Pinchot Trail - North

MODERATE 79 reviews
#1 of 2 trails in

Pinchot Trail - North is a 10.1 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Gouldsboro, Pennsylvania that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until August. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

10.1 miles
839 feet

dog friendly




trail running






Vista with observation deck, rhododendron forest, varied ecosystems and terrain. With numerous side trails, the possibilities for exploring the 23+ miles of Lackawanna State Forest's Pinchot Trail system are plentiful. There are several wet spots, as well a few rocky areas, so bring proper footwear. Also, a few of the trails pass near, and occasionally through, private land. Please respect the rights of local landowners, and stay on the marked trails. The lookout tower on top of Big Pine Hill is accessible by road, so expect to have company, especially during the weekend. NOTE: A sign at the trailhead says that the Pinchot Trail is blazed blue, when in fact most of the blue blazes have been painted over in ORANGE.

1 month ago

TICKS EVERYWHERE. Trail is poorly maintained and overgrown throughout. Our group found literally dozens of ticks over two days, primarily dog ticks, but also two deer ticks.

Trail maps available online are wildly outdated (over 10 years) and there are no detailed maps at the trailhead - only an area map that reduces the entirety of the Pinchot North and South loops to a 2 inch by 3 inch simplified representation of the trail network. Formerly mapped trails are either no longer listed or no longer maintained, but this is unclear since they wouldn't fit on this tiny map. Yellow dot trails appear in multiple places along northern loop, but it is not always clear which trails they correspond to (Pinchot trail is orange; ALL other trails are yellow). Some trail markers do not follow standard patterns to determine direction of trail, and at some point in time, they switched from Blue to Orange, and did not thoroughly ensure all markers were updated. Additionally, many revisions have been made to the trail such that miles/hours of distance are added as compared to former routes.

Other reviews mention "swampy trails", but that doesn't accurately describe the miles of trail under a foot of water. At one point, we mistook part of the trail for a body of water that was curiously unmapped (the trail had become an 8 foot wide, several foot deep river). Waterproof boots are hardly enough, and it's likely that you will sink and take on water, even with extreme caution.

I had done this trail under good, dry conditions years ago, and the scenery is quite beautiful, but clearly this trail has been heavily neglected, and is not suitable for use under anything less than perfect conditions - and even that is questionable.

2 months ago

Definitely a great hike. Yes sections are a bit grown in, because it's the woods

2 months ago


3 months ago


6 months ago

Enjoyed this trail to the fullest! Hiked and camped the South Loop during the winter months with my wife and Dee Ohh Gee! I’ll be stomping on more ground hopefully soon.

overgrown which was only an issue after a short rain - wet legs. Still a great time. You can wander your way to a lookout tower and they constructed a "cabinet" on the trail with a notebook and pens to log your explorations!

8 months ago

lots of overgrowth, but overall an awesome trail with very low traffic.

9 months ago

Great trail, I would have given 5 stars but there was allot of overgrowth. We had a great time. We camped at painters creek.

10 months ago

Good trail for the beginning backpacker like us. Did the whole Pinchot Trail AUG 25-27 201. Parked at the north loop parking area and started hiking CCW at 5 pm on Friday AUG 25 and got to the Painter's Creek camp at 7:45, 5.5 miles total. Ate Wawa hoagies that night and went to sleep. Got up the next day and hiked 15 miles including a side trip to the Pine Hill observation tower to the very south end camp near Phelps Road (?). Then finished the last 7 miles on Sunday morning with a early lunch stop at Stone Tower which is a pile of rocks. Nice camps and easy trail from the up/down perspective. However, this is a relatively challenging trail for other reasons: (1) many rocky sections that require deft footwork and good footwear and (2) swampy sections that can get ugly. We all wore real hiking boots are were happy that we did. Probably will not come back to this exact hike considering there are so many other trails in the region and this was pretty boring overall. Again, this is a good backpack trip to dial-in your backpacking systems and get used to putting some miles in.

10 months ago

Enjoyed the hike. Will be back

11 months ago

Decided to do this trail for a nice weekend out. Set up camp early with overcast. Started to rain around 11pm and didn't stop until 8 am. Needless to say the trail flooded and we waded through almost knee deep water at spots. Made it interesting to watch the trail and creek beds go from bone dry to raging currents over night.

Monday, July 03, 2017

I've hiked the north section twice, once around to the overlook, once coming back on the frank gantz connection trail. Also backpacked the entire trail starting at the trailhead in the middle and going north first, then down to the southern part for the second day. Overall the trail is easy to follow, well marked and relatively flat. Some rocky sections but there are two problems with the trail. First the blueberry bushes and scrub oak encroaches on the trail quite a bit so you're constantly walking through the brush. The second problem is that there are numerous swampy sections, mostly in the southern portion but the north has some as well. This is the reason for the 3 star rating. However, there are a lot of great camping spots and woods in different growth stages. I'd definitely come back again

Monday, May 29, 2017

Parking for the trailhead is at the intersection of Bear Lake Rd and Pittson Rd. I used this map ( which also shows the connecting Watres Trail (yellow blazes) that loops around and rejoins the Pinchot Trail. I branched off on the (much less used) Watres Trail which is quite rocky in places, and generally quite overgrown (definitely more challenging than the Pinchot Trail). However I found a great camping spot where the Watres Trail first meets Panther Creek.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Went on a solo backpacking trip 2/18/17 to 2/19/17. My first ever solo trip. I did the north loop following the orange blazes on the first day with a side trip to the observation tower then down the mountain following the yellow blazes. I camped about 2 miles from the parking lot among some tall pines. There were some beautiful views. I especially liked the boulder covered creek! The trails were snow covered on Saturday and a bit treacherous in spots due to the roots and rocks. The weather warmed up through the day and ended with a high of about 54 degrees and a low through the night of 42 which caused snow to melt on the trails and turned them into little swamps. All in all it was a great first experience. My total trip was just under 9 miles. Will visit this again.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

I really enjoyed backpacking the whole thing. Pretty level. Lots of nice camping spots in the south loop but an awesome hemlock bedding place in the north. Great for beginning backpackers. We stayed two nights.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Solid trail. Only did south section. Great camp spots, great views

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Great park and trail. Definitely download the map at the park website. The trails vary a lot, some are rocky footpaths and others are wide, flat grassy trails. It is nice to have the option of what kind of trail to walk on. The view at the vista is great! Definitely recommend this trail!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Great trail for beginner backpacking. Relatively flat and easy to find campsites.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Completed the trail (both north and south loops) April 1 and 2 2016 to record my first solo hike. Pretty challenging in the rain and cold (glad I brought my cold gear). Camped on the banks of a beaver pond between 2 dams. The trail was in good shape even though it rained both days a pair of boots with gaiters kept my feet dry. Didn't see any other person the entire length of the trail.

Monday, March 14, 2016

beautiful and quite place to hike, endless amounts of wilderness it seemed! just curious, what color marker everyone else was following, i thought i was on this 10 mile trail but turns out the orange marker is a 25 mile trail!!!! quite a difference haha. is there a trail at this location that is 10 miles and maybe i followed the wrong color marker??

Sunday, August 16, 2015

great beginner trail! pretty rocky trail but so much fun it's a great workout, great campsites!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

had a great hike! hung the hammocks down by the beaver dams and unfortunately got rained on the next morning to cancel the rest of the southern loop. trail needs a little opening up. will definitely be back in the winter!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

I completed this trail on 18-19 June 2015. I picked a rainy couple of days to walk this trail. As a result I walked in standing water for most of this 23 mile loop. A lot of the trail is over grown and has not seen much maintenance, as a result I was treated to a very thorough "Hiker Wash" from all of the wet leaves and branches that were constantly brushing me as I walked. I spent the night under a very large hemlock just on the south side of the loop, that was very nice and mostly dry. My second day I completed the Southern portion of the loop, passing by a large beaver dam and nice stream. This trail was very well marked and easy to follow. Pick a dry time of year and you will enjoy this trail.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Coldest my feet have ever been. It snowed the weekend before we were there and then was 70 degrees while I was there. Snow run-off filled the trail, and my old leaky boots let copious amounts of ice water in. But, over the trail was nice.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

First time backpacking and it was a solo trip. I hiked the North loop for a 1-night trip. I enjoyed this trail a lot, but it was certainly challenging with some rocky sections, at least for a beginner. I would recommend gaiters too, with the trail being so narrow, you are walking into brush almost constantly.

I ended up camping at the north most site of the loop. I anticipated being able to obtain water at Painter's Creek as others have mentioned, but by the time I reached the campsite, a big storm rolled in, and I had not found the Creek. Fortunately, I had brought 4L of water since it was my first time and didn't want to take a chance. I think I might have gotten into some trouble otherwise.

Once I found Painter's the next day, it seemed like a very shallow and slow moving stream that looked more like a swamp, so I don't think I would have preferred to get water from it anyway.

Incredibly diverse forest in my opinion, and the vista at the end of the loop was a great reward!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Did this loop as my first backpacking trip. Terrain was pretty rocky and there were some downed trees across the trail, but other than that it is a really nice little trail. Lots of different scenery, and it switches between ferns, pines, and rocks frequently enough that you don't get bored looking at it. Only one water source with decent camping that we saw, and all three sites around it were claimed by 4pm. Not really an issue if you're a fast hiker or like to carry lots of water. Good spot to refill halfway through the loop. The trail to the top of the little rock formation by the Pine Hill Vista is a bit overgrown, but if you drop your pack you can scramble up through the brush.

Friday, July 04, 2014

We did the south loop going clockwise from the Bear Pond Rd parking site and began with the McClintock’s Gate Trail. Very well maintained trail and was well marked. We stayed overnight at the southernmost Choke Creek campsite. Nice site but regardless of what you may read, don’t depend on this water for drinking. Phosphates and other contaminants make it unusable unless a survival situation. Tried boiling and chlorinating the water and was awful. Do yourself a favor and take the necessary water. That night, heard packs of coyotes howling a few hundred yards away on the hunt. The next day, we found another 5-6 campsites heading north along the creek. After the trail breaks from the creek, heading back to Tannery Rd, there were another 5-6 campsites so lots of places to camp. Found a heavily used beaver dam\pond along the way as well. Nice trip and looking forward to doing the north loop. And yes, plenty of ticks and the blueberry’s weren’t ripe yet either.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Excellent trail! Very diverse ecosystem, no huge hills. I thought the trail was less rocky than most PA trails. I would not want to do this trail in the rain or after a lot of rain. It looks like it could get pretty muddy!

The only downside was the hike on the road (parked just north of Bear Lake). Next time I will park on Tannery Road and use the snow mobile trails to avoid the hot road. Other than that - excellent. Attached a DCNR map link.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Completed the Southern Loop and found the system a pleasure. A limited fresh tree fall's across some trail sections with NO problems getting past them. Trail was clean and offered varied sights.

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