Hiking The Black Forest Trail and Fishin’ Slate Run

By: Levi Opsatnic

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I’ll start this one by saying that I really hope all of you were able to make it outside for last week’s unseasonably warm weather; I know that I did and I don’t regret a single second of it.

My week began, and per usual, I checked the weather. My eyes scanned across the weekly forecast whenever I realized that we were looking at a few days that would creep into the mid-70s. Being the beginning of November, this was a bit strange. But whenever you enjoy things like sleeping outside and casting flies to fish in fairly remote places, this is just the kind of weather you welcome whenever winter is so close-by. So with that said, I began to plan just that–an overnighter where I can count on some solid fishing the next day. I started weighing my options to see what fit. I’ll say, I’m a huge fan of everything around Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon so my mind had a difficult time straying away from that idea, I was immediately sold.

Friday comes around, the weather was nothing short of perfect. So a buddy and I geared up and began the drive into the gorge. We weren’t a mile beyond Waterville, PA before we saw a small (by small, I mean around 300 pounds) black bear. He sauntered across the road and made some pretty intimidating eye contact with me before he scurried into the woods. Probably like a lot of people, I really love to see a Pennsylvanian bear, and this guy was no exception. Though, I’d be lying if I said that this sight didn’t make me feel a bit uneasy about camping a few miles away from any sort of civilization.

We arrived in Brown, PA a bit after noon and began our journey at the head of the Black Forest Trail. The Black Forest Trail borders Slate Run, which is easily one of Pennsylvania’s best examples of a wild trout stream; and not only that, but it also provides a great opportunity for a trip centered around a night of camping and a day of fly fishing.

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We hiked what seemed like a few miles before finding a pretty solid camping spot. Since we planned on a pretty early morning, we decided to set up camp, chow down on some food, and relax until our sleeping bags summoned us.

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I was sound asleep before 10:00 PM and awake around 6:00 AM; it really is something how easy it is to drift asleep, wake up so early, but still feel perfectly refreshed whenever you’re in the woods. After a hearty breakfast of some coffee, oatmeal, and raisins, we stashed our equipment and hit the stream.

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Things got off to a pretty good start; I landed a small brook trout at one of the first riffles and then a hearty brown a few hundred yards upstream. Whenever I’m fishing wild streams, I generally like to cover a lot of the stream. Fortunately, Slate Run offers (in my opinion) some of the best scenery in all of Pennsylvania’s wild trout streams. After covering three miles or so of Slate Run, I got the idea to finish our day up around the Tomb Flats area of Pine Creek. I know that there are usually some large fish stacked up here and I was really hoping to get into one of them.

So after retrieving our equipment and heading back to the car, we made the drive down to Pine Creek. However, Mother Nature seemed to have a different idea of how our day should end and decided to just dump rain on us about ten minutes after wading into Pine Creek. We quickly headed to the car and ripped our waders off before starting the drive home. Almost needless to say, none of those large trout were landed.

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As I arrived back in State College, I noticed that this warm front was seemingly coming to an end. However, I was more than thankful to spend what may be my last seventy degree of the year in the presence of Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon.

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