Some three miles in length, the Deer Run Trail at the southern part of the Erie National Wildlife Refuge is a loop trail that takes the user through a variety of habitats, from fairly mature mixed deciduous and hemlock forest to meadows and brushy thickets near the refuge's ponds. It is also a popular cross-country ski trail. Those wishing to ski the trail should do so in a counter-clockwise direction, beginning at the fishing platform across the road from the parking area.
The trail begins with a steady climb via switchbacks to the top of a hill where the skier is rewarded with a level tour through deep woods culminating in a downhill run into open fields. The trail continues through fields and meadows to a dense hemlock stand before returning to the parking lot by way of a refuge access road. The open areas can be brutal under windy conditions. The hemlock thicket offers protection and raucous skiing over hummocky ground that is so characteristic of this kind of forest.
The trail is not mechanically groomed but usually has a skier-set track when conditions are favorable and the trail gets some traffic.
A compressed gravel parking area and 1/4 mile trail spur have been added to Deer Run Trail. The spur will take visitors to an observation deck overlooking Pool 9 on the refuge. The deck is complete with benches, roof and spotting scopes. It's a wonderful spot to enjoy scenery and to watch for wildlife. The parking area for this trail can be found along Boland Road, just north of the Pool K parking lot.
Download a map of the trail (pdf)
From Intersection of US 322 and PA 173 at Cochranton, PA. Take PA 173 east for 5 miles to Ritchie Rd. on left (north). Take Ritchie Rd .3 miles - parking on left