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2.12.2017

Minister Creek Hike: Allegheny National Forest, Warren County, PA

The Minister Creek Natural Area is known by many hikers as having one of the premiere hikes in western PA. While the hike was nice as it got closer to the higher elevations, the lower areas consist of old logging roads that have not held up well with erosion issues. Make sure that you are not afraid to get a little mud on your hiking boots. With all of that said though, it was still a relaxing hike that I would rate at a mostly moderate level due to the maneuvering you will be doing in the lower sections of the hike around slides, with the upper portion of the hike being a little more advanced due to the steep elevation change near the highest points in the hike. While I would not go to this area simply for this hike, I would definitely stop again heading to or from the beautiful Hearts Content Natural Area, home to one of the finest stands of old growth forest within the state. 
This is right near the beginning of the hike. The trail is in good shape in this area, though the fallen trees leave you a good hint of the erosion issues to come.
A fork in the trail!
As you ascend, you get into a beautiful second growth forest with nice groves of hemlocks.

I don't know why, but this mushroom covered tree really caught my attention.
It is amazing to see how dozens, if not hundreds, of different organisms have feasted upon this dead tree.
This is the point where the hike started to kick in nice. You can see already see where you will reach the top. There are a number of these rock formations throughout the area.
Here is where the fun really kicks in with some nice elevation change. It is short, but this is my favorite kind of hiking.
More boulders and a heavy duty ascent
Getting there!
Looking backwards
Almost to the top!
Here is the start of the Minister Valley Overlook, the big reward for the hike.
This rocky outcropping gives you a commanding view of the Minister Creek Valley. This overlook is not unlike that of places like Wolf and Beam Rocks much further south in the Alleghenies.
I always love these types of overlooks
The rounded nature of the valley rims and the meandering Minister Creek make this overlook quite beautiful, not to mention the feeling of the crisp winter air always feels so invigorating.
The boulders look as if they could topple at any moment.
This seemed to be the only spot where any snow and ice remained throughout the entire hike.
Now headed back down....
Between the beautiful woods and overlook on this hike, it is definitely worth a stop if you are sightseeing around the Allegheny National Forest area. The trail system is about 6.6 miles long. If you come to hike here, you absolutely must check out the nearby Hearts Content Natural Area with its stunning old growth forest. 
Coordinates to parking area:
41.621430, -79.155604

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