Like your old-growth forests and rocky ridgelines with a side of solitude? Thru-hike the moderate Bucktail Path, one of Pennsylvania’s least-hiked trails, and you’ll have 34 miles of quiet mountain scenery to yourself. From the trail’s southern terminus, hike 2.1 miles up a dirt road along the Left Fork of the Grove Run stream. At the top of the plateau, bear left to enter Elk State Forest and the Johnson Run Natural Area, where you’ll wander among 200 acres of old-growth hemlock and hardwoods. Continue along a ridgetop for 1.5 miles, then descend to a wooded campsite along Brooks Run. The trail climbs back to the ridge, then drops steeply, crossing several streams on the way to small waterfalls and more prime campsites at Rock Run. The path rolls gently to McNuff Branch; hike 4 miles along its banks, passing old beaver dams and grassy meadows as you go. Climb out of the stream’s gorge, then turn left on Pine Camp Trail to reach more campsites at Salt Run. Roller-coaster through hemlocks and shady glens for about 4 miles to the trail’s end in Sizerville State Park.
Info: (814) 846-3353; www.dcnr.state.pa.us/forestry/stateforests/elk.aspx
Hike adapted from Backpacking Pennsylvania, by Jeff Mitchell (Stackpole Books)
Location: 41.3261184692383, -78.0966339111328