, declines, different types of vegetation, etc.). There were several other pre-established, but not official, campsite areas set up. Just look for the fire pits. I think we'll definitely be back again at some point.
Two things worth nothing to my fellow hikers -
- When we went (in August) a lot of the streams were dried up. There were 2 or 3 that we came across, but several of them were tried out. Just keep this in mind when filtering water.
- Wear pants. There are some gnarly plants along a few stretches that look furry, but when they hit your skin they are really really irritating (burning and itching sensations).
We also didn't see that much wildlife. Just a few deer here and there. This was somewhat surprising as we had been told there was a high chance we'd see bears.
The trail head parking was easy to find using the GPS. It was me, my girlfriend, our small dog, and our two goats; so we had a crew! We planned this trail as a two day backpacking trip. From the parking lot start point to the "actual" trail head (the loop) was about a mile and half. The actual loop is 12 miles, so with the loop and walk to the parking area totals around 14 miles. The trail is pretty easy to follow most of the way. It is blazed with orange, yellow, and some white markings. It starts off really strong orange markings and then fades to yellow once you're on the loop. We only lost the trail twice but they were in pretty difficult areas. The first one around mile 5-6, you have to take a hard right over the creek. We had to go up further because our goats don't like water
I have been here several times in all the seasons and enjoyed it each time. I only saw other people once or twice so that's a good bonus too.
I have been here several times in all the seasons and enjoyed it each time. I only saw other people once or twice so that's a good bonus too no need to be crowded.
First and most importantly this trail is NOT the listed 11 miles. The loop itself is roughly 11 miles but there's a 1.7 mile trail you must hike from the parking area before the loop even begins, making it around 15 miles in total length. There are several deep stream crossings that will take time to ford or avoid, so plan and allow for it to take longer than expected. Roughly 8 hours to complete. This area of the forest is also not as dense as it is in other areas, making the trail harder to follow. Trail blazed are few and far between, badly faded and difficult to follow. Aside from all that it is a nice area to hike through. Very gradual inclines, not very rocky, and scenic. Rated 3/5 and would consider this more of moderate difficulty due to the difficulty following the trail and the stream crossings.
My wife and I hiked this in October 2015.
There’s a fairly long walk from trailhead to the trail itself. A sign marks the start of the north or south trail route. We went north. Camped after about 3 hours of walking – ran out of daylight. The main camping area is about 4 or 5 hours from start with a creek and several tiny streams. No water until that point.
Overall trail and area are very beautiful. Some great views and rock formations. Hike has gentle climbs except for ¾ of way through there is a steady, long climb.
Trail is very poorly marked and hard to follow at spots. Many blazes are faded. Sometimes easier to look on the backs or trees to find blazes marking the south route – those were sometimes when northbound blazes were not.
The first part of the north route had the most places where the trail isn’t well marked, especially on the more open areas with fewer large trees. Look for evidence of trail, such as worn/carved trees laying across path.
Trail was leaf covered and wet – best done with boots. Plenty of rocks. If you have trekking poles I highly recommend one in each hand. Saved me many slips. Many trees down blocking path.
There will be a few water crossings – plan for stepping in a few inches of water.
We lost the trail around the camping/creek area. There’s a hard left turn when you hit water but we missed it the first time. There are three stone fire pits along trail. The most elaborate one with plenty of flat rocks for sitting/cooking is the first you will come across. You will only see it if you’ve missed the trail turn since it’s further down the creek.
A nice wooded trail to hike and stay overnight on, plunty of places to throw up a tent off trail. Good water sources, many small creeks. Note: the original northern part of the trail was relocated many years ago due to the blow down of a lot of trees. The last time I hiked that area was in 2004 and there were a few parts that you had to climb over many trees, plus thoses areas also had standing water.
One of my go-to trails. It is easy to back-pack this trail. Water sources are plentiful. Trees are beautiful. I have seen next to no wildlife on this trail. Beware the sketchy trail markers. Even the trail guide warns of a trail that may be difficult to follow due to the old (faded) or poorly spaced markings. ...Found a group of lost hikers here once... We got out okay and all survived...LOL
I hike this every year in May
a very nice, relatively easy hike. spent one nite. nice loop.