Hike the Minister Creek Trail
Pennsylvania › Minister Creek Trailhead
Added by Mike Fennell
Explore the beauty of Pennsylvania along this 6.5 mile loop trail in the heart of the Allegheny National Forest. Stroll along the gentle Minister Creek, climb giant mossy boulders, and enjoy scenic views of the forest from the ridgetop.
The trailhead is located next to the Minister Creek Campground, which is 14.7 miles southwest from the town of Sheffield, via state route 666. If coming from the west on highway 62, the trailhead is located 20 miles from West Hickory along state route 666. There is a parking lot across the road from the campground, but the trailhead is on the same side of the road as the campground, less than a hundred feet to the west.
The trailhead is clearly marked with a hiker sign and begins uphill along an old forest road. Throughout the entire 6.5 mile loop there are grey diamond markers posted on the trees to lead the way. There are actually three loops within the Minister Creek Trail system, the south loop, the middle loop, and the north loop. The south loop is the shortest and breaks off to the left of the main trail about a quarter mile from the trailhead. The middle loop break off to the left about 0.6 miles from the trailhead. Both the south and middle loop make there way to the Minister Valley scenic overlook, so if you're trying to do a short hike with nice views then these would be good options. For those looking to do the full 6.5 mile hike, stay right on the main Minister Creek trail AKA the north loop.
After the middle loop fork, the trail will go downhill and meet up with Minister Creek. There are two old wooden bridges within a quarter mile of each other once you've reached the creek. After the second bridge, the trail will head uphill once again but on the opposite side hill from the one you just came down from. Once near the ridgetop, there are some neat looking cliffs with a lot of moss covering, some up to 100 feet tall. There are some slot canyons within them that are definitely worth exploring. From here, you will cross two streams over the next 1.5 miles before the Minister Creek Trail merges with the North County National Scenic Trail. Stay to the left and head west on the combined trail. The North County National Scenic Trail will break off to the right in just under a mile after its merge. Stay to the left and the Minister Creek Trail will begin heading south. Keep following the well marked grey diamonds on the trees and the trail will take you to the Minister Valley scenic overlook on top of the ridge about 2 miles from the North County National Scenic Trail intersection. There are more slot canyons to play around in once you're at this section. From here, there are three options to get back to the trailhead, the middle loop, the south loop, and a shortcut to the south loop. All three are marked at the top with signs, and again you will be able to follow grey diamond markers along either trail you choose. To complete the full Minister Creek Trail, take the south loop back to the trailhead.
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Honestly this trail was not worth it and I would not do it again nor would I really recommend it to anyone who wants a little bit of a thrill. It's your pretty standard basic trails. Pros: -Good length and relatively easy. Could do in one day with a fast pace or could prolong for two days if you wanted. -cute camp spots that you could stay overnight. About 3 miles in theres a nice area next to a river with many fire pits. It's flat and theres a ton of spots where you could pitch a tent. Cons: -TRAIL IS DEF NOT CLEARLY MARKED. It's only marked every 1/4-1/2 of a mile. Also there are many places where the dirt path isn't clear so there were many times where I was unsure if we were going the right way. We got lost twice and thank goodness we had gps with us. Also halfway through the trail they change the symbol they were using and then multiple trails intersect and all use different symbols and are also not clearly labeled so you can't tell which way you're supposed to go -trail not well maintained. We had to take so many detours because there were huge fallen trees in the middle of the path. Some we climbed over, some we climbed underneath, some you had to get creative. One time we had a 10 minute detour just to get around a humungous tree! Then there's this weird mile where your on the side of a hill and its a single file moat path where you're trying not to fall over because theres huge rocks blocking everything and theres grass up to your neck and of course the trail isn't well marked here either. -major lookout point is so so, maybe 5/10. And you can't really camp on it either since its all rock. You can camp a couple feet back from it, but then you lose the view and theres no water in the area either. Also its placed at a distance of 2 miles I believe? (guessing here a bit) so its really only good for a quick day hike. Or a hike, camp, and hike back the same path you came from. We took the north loop counterclockwise so as to save the lookout for the end, get some miles in, and not have to backtrace. -it was SUPER humid when we went and that was end of august. That definitely did not improve the trip. Overall, we made the best of it and had fun, but I would not recommend it to anyone, nor would I ever go there again.
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