If you’re looking to trail ride your horse or drive your horse at Black Moshannon State Park and surrounding Moshannon State Forest, we have trail information which may be useful, and we’ve just added pictures of some of the trails. This is up to date as of 2023.
Tick Alert! Rode from Benner Run on Oct 13, 2023 and pulled more than THIRTY ticks from my horse, despite spraying his legs with pyrethrin before leaving. Never seen anything like it. We were not in any high grass or brush on the ride. Temps were 40 overnight and high about 60. If riding there before a hard freeze, I suggest applying a strong permethrin spray (more potent and long-lasting than pyrethrin) and checking yourself and your horse carefully after riding. We've had no significant problem earlier this year, so don't know what the deal is. Park info does say ticks are bad there.
New Map Experiments
We are experimenting with a new live “slippy” map of horse riding trails and horse driving trails using Mapbox.
The new map shows color coded horse trailer parking:
official horse trailer parking
horse trailers fit, best for off-peak/off-season use
may be usable but not ideal (small, tight access, noise, etc.)
The Moshannon State Forest office does have a horseback riding map they updated in 2023 but I don’t know if it’s published or how you get it. It includes a lot of gravel roads that can be ridden, but I’d much prefer to avoid in favor of actual trails.
We’ve mapped a number of rides you might find helpful, trying for loops as much as possible to keep things interesting.
You can view live Graphhopper maps of these routes and modify them. You can download a GPX track to follow with your navigation device if you wish. See tips on using Graphhopper maps at the bottom of this page.
Riding from Benner Run
Just off Rt 504 (Rattlesnake Pike), this large lot is the main equestrian day-use parking and a great starting point for many ride options.
Loops mostly give a cool-down ending on level Ridge Trail. Usually your device can reverse the route if you want to go the other way.
All trails involved are pretty easy. Road sections are gravel with very little traffic, just kind of boring.
Staying north of Route 504
|Route or Nickname
|POA-Benner (1.2m road)-NorthRun-Ridge
|POA-Benner (1.2m road)-Rattlesnake-Ridge
Crossing south of Route 504
|Route or Nickname
|SmaysRun-NorthRun (trail+0.9m road)-Underwood (road)-StageCoach-Ridge
|Ridge-NorthRun (trail+0.9m road)-Smays-Ridge
|Ridge-NorthRun (trail+0.9m road)-Smays-StageCoach-Ridge
Here are a couple “lollipop” loops that share start and end segments but have a loop at the end…
|Route or Nickname
|“North Run Lasso”
(parking North Run Trail at 504)
North Run Trail-Rattlesnake Trail
(parking at Benner Run lot)
Horse Driving Trails from Benner Run
If you’d like to drive your horse at Moshannon, routes are way trickier but we are working on it. Most trails are wide and smooth enough for carriages, but there are large rock barriers or locked gates wherever they reach a road. That makes access challenging, and it’s really hard to come up with loops. Of course you can ride these trails as well!
|Route or Nickname
|POA trail (out and back, both directions)
|POA-Ridge-Rattlesnake-North Run-Ridge (loop)
These are decent driving trails which are mostly grass with reasonable rocks and plenty wide. Climbs are going to be a decent workout on grass and dirt; we suggest this route is not for unfit equestrian partners. There are grass clearings which are good resting points.
Riding from Underwood Road
A small parking lot on Beaver Road at Underwood Road gives access to equestrian trails farther south in the park. The lot is not very big and it is right on the road, which sometimes gets busy.
|Route or Nickname
“Beaver Mills Loop”
|Smays to N Run-back to AFT-AFT-Beaver Meadow
Enjoyable short loop with modest vertical. Allegheny Front Trail is open to horse use in this section. This section is not difficult but it is quite a narrow path through ferns; you will be going single file. There is one short wooden bridge with railings on that section. Other sections are easy woods roads with nice shade and good footing, very pleasant riding.
Loops of 4-5 miles are lacking in the area, so “Lasso Loop” adds distance by going out to North Run Road (near the equestrian campground) and then returning to the AFT.
Riding from the Equestrian Campground
We mapped a few loops from the campground on North Run Road. We also have the connector trail from the campground mapped into OpenStreetMap, unlike most trail mapping sites!
|Route or Nickname
North Run Road (0.8m)-Underwood Road-AFT-Smays Trail-Campground Connector
|“Beaver Meadows Lasso”
Campground Connector-Smays Trail-AFT-Beaver Meadow-Smays Trail-Connector
Campground 4.5 is a nice ride overall, but parts are challenging! The stretch on the road goes by quickly. Be warned that the AFT segment involved is narrow, steep, and rocky! Heading west off Underwood Road, AFT gets rockier as you go, and the climb to the next local summit is significant. In late July sunny areas are overgrown by ferns, so it’s hard to see footing, and the path is single file. Tripping is likely. There are quite a few dense areas with low branches. Once you crest that summit (nice views to the north) and begin descending towards Smays Trail the going gets much better. The trail is more sand and dirt, and the woods more mature and open. The rest is easy on woods roads and the campground connector trail.
Horse Trails in Moshannon State Forest
Benner Run road from POA to North Run/Rattlesnake is an ok connector ride of about a mile. It’s certainly not flat! During wetter weather there are some small streams along it, and there is one piped spring that probably runs most of the time. In 2023 this road was surfaced with “DSA” compacted aggregate, which makes it very hard, almost like concrete, not the greatest riding surface.
POA Trail north from the parking area is wide and mostly grassy with some rocks mixed in to start. It falls off fairly steeply at places, maybe more fun to go north than south. There are two large grass clearings good for breaks. Either clearing has a track out to Benner Run road; both are gated. POA isn’t too shady because of the orientation and lack of large trees.
Rattlesnake Trail is similar to POA but has medium trees and should be bit shadier, at least once the leaves are out. It’s wide and mostly grassy with a few rocky areas. The climbs going south are notable; it’s certainly not a level trail. There is one grass clearing towards the north end, but no other big break spots.
North Run Trail is similar to Rattlesnake trail and the north end of POA. Somewhat thin woods, a bit sunny on hot afternoons. Trail is wide with grass footing.
Ridge Trail is built for snowmobiles so is pretty wide and has a lot of #2 gravel mixed in, but there is a good bit of grass too. It’s mostly fairly flat, but there are some big gentle dips east and west of Benner Run road that might make your horse want to blast off. It’s mostly nice woods and pretty shady, though it passes through a few open areas. It’s along Rt 504 but there isn’t much traffic.
Smay’s Trail (north end) starts as a nice woods road south of Rt 504 with a little bit of up and down through mature forest as far as Stage Coach trail. It’s mostly grassy with some rocky places. Undergrowth is thick ferns (turkeys like to jump out of ferns! take our word on it). There is one damp spot in this section. One of the area’s nicest trails. We haven’t tried the section to the southwest of Stage Coach trail yet.
Smay’s Trail (south end) starts at Julian Pike (Beaver Rd) as a very pleasant woods road descending through mature forest with good shade as far as the AFT. Footing is good, mixed dirt and shale or small stones. Stretch from AFT to North Run Rd is similar, but is used as access to a number of camps and not as secluded.
Stage Coach trail is sort of what you’d expect from the name, it feels like a classic woods route you could travel with a wagon. It does have a bit more terrain. It descends to Underwood road but nothing steep. On the other side it follows across the face of the hillside and curves in and out nicely. Eventually it starts a climb up to Rt 504, which is a little bit of a workout but nothing crazy. One of the area’s nicest trails.
Allegheny Front Trail (AFT) is open to horse use between Julian Pike (Beaver Rd) and Underwood Rd.
- From Beaver Rd to Smays Trail is quite narrow and winding, more like a footpath. Nice woods with almost solid fern undergrowth (turkeys like hiding in ferns; beware!). Some sections through hemlocks may have low branches.
- From Underwood Road to Smays Trail is definitely single file and areas have large rocks on the climb to a local summit. Sunny areas can be overgrown by ferns and expect low branches in places. Once you crest the summit, it’s much nicer descending to Smays Trail. More sand and dirt and more open woods. The summit offers some nice views through the woods to the north. You might consider this as an out and back off of Smays Trail, skipping the steep and rocky parts closer to Underwood Road.
Beaver Meadow Trail is an access road for a large number of camps near Strawband Beaver Rd. Past the gate it is a quiet woods road, partially shaded, with nice footing.
Campground Connector Trail is a bit rocky but not too long. It passes mostly through mature woods. It’s not very wide, figure 4 feet in most places.
Horse Trailer Parking at Black Moshannon
There are only a few choices for parking horse trailers in the area:
- Equestrian Day Use area, Benner Run Rd
- Beaver Road and Underwood Road
- Rattlesnake Pike at North Run Trail
Equestrian Day Use lot is on Benner Run Rd, just off Rattlesnake Pike (Rt 504). This is a large gravel parking lot with good shade and grazing. No facilities other than a couple picnic tables. Wouldn’t want the state to spend any of our tax money!
A smaller gravel lot is at the intersection of Beaver Rd and Underwood Rd, at the southeast corner of the park. Could hold a few trailers, but sometimes cars park in the middle of it. No facilities, minimal grazing.
A very small gravel lot is on Rattlesnake Pike (Rt 504) at North Run trail. This would take one small trailer.
There are a few other spots you might squeeze one trailer without blocking gates, but probably only one.
Main parking areas in Black Moshannon park by the lake are very crowded in nice weather. They do have access to real restrooms and the snackbar/store. These lots have limited horse trail access (really just Snowmobile Trail). Most of the horse trails are in Moshannon State Forest, outside the actual Black Moshannon park.
Moshannon State Forest is open to hunting outside the busy park areas. Please be sure to wear your high-viz during any potential hunting season!
The forest is a bit out there, and there are few sources of food or fuel nearby. There is a concession on the west side of the lake in the park that offers snacks and simple food, but parking is very limited. During busy times you will have difficulty getting near it with a rig.
Nearest real choices are Philipsburg, Port Matilda, or Milesburg. Gas up before you go!
Sadly, there are NO facilities at the day use parking areas or the equestrian campground.
Flush restrooms and wash facilities are at the beach where Rt 504 crosses the lake, but parking is very crowded at busy times.
The park office on Beaver Road just south of there might be a better choice.
Usage Tips for Graphhopper Maps
- Maps default to metric. To switch, click [Settings] next to the time and distance display.
- You can zoom/pan the map as you’d expect, and re-order or add intermediate points to fine tune a route.
- You need to be in walking or hiking or it may not route on trails! Buttons at top left select this.
- A button in the upper right allows you to pick the background map. Other choices show elevation contours and an aerial view.
- Move your mouse along the elevation graph and it shows corresponding location on the route.
- To get GPX tracks, press [GPX] next to the time and distance display. Save the file to your computer or device.
Times shown are based on (human) walking pace about 3 mph. Your mileage may vary!
Since these are loop trails, vertical distance up and down are approximately equal. See live maps for full elevation profiles.
If you find these useful or want to suggest other routes, give us a yell. We’d love to hear from you!