Best Hikes Ever: Elk Trail, PA

Track through dense forests ringing with bugling.
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Track through dense forests ringing with bugling.

| BEST HIKES EVER HOME |

Native elk disappeared from the Keystone State in 1867, but thanks to restoration efforts beginning in 1913 using Rocky Mountain elk, the Pennsylvania herds have grown to more than 600 members. BACKPACKER was formerly based in eastern PA, so we’re no strangers to Hawk Mountain, the Allegheny, or the AT, but we seldom ventured to the state’s center.

Start this 16-mile backpack from the trailhead on PA 555 and tackle some of the country’s newest elk habitat. Go in October for bugling. The trail is light on mountain views and waterfalls, but it makes up for it by passing through leaf-crowned mountain laurel groves and about half a dozen shadowy ravines. Dispersed camping along trickling Dents Run lies in one of the state’s most secluded spots.

Maps USGS quads Weedville and Dent Run

Contact (814) 486-3353; dcnr.state.pa.us/forestry