Hickory Creek Wilderness Trail

MODERATE 37 reviews
#4 of 40 trails in

Hickory Creek Wilderness Trail is a 12.4 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Limestone Twp, Pennsylvania 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.

DISTANCE
12.4 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1266 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dog friendly

backpacking

camping

hiking

trail running

views

wildlife

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).

backpacking
6 days ago

Hiked this trail with my 3 kids (9, 12, & 14-years old) as an overnight starting on 6/9/18. We had a wonderful time and were lucky to catch a cool spell with nights in the 50’s and days in the 70’s. This was my kids first backpacking experience and upon finishing I am happy with my choice of Hickory Creek as a starter trip. We took the southern portion first and camped at Jack’s Run for the night, finishing the trail the next day.

The trail is topographically mild with little to speak of in the way of elevation changes. That said, there is a good diversity of habitat along the trail with the southern leg of the loop being a closer canopy-covered section, the bend north has some meadow areas and then northern leg more openly wooded.

I am glad that I read the other reviews here, because as warned stinging nettle on the southern section is dominant and we all wore pants on day 1 in preparation for it. By the northern portion the nettle ends and ferns are the dominant undergrowth. Some reviewers here claim that the trail is hard to follow, but in our case and season, I found the course pretty obvious and that blazes, although dim, were rather frequent and easy to follow. The trail gets a bit sketchy to follow around both Coon’s Run and Jack’s Run were most of the fire-ring campsites have been made and beaten down side trails occur, but we were able to find the course again in short time.

Both Coon’s and Jack Runs were following well and water was easy to find and filter. We saw some black bear scat, but never an actual bear. Our animal sightings were deer, small mammals, birds, and a single newt.

We were off trail by lunch on day 2 and spent one more night at Heart’s Content Campground where that night the fireflies put on a beautiful show for us in the meadow. I’d recommend that people give this trail a leisurely overnight or long day. Time and obligations make it hard to get out, but I hope that my kids and I will be able to make the time more often now that they’ve enjoyed their first backcountry camping adventure.

1 month ago

Hiked the first few miles as an out and back before thunderstorms arrived. Fun trail, lots of downed trees, beautiful orange Eastern newts, and some interesting rock formations. Out of paper maps at the trailhead. Three other cars in the parking lot, but I didn't see anyone on the trail.

1 month ago

Well marked and easy trail to navigate on foot...bikers may want to wait till it dries a bit more. Nice.

7 months ago

Overall pretty easy hike. Other than an area about 1/2 way where there are some campsites, the trail was easy to follow even with freshly fallen leaves covering the trail.

Not much for scenery, but a nice length for a long day hike or overnight hike and camp.

camping
8 months ago

Very easy well marked trail in my opinion. Found a great camp sight fairly early on the south loop. No water at sight but there was a spring about 10 minutes back up the trail. Could hear the campgrounds in the distance but they quieted down right before 10 PM. Read all the other posts they saved us some confusion.

hiking
9 months ago

Lots of fun on a two day overnight with my wife. Easy hike with only gradual inclines and declines. Lots of downed trees to transverse and impressive ax work by dedicated volunteers. Traveled south on the loop with plenty of nettles so wear ur pants on this section. Nice camping spots at Coons with established fire rings and good rocks for sitting and cooking. not many people on a raining weekend, but a few day hiking groups. Lost the trail for a min. at coons as it crosses the creek to the right, no big deal. Camped at Jacks Run, plenty of great sights here and plenty of water. As u head north from Jacks you will encounter a mass of downed trees that require some navigation and bushwhacking to get around. Lost about 20 minutes locating the trail again. Not a lot of wildlife; deer, frogs, birds in the AM.

backpacking
9 months ago

Did half the loop and found a nice camp, existing fire ring, some spots for water, but definitely bring your own. Did the other half loop the next morning, went off trail a bit in the halfway corner and ended up on a game trail before backtracking. Quiet, some good forest covered with a canopy of large trees. No bear, some coyote scat, some newts, lots of singing birds in the morning. Enjoyed this trail and thankful for the folks that maintain it. Pretty impressive seeing the ax cuts from some hard work back there. Definitely recommend pants for this trail.

hiking
10 months ago

First of all I'd like to thank the previous users on this trail who mentioned the stinging nettle. My wife and I usually hike wearing shorts, and if we did not have our zip on legs for our hiking pants, we would have been miserable on this hike. The south end of the loop is literally covered in stinging nettle with some of it 5-6 feet tall. After crossing Jack's Run you're good to go with the shorts. We met a group of 8-10 backpackers who were out there for a three day trip maintaining the trail. Since this is a wilderness area, no power tools allowed. They were cutting through the many trees on the trail with axes. It is dedicated souls like this who make hiking and backpacking possible for the rest of us. We thanked them for volunteering. The large blow down of trees north of Jacks Run, now has a new re-route to the down hill side of it. This is a beautiful area and we were able to do the entire trail in less the seven hours.

hiking
11 months ago

Nice trail. I only did part of it but I did see two black bear while on my hike. I will be coming back to backpack the entire loop.

hiking
11 months ago

We did this trail as a day hike. I think it ended up being about 13.7 miles. There are a few places in the trail that aren't marked well. It looked like some people had attempted to mark the trail with stones. Thanks for the help! The scenery is great and changes frequently! Just north of Jacks Run there is a section of the trail that has multiple trees down. I would estimate it's at least a 50 yard section. Just pay attention to the tracks of other hikers and you will be able to navigate around it. This is a good hike. We've done this hike two years in a row now.

backpacking
11 months ago

Backpacked this trail 6/24 to 6/25. Had nice information board at trail parking lot, which included a hiker sign in. The trail has a 1.5 mile hike to the actual loop, this is something to take note of. At about a half mile in there is a split in the trail, this is not the loop. Stay left at this intersection to save yourself 45 mins of extra hiking towards a dead end. The actual loop will have a wooden sign, this is where you can decide to go left or right on the loop. The trail was beautiful, acres of high canopy forest, with the forest floor covered in ferns. Markers are faded but consistently marked along the trail. Recent storms have knocked down several trees over portions of the path, look for hikers markings on trees (carved arrows, shoelaces) these will help you find the trail after getting around the downed trees. 3 or 4 streams that have to be crossed (only fell in once). About 10 cars in parking lot and only interacted with 3 pairs of hikers which was nice. Only reason rated 4/5 stars was due to the large amounts of stinging nettle that lines much of the southeast portion of the loop and the unmarked split leading to the dead end. Only about 7 to 8 total hours of hiking between the two days. Overall had a great time in a really cool place.

trail running
11 months ago

Listed as running (NOT A RUNNING TRAIL) I'm an avid trail runner and there were only stretches when you were in the pines when you could actually run. Spent most of our time stepping over downed trees every 20 yards. Trail was nice for hiking but go elsewhere if you plan to run.

11 months ago

We backpacked this trail in late June, 2017. Overall it's a nice trail. The south side of the loop has plenty of nettles so be prepared for that. Elevation changes were not too aggressive. It's easy to get turned around in a few places as the trail disappears while traversing around fallen trees. Also, blazes are fading or nonexistent. I believe this is due to it being a wilderness trail. We started on the south end to get the longer leg out of the way on the first day. Approximately 7 miles. We finished the loop on the north end which didn't have nearly as many nettles as the south end. We camped at Jack's run. There were a handful of sites available, All appeared to have a good access to the nearby water.

backpacking
Sunday, April 30, 2017

Nice long trip takes you through a diverse area. One big stream that you have to cross. Great for a small 2 day trip

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Markers are sparse, trail often hard to see, but that just adds to the allure.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Love it

backpacking
Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The trail is great. I went there with a small group and my dog. Great weekend trip. We were there in late April. The streams were flowing very nicely. Lots of downed trees to navigate around. All and all a nice trail. I will definitely be back.

backpacking
Saturday, October 15, 2016

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.

backpacking
Monday, August 08, 2016

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.

backpacking
Monday, June 06, 2016

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

camping
Saturday, March 05, 2016

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.

camping
Saturday, March 05, 2016

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.

hiking
Monday, December 28, 2015

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.

hiking
Monday, October 26, 2015

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.

hiking
Saturday, March 24, 2012

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.

camping
Friday, August 26, 2011

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

hiking
Friday, September 03, 2010

a very nice, relatively easy hike. spent one nite. nice loop.

backpacking
1 month ago

backpacking
1 month ago

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