All Outing Critiques

Name: Steve E.                                                                                                          Hike: Roaring Creek Tract

Date: 09/13/14                                                                                                         Rating: 2.5

 

Critique:  I did not heed the advice of an earlier reviewer and failed to call ahead to check the camping status. I arrived in the morning to discover the area is currently closed to camping. I had intending to stay one night, however decided to hike the loop in one day and substituted the Roaring Creek Trail for the South Branch Trail. Blazes are not the most obvious on Big Mountain Trail and there are numerous other paths leading in other directions. I went on a rainy day with low visibility and had a difficult time keeping the trail. There are some nice views of the reservoir, but make sure to call ahead!

 

 

Name: k8tlevy                                                                                                           Hike: Old Loggers Path

Date(s): 08/30-31/14                                                                                             Rating: 4

 

Critique:  We did this as a two day fast and light backpacking trip over Labor Day Weekend - loved it, even though it rained like crazy one of the days! Didn't see the road to Masten was out until we tried to drive in on it Friday night. Luckily, the detour was easy to follow.

We went counter-clockwise, tackling 17 miles on the first day and the rest the second day. The trail was super easy to follow; the orange blazes were impossible to miss, as were the arrows when the trail turned. So many snakes, though! We saw four rattlers on rock outcroppings. Definitely keep your eyes open. Pleasant Stream campsites were amazing! Saw two other parties camping there, but sites are far enough apart that it felt private.

No views at the vistas on the second day because of the clouds/rain; guess I'll have to come back! Trail was wet, definitely recommend waterproof shoes/boots. Also, watch for salamanders!

Full trip report available at
http://www.adventure-inspired.com/2014/09/old-loggers-path-backpacking-trip-report.html.

 

 

Name: Wooly Bully, Shortstack, Christopher Robins                                         Hike: Otter Creek Backpack (modified)

Date(s): 08/16-18/14                                                                                             Rating: 4

 

Critique: Having a base camp in mind we changed this hike to proceed directly to the waterfall area.  We originally planned to camp at the Otter Creek / Moore Run / Possession Camp Trail junction, but ended up proceeding further north to find an open site.  Busy day, lots of campers.  But easy to why so many come here, the falls and deep pools of Otter Creek make for great swimming in about as scenic a place as can be.  At this point we decided to ditch the base camp and proceed with a regular backpack.  We stopped at a really nice site, where Moore Run joins Otter Creek.  We spend most of our time hanging out on the large flat rock, real nice views upstream, downstream, and to the side with Moore run flowing toward us.  Pretty cool having dinner practically in the middle of the creek!  Chris made a great campfire, and we hung out real late to 9:30 or so.
Saturday night and Sunday morning brought lots of rain.  Very heavy at times.  Fortunately the rain tapered off at 7am, but the wet conditions scuttled any plans for breakfast on the rock.  Continuing north on the Otter Creek Trail took us thru some large areas of fallen trees, most probably from the 2012 storm.  Re-routes bypassed the harder hit areas, with the trail running farther up the slope.  We also had to navigate over and around quite a few fresh blow downs, in wet and slippery conditions, with the trail very narrow and VERY close to the edge, making for a much more difficult hike than on Saturday's wide open trails.  But the fantastic scenery really made up for the extra work.  Conditions improved after the ford and on to the Green Mountain Trail.  After a steep climb, we leveled out and eventually turned on to the Possession Camp Trail.  After only few blow downs on the Green Mountain Trial, we ran into a bunch more on the Possession Camp Trail.  Nice gentle downward grade, passing a deep crevasse (must be a better geological term) in the rocks, two creeks with pretty waterfalls, and some really cool overhanging rocks.  After reaching the Otter Creek Trail we retraced our route and set up camp at the Mylius Trail junction, at the nice site under the hemlocks beside Otter Creek.  Chris the "firemaker" came thru again, creating a nice blaze from soaking wet fuel.
No rain on Sunday night, and dry on Monday Morning!  We continued on the Mylius Trail back to the car, meeting two young men employed by Trout Unlimited for the purposes of monitoring hemlock trees (applying insecticide if necessary) and also monitoring nest boxes for flying squirrels.  On the drive back we stopped to get pictures of Seneca Rocks, made another stop at the USFS Potomac Ranger office to pick up a bunch of maps as well as a lot of info from the friendly ranger, and then for a good lunch at Family Traditions in Petersburg.
Overall the routing worked out well, with distances of 5 / 10 / 2.5.  No problems navigating, only advice to GPS users is that the Possession Camp Trail is not on the .gpx listed for this hike.  The scenery was about as nice as it gets; Otter Creek is truly "waterfall central"!  But the blow downs and wet conditions made for tough going on day #2.  Had we encountered those conditions on day #1 we may had turned back.  Also very little wildlife, we saw just a few toads, a snake, very few birds, and no fish.  Thankfully no mosquitoes!

 

 

Name: Eric                                                                                                                  Hike: Pulpit Rock-Pinnacle Loop

Dates: 08/31/14                                                                                                       Rating: 4

 

Critique: Long rocky hike with good views as the payoff. Took much longer than anticipated due to rocky terrain. Bring plenty of water and watch for snakes... we saw two timber rattlers (a first for us in PA!) at the Pinnacle and some other hikers saw copperheads at Pulpit Rock. I would not recommend it for kids less than 8 or 9 years old unless they are accomplished hikers.

 

 

Name: Navig8tr                                                                                                         Hike: Green Ridge North Circuit

Date: 08/16/14                                                                                                         Rating: 3

 

Critique: I took this circuit as an overnighter to test some new gear. I started near campsite 1. I was glad to find that the blazes were recently painted, and Pine Lick in blue, Twin Oaks in purple, unlike the description above. I ended up doing most of the circuit the first day, and camped in campsite 11. I was surprised to find all the small streams dry, and 15 Mile Creek was an occasional stagnant, muddy , shallow puddle. I took 2 liters of water and took the last gulp when I reached the car. Overall a nice walk in the woods, but maybe better for late spring when the water might still be flowing.

 

 

Name: Tim                                                                                                                  Hike: Morgan Run Loop

Date: 06/17/14                                                                                                         Rating: 5

 

Critique: What day is it? Work it, work it...

 Kudo's, hat's off, a BIG right hand salute to the unknown folks that have been maintaining the Morgan Run Loop. Every weekend I am seeing something new. From bridges placed over streams to cut grass and maintained trails. If you know who these unknown folks are please pass this along.

 It has been almost a year now (4 seasons) that I have been walking the loop on the weekends and I invite anyone to join me. You'll be happy you did. Sometimes I do a repeat to max out my outing. And it is interesting to do it in reverse order as well.

 Visit Morgan Run and let me know. It's been a great asset to me as I am prepping for the BIG HIKE beginning March 2015.

 

 

Name: Ed S.                                                                                                                Hike: Pond Run-White Rocks

Date: 05/18/14                                                                                                         Rating: 4

 

Critique: This was a good long hike, worthy for its good views and cascading runs.  I think the Tuscarora/Pond Run summit vista is the best vista along the loop, though White Rocks itself also gives an expansive view of the Shenandoah Valley, Massanuttens, and Blue Ridge.  Due to recent rain, the Pond Run section creek crossings were easy cold fords, with other areas of the trail becoming flood channels.  The long climb up Pond Run gave me a good workout.  The logging road section of the Tuscarora was basically a stream until the Racer Camp Hollow Trail, where the stream became a broad alluvial fan.  Pink ladyslippers were prevalent throughout the highland parts of the hike.  Waites Run was flowing very well, allowing good photographic opportunities, and it was very good the plank crossing along the Old Mail Trail was there, as fording there would be through thigh deep fast flowing water.

 

Fast flowing stream.

 

 

Name: Ed S.                                                                                                                Hike: Kings Gap

Date: 06/01/14                                                                                                         Rating: 3.8

 

Critique: I made a variant starting from the pine plantation, perhaps a mistake as that area was rather buggy.  It's a nice area, but there are plenty of better hikes in the greater Michaux area, and thus the lower rating.  Most of the overlooks, except for at the mansion and Ridge, are all somewhat grown over.  The mountain laurel was starting to bloom, and the ornamental Catawba Rhododendrons around the mansion were in full bloom; as were assorted flowers in the garden.  Its lily pond had plenty of frogs plus some blooming lilies.  The mansion was open, so I took a quick trek inside.  (The photo is the fireplace mantle.)  A bluegrass band was performing on the lawn outside, mostly Stanley Brothers covers.  With the exceptions of the mansion area and the Scenic Vista Trail, few people were out on the trails.

 

 

Name: Shortstack and Wooly Bully                                                                       Hike: Alleghenny Front trail-West

Date: 08/02-04/14                                                                                                  Rating: 4

 

Outing Critique: DAY 1: After checking in at the park office, we parked at the "upper lake lot", and proceeded north on the Shingle Mill Trail. The trail follows the Black Moshannon Creek. Even with the dark tea-colored water this creek provides for a great walk, with lots of twist and turns, some deep pools, and lots of rhododendron, Cardinal Flowers, and Joe Pye Weed along the banks. The large flat rock at around 3 miles makes for a great lunch spot. Farther along the trail we saw a dark, mucky spring with a few spots of contrasting white sand jetting out from the bottom. Moving sand this fast requires a substantial flow of water. At the end of the Shingle Mill Trail the AFT heads west, thru an active logging zone, past some overlooks of the I-80 viaduct, and then down to the bank of the Red Moshannon. We continued along the "Red Mo" to Sawdust Run, but couldn't locate the "DAY 1 campsite". No evidence of a road to the right leading down to the Red Mo. We found a pretty good tenting area around 0.1 miles past the run, on the left side of the trail, complete with a big flat rock for cooking and a conveniently located fallen log. 10.1 miles for the day. DAY 2: The day started with steady rain. At 6:30 the rain tapered off enough to let us cook breakfast and enjoy the wood thrush song , but then picked back up before we could break camp. We took advantage of the next lull to pack up our wet gear and head out along the AFT, in heavy rain at times. Six Mile Run made for a scenic section of the trail. The relatively consistent width and slope of the creek bed make it appear man-made in places, but the deep pools and fast flowing water made it very scenic. Lots of wood thrush song in the background, and some high pitched “screams” from the treetops. Possibly porcupine calls? The trail veers away from the creek, thru some pine plantations, and past Wolf Rocks. Aside from a geologist's dream of impressive scale, rounded edges, layers, slots, and overhangs at Wolf Rocks, there was an equally impressive mound of porcupine scat under one of the rocks. Upwards of 1/2 cubic yard, enough to demonstrate the angle of repose! At 13.5 miles for the day we stopped at a campsite under the hemlocks. Set up camp, waited out some more heavy rain, and turned in at 8:30. Lots of mourning doves, and a brief appearance by a whippoorwill. DAY 3: No rain! A few miles on the AFT, and then on to the Moss Hanne Trail. Great views from the extensive network of boardwalks over the marsh. Water lilies, cat tails, and blueberries! Lots of grazing along this section. Also saw some bushes that looked like blueberries but had red fruit. More wood thrush song, that same bird must be following us around the loop. Continued northward, thru more pine plantations, over a drier marsh area with expansive views, and then along the lakeshore back to the car. Blazing and signage made it pretty easy to stay on track. Over three days we saw no other backpackers on the trail. Just one trail runner, and then one family along the boardwalks. Even after factoring out the rain, the AFT-West was OK but not as nice as the other side of the loop, the AFT-East.

 

 

 

Name: Peter Fleszar                                                                                                   Hike: Mid State Trail-Little Pine State Par

Date: 02/01/14                                                                                                         Rating: 4

 

Critique: I hiked part of this loop after completing my quest to hike the entire Tiadaghton Trail. When referring this hike to someone in a Facebook group I noticed a couple of things. First and perhaps most important, Happy Acres Restaurant has been tested and found excellent several times since I submitted the 2011 critique. Second, Spike Buck Hollow Tr south of MST does NOT continue straight west of MST, instead it quickly turns left/south heading down the drainage almost parallel to the narrow ridge, turning again at the bottom of the intermittent stream hollow to follow along left bank of Boone Run for a bit. The trail comes out on Boone Rd at an I-beam bridge over Boone Run, about at the 820' contour.

 

 

Name: Boondoggle                                                                                                   Hike: Jeff Mitchell's Waterfall Wonderland

Date: 08/02/14                                                                                                         Rating: 4.75

 

Critique: A Great hike, very slippery, very demanding. The faster you try to go the more you get hurt... so just take your time. The bridge that had washed away has been replaced so it's much easier to get to. This is the 2nd time I've done the hike. The first time we got caught in a thunderstorm and had to take the haul road for the 2nd half of the hike all the way down. This last trip we were able to complete the entire trip. It took 7 hours total, but we did stop to look for a few geo caches and took 2 other breaks for eating and a 10 minute "let the feet dry out a little bit" break. The bugs were somewhat bad, and the plateau walk had some incredible mud pits, one which consumed my leg up to my knee...

 

 

Name: Reese Salen                                                                                                   Hike: Pinchot trail

Date(s): 07/30-31/14                                                                                             Rating: 3

 

Critique: Trail notes very helpful for the most part. It may be good to note that the trail does not follow alongside Sand Spring Creek, it parallels it but never descends to it. Water in Choke Creek and Butler Run in late July was slow moving and I didn't trust it enough to drink from the looks of the water. The footpath as you turn off Tannery Road toward Choke Creek is now signed with "Choke Creek Nature Trail"

 

 

Name: Mike G.                                                                                                            Hike: Trout Run Valley Circumnavigation

Date(s): 07/18-20/14                                                                                             Rating: 4

 

Critique: We did this hike in the direction laid out in the narrative. Our first day, we left Wolf Gap at 9 am, and headed north. Be forewarned that the well pump at Wolf Gap is broken, and has been since last fall. After a steady, but not too grueling climb, we reached the side trail where the vista was awesome from Big Schloss overlook. Back on the main trail, we reached the Sand Spring area, which was the first water we spotted that day. The water was flowing well, but had an odd chalky taste despite being filtered. We then reached the Tuscarora trail intersection, where there was no sign pointing out the TT, but it was obvious to go straight since the blue blazes were easily spotted. There was a confusing intersection where a steep jeep trail comes down from the left. Do not go that way. Just a little ways past that jeep trail (perhaps a half mile tops), we arrived at Day 1 camping at the intersection of Half Moon and TT. Good campsite, and as noted below in another critique, plentiful water flowing just before the bridge you cross before getting to the camp. Day 2, we went on down the Half Moon Trail and a couple of us hung up our packs on nails in the tree at the intersection and went off on the Half Moon overlook trail, which was an easy mile each way...there was some sort of small outlook structure up there built of stone, and the view was nice, although not as good as the Big Schloss view. Continuing on, generally downhill, we reached a really nice campsite with a creek..this was the intersection of the Bucktail Connector Trail. I think this would be a great alternative Day 1 campsite if you wanted to push on a little further than where we camped. We followed the directions given, and reached the end of the Bucktail Connector. The left onto the orange blazed Bucktail trail is more like a merge, and that trail is a very wide grassy fire road. Go down just a quarter mile or so, and reach a nice set of benches and take a break! Once we got across Trout Run Road, we began a big ascent up Long Mountain Trail. Much of this trail is an old fire road, and there are lots of grassy clearings, as described...the rock field is pretty daunting, yet lots of fun. Eventually you will reach a creek (I believe the one MR Hyker says is the last creek .64 miles before the Ben's Ridge site). There is a really nice site on the right just after that creek, back in the woods a ways, with a big fire ring. It would be a great Day 2 site if you are too weary to make it to his Day 2 site at Ben's Ridge. We went on to Ben's Ridge, which was pretty decent. A big clearing, but definitely slanted slightly, with a fire ring to the right. No sign of a spring anywhere, but a nicely flowing creek is just south of the clearing. Not obvious, but as you walk south, you will see the creek getting a little closer to the trail (it never crosses the trail). Day 3...from the Ben's Ridge site, it's a pretty steady and long climb, but eventually we came to a forest road and turned left...there is a nice campsite at this junction, but no water. Hike about 2 miles on this gravel road, and you will come to a very unceremonious trail head for the Tibbet's Knob trail on your left. A trash filled fire ring, and space for tent are there. The trail is pretty rocky and gets sketchy, but it is well blazed...eventually you reach the Knob, and it is one of the best views I can remember. You then descend, very steeply for a while, then the trail becomes more gradual. Just when you think you are about to reach Wolf Gap, you have to make one more pretty steep climb up a hillock, with great views as your reward. Then a short downhill hike afterwards puts you back at Wolf Gap. A great hike overall, and I think going in the Fall for color, or in the early winter or late winter before the trees leaf out would make it even better as you would have great views from the ridges.

 

 

Name: MSF                                                                                                                 Hike: Volkswagen Circuit

Date: 07/20/14                                                                                                         Rating: 4

 

Critique: Overall a very enjoyable hike. The highlight has to be the cascading stream in Clifford hollow, whose trail crossing make for good lunch spots. The abundant mountain laurel suggest late May/early June would be the best time to hike. Although the weather was beautiful for late July, we only saw 3 mountain bikers the whole hike. One note, the sunken jeep road is severely washed out and a few bad blowdowns significantly impeded the path. Mountain bikers have cut a parallel path to the south and west of the road that would be advisable to follow instead (can be picked up by following single track path to left of Catoctin Trail on the south bank of the sunken road crossing).

 

 

Name: Diane and Dave                                                                                             Hike: Hammersely Wild Area

Daye(s): 07/04-05/14                                                                                            Rating: 4+

 

Critique: My wife and I did this backpack and dayhike over the July 4th weekend. We followed Mike’s directions completely. I even downloaded his GPX route onto my GPS. It made finding the start of the bushwack real easy. Being the holiday weekend we did encounter 7 other backpackers, 2 dayhikers, and a trail maintenance volunteer. The pool was beautiful, deep, and cold. The gas pipeline was rather steep at times. The views from the wild fire meadow were great. The ferns in the meadow were hip high. The blazes along the Twin Sister trail were a mixture of rectangles and circles, either orange or yellow or both (one on top of the other). Finding the start of the bushwack was made easy as the 3 rock cairn is now a 5 rock cairn and it’s right in the middle of the trail. The bushwack down the Dry Run was trying at times since the valley was chock full of Stinging Nettles. We tried hiking along the side of the run and at times down the middle of the creek. Whichever route had less nettles. There were also a lot of blowdowns which made the going more difficult. After the backpack we enjoyed the bubba burger at Deb’s Cross Fork Inn and ice cream at the general store across the street. I’ve attached photos of the parking area in front of the DCNR garage, the start of the trail along Rte 144, the start of the gas pipeline, the end of the pipeline at the gravel road, the 5 rock cairn signifying the start of the bushwack, the bushwack down Dry Run, and the humongous bubba burger.

 

 

Name: Michael                                                                                                           Hike: Mid State Trail-Old Tram Trail Loop

Date: 07/05/14                                                                                                         Rating: 3

 

Critique: This is a fairly nice hike, exhibiting typical central Pennsylvania terrain (ridge and valley, mountain laurel). Probably best done in early June when the mountain laurel is in bloom. We did the loop as a quick backpacking trip to try out some new gear and found that the trails (other than MST) are somewhat poorly maintained, though all trails described here were easily passable as of hike date. One MAJOR inaccuracy of this hike description is the absence of the described campsite at the junction of Old Tram and Cracker Bridge trails. We had planned on camping there, but when we reached the trail junction (no sign), we found that it was impossible to turn right onto the trail, as described. I took off my pack and bushwhacked in a ways finding a bridge, as though there had once been a path there, but it has truly and utterly disappeared. Continuing on along Old Tram trail, we did find a small campsite on the left after a short distance, as described. This site was basically "carved out" of the laurel and offered space for maybe one tent, but was a bit claustrophobic feeling with little available wood for a campfire (you'll need one to deter mosquitoes if nothing else). We passed up this site and found the grassy clearing on the right a little further along. You'll have to keep your eye out and walk off of the trail a few steps to the right before it opens up, but this is the largest laurel free and relatively rock-free space you will find on the hike. It is actually a beautiful grassy area with some tall trees, downed trees, and scattered rocks. There is a good space for one two person tent near the fire ring, which we rebuilt from an old one. There is probably space for one to two more tents, as well. Best of all, there is actually a bit of decent firewood in this clearing (otherwise hard to find in this hardwood/laurel/wet terrain). We left a few pieces stacked so as to stay dry near the fire ring ;) It is a decent, quick, overnight with an ok campsite (grassy area) if you want the trail to yourself... Plus, you can swim when you get back to the park!

 

 

Name: Richard                                                                                                           Hike: Canaan Mountain Loop

Date: 07/04/14                                                                                                         Rating: 3

 

Critique: 4 stars for solitude minus a star for trail conditions and less interesting stretches on the road. In mid summer the seeps and mud holes might be fun for the mountain bikers but can lead to blistered feet. Many overgrown spots on these trails, but overall not hard to follow despite minimal markings. One clarification - the campsite near the fork of Lindy Run on Plantation trail is only about 80-100 yards from the stream still at the base of the hill. The directions to climb up a short hill confused us and we passed the site multiple times. The ferns had grown over most of the meadow and obscured the fire ring and rock furniture so it was hardly recognizable as a camp site. Very nice site once there. Would be interested to see if conditions are more favorable in fall and winter.

 

 

Name: Chris                                                                                                                Hike: Roaring Creek Tract - Backpack

Date(s): 07/04-05/14                                                                                             Rating: 5

 

Critique: My wife and I wanted to go for an overnight hike with the dog, and this one looked to be close enough to home to be a last minute decision. We started around 8:45 in the morning on July 4th expecting to hit lots of crowds. WRONG!!! Absolutely peaceful. The only people we saw were on the main trail. The trail itself was marked fairly well, with a few questionable intersections at the beginning. We thought the campsite would be crowded out because of the awesome weather on the holiday weekend, WRONG AGAIN!!! We were the only ones there for the night, we arrived at the campsite at 2:15, and had peace and quiet the whole night. This was our first time camping without a group, and I must say, in an unfamiliar place, I was quite paranoid, but didn't let on to my wife, about the possibility of a bear encounter. But, with our 85 pound black lab with us, I knew we had a good warning system in place. The night was uneventful with nothing but the sound of owls and bullfrogs. The next morning we were up, packed, and ready to go at 9:15, we continued on the well marked trail around the reservoir and back to the gravel road, where we finally encountered people. We made it back to the car by 11:45. Overall great hike that could be done in one day if you planned on it. Very easy overnight that leaves you with plenty of time for R and R. Bring cards or a book, you'll have plenty of daylight. Thanks for the great trail directions and map MRHyker! I'll continue to follow your backpacking trips!

 

 

Name: Dan                                                                                                                  Hike: Black Forest Trail-Total

Date(s): 06/28-29/14                                                                                             Rating: 5

 

Critique: Did the entire loop over 2 days. Absolutely beautiful and I saw no over night backpackers anywhere. Be prepared for a lot of ups and downs but they are well worth it. The vistas, creeks, waterfalls are just outstanding and I'll definitely be back to hike some of the sections I really liked with my son. I had planned on a three day hike but since I did 19 miles the first day and there were possible storms Sunday night I figured I could do the last 24 miles Sunday. I paid for the 24 mile Sunday hike with sore quads and hips that night. My recommendations for anyone doing this is to go light and enjoy. No need for heavy boots and packs that weigh 40+ lbs. I cowboy camped Saturday night under the stars and listened to the bubbling brook for music. I would not do this hike clockwise do to some of the ascents. Counter clockwise is the way to go. Be alert for the wildlife. I almost got it from a rattle snake by not paying attention to what I was doing. Go out and do this hike. Its a true gem of Pa and take Pictures!

 

 

Name: Eaglescout/Outdoorsman                                                                          Hike: Brown Mountain-Big Run Loop

Date: 06/28-29/14                                                                                                   Rating: 5

 

Critique: I do a lot of backpacking in the Shenandoah National park. I decided to do a loop on Brown Mountain trail this past weekend, with the return being on Rocky Mountain Run Trail back towards the parking on skyline drive. I have done other hikes in the Big Run area but I had never done Brown Mountain trail before. The area is one of the most wild areas in the park. The trails are usually narrow, and can be overgrown at times. However, while the rocky and rugged terrain is hard to navigate at times (especially with backpacks) it will reward you with several nice views of the Big Run Wilderness area. Definitely bring a camera. You will come to multiple places with rock outcroppings where the outcrops will reach above the trees. You can climb several of these to see stunning views of the valley, Rockytop, and Big Run trails. MOST DEFINITELY Bring bug spray that will deter ticks. I remembered from my experiences with Rockytop trail that the ticks were really bad in this area so I opted to bring "Deep woods Off" repellent for both mosquitoes and ticks. I must say, I have NEVER, seen that many ticks. And what really surprised me, I didn't have a single one on my body. I found them inside my tent the next morning, in my backpack, on my clothes and even on my sleeping bag, but even after a thorough check I discovered no embedded ticks or bite marks. (Thank you bug spray) There were lots of Dog ticks and Lone star ticks, so again, I would highly recommend some form of bug spray. We camped on Big run portal trail which gave us two leisurely days worth of hiking. The valley surrounding Big Run as well as the canyons of Big Run are well worth exploring, providing great views and unspoiled wilderness. Overall one of my favorite trips in the SNP

 

 

Name: Paul Fofonoff                                                                                                 Hike: Big Blue-Vance's Cove

Date: 6/14/14                                                                                                            Ranking: 4

 

Critique: I scouted this trail, day-hiking on 5/31/14, and then led a group backpacking on June 14-15, for the DC Chapter of the Appalachian Mtn Club. On my scouting trip, there was a spectacular display of Fringe-Tree in the open meadows on the ridge- I'd give that one a 5. By mid-June, the blossoms were gone, but there was still lots of Mountain Laurel. The group included beginners and rusty backpackers, and this hike was a good fit, with moderate grades, good views, and a chance to see a mountain sunset. The consensus for the group was 4 out of 5, The one major change in the trail is that the Gerhardt Shelter trail has been recently altered to add switchbacks. The upper sections are a rough bulldozer trail, and it's now about a mile from the shelter to the spring. so if you're backpacking, top off your water at Terrapin Spring. One more warning- the shelter was swarming with ticks, so we all used our tents, and had to check frequently. Over all, this is a great hike, I've posted a report and photos at http://www.amc-dc.org/tripReports/2014/GreatNorth0614.pdf Happy Trails, Paul

 

 

Name: Eagle Scout/Outdoorsman                                                                        Hike: Old Rag

04/26/14                                                                                                                   Rating: 5

 

Critique: I do a lot of Backpacking in the Shenandoah National Park (SNP). I've done Old Rag about 7 times. I decided to do it this time as a Backpacking trip instead of a hike. It was just as worth it, and the backpacks made for an extra challenge while scrambling the rock faces. This loop has gorgeous views, and excellent terrain. The rock scramble is arguably one of the best in Virginia. Bring plenty of water (at least 2 liters) and trail food. We got a late start (arrived at the trail head at 9:45) and had exactly the right amount of time to make it to a suitable area to camp along side the creek running by Weakley Hollow fire road. For as long as I can remember, the parking lot for this area fills up FAST. ESPECIALLY on weekends. I would always recommend getting to the parking lot by no later than 8. This hike can easily be done in 8-9 hours if you are in good shape. It's one of the best hikes in the SNP in my opinion, and I honestly cannot recommend it enough.

 

 

Name: Andrew                                                                                                            Hike: Thickhead Wild Area/Detweiler Natural Area Loop

Date(s): 6/21-22/14                                                                                                Rating: 5

 

Critique: Did a quick overnighter (5pm-9pm then 5am-8am) mostly following the route outlined on the web site, except I took the Shingle Path all the way up to Tussey Mountain Trail and looped back to Bear Meadows Rd. Some climbs are steep but mostly a very manageable hike. Scenery along the route is beautiful and the John Wert path is especially nice with centuries-old hemlocks. The suggestion for the campsite on the Greenwood Furnace Spur is perfect - very nice campsite on soft ground right alongside the creek. I made the mistake of leaving my breakfast (sealed in plastic bags) outside during the night and by next morning it's all gone-a sneaky black bear must have taken it. He even left all the utensils intact and did not touch my garbage bag at all.  

 

 

Name: Mike C.                                                                                                            Hike: Wildcat Mountain

Date: 06/01/14                                                                                                         Rating: 1

 

Critique: The Nature Conservancy has cordoned off everything but the main loop, making this a pretty boring (and short) hike.

 

 

Name: Dave Nguyen                                                                                                 Hike: Pinchot Trail

Date(s): 13-15/14                                                                                                    Rating: 4

 

Critique: This was my first time solo BP trail, that from what I was reading was a good beginners course. Rained most of the time for the first day I was there (pants and socks were soaked). Overall trail guide was pretty accurate found all campsites w/o issues, trails were clearly marked, and elevation was no as severe as I thought. As previous hikers have commented it does get pretty rocky, especially the Northern Loop. I did the northern loop on day one, and finished the southern loop saturday into late Sunday. Overall a great trail once the sun came out. Pretty sights all around.

 

 

Name: Ryan                                                                                                                Hike: Mount Rogers Backpack

Date: 06/06-08/14                                                                                                   Rating: 4

 

Critique: I am including a 2000 word blog post I wrote detailing this trip and 25+ photos. Definitely feel free to take a look at that to get the entire details of my trip. We had a fantastic time and I definitely encourage anyone to do this route.

A couple of notes pertinent for this board:

1) If you are doing the two day hike, please plan on staying somewhere OTHER than the suggested campsite. There is no water there. Perhaps the spring was simply dried up when we were there, but we ended up going all the way to The Scales. The campsite was beautiful and would have been a perfect evening, but it wasn't to be the case for us. The Scales was a great campsite for us nonetheless.

2) Let me preface this section with the fact that our entire group wore Vibrams. My wife and I were very intentional with this. My wife and I often train minimalist (I was a previous college XC runner) and wanted to experience a multi-day hike with the Vibrams. Therefore, take these comments with the fact that we wore Vibrams in mind. The loose rock is pretty terrible for us. It is slow going, and there really wasn't a part of it that was bearable, in my opinion.
I imagine that this would have absolutely not been the case for anyone who is hiking in traditional hiking footwear.

3) Otherwise, everything is pretty much spot on. The author provides amazing detail and has really done his research. As our group looks to continue Peakbagging, I will be sure to look for his route suggestions again for the Mid Atlantic region. This was a fantastic hike, and other than those couple of hiccups, everything was extremely smooth. If you decide to do this, enjoy! The ponies, a summit, and the highlands views are simply amazing.

 

 

 

Name: Lefty                                                                                                                Hike: Ramseys Dradt-East

Date(s): 06/07-08/14                                                                                              Rating: 4

 

Critique: My sons ,both Eagle Scouts and I decided to do this hike over a weekend. They could easily hike circles around me and knowing this to be a difficult wilderness area gave me concern. We decided to hike in to Hiner Springs on Saturday using the longer route Bald Ridge trail. Knowing there to be limited water on this route we all had 3 water bottles packed. This trail was a strenuous workout for me with many ups and downs, some on unsteady rock. We took it slow and steady and made it to Hiner Springs just in time to set up camp before dark. Great camping sites right next to the spring. Quite a few deer in the area to greet us. A few other campers in the area as well. Sunday morning we broke camp, had breakfast and began our return on the Ramsey Draft Trail. All downhill from Hiner Springs. The first mile is mostly following a creek bed needing extra care on the rocky trail. After that the trail is pretty good. There are several deadfall trees you will have to cross which take a little effort but were manageable. At least the 20 stream crossings as described ( seemed the most difficult were near the trail end ). Our return to Mountain House was much quicker due to all downhill and better trail conditions.

 

 

Name: Patrick Mulholland                                                                                        Hike: Pinchot Trail-South

Date: 06/06-09/14                                                                                                   Rating: 4

 

Critique: This trail is great for either a rigorous 3 day hike of the full loop, or easily separated into a more leisurely hike of either the north or south loops. As indicated on the map the south loop has a number of established camping locations, though many are perhaps too close to the trail for comfort. There are also some neat little creeks on both loops to dip your feet or refill water bottles for cleaning purposes. A few open fields provide very pretty scenes, and the elevation changes are never too severe. As others have warned the trail does get very rocky in places so bring a nice stick.

 

 

Name: Mike Cooper                                                                                                  Hike: Otter Creek-SW

Date(s): 06/06-08/14                                                                                             Rating: 5

 

Critique: Two of us did this as a three day/two night trip including the optional day hike for day two. The trail description was very helpful and the GPS information was very valuable at points. I had spent one prior night in the Otter Creek area and had always wanted to get back for another longer stay. We had wonderful weather in early June and really enjoyed this entire hike. The waterworks are very nice, the stream crossings at this time were not very difficult at all, and the sections of the trail through the bogs were a nice chance of pace and scenery. The suggested campsite at the end of day one is quite nice, had plenty of firewood, and has easy access to water. We spent day two on the optional day hike and had a great time and really enjoyed the scenery and challenge of this hike. I imagine that we will be back to this area before too long to try out some of the other trails in the area.

 

 

Name: Erin                                                                                                                  Hike: Pulpit Rock-Pinnacle Loop

Date(s): 05/31-06/01/14                                                                                      Rating: 4.8

 

Critique: Just hiked and camped this trail. I am a novice hiker, this was my first moderate trail. The trail up to Pulpit Rock is extremely difficult. When they say it is rocky, they are not kidding. Very steep, walking on rocks 50% of the trail and often uphill at the same time. But the trail is worth it. We started out at Hamburg Reservoir, and went along the outskirts the long way up to the summit. We climbed beyond Pulpit Rock and camped out right at the top of the Pinnacle. Woke up to see the sun rise, the view was unbelievable. The weather was perfect this time of year, luckily no rain, only got windy at night and brisk in the morning at the summit. Much like the previous poster, we had difficulty pinpointing certain paths of the trail, but with slow progression forward and a little backtracking you can find a White marker that reassures you that you are still on the trail. Pack extra socks (your feet will be battered from walking on rocks everywhere) and take your time on the trip up, that is by far the most difficult part of the whole trail. (Photo taken at Sunrise on the Pinnacle rock edge.)

 

Sunrise photo.

 

 

Name: Patrick M.                                                                                                       Hike: Roaring Creek Tract - Backpack

Date: 05/25/14                                                                                                         Rating: 3.5

 

Critique: Great area with some really nice views, but be prepared for that short-but-intense first climb. Trail dips close to highway at times which is slightly distracting. Poor blazes mean it's easy to mistake one trail for another, so recommend not starting out at night. Lots of nice flat areas for a few tents a good ways off the trail. The Roaring Creek trail gets a bit crowded during morning-afternoon with bicyclists, day trekkers, etc. but nothing too crazy. Call ahead to make sure the trail is not closed to camping! This has been an issue before.

 

 

Name: Ben                                                                                                                  Hike: Roaring Plains Circuit

Date: 05/25/14                                                                                                         Rating: 5

 

Critique: Over memorial day weekend I led a trip in Southern Dolly Sods and Roaring plains. We intended to take the hidden passage trail and hike all of the Canyon Rim, stopping at the large campsite where it meets the Roaring Plains Trail. Because we weren't making great time we decided to stop at the campsite at the Tee Pee trail. The Hidden Passage Trail was easy to follow. The canyon rim was generally not too difficult either. Having the GPS waypoints on my GPS helped. We took the Tee Pee trail back to the Roaring Plains trail. It was quite overgrown but somebody has put cairns along most of it so we were able to follow it without incident and get to the Roaring Plains Trail. The views along the canyon rim are just spectacular. If you bushwack to some rocks near the Tee Pee trail campsite you can get a great view to watch the sunset. The Tee Pee trail campsite itself was well sized and easily held 8 tents.

 

 

Name: Swaggie                                                                                                          Hike: Old Loggers Path

Date: 05/24/14                                                                                                         Rating: 5

 

Critique: We did this as a 3 day backpack over the Memorial Day Weekend, really enjoyed it, great views and streams, weather was mostly great except for a brief thunderstorm the first night. Pleasant Stream Road is passable IF and only IF you have AWD and decent ground clearance, our vehicle was a Toyota RAV 4 and we talked with another group who drove a Subaru Outback along the road, should not be attempted in a normal road car as there is a short "home made" detour where the creek washed the road out, it's only about 30 yards long but is very rough, with rocks and deep pot holes which would ground a road car, we scraped once but made it through. Plenty of water along the trail, mostly in good shape but some blow downs to get around/over/under. The beginning at Masten is a little confusing because it's hard to tell what direction you're going, we initally thought we were doing the loop clockwise, turned out we were going counter-clockwise, doesn't really matter that much but it would be nice if DCNR could put up a sign giving an indication of which way to go for each direction around the loop. There are also many more campsites than are listed on the map, although some don't have water.   

 

 

Name: Dottie Rust                                                                                                     Hike: Ramsey's Draft-West

Date: 05/25-26/14                                                                                                   Rating: 5

 

Critique: Hiked this on Memorial Day weekend with my husband and we could not have picked a better hike or chosen better weather. We ascended Ramsey's Draft Trail and returned via Shenandoah & Road Hollow Trails, as per Mike's trail notes. RDT indeed has 20 water crossings, the lower crossings required sandals and the upper crossings were managed by rock-hopping, or rock-stretching in some places. This past winter was a tough one as can be seen by the numerous blowdowns on RDT. . .some mighty big trees blocked the trail and it will take awhile before they can be cleared. Nothing that can't be hiked over/under/around with a bit of patience. Lots of very pretty campsites along the Draft. . .at Hiner Spring at the top, we found ourselves alone and set up our tent on a nice flat spot. As we were eating supper 3 hikers arrived, they found themselves another flat area on the other side of the spring. The spring was open and flowing, so water was not an issue. Next day was an easy hike up the remainder of RDT, then it was all downhill on the beautiful Shenandoah Trail to Road Hollow. All in all a great hike, almost total solitude which was nice for us, as it was our 32nd anniversary hike.                

 

 

Name: Christopher Robin                                                                                         Hike: Canaan Mountain Backpack-2

Date(s): 05/24-25/14                                                                                             Rating: 4

 

critique: Since it was Memorial Day weekend, I took MR Hyker's advice and did this trip. Also, I did a modified version of this hike, so I could do it in 2 days and not have to fight with Friday or Monday traffic. I did the hike as was spelled out, except skipped Mountainside trail and just stayed on the road to Table Rock trail. All the trails were well marked. On Pointy Knob trail, though it looked like someone was deliberately pulling down the blue diamond markers, but you could still follow the trail, trees were blazed the old-fashioned way! Saw 3 hikers on that trail, other than that the trails were all mine. Some traffic on the road, mostly groups of guys with little gear and lots of beer for the holiday! Table Rock was unbelievable! It is one of the best views I have seen. Got there about 4:30 or so. Shared the view with a group of 5 who were up for the day, a couple mountain bikers rolling through and 1 fat and happy rattlesnake sunning himself in a nice quiet spot. Later, a guy Joey showed up with a tent and a camera so it was just the 2 of us there for a beautiful sunset and sunrise. BTW, Joey is a big fan of midatlantichikes, so I pitched the books for you Mike! Everywhere I go anymore... So day 2, after lingering to watch the beautiful sunrise it was back to bog-beating. There was a lot of water on the trails. In fact it took spooking up a couple white-tails to remind me I was in WV, I was singing "Georgia on my mind" to myself when hopping from root to stone to bank! Oh, and in one sunny spot along Plantation Trail I heard the distinct rattle of another rattlesnake. Since it sounded like a "Move along, nothing to see here" rattle, that's just what I did. Lindy Run Trail was in great shape, someone is maintaining it. It did get crowded at Lindy Point. I guess I shouldn't complain since it was the only place I had to put the leash on my dog. Tourists, families and car campers must have all decided to go at the same time. And after seeing the sunrise at Table Rock, I was okay with not staying long there. A bit of a road walk, a nice walk through the woods on Shady Trace and I was back to the Lodge. Great trip! One thing-when looking out from Table Rock, it looked like a meadow at the top of Mozark Mountain. Am I wrong? Does the Mozark Mountain trail get you near there? The next adventure?  

 

 

Name: KCJones                                                                                                          Hike: Old Rag

05/17/14                                                                                                                    Rating: 4

 

Critique: 4 Only because the crowds...Screaming kids ...groups and a very full parking lot...serves me right - nine on a Saturday. However, the rock scrambles and the views are so so worth, its like a giant play ground. I really enjoyed climbing scrambling and squeezing though the rocks. I went alone was originally concerned it was a bit to much for me... as I am athletic but not super athletic...Little sore but finished in about 3 hours and 30-45 minutes (picture taking time included). The fire road was not as bad as I thought it would be boring wise because I could hear and see the water on the way down. I will be going again at some point but as early as I can and on a week day. PS, its pretty well marked and easy to follow due to its heavy use I went map-less and I was fine.

Name: Peter F.                                                                                     Hike: Martin Hill Wild Area-Central Loop

Date: Various                                                                                                             Rating: 4

 

Critique: The upper part of Jackson Trail (from the summit circle down to the "green trail" junction) has been cleared and is now red blazed.

 

 

Name: Blake                                                                                                               Hike: Loyalsock-Link Loop w/Haystacks

Date: 04/13-14/14                                                                                                   Rating: 5

 

Critique: Great hike! I started at the Meade road comfort station. Trail descends over some rocky terrain here. I was hoping to catch the side trail to Dutchman's falls, but I missed the turn off. The hike down by the creek was beautiful. Trail turns left and heads back up to the old railroad grade where I was met by a beautiful waterfall. This railroad grade continues a ways before heading down hill to the iron bridge. right after the road walk is the first lung buster, which led to a flat section at the top. Shortly thereafter, I arrived at Sonne's pond where I broke for lunch. More walking, beautiful scenery, tons of streams everywhere. In many spots, the trail was soaked while everything around was dry. I was hoping to find a good campsite by 5:30. The last one I passed was at 4:30pm, I figured I still had light and I should look for the next one. Next thing I knew, I was at the vista for world's end state park. Now its getting dark and there's no place to set up camp. At the visitor's center, I found a park ranger who told me I could go up the butternut trail and use some primitive campsites they had there for boyscouts. Flat spots for my tent, plus picnic tables! Day 2 I took the link trail, which starts out amazing going past the creek and up to the Loyalsock vista. This led me up through the woods where I saw 2 deer, then entered a really nice hemlock grove where I stopped to fill my water in a stream. The rest of the trail was real nice. The water crossing once you get down past the highway was a little sketchy, but I made it without busting my butt. Ended up finishing the whole trail in 2 days. I would like to do it again in late summer/early fall when there's more leaves on the trees, and take my time and do 2 nights. I couldn't walk for the next 2 days after doing it all in 1 night. Overall, great experience for my first solo backpacking trip. I'm trying to decide now for Labor Day weekend if I should come back here or check out the Pinchot trail. The Black Forest trail seems really enticing, but my hiking buddy isn't in exactly the best shape and I think the climbs may kill him.

 

 

Name: MSF                                                                                                                 Hike: Long Mountain-Trout Pond Loop

Date: 05/11/14                                                                                                         Rating: 4

 

Critique: Overall this was a very enjoyable hike. We did the loop on a beautiful sunny day after spending the weekend at Trout Pond campground and didn't encounter another soul on the trail. Although the hike includes a bit of forest road walking, the views of Wolf Gap/Massanutten/Shenandoah NP along that stretch more than make up for it. We included the out-and-back to the first overlook along North Mountain Trail, and though this added a bit more ascent along particularly rocky tread, it was well worth it as we were rewarded with an amazing view southeast beyond the southern tip of Massanutten. I would highly recommend doing this hike if you are staying at Trout Pond.

 

 

Name: Bill                                                                                                                   Hike: Roaring Plains Circuit

05/09/14                                                                                                                   Rating: 4

 

Critique: We followed the trail notes and they were quite helpful. This had to be one of the best hikes and worst hikes I've ever done in summer. The worst part was loosing the trail 1/2 way on the Tee Pee and ending up bushwhacking thru thick laurel to the pipeline. The trails are just not marked well. The rock and bog on the trail seemed to never end either. But the rest of the trail made up for it and more. There was truly a full range of experience and the views on the rim were fantastic. Campsites were all inviting and I am looking forward to doing it again. A map, compass and even a GPS are a must for this trail, this is not for novices. I would rate this trail very highly, thanks WV.

 

 

Name: Jackie M.                                                                                                        Hike: Rocky Knob-Quarry Gap Backpack

Date(s): 04/13-14/14                                                                                             Rating: 4

 

Critique: We did this outing as our first ever backpack. We then repeated it two weeks later. Great beginner 1-night backpack. The directions are impeccable and very helpful for beginners, we did not get turned around once. There is a mild ascent up Locust Gap trail and then you round the lake. Fill up at the stream after you cross Birch Run Road. If you choose to go right at the Rocky Knob split you will be greeted with a pretty steep, rocky ascent, but you're rewarded with a very nice and secluded campsite on the left side of the trail once you reach the top. We chose this route on our first trip. On our second trip we went left, the ascent is more gradual on this side up to the AT. There's a good sized campsite about .5 miles down the AT to the right. Then in the morning you back track. Be sure to fill up at the stream at the PATC cabin, there will be no water until you're near the Quarry Gap shelter. The views and terrain are varied and interesting. There are a few easy water crossings. We had a great time.

 

 

 

Name: Wooly Bully & Shorstack                                                                              Hike: FMF-Clifford Hollow Loop

Date: 04/28/14                                                                                                         Rating: 4

 

Critique: We did this on a clear and warm day. Without the overhead leaf cover there was an open feeling to the woods, and the mountain laurel provided a lot of green close to the ground. This route must be spectacular when the laurel blooms! The first half of the hike follows the Catoctin Trail, passing thru two valleys. This second descent crosses a pretty stream several times, easy rock-hops. The long and fairly steep ascents made for a good workout. The north end of the route follows mountain bike paths and a power line right-of-way. In general, bearing to the left keeps you on track. The last part follows the Gambrill State Park Yellow Trail. Fairly level, rocky in places, and paralleling Gambrill Park Road. At the end we added a little distance at the end by turning left and taking the Yellow trail counterclockwise around the base of the "High Knob" area, for 9.8 miles. This made for a nice day .

 

 

Name: Erin                                                                                                                  Hike: Caledonia SP-Quarry Gap

Date; 04/20/14                                                                                                         Rating: 2

 

Critique: If you like walking in the woods, this is a nice hike. However, it's not a very picturesque hike; we didn't even take out our camera's once. The unnamed blue trail mentioned at the beginning is now called the "3 Valley Trail." Locust Grove Trail is now marked as part of the Locust Gap Trail. The Hosack Run Trail is also marked on the sign post now in paint. There are no longer any deer enclosures (exclosures would be a better word). You'll notice rolled up fencing in a few spots. You'll also notice an abundance of young trees where the fencing would have been. My partner said at the end, "it'll be like we never did it." No views. Not very challenging. Meh. Not worth the 2.5 hour drive.

 

 

Name: Chris R.                                                                                                           Hike: Old Loggers Path

Date(s): 04/12 to 13/14                                                                                         Rating: 3

 

Critique: THE BRIDGE AT MASTEN HAS NOW BEEN REPAIRED. I wanted to inform hikers that the bridge is rebuilt. Pleasant stream road is still closed to traffic from around Masten for about 3 miles west to about Short run. According to the ranger at Hillsgrove, it is open for hikers to make a loop out of the southern or northern loop, but is undrivable. The road is now in the process of being repaired as well. Attached is a picture of the bridge if needed. Heading counterclockwise from Masten, there is a nice break spot at a campsite off to the right of the trail about a mile or so before the intersection of Rock Run and Yellow dog run. We discovered a seeping water fall below the small cliff below the campsite which was a pleasant surprise. After teaming up with a group of 6 guys from south Jersey we headed out to Rock Run for a one night loop hike. Due to time we made a small loop using Old Loggers Path clockwise from Masten to Rock Run/Yellow dog run. Then returned to Masten via Old loggers Path to Ellenton Road, to Short Run trail, Cherry Ridge trail back to Old Loggers path. It took about 3 1/2 hours to hike back from Rock Run campsite. Note: If you plan on arriving late into Masten contact the Hillsgrove Ranger Station off of Rt. 87 to get a camping permit in the C.C.C camp prior to getting going the next morning.

 

 

Name: Sally                                                                                                                Hike: Dolly Sods North Backpack

Date(s): 04/12 to 13/14                                                                                         Rating: 5

 

Critique: I did a quick overnight trip and was not disappointed. A few notes: 1. The signage is much better than when this trail was first described. In places where it is indicated there is just a post or a cairn, there are now clear signs. 2. That said -- there are points where a certain trail turns or looks uncertain and there are no blazes to guide you. The description is very helpful here -- also look for footprints. 3. Some boggier places now have wooden walkways, which are nice. 4. This hike was wet when I went, but the weather was nice, so it worked out. Definitely prepare with waterproof boots! And bring extra socks! You're going to need them. A pair of Chacos or the like for crossing streams would be a nice extra. 5. You have to park farther away than this description indicates -- this adds about a mile at the beginning and end of the hike. And the beginning, it's all uphill. At the end, it's downhill. 6. You should pack in water for the first couple of miles as there isn't a place to get water until you're on the hike (so fill up at home or at a rest stop). Once on the hike, there are about 4 places to fill up on water: the first is your first crossing of Red Creek. The second is the small spring described next to the emergency camping spot (though I wouldn't be certain if this would be flowing in dryer times or late summer), the fourth is at your camping spot by red creek, and the fifth is when you cross Red Creek again on the second day. I liked so many sure opportunities for water since it meant I didn't have to carry a lot (which is heavy!) This was a fantastic trip. The weather in mid April was very warm and the solitude was a delight. There were small patches of snow left, which I took advantage of when I got hot and put a scoop in my cap to cool down. I will definitely be returning.

 

 

Name: Dan M.                                                                                                             Hike: Rocky Top-Big Run

Date(s): 04/05-06/14                                                                                              Rating: 5

 

Critique: I have spent a lot of time in SNP, and this by far has to be my favorite hike. I did this in early April as an overnight with my girlfriend. This hike has everything that SNP has to offer. Great views of the valley and rolling mountains. Talus slope crossings. Great wildlife. Stream crossings and a nice walk along a beautiful stream. The trail directions were spot on except THE LAST TWO MENTIONED CAMPSITES ARE NOT THERE. The last two campsites have no camping signs posted in them. I assume they were over used and the park wants to rehab the nature in that area. So if you do this as an overnight and do not want to stop 7 miles in. Make sure you understand there are no official camp sites on the hike. The other thing that I feel the writer left out is you will not come to an area where you can refill your water until the first set of campsites (midpoint Approx. 7 miles in). I did this in April so I was okay with the water I brought. But in the summer, if you don't have enough water this could be tough. You are exposed for a large part of the beginning of this hike if done as the writer dictates the directions. This is a MUST DO hike in SNP. Enjoy!

 

 

Name: Kyle                                                                                                                 Hike: MST-Brush Ridge Backpack

Date(s): 03/14-16/14                                                                                             Rating: 3.5

 

Critique: The hiking started out well. The MST is fairly narrow and did not seem well traveled. We decided to take the shortcut and head down the Mutterbaugh trail. This was one of my favorite trails. The stream was great and the isolation was great. The trip took a turn for the worse when we reached the intersection of the Otter Gap trail and Penn Roosevelt Trail. Directions were "Follow the trail to the left. At the absolute low point of the gap the Otter Gap Trail (hard to see) goes left while the Penn-Roosevelt trail goes right. Continue straight, climbing out of the gap. Reach a pretty vernal pond in 0.9 miles and the junction with the Chestnut Spring Spur on the left (No sign but obvious). This area, being at a high point, is another place won’t might be able to set up a tent". Well we went left and then realized our mistake and doubled back. Then we tried to go "straight" and there was nothing of a trail to follow. We bushwhacked for a while and eventually doubled back to Penn Roosevelt trail to make camp for the night. In the morning we decided to just take the Penn Roosevelt trail up and over the ridge. Well the trail kind of stopped and looked to go right. After a while we decided that couldn't be right and just bee lined it up the ridge and over the other side. The trails are not marked well or very much at all. The directions were good until the Otter Creek/Penn Roosevelt trail. Enjoyed the hike nonetheless, but just wish it all worked out better.

 

 

Name: Craig Hardy                                                                                                   Hike: Big Schloss

Date(s): 02/22-23/14                                                                                             Rating: 5

 

Critique: I did this hike as a 1st backpack of the season thinking that the weather was great in Richmond so it would be good in the mountains. What a surprise to see so much snow. I attempted to do this hike as outlined in the Hiking VA guide book by Bill and Mary Burnham. You find the trailhead on Waites Run Road as you make your way behind the town of Wardensville, WV. The trail starts off just near the bridge and quickly gains elevation following the main creek with multiple crossings. As there was a lot of snow runoff, the water was really flowing. The trail tops out in a hardwood forest on the ridge with a major intersection of the Tuscarora, Half Moon, and Mill Mountain Trails. Interestingly there are several board walks in this section, presumably for the bog type environment. I then hiked in very deep snow in the direction of Big Schloss. The guidebook says to stay on the new Tuscarora trail and not take the cutoff so I did that on the way up. On the way back I did break bad and follow this cutoff to save time and not have to walk so far in the snow. I saw the airway beacon ruins and did not think it was such a much. I did meet up with a group of guys from PA at the Sandstone spring and thought it was a nice place to camp. The next item of note was the overlook on the Mill Mountain trail The view was pretty amazing. I caught a glimpse of Big Schloss off to the left and decided to push on. The view from the top was amazing and even more so was the feat of engineering to have built a huge footbridge at the top of the mountain. I have often wondered how they got the material up there. It had to be by helicopter. Sadly there were folks setting up camp at the summit. It was getting late so it was time to head down. I made it back to Sandstone Spring to find I had this great site to myself. I saw the other review and hope that I do not catch anything as I did not filter my water. The next day was a bit easier as a bit more snow did melt overnight and I was back tracking in a lot of my own footprints. I did not see a soul on the way back down Sunday am. I really want to come back here in the summer when the weather is warmer. This is a great hike with a great view. I highly recommend it.

 

 

Name: Mike                                                                                                                Hike: Morgan Run

Date: 02/09/14                                                                                                        Rating: 4

 

Critique: The trail description is excellent, very helpful towards the end of the loop, as trails can get pretty confusing. Did this trip after an ice storm came thru the previous week and found numerous trees down across the trail, mountain biking trails will need major clean up. The poor/snow covered trail conditions lead to a very isolated experience, as I did not see another person the whole trip. Wonderfully quiet, came across a large Red Fox, numerous Hawks and four deer. A snow storm made the last 1-1/2 hours even more amazing. Less the sprint back across the bridge to my car, that was a little sketchy

 

 

Name: Megan                                                                                                             Hike: Ramseys Draft-East

Date(s): 11/16-17/13                                                                                             Rating: 5

 

Critique: I absolutely loved this hike. It was certainly difficult, especially it being my first overnight backpacking trip. Going after all the leaves had fallen provided little traffic on the trail and amazing views along the ridge line. We camped on Big Bald Knob, which did make for a windy and cold night, but that was to be expected. The second day was very different from the first going down into the valley with slippery and difficult footing at many times. We did not mind having to climb over several large fallen trees or rock hopping, for us it only added to the adventure and enjoyment. It was absolutely beautiful the whole way. Be mindful however that during the wet season you have to be very careful of your footing past the spring so as to not slip. We packed enough water to last us the first full day since there is no other good source of water, then refilled at the spring which is your best bet of clean water because further down into the valley there are several beaver dams which can contaminate the water. We did actually see 2 bears separately, which was fantastic, though also something to be mindful of safety wise, and lots of scat along the path. This in my opinion was a great hike, I would suggest however that this not be hiked in the middle of the summer considering that would make you lose those great views and would make trudging through all the brush very difficult.

 

 

Name: George                                                                                                            Hike: Lumberjack Tr/Seneca Creek Loop

Date(s): 01/20/14                                                                                                   Rating: 4

 

Critique: Did the hike in reverse as I was hiking it for the first time and being January, I didn't want to find out 7 miles in to the hike that I couldn't cross the creek! Had the whole backcountry to myself as far as I could tell :) - had to be creative on the creek crossings as there was much ice but most of it wouldn't hold me. Managed to make it across all crossings without getting wet. One item of note to the description above. The main falls of Seneca Creek are about 100 yards below the trail intersection with Huckleberry Trail, not .5 miles. Hiking down the creek below the main falls is not recommended unless you are into Class 2 fun. Many blowdowns, rhododendron, etc.. Hiked about a mile out High Meadows trail and then bushwacked uphill to intersect Lumberjack Trail and then back to car. Lumberjack Trail, even in January was quite soft in spots. Would not rush back to hike Lumberjack, but High Meadows and Seneca Creek Trails are very nice and worth the trip.

 

 

Name: Pete Fleszar                                                                                                  Hike: Gunpowder Falls-West Circuit

Date: 01/18/14                                                                                                         Rating: 4

 

Critique: I wound up here exactly because "days are short, weather conditions are less than desirable [at first choice exploration opportunities in the Tiadaghton] and the urge to get out into the woods is overwhelming." Hike was as described - except the blazed route just south of Masemore Rd crosses not on a bridge, but on askew stepping stones (outbound water went over my boots here). (The bridge has obviously been removed.) The scenic highlight (and trickiest treadway) for me was the passage along the river above Falls Rd. I did continued out a bit on the trail towards Prettyboy Reservoir, but there was a multi-stemmed chain saw blowdown in the 2nd hollow that I didn't want to navigate twice so I turned around. With a skiff of snow on the ground, as they say in western PA things were a bit "slippy" so I stayed on the Gunpowder South trail for the last leg of the return rather than attempt the lower fisherman trail. For the non-local a few notes about the trailhead might be in order. The last half mile or so of Bunker Hill Rd is a bit rough, possibly not winter maintained although no sign said that. There is an alternative pull off area where the hike re-crosses Bunker Hill Rd on top of the hill, almost underneath I-83 by the sign for the archery range. In PA one expects a large State Park parking lot to have a map kiosk and a functioning restroom. This new parking lot at the bottom of the hill despite its size and crowded nature on a weekend morning had neither. In fact there are no trail signs at all. It was only on the return that I saw the restroom building that clearly cost the taxpayers of MD a pretty penny - with sign "Closed for Winter". The paved path back to the parking lot was long enough to obscure visibility, pine needle covered and totally unsigned behind a nondescript gate so it was evident why I had missed it. (There is now a continuation of the Bunker Hill Trail before you reach the rest rooms that leads you more directly back to the parking lot. BTW, there is now a 4X4 post with a blue blaze marking that trail at the parking lot.) Hereford also appears devoid of the normal highway commercial establishments as well. Nor is there a welcome center on I-83 southbound at the state line. If driving some distance coming from the north to this venue, get off at Shrewsbury PA for a bodily function break.

 

 

Name: Dan                                                                                                                  Hike: Waterfall Wonderland

Date: 2009/2010/2013                                                                                           Rating: 5+

 

Critique: First, I have to admit that I've done sections of this hike on different occasions - never the full hike at once. I've done all of Sullivan Run. It worked from the top, but not the bottom for me, but I know of someone who went in from the bottom and made it (he was very much in shape and trail-professional). Perhaps, I was just nervous to get a wet camera... I've done most of Heberly Run. I didn't hit Big Falls, but I've done the rest. I found what I saw to be rather beautiful, but the Sullivan Run section is much better than anything out there that I've ever done (and I pride myself on taking in as many waterfalls as I can (though Ricketts has "more" it also has drawbacks - see below)). I also was lucky enough to be escorted back to Quinn Run, which isn't in the Scott Brown guide (his stuff is fantastic, by the way AND NO, I'm not him). It's a great place to get lost and get trained. I liked this a whole lot, too. I agree with the reviews of how wonderful and difficult the hike is. There's definitely a sense of accomplishment, but there's also a sense of take your time and THINK but don't get too in your head out there. It's definitely a place that you will have for yourself, and that's what I like about it. The litter and hordes at Ricketts Glen have really detracted from an otherwise beautiful place in recent years. I heartily recommend Sullivan and the other places if you want to go off the grid since there is no trail or crowds. If you want a taster of Sullivan, I recommend hiking up to Quinn Run and testing your feet on the smaller waterfalls for ascent and descent purposes. Some of the hike in is a little steep, but it's not a lot of vertical - just a drop on the sides.

 

Waterfall Photo.

 

My photo gallery.

 

 

Name: Hikeer                                                                                                           Hike: Dolly Sods-Central

Date: 12/28/13                                                                                                       Rating: 4

 

Nice hike. Did this as a day hike and it took about 6 hrs, allowing for a couple times I lost the trail in the snow. Did it in reverse, but dont' think it would really matter which way you hiked. Lots of nice campsites along both forks of Red Creek. Breathed Mt. trail brings you out right along the ski slopes at Timberline, which I didn't expect. Not a lot of long distance views, but nice scenery along creeks. Lots of ice on the trail, especially at Canaan end of Blackbird Trail.

 

 

Name: Jeeremy Krones                                                                                          Hike: C&O Canal/Long Pond Shuttle

Date: 11/24/13                                                                                                       Rating: 3.2

 

Criitique: While this was a great hike on a beautiful day, it was nothing like what we expected. The group members (13 UMD students) each rated the hike, and our average is 3.2 (the highest was a 4, the lowest was 2.5). We started the hike at 10:30am and finished at 4:10pm on a cold, windy day (~20ºF). This trail is not in any way strenuous. Moderate, certainly, and even on the tough side of moderate *at times*, but by and large this was not nearly as difficult as any other 'strenuous' hikes we've done nor was it any more difficult than many of the moderate hikes. If anything, the distance of the trail (NOT 15 miles – very possibly closer to 12) (if you did the entire hike, from the canal to Headquarters I can guarantee you it was 14.7 miles. If you did the short version, not hiking the canal part, it was 12 miles. I think your group is just in excellent physical condition.) made it more difficult than most other trails in MD. Additionally, while the trail is very clearly blazed (no real trail notes needed: follow the Red blazes until the first marked junction and then follow the clearly marked signs to the Headquarters, on Blue blazes), it is NOT very well maintained. Slope cuts were highly eroded; our downhills were steep, slippery, and dangerous at times; and the "boardwalk" bridge in the last few miles was treacherous to cross (pictures to come). The bridge is warped in the middle and very unstable to cross. The final critique is that there were no great views – we did it in the wintertime, which means that in the summer whatever views we saw would be even less due to more leaves. However, it was a nice trail, and an interesting one. The landscape and geological formations were great to look at, and the various bodies of water were fun. The cabin added to the experience, too. NOTE: from the first kiosk at the turn-off from the C&O Canal, just follow the base of the slope (as mentioned in the notes) instead of following the red blazes right off the bat; the "trail" is nonexistent on the slope, and more use can only increase the erosion and potential danger until a real tread is constructed.

 

 

 

Name: Paul D.                                                                                                          Hike: Lumberjack Trail/Seneca Creek Loop

Date(s): 11/15-17/13                                                                                           Rating: 4

 

Critique: Five of us geezers hiked and camped at Judy Springs for a two-nighter. Parked at Lumberjack Trailhead just after the BIG switchback o the right. Hiked in on Lumberjack. Arriving Friday around 2 at Judy Springs gave us first choice of sites. We took the big site across the bridge, being a bit more private than the field site. Firewood was scarce, as this is a very popular area to camp. We had 15-18 hikers come by throughout the weekend, some camping nearby. Others were sent downstream to the smaller, but more beautiful waterworks sites. Trail conditions were wet on all trails, an inch of snow on trails on Friday, after the couple inches they rec'd. earlier in the week. The field descent down Judy Springs trail was slippery. Highs were in the 40's, down to 32 Friday, then warming as the weekend went on, to a high of 61 on Sunday. We did have moderate rain Friday night which dampened our party to a 9 pm. lights out. The rain sound was beautiful and lulling in the tent. Clear weather on Saturday so we hiked downstream for 40 minutes to the big waterfall and back. Four stream crossings each way! that I remember, all rock-hoppable at the low water level we encountered, but were still dicey. One of us had a slamdown cuz the rocks were quite slippery. Would be impossible in high water. A leisurely pace and many wet sections plus the crossings resulted in a 2.5 hour hike, about 3 miles total, including more pic taking and a long lunch at the great flintstone furniture site, just below the big fall. Then back up to Judy Springs for night two. Clear weather sunday monring, and we left around 1030 am, hiking out on Seneca Creek Trail. Made record time with food and beer-lightened packs. Trail also quite wet and muddy. Reached FR112 and hiked five minutes back up to the cars. A great outing, no injuries, many beautiful photos taken, and camaraderie shared. I only give it a four rating instead of the five it deserves because of all the company we encountered, but that's to be expected in a place this beautiful, even in mid-November. The whole area is a gem.

 

Hiking across a meadow.

 

 

Name: Ted E. Bear and Shortstack                                                                      Hike: Oregon Ridge

Date: 11/09/13                                                                                                       Rating: 4

This was Ted E. Bear’s first hike after recovering from a painful bout of plantar faciitis and his first hike in this park. Oregon Ridge was a great place to test out how well the old feet would work. For a small park this 5 mile hike had a little of everything: rock hops, hills, views, stream crossings, and even a quaint little pond. Shortstack knew the park so we didn’t pay attention to the directions which we had with us just in case. We did get a little off track once or twice because of the heavy leaf litter covering the trails this time of year. On the brisk Saturday morning when we started there were few other hikers, but by the time we finished the parking lot was full - so start early. (Gates opened at 8:45.) The only negative was a particular ignorant arrogant local with a dog, who ignored the leash your dog rule, and when behind us, the dog got in front of us once or twice. Fortunately the dog had bells on so we heard it coming. Owner of dog with bells on - please leash your dog! Note what we think of you above.

 

 

Laura T.                                                                                                                     Hike: Lost Pond Circuit

Date: 11/09/13                                                                                                       Rating: 3

 

Critique: Nice views and a pleasant hike - enough hills to get the heart rate up without being killer. Nice for an afternoon after work. At 3pm on a chilly Friday, I only saw a handful of other people. But the rocks, oh the rocks... The rocks rolled under my feet. The rocks caught my trekking poles. The rocks slowed my pace to a crawl, especially going down hills... I stubbed my toes several times on rocks hidden beneath layers of leaves. I'm sure it's a very different hike in the spring and summer.

 

 

Name: Laura T.                                                                                                        Hike: Hashawha  Pderimeter

Date: 11/08/13                                                                                                       Rating: 4

 

I hike the loop at least four days a week. It's a great hike. Trails are well marked and fairly well maintained, though out on the Yellow loops (Wilderness Trail) you will find newly downed branches and such (and don't take Yellow Loop 1 in the summer if you dislike spider webs). The only treacherous part is the descent of Yellow loop 3 to the stream. I would recommend trekking poles for that. You can also cut around that (and add some length) by taking the equestrian trails when they're not closed for hunting). Scenery is nice and you'll see everything from muskrat to deer to black rat snakes. Many butterflies in the summer months. I do hesitate to call it easy. It's easy if you're fit but if you're just starting to hike or only go on the occasional weekend, you /will/ be winded by some of the Yellow loop hills. The injured raptor cages and Bear Branch nature center are nice additions, especially if you're hiking with children. There is some trail traffic but even on weekend afternoons I don't usually see more than 2-3 other groups.

 

 

Name: Rob                                                                                                                Hike: White Rocks Circuit

Date: 11/08/13                                                                                                       Rating: 4

 

Fun hike, I would agree with the moderate description. Few additional notes. Stop and pick up a map at the crossing of the Yellow and Pink Trails (Wilson Cove/Old Mail). I did this hike in the autumn after all the leaves fell, so at times on the Racer Hollow Trail (orange) it was difficult to pick up the trail. Outlook was amazing. Lots of campsites along the way if you want to do an easy backpack trip. As far as the directions, very accurate. Don't make the same mistake I did though: When you leave the White Rocks trail, don't go all the way back down the mountain!

 

 

Name: Ed S.                                                                                                              Hike: Red Creek/Dunkenbarger Loop

Date: 08/25/13                                                                                                       Rating: 4.5

 

Critique: This is a nice hike, especially with regards to water features. It's rather different than the meadows of Dolly Sods North. On the plus side are the waterfalls and cascades, plus some mountaintop views. On the minus is the lack of the expansive meadows to the north. I suppose the main issue I had with the hike (other than it taking longer than expected) was that many stretches seemed somewhat typical, and not too much different from other more nearby destinations. But that should not make one think that this is a bad hike. The waterfalls, and the views make this hike more than worthy. The different forest types, from dense pine and spruce stands, rhododendron lowlands, and mixed forests give it a wide variety as you move from trail to trail. The streams are different, from serene Dunkenbarger Run, roaring Big Stonecoal Creek, majestic Red Creek, and the cascading side runs of of Red Creek. Watch out for muddy trails, especially Dunkenbarger and parts of the Red Creek Trail.

 

 

Name: Ed S.                                                                                                              Hike: Green Ridge North Circuit

Date: 09/29/13                                                                                                       Rating: 4

 

Critique:  A good hike, among the hollows and low hills in Green Ridge State Forest. I started at the old US40 crossing, and also took the spur to the Mason-Dixon Line to extend the hike. The hike runs often in the lowlands of creeks in the area, fairly dry at this time of year. Others are up on narrow benches constructed in the steep bluffs high above the creeks. In other places, it wonders along the low hills and shale barrens of the area. The trails are not that busy, which makes it a good place for seeing wildlife. The trails are often narrow, and you do have to be on a near constant lookout for poison ivy, especially near road crossings and floodplain campsites.

 

Photo of an Eastern Hogneck Snake

 

 

Name: Jennifer                                                                                               Hike: Overall Run Falls-Heiskell Hollow

Date: 11/03/13                                                                                                       Rating: 4

 

Crirtique: We ended up hiking the trail in reverse, so we actually did not reach the falls until the hike started to decline back down the mountain. The view was fantastic! The low point of the hike was losing a bracelet that my mom gave me while I was expecting my daughter 5 years ago. I am hoping that anyone reading this review and taking this hike will take a moment to look for it on your trip. In a race against the sunset, we were really booking it back down the trail after the Great Falls. This is the steep rocky part of the trail. Well, I went down and recall snagging the bracelet on my walking stick, but did not think I had broken it. It is a thin silver chain bracelet with a single silver baby bootie charm on it. My mother passed almost 5 years ago and I have worn it everyday since my daughter was born. If anyone is lucky enough to find it, you may contact me at durose419@gmail.com. I will be eternally greatful to whoever is able to return it to me! I am from the Richmond, VA area.

 

M.R.Hyker Note: I will give the finder of Jennifer's bracelet a free copy of my book, The Mid-Atlantic Hiker's Guide:WV, upon its safe return to her.

 

 

Name: Laura                                                                                                            Hike: Dolly Sods North Backpack

Date(s): 10/19-20/13                                                                                           Rating: 4

 

Critique: We did this hike October 19, and loved it. The area is really like nothing else in Virginia, but more like what you would see in Canada, or Scotland. In reading about Dolly Sods, I saw that it was classified as a sub arctic bog, but I have yet to understand how something in Virginia came to be classified as sub arctic. The place is certainly popular enough—hardly room to park the car. We saw plenty of hikers and groups on Bear Rocks Trail. But after we got onto Rocky Ridge Trail, we were on our own. Great views, really amazing landscape. Even at this high point, the many rocks on the ridge were seated in water, and the heath was as damp as a wet sponge. The directions were good, and the signage was better than I had expected. It can be a bit tricky to pick your way down the southern part of Rocky Ridge trail, as it is only rocks, and there really is no discernible path. There is the odd cairn here and there. Red Spruce Grove was a fabulous campsite—large, sheltered, near water. My only complaint is that is very popular, and that in the hollow, sound carries *very* well. We thought another group had camped only a short distance away, but when I went to get water, I saw that they were actually at least twice the distance we had thought—yet we could here every word and laugh at their camp. The next day, things got…interesting. We enjoyed hiking along Blackbird Trail and Upper Red Creek. We were prepared for boggy areas, with waterproof boots and gaiters. What we weren’t expecting was nearly a solid mile of trail that was bog. I don’t know if forces of nature had conspired against us, or if it is typically like this. Hiking through boggy sections was at first run of the mill, then as they stretched out and got longer and wider, more difficult. When we had covered more than a mile and still weren’t leaving them behind, they began to mar the enjoyment of what would otherwise have been a very pleasant hike. I am still wishing I had taken the turn at the Raven Ridge Trail, although I have no way of knowing whether this would have been better. We met several hikers coming from the opposite direction who had given up on the trail. Some had their shoes off, and were in the process of draining. One fellow had gone into the bog up to his knee. All of them were turning around. Disappointing as this section of the trail was to me personally, my greater concern was for the trail, and the landscape itself. Most hikers, when faced with a boggy section of trail, were going around. This meant that the trail was widened, and the natural landscape given way to numerous boots wishing to stay dry and mud free. I can’t help but think this will have a extremely negative impact on this section of Dolly Sods. I really loved the hike in Dolly Sods, and would go back there again in a heartbeat.

 

 

Name: Hard Core and Wooly Bully                                                                       Hike: Trout Run Valley Circumnavigation

Date(s): 10/19-21/13                                                                                           Rating: 5+

 

Critique: We opted to do this hike as a clockwise loop (vs. the CCW loop in Mike's trail notes), as the CW direction avoids a steep descent from Tibbet Knob. Everything else - daily mileages, camp locations - stayed the same. Saturday started out cool and cloudy, and stayed that way. Leaving Wolf Gap a little before 10am, we reached Tibbet Knob in about an hour. Very steep in places, but the fantastic view made up for the hard work. From this vantage point, we viewed the entire Trout Run Valley and our route for the next three days. The far end of the valley seemed a long way off! The next sections went by fast, with a 2.5-mile road walk and then finishing the day on the sometimes-rocky Long Mountain Trail. We reached the Ben's Ridge campsite at around 3pm, logging 8.2 miles for the day. We decided to camp in the trees to provide some shelter from the windy and cold conditions. Overall, this was a nice spot, with a large clearing and nearby water. Just a few drops of rain before dinner, a blustery and cool night, with a very bright full moon. Sunday found us back on the trail by 9am, continuing north on the Long Mt. Trail, and then reaching Trout Run Road. Somehow, we got off track just before the road crossing, but taking a right and then a hundred yards or so got us to the Bucktail Parking area. We really appreciated the comfortable benches and informative maps at the trailhead, a very worthwhile outcome of an Eagle Scout project and a perfect lunch spot at the midpoint of our 12.6-mile day. From this point, the trail climbed steadily for the rest of the day. The Half Moon Lookout afforded a neat perspective of the Trout Run Valley; viewing Tibbet Knob and then tracing our route along Ben's Ridge helps us see our progress for the past two days. An impressive distance! We reached the campsite at the intersection of the Half Moon Trail and the Tuscarora Trail at around 4pm. Another nice site, on a narrow ridge, in the trees, with a small but flowing stream about 100 yards down the trail, just across the equestrian boardwalk. The calm and cool conditions let us enjoy Sunday evening's campfire while watching the full moon rise in the eastern sky. Except for a pair of barred owls meeting near our tents and exchanging a weird string of partial calls (two or three notes vs. the normal eight), we had a very quiet night. Fortunately, the temperature was warmer than the predicted mid 30's. The ridge top location provided a nice sunny breakfast spot for Monday morning. Monday started out on the Tuscarora, and then south on the Mill Mountain Trail. We passed Sandstone Spring (flowing nicely), toured the expansive campsite, and then proceeded south. During the section before the Big Schloss Cutoff, we passed three stones, maybe a half mile apart (about the size and shape of a 2' tall gravestone). We could make out a few engraved numerals - maybe these stones serve as some type of marker? When approached from the north, Big Schloss really appears fortress-like. The USFS did a nice job on the new bridge, complete with concrete footings, laminated wood beams, and sturdy side rails. Another great view! From Big Schloss we continued south, still climbing with more views of the mountain ranges to the east, and then finally descending back to the Wolf Gap campground to complete the circuit. This hike deserves a 5+ rating, and the trail notes are spot-on.

 

 

Name: Gumby                                                                                                          Hike: Dolly Sods Circumnavigation-mod 1

Date(s): 10/18-20/13                                                                                           Rating: 4

 

Critique: Three of us arrived at the trail head late afternoon on Friday October 18 with the goal of camping at the correctly described fantastic but dry campsite where we had a front row seat for an amazingly bright hunters moon. While there were a number of cars parked on the fire road we didn't see anyone on the trail out to our first camp site. The next day we headed for the Red Creek on the Harman Trail, after lunch and water we moved on to camp at the junction with the Dunkenbarger Trail. We passed a few other backpackers and day hikers on Saturday and Sunday, but not many. On Sunday, the view from the rocks off of Rocky Point Trail were spectacular, with excellent fall colors and unspoiled views. We had lunch at the Forks and hiked out, having an excellent dinner at Mallow's Roadside Cafe (get there before 7PM on Sunday). The trails and signs were in good condition, though I am happy that I had gps with me to check our location a few times.

 

 

Name: Kyle                                                                                                               Hike: Otter Creek Backpack

Date: 10/19/13                                                                                                       Rating: 5

 

Critique: Did the whole backpack loop. It was excellent. The trail damage has been cleared and is good to go. Only a few trees to duck under no big deal. The trail was great the descent on green mountain trail is steep and rocky a little rough on the knees but not to bad. Didnt see one person the whole trip!

 

 

Name: Dave                                                                                                             Hike: Gunpowder Falls East Circuit

Date: 10/12/13                                                                                                       Rating: 5

 

Critique: This needs to be updated--I think the park may have built some trails that make the early description obsolete.

 

 

Name: Bob                                                                                                                Hike: Red Creek/Dunkenbarger Loop

Date: 10/12/13                                                                                                       Rating: 5

 

Critique: There has been recent trail work on Red Creek. All blow downs that cross the trail have been cleared.

 

 

 

Name: Privy                                                                                                              Hike: Torry Ridge-Mills Creek Loop    

Date: 10/11/13                                                                                                       Rating: 3

 

Outing Critique: Thanks for the details on this hike. It is a great route with lots to see, if weather cooperates. We did not have great weather so most views were fogged out. Also, the hike out of the creek valley is very strenuous, so be prepared. Footing is rocky. The second campsite is in a great spot with a nice fire ring and creek access.

 

 

Name: Peter                                                                                                             Hike: Rocky Knob-Quarry Gap Backpack

Date(s): 10/05-06/13                                                                                           Rating: 3,5

 

Critique: As others have mentioned, this is a very well maintained area, which is nice. The weather was superb this past weekend (autumn color were showing, and it was beautiful, albeit a bit hot for the season). The hike was quite easy, but that allowed for us to enjoy the forest hiking more. The reservoir was a great perk on this hike and made up for the lack of views elsewhere. There seemed to be tons of blueberry bushes, as others have mentioned, but, unfortunately, it wasn't their season. Also, like other's said, the Quarry Gap shelter is probably the best I've ever seen. Lots of other nice campsites at many points along the trail. We didn't see many other people, nor did we see much wildlife.

 

 

Name: The Mad Hatter                                                                                           Hike: Jeff Mitchell's Waterfall Wonderland

Date: 07/16/11                                                                                                       Rating: 5

 

Critique: Certainly one of the best, prettiest and most challenging hike I've ever done, and that with only one serious trailess climb. Will probably never do this again but still very memorable.

 

 

Name: Dottie                                                                                                            Hike: Four Ponds-Rock City Loop

Date: 10/05/13                                                                                                       Rating: 5

 

Critique: Hiked this today, unusually hot day, but bright and sunny, and saw only 2 people all day. Trails covered w/ leaves yet still easy to follow if using the trail notes & map. Once we crossed Fishing Creek, the leaf-covered trail--mt. biking trails--was quite challenging to find & follow, as the trail notes simply cannot provide a specific description. Remaining alert and looking for even the smallest sign of a trail is what got us through. It was fun! By the end of the hike, we felt that mileage must be closer to or greater than 12 miles. . .seemed like the very last 2 miles were extremely long. ..any error in those miles? All in all, wonderful day!

 

 

Name: Ryan                                                                                                              Hike: Old loggers Path

Date(s): 09/13/13                                                                                                  Rating: 4

 

Critique:  We did the upper loop and cut across Pleasant Stream Road (21.5 miles). Very well maintained trail, blazes were freshly painted and someone very recent was doing trail work since most of the brush was freshly cut with shears. All the inclines are quite gradual and the vista's are quite nice. We ended up camping at popular swimming hole. The water carves out great swimming holes and the camp sites were quite large. The weather was cooler this weekend and jumping in the water was not an option, but would really like to check this out next summer for. Overall a nice trail and had limited traffic. Our GPX can be downloaded from here. http://www.trimbleoutdoors.com/ViewTrip/2427121 Thanks again MA Hikes, great details.

 

 

Name: Mntjohn                                                                                                        Hike: Roaring Plains Base Camp and Day Hike

Date: 9/14/13                                                                                                         Rating: 5

 

Critique: my GF and i drove up FR70 to the pipeline and did a modified version of this hike. pipeline to canyon rim trail to teepee trail and back to the pipeline via the roaring plains trail. the descriptions given here are excellent, we did this with no map, compass or gps(although i did have the description and map and a compass i never had to use them.) the route was pretty obvious to me and although we did get misdirected a couple of times it never took more than a minute or two to get back on track -even on the teepee trail. the week before this we hiked the south prong from fr19 to fr70, fr70 to the pipeline and hidden passage back to the south prong and out ...again doing this without the use of map, compass or gps. had a little problem after the meadows where the hidden passage veers right, took us about 5 minutes to re-find the trail, otherwise was smooth sailing the scenery and views are second to none and we had a great time on both hikes. i highly recommend doing these hikes in segments as to allow more time for exploring and soaking up all the great views and scenery my advice to anyone wishing to hike the canyon rim and hidden passage is to study this page and the corresponding topo as much as you possibly can -get it into your bloodstrem so to speak. then i believe if you have good backcountry intuition and a good sense of direction that you will have no problems ...as always take your time and know the terrain ..print this page and the maps and you will be fine this area is fast becoming my favorite, thanks for the grat maps and trail descriptions

 

View from the rim.

 

 

 

Name: Hard Core, Wooly Bully, Cognac Jack                                                     Hike: Neighbor Mountain-Jeremy Run

Date(s): 08/31 to 09/01/13                                                                                Rating: 4

 

Critique: We did this as an overnight backpack during the Labor Day weekend. Accessing SNP at the Thornton Gap entry station, we filed the obligatory back country camping permit, and then proceeded to the Elkwallow Picnic Area to start the trip. Following the Jeremy's Run cutoff trail, and then left onto the AT, we headed south for several miles, at times close enough to Skyline Drive to hear the traffic. The AT gently climbs and descends along this stretch. Proceeding along the Neighbor Mt. trail, it was a constant climb to the high point, with not much in the way of overlooks. We did see an 18" timber rattlesnake, which was spotted by the "sweep" hiker. She has sharp eyes! The descent down to Jeremy's Run offered nice views of the Massanuttens, but less shade as a fairly large section had recently burned. Turning uphill to follow the run, we passed the waterfall site (which had been taken by a young couple) and proceeded to a grassy camp site on the left side of the trail. Within a few minutes after stopping, a passing hiker (also headed up the run) reported seeing bears a "few minutes back". We must have just missed them. With rumbles of thunder from the south, we hurriedly made camp and set up the bear bag hang, and then waited out the shower. The storm provided little relief from the hot and humid day. At sundown the owls started up, first in the distance but then with a large owl stopping directly above the campsite. These guys are loud! Continuing the next morning we crossed Jeremy's Run about 20 times, fortunately the low water made for rock hops. Highlights included seeing a large caterpillar that could swim like a seahorse, brook trout, an interesting conversation with a thru-hiker, and an almost-dead raccoon. Back to the car at 11am, we cleaned up (running water at the picnic area!), enjoyed blackberry milkshakes at the Elkwallow Concession, and then headed back home. This makes for a great overnight trip, just the right length at 15 miles, gentle grades and smooth trails, and within reasonable driving distance. The map and trail notes are spot-on.

 

 

Name: Lacy                                                                                                              Hike: Laurel Fork Backpack

Date(s): 08/30 to 09/02/13                                                                                Rating: 4

 

Set out early in the morning for a 2 night backpack. The directions were incredibly specific and easy to follow. We didn't get lost even with my complete lack of navigational skills. Some things to note, in the 3rd paragraph of the instructions, when you're looking for the footpath on the left with the small arrow sign--the tree marked with the blaze has fallen down across the path and the sign has come off the tree. We leaned the blaze against the fallen tree, but this may not be a lasting solution. We came across the rattlesnake area, but found the sign (still there!) after passing the "danger zone", so I guess we were walking the opposite direction of the hiker who posted the sign. We didn't see any snakes or signs of snakes here, but just be careful when you start walking on the rocks by the stream. The only snake we saw was a brown unidentified snake on the rocks prior to this area near where the trail erosion was. We saw him as we were trying to avoid a large fishing spider sunbathing with a full egg sack on the rock we were trying to cross. Strangely enough, these two were the only animals we saw on the trip (minus an alleged deer sighting by my partner and the millions of gnats constantly swarming us). It was quiet hike through the woods, rarely even heard birds. Only saw two other groups of hikers on the trail throughout the entire 3 days. Campsites are nice, some have seats built of river stones (some with backrests!) and most sites had extra wood the previous hikers hadn't used still sitting next to the fire pits. We really enjoyed our time out in the woods. Recommend bringing two pairs of shoes as we used one for hiking all day and crossing the rivers, but had a second pair at night for around the campsite. Thanks for the great directions and reviews! We will be using this site for camping trips in the future!

Name: Moonshine                                                                                                   Hike: Laurel Fork Wilderness-Allegheny Trail

Date(s): 08/31 to 09/02/13                                                                                Rating: 4

 

Critique: I added an out-and-back to High Falls on Day 1. After recent rains the waterfall was spectacular. The trail over Shavers Mtn is rocky and washed out in some spots. Laurel Fork Tr North of the campground is overgrown with weeds in many places, but tall cairn don't let you get lost. North of the Wilderness boundary new blue diamonds guide you to the ford and all the way to FR44. Now, the really important issue: McCray Run Tr has lots of blowdowns. They are so bad that I chose to walk the creekbed wherever possible. Allegheny Tr is not much better for the first 0.5 mi. Overall, I made about 37 mi in 2.5 days and capped the trip with a refreshing dip in the river in Glady.

Name: Tom                                                                                                                Hike: Big Run-Seneca Creek-Lost Meadows backpack

Date(s): 4/30 to 05/02/2013                                                                               Rating: 4

 

Critique: Did this hike minus the Big Run entrance. Started at Seneca Creek trailhead instead. Warm days, chilly nights, beautiful water works. A small handful of other hikers. Was nice to hit High Meadows when it isn't overgrown. Also found the plane wreckage on Lumberjack since there was no vegetation. Had walked by it many times before and never saw it. Enjoyed the understory off-trail a bit too. Went past the Lost Meadow and found another trail to an even higher meadow on top the mountain. Looks like a 4-wheeler or hunter's trail that is easy to follow. Could be getting onto private property. Beyond the top of the mountain, I did not explore to the north, but you can look south along the entire spine of Spruce Mountain. Farther away you can see clear to Bald Knob on Back Allegheny Mountain over in Pocahontas County. One interesting feature is visible in the brush behind the fire ring near the south side of the the Lost Meadow. There are three nearly identical rock cairns spaced in a line about the same distance apart, each is 6-7 feet tall and remarkably well built. They have been there a while, as evidenced by the trees and brush growing in and around them. Maybe aliens built them, or maybe they are markers along an old trail. Anybody have a clue who built these and why?? Love this hike, and plan to go again, possibly this fall in the color season.

 

 

Name: Tom                                                                                                                            Hike: Piney Ridge-Piney Branch Loop

Date: 08/30/13                                                                                                                    Rating: 5

 

Critique: I made a two day hike out of this. Started on Skyline Drive; hiked down Piney Ridge Trail, taking a left on the trail at the intersection with Fork Trail, and continued on Pine Ridge to the Hull School Trail, where I crossed the stream and camped for the night. The next morning I continued west on Hull School Trail, right on the Fork Trail, and hiked back to Skyline Drive on Piney Ridge. The 1.11 stretch of Piney Ridge to Piney Branch is very steep, with a lot of switchbacks. Suggest going downhill on this stretch, not uphill. Saw a black bear in this area. There is a good camping spot at the intersection of Hull School Trail and Piney Branch, just on the west side of the stream, far enough away from trail to be hidden. Only ran into two groups the entire hike. Overall, it is one of the lesser used routes in the northern section of SNP.

 

Name: Andrew                                                                                                                      Hike: St. Mary's Wilderness

Date: 08/23-25/13                                                                                                             Rating: 4

 

Critique: Parked at the BRP and hiked Mine Bank to the junction of the River trail. This trail is clear of blowdowns and seemed very recently cut back. Other trails are mildly overgrown but still passable.) We turned right and hiked 0.3 miles to the group camp described above. Easily room for 3 or 4 boy scout jamborees here. Saturday we did an out and back to the Falls. The best swimming hole, in my opinion, is just upstream of the lower falls - 10 ft. deep, clear water, complete with rope to haul yourself out with and plenty of rock ledges for canonball jumping.

 

 

Name: Bill Thomas                                                                                                               Hike: Roaring Plains Circuit

Date(s): 08/11-13/13                                                                                                        Rating: 5

 

Critique: What an amazing hike! Thanks for the trail notes and GPS route waypoints. Could not have done it without these two critical pieces of information. We left the parking lot mid afternoon and were at the nice campsite by the stream way before dark. What a beautiful place to spend a peaceful night. The next day we took our time and enjoyed the many excellent views on our way to the Tee-Pee campsite. We just about lost the trail just after getting off the pipeline swath -- "iffy" indeed! We filled up all our water at Roaring Run as a precaution, and good we did, as Tee-Pee was dry (until it rained late that night!). A nice campsite, but no views. Next time I will stop at the campsite just down the trail from “The Point”. Tee-Pee trail and the subsequent Roaring Plains Trail were very wet - basically like walking a stream all the way to the swath. Boar’s Nest Trail was also quite wet -- only dry part was on top! Last view is great, then a very steep descent. The last ford was wet, as we couldn't find any rocks to hop across. But after all that downhill, the water actually felt really good. And our cars were still there!! A great hike! But would have been much more challenging without the tools on this site. Thanks!!!!   

Name: Janet Emily                                                                                                              Hike: Rocky Top/Big Run Loop

Date(s): 08/07-09/13                                                                                                       Rating: 4

 

Critique: First - thank you so much for this site. It is the most helpful planning site I have found for any area of the US. We followed the route as outlined in the description, but made it two overnights so we could spend more time in the area. For the ridge section, I would add that the nice lunch stop appeared to be the only nice lunch stop. I mistakenly thought I would find another spot farther on, but eventually we hunkered down in some shade right on the trail. The campsites near the bridge were wonderful and we loved the wading pool. The water was warm enough for a refreshing bath. On Day 2 we took a side hike up Brown Mountain Trail. This is roughly 1000 feet over 1 mile so we left our packs at the camp site. There are no pre-made viewpoints, but at the .9 mile mark you'll see a fairly open area that you can climb up and perch on a rock outcrop for a wonderful view. We failed to discover the "best camp site" mentioned. We found one site that could have matched the description, but did not match the GPS distance. The site offered room for 3 tents and was wide, under some hemlocks. But the creek access along the full length of the site was guarded by lush stinging nettles. I found one path through them to collect water. Also, this site was completely hidden from the trail. You have to look for it to find the faint manpath to it. We liked the first campsite better. Also, the last campsite on the trail, just short of the connector to Big Run Loop trail, is bare minimum. It is on the creek side, but there is no water access. On the other side of the trail the site is marked "No Camping". Maybe the "best camp site" was one of these marked "No camping". We were glad we went back to find the "best camp site" and found a good one. We saw a school of Brown Trout, maybe 50 fish, in a pool 1/4 mile prior to our second camp site. Right after a ford. My husband caught 4 trout in a hurry, but they were not quite big enough to eat. It was August. We walked out the final 3 miles the next morning and loved the climb out. Just beautiful, and we were fresh enough to enjoy it.

 

 

Ed S.                                                                                                                                       Hike: Big Mountain/Pine Tree Vista

Date: 07/29/13                                                                                                                   Rating: 5 (4 if uncountable spider webs present)

 

Critique: It may be odd for me to review this hike, but after reading the recent reviews it'd be a good time to revisit, especially as I'd never hiked Big Mountain in summer. I did the hike in the described CCW direction, but I started at the King trailhead, in the valley instead of atop the mountain. When I went, the trails were in much better shape than recently described. The State Forest trails (Lincoln, Plank, Richmond, King, Lockard) have all seen recent brush clearing and blowdown removal. The logging road sections have been mowed, not quite as recently as the trail clearing though. In my experience, the logging roads get mowed perhaps a few times a year; the State Forest trails get cleared no more than once a year at best. The Tuscarora Trail was also in good shape and well trodden. It is a narrow footway, and there was tall grass to go through on both sides of the Big Mountain overlook. The King-Lockard connector sees some use; though its start off the logging road is still somewhat obscure. Look for where the mowing ends or for where non-fenced-in trees appear in the middle of the logging road; the bypass is cut into a small rise above the logging road. I did some rough clearing along the rest of the bypass; so where to leave the logging skid is perhaps a bit more obvious. As to where the trail to Lockard begins, be sure to work all the way to the southeast corner of the bypassed wet area while staying within the tree line. In addition to the two overlooks and the shelter and its pond, my favorite part of the loop is the Lockard Trail, a serene wonderland for a good part of its length, through hemlocks and mountain laurel. It's a great trail for all seasons, and most of the time you can quickly forget you are closely paralleling a road. Plus, apart from the Big Mountain overlook, most likely you will experience full solitude. (Of course, that can be an issue; in the summer on a lot of the trails I was clearing spiderwebs strung across the trail which often seemed like every 20 feet or so.) The rough path to the King Trail overlook is apparent as soon as you once again see the lone pine atop the mountain. I should note that this overlook can be skipped in the summer, as it was somewhat leafed over. I hope that is merely a seasonal issue. In clearer times you can see the surprising offset in Tuscarora Mountain at Cowans Gap, along with fleeting views of the lake. Some navigation notes. (1) Except for the Tuscarora Trail, blazes are faint and infrequent. Plank and Lockard are green; Lincoln, Fore, Richmond, and King are red. (2) There is no longer a sign for the Lincoln Trail at the start though it is clear due to the yellow gate. (3) At the split of the Logging Roads at the Tuscarora Trail, make a sharp left turn. (4) Halfway between the Lincoln and Plank Trails, the Tuscarora narrows from a logging road to more a woods road. (5) The woods road that the Tuscarora Trail follows makes a 90-degree left turn at the <b>unsigned</b> junction with the Plank Trail; the Tuscarora continues straight ahead there as the narrow footpath, not further along at the Fore Trail. (6) The sign for the Richmond Trail atop the mountain does face north, so you would only see the back of the sign. However, just north of the junction is where the Tuscarora Trail rejoins the logging road, with a sign that'll be fully visible whichever way you went. From the Tuscarora sign just face south on the logging road and the Richmond Trail will be readily visible. (7) There are two Lockard/Fore Trail junctions, as they are co-aligned to cross the creek. The lower/first junction has a Fore Trail sign resting in a tree; veer left and stay on the obvious trail. The second/upper junction is in a very small clearing, veer right and make a very short descent to cross a usually dry streambed. (If you take the Fore Trail at the first junction; you'll find yourself climbing Cove Mountain on a rough unmaintained trail, and unless you are hiking all the trails in Allens Valley or want another steep climb and descent to do there's really no good reason to head up it. If you take Fore at the second junction, you'll find yourself in a narrow rock walled side-hollow and soon climb to the paved road. It can make a good shortcut between the Lockard, Gish logging, and Tuscarora Trails.) (8) The Lockard/Lincoln junction only has a sign for the Lockard Trail, but the junction will be obvious, as will the direction as the Lincoln Trail climbing Cove Mountain did not get the recent care the other way did. As for wet areas, assuming you remember the bypass, the only issue I had was immediately before the stream crossing along the Lockard Trail, for maybe 20-30 feet. In the spring there are more areas, as is clear from the mosses along the trail, but I recall these to be easy to get through. One final word. Consider an alternate start to the hike by walking up gravel Tower Rd to the Plank Trail, and take that east to the Tuscarora Trail. The distance and elevation change are basically the same, plus you get to walk past the "bowling pin," and thanks to past logging operations, you get some good views of the ridges to the east, Cumberland Valley and South Mountain, and the Bear Pond Mountains.

 

 

 

Name: Hardcore/Wooly Bully/Shortstack                                                         Hike: ATF-East

Date(s): 08/03-05/13                                                                                           Rating: 4

 

Critique: Encouraged by word of recent trail clearings and re-blazing for a trail race on AFT, Hard Core, Shortstack, and Wooly Bully stopped at the Black Moshannon State Park office, to sign in, get maps and trail updates from the park ranger. We faced light rain as we headed north up the Shingle Mill Trail, descending along the Black Moshannon Creek, charming with plenty of flowers, including Hollow Jo- Pye Weed and Cardinal Flower, sometimes growing in the center of the creek. After joining the AFT, we headed east through fields of ferns and ended the day at a campsite just past the Rock Run cutoff trail. Day one was a nice woods hike with relatively smooth trails and little elevation gain. Overnight temperatures were in the low 50's, with some traffic noise from I-80, and owl and coyote calls in the distance. Day 2 proved different. The weather improved with nice, low-humidity conditions for the remaining of the trek. After crossing Rt. 504, the trail became very rocky (ROCK ALERT!), with some steep sections. At one of the rougher sections, we meet backpackers from the Penn State Outdoor Club, participating in a five-day "Freshman Orientation." We continued up towards the overlooks enjoying more ferns, three "named vistas," and lots of blueberries! After crossing Underwood Road, the blazing (fresh yellow paint to this point) disappeared for a while, and then turned red. The blazes and trail maintenance had been good to this point, but the trail race must have ended here. Three tired hikers almost called it a night at the first Smay's Run campsite along a wood road, but fortunately decided to take the second site under the hemlocks. Again, we had the campsite to ourselves except for the owls and whatever roams through campsites at night (deer?), and everyone slept well. Day 3 included fantastic views of marshlands from a network of boardwalks and more blueberries. The trail notes may need updating here, as we had a few confusing sections getting on to the Indian Trail and Bog Trail was not labeled until on top of it, but we ended up in the right place, along the lake on beautiful boardwalks. The last two miles of the circuit were road-walking past nicely kept lakeshore houses. Overall, this was a nice trail, 32.8 miles total. It was a little rocky, rutted, and steep in the middle as accurately described in the trail notes, but otherwise moderate, seeing only a few groups of hikers and mostly, well marked except as noted. A plus for summer outings here, the beachfront was open and the bathhouse available for showers and changing.

Name: Gary                                                                                                              Hike: Chuck Keiper trail - West

Date(s): 08/09-10/13                                                                                           Rating: 1

 

Critique: This trail has not been maintained in quite some time, I'd estimate at least 2 years. Anybody attempting this trail please go with the knowledge that you will be bushwhacking and sliding down once narrow footpaths that are now nonexistent. The trail is deceiving because the footpath in the beginning and sections near roads are pretty navigable, but once you pass a creek for the first time the trail quality deteriorates. I've included a picture of what used to be the trail (you can see the bright orange blaze in the circle). After spending an entire day bushwhacking with the hopes that it would get better I cut my planned 3 day trip to an overnighter and headed home disappointed. I wish this trail was still a trial as I think it would be a nice hike but in its current state and in rain is almost dangerous on some of the sections that used to be footpaths that are now just rock slides.

Name: Mountain Stream Flood                                                                             Hike: Morgan Run N.E.A.

Date: 07/27/13                                                                                                       Rating: 3

Overall this a pleasant outing and contains a bit of everything one can find in a Piedmont hike in Maryland; from rolling hills and open fields to the Appalachian like mini-gorge of Morgan Run. This hike, however, cannot be done as described, at least not during the summer months. The second single track trail ("0.22 miles to another single track trail on the left") has been completely overgrown and obscured by a dense thicket. Also, the footpath along Morgan Run, while discernible, is very badly overgrown and can be slow going. If you cross Morgan Run, which was easily accomplished even now with the abnormally large amount of rain lately, you can pick up a much better trail on the north bank of the river. About 0.1-0.2 miles from Klee Mill Road, this trail ascends some very cool rock formations above the creek providing excellent views of the gorge.

 

 

Name: Ed S.                                                                                                              Hike: Shawl Gap/Sherman Gap Loop

Date: 06/13/13                                                                                                       Rating: 3.5

 

Critique: This was an OK hike, but without anything spectacular about it. There are only a few window views, and only typical streams. The Elizabeth Furnace ruins are a plus. The ridgeline hike never gets very technical, and some stretches where poison ivy makes for difficult walking. The Sherman Gap Trail seemed endless, and often fairly open to the sun. Instead of taking the Botts Trail at the end, I continued on the Sherman Gap Trail and then the Bearwallow Spur to reach to the Tuscarora Trail to get back to the picnic area. My advice, take the Botts Trail. While the ford on Passage Creek was easy if deep enough to get my shorts wet, the bottomlands trail past it was overgrown, buggy, muddy, and miserable. On the plus side, I got to experience my first cicada brood since 1987.

 

A Periodic Cicada

Name: Katie Junghans                                                                                           Hike: Grayson Highlands - 2

Date(s): 07/23-27/13                                                                                           Rating: 5

 

Critique: Your descriptions of this hike were a great intro to this beautiful area. My son and I were feeling sorry that we couldn't see the June rhododendrons in bloom, but were thrilled to see the white variety blooming along Lewis Fork and Big and Little Wilson Creeks in late July. Even better than the flowers were the high bush blueberries that we began eating on the AT Spur Trail and never stopped enjoying the entire hike. Also, the variety of mushrooms along the Cliffside and Lewis Fork Trails, and then along the AT between Old Orchard and Wise Shelters was phenomenal. Every color and shape, and many we had never seen before. We made this a 3-night, 4 day trek by adding in Mt.Rogers and the Cabin Creek waterfall loop. Thanks for your great website.

 

 

Name: Jay                                                                                                                 Hike: Hemlock Gorge

Date: 07/20/13                                                                                                       Rating: 4

 

Critique: This was my first unguided hike. My wife and I took the day and followed the planned route. The hike was very scenic and just challenging enough for a couple novice hikers. The sandy bench section of the trail was quite overgrown and gave us some battle scars from the thorns, etc. The Swimming Hole was the perfect location to stop and cool off after forging through the overgrown sandy bench and climbing along the rocks. (Side note, for a slightly deeper location, there is a well worn trail on the opposite side of the river leading to a large rock. This section of the river appeared to be deeper and was occupied by a few locals and their pets who all looked to be having a great time). Overall, it was a great day!

 

Hemlock Gorge

Name: Bubbles                                                                                                        Hike: Dolly Sods Circumnavigation-mod 1 (modified)

Date(s): 07/13-15/13                                                                                           Rating: 4

 

Critique: We delayed a day (thankfully) due to rain, but still expected wet, humid conditions, and adjusted the full circumnavigation accordingly! It was "boots off" on the Bear Rocks Trail at Red Creek after slogging through the bog leading down to it! The Raven Ridge and Rocky Ridge were fine. There appeared to be a small spring draining water across Rocky Ridge Trail near the two "dry" camp sites: could be seasona1! We opted not to do the Harman/Blackbird Knob loop; staying on the ridge! I validated the existence of the sink hole at the beginning of the Big Stonecoal Trail, saying afterwards that "I seem to remember reading about this somewhere!!" The very nice campsite 1.11 miles down Stonecoal(2nd waypoint) was occupied, so we went down to the merge with the Dunkenbarger. At the ford point before the merge when you cross the creek (logs to the right of the trail) there is a very nice campsite about fifty yards up the creek to the right in a spruce grove! It's by far the best one we found! The next morning we took the Rocky Point Trail around Lion's Head to the Forks. Having been surprised by the really nice weather we expected the area to be crowded. Arriving around noon helped! We had the choice of any site! The south side at the fork is one of the better sites around although it only handles three tents! Hiking out the next morning we wanted to avoid the bogs of Dobbin Grade so we took the Raven Ridge Tr after the Beaver Dam (which has firmed up nicely!), then the Unofficial Dobbin Grade bypass which is marked by a small cairn which is easy to miss! Expecting not-so-good weather and lots of hikers, we had the opposite! Also, the Sunset Restaurant on the east side of Moorefield had some very good food and service (415 South Main St.). Only downside - they were out of their blackberry cobbler!

Name: Larry and Krysten                                                                                       Hike: Brown Mountain-Rockytop Loop

Dates: 07/09-11/13                                                                                               Rating: 5

 

Critique: What a beautiful loop trail!! The grass, thorns and brush had been recently trimmed and there were no fallen trees to deal with. Even with the trees in full leaf, many of the vistas provided sweeping views. This is a perfect time of the year to "dine" on wild blueberries, black raspberries and blackberries. We saw grouse, a rabbit, and a small buck who decided to follow us for a while. We encountered a day hiker who had seen a black bear. Heed the warning about the lack of water and campsites on the slopes and tops of the two mountains. On a note of caution, be sure to apply tick repellant. I picked off 3 wood ticks and unfortunately ended up with 2 embedded deer ticks (yes, I am now taking antibiotics). This will be an unbelievable hike when the leaves are turning or when they have dropped. Crossing the “large talus rock formations” will be quite tricky if the rocks are wet or icy, and being on the top could be very “exciting” during a thunderstorm.

 

 

Name: Sam                                                                                                               Hike: Old Loggers Path

Date: 07/05-07/13                                                                                                 Rating: 4

 

Critique: Hard Core, Wooly Bully, Ted E. Bear and Shortstack did the OLP in the heat, thunder (but no rain during the day) weekend. We first stopped at the Forest Ranger Station at Hillgrove, PA to get information regarding parking at Masten Road, since the websites indicated the bridge was out and possible road closures. We parked at the campsite along Masten Road as directed by the Forest Service. There is parking just past campsite E, where the Forest Service mowed a small field for OLP backpackers/hikers’ parking. Although the Park Service directed us to this parking area, we did not think to ask, and they did not advise us, how to get to the trailhead since the bridge across Pleasant Stream is gone and a new one is under construction (see photo). We planned to do the loop clockwise and wanted to cross the river to get to the trailhead using M.R. Hyker’s http://midatlantichikes.com/oldloggerspath.htm website. We lost an hour between forging the wide and fast running stream at the construction area and trying to find the trailhead. After we crossed and got on the road, we saw a roadway we might have used if we walked further up the road past the bridge construction. However, it appears to be private property, so we hesitated. Note to future hikers/bpers: ask the Forest Service if you can use the nearby driveway at Masten that crosses Pleasant Stream to get to the trailhead. The rest of the first day 12-mile trail was easy and well marked. We camped along Pleasant Stream at a large, beautiful campsite. Day 2 was another 12-miler. Although we had all day to do it, it took us considerable time due to crossing Pleasant Stream again, the heat and some hills. In addition, we lost the blazes at one of the scenic overlooks. Wooly Bully looked downed to admire the view and was about to climb down the rock outcrop when we saw two rattlesnakes on the rocks below. Beware! At that location, we lost the blazes and could not find the trail. This happened again at other locations along the vistas and beyond due to overgrown vegetation. Despite the trail conditions here, we got to the Rock Run and Yellow Dog Run campsite by late afternoon - enough time to cool off at the swimming holes. We had the campsite to ourselves but apparently, it is very popular with day-trippers on the weekends as there were many family groups hiking back up to the road as we descended to the run. Day 3 was a relatively easy 7.6-mile trek back to our car with a few spots that M.R. Hyker refers to, as “climb steeply…might be a bit challenging.” Fortunately, they were short. The OLP is a nice 3-day backpack. The trail was very wet and muddy in many places so we appreciated the warm weather. We logged 31.9 miles according to the GPS due to the first and second day trail mishaps.

 

A Rattlesnake at a vista

 

 

Name: Tammy                                                                                                          Hike: Billy Goat A

Date: 07/07/13                                                                                                       Rating: 4

 

Critique: I have hiked this trail many times for many years as well as every trail around. I am over 50 and I'm fairly active. It is fun however I do not hike alone because you never know what can happen. A twisted ankle, snake bite, bad cut, or as the case yesterday... not enough water. The older you get the more water you need. Please understand, the rocks are extremely hot in summer and you should bring gloves. Plus double your water. This trip in the fall can be done with 1-2 bottles of water for the over 50 group, in the summer you will need 2-4 bottles of water. Yesterday, my son forgot 2 bottles of water in the car and I began to dehydrate rapidly from heat. When you are older, once you dehydrate it is very difficult to regain control of staying hydrated. We managed because we have hiked so much. It was an easy oversight for my 16 year old boy and lesson learned. Bring water... lots of it. And a snack or 2. It is a fun hike, very family friendly but if you have knee issues, hip issues, back issues please work up to it first and do not go in mid summer because you won't like it and really.... it's the most wonderful place in the world. Fall is beautiful and cool... enjoy

 

 

Name: Ken Knott                                                                                                      Hike: Big Beechy-Middle Fork Loop

Date: 07/06-07/13                                                                                                 Rating: 4

 

Critique: Another fantastic backpack through the West Virginia Monongahela Forest - this time in the Cranberry Wilderness. Beginning at the Big Beechy trailhead off WV150 we quickly summited following a brief 250ft climb to the enter the 'Hall of Kings', a spectacular stretch of virgin Spruce and moss covered boulders and forest floor. From here for the next 3 miles or so the hike is deceptively easy as hiking is swift on wide trail carpeted with thick spruce needles. Several sections are closely encroached by small spruces and fallen trees which gives a hint of the pain to come... Eventually the trail becomes a series of seemingly continual series of climbs, hops and ducks around, over and through fallen trees, encroaching greenery, thick rhododendron or laurel. Be prepared to take many a 'spruce to the face' as we came to call it. The trail can be difficult to follow at times but it often supplemented by well placed cairns. We lost the trail twice while dodging around fallen tree's and once needed to resort to the gps to backtrack to find the last sighting of real trail. The trail appears to have been rerouted at some point. A final steep hill side decent takes to to the confluence of Big Beechy Run and Middle Fork. The trail here is heavily surrounded by Stinging Nettles and pants are highly recommended in season of greenery. The campground is fantastic featuring many many sites and fire rings. The creeks itself features a beautiful waterfall and a terrific swimming hole. The return ascent up the Middle Fork Trail is a gentle grade of about 2000ft over the course of nearly nine miles. The trail is an old forest or logging road and is generally quite broad and easy to follow. The creek is crossed twice and is often marked by cairns at the rare difficult to follow sections. Again, warning that the trail is heavily surrounded by stinging nettles for at least the first third. Pants are highly recommended. Middle Creek is quite beautiful and features many more campsites, swimming holes, and places to relax. Near the end the trail merges with the North-South Trail for the find mile or so before closing the loop.

 

Name: Eric                                                                                                                Hike: Rocky Knob-Quarry Gap

Date: 07/05-06/13                                                                                                Rating: 4.5

 

Critique: Great beginner hike. Took my wife on her first time backpacking. We did this loop backward from the description. TONS of campsites along the way so you can tailor your trip to suit your needs. We ended up going all the way to the shelter, but wanting to cut down on the second day we pressed on. Just FYI the short side of Rocky Knob trail has almost NO good places to camp - it is very steep on both sides. There are campsites about .1 miles into the trail at both ends, but not on the trail so do not expect to camp there. We had hoped to and ended up pushing ourselves just a little too far to get to the good campsite just North of the reservoir. But pretty much everywhere else it seems like there are campsites every .25 miles. Definitely recommend this as a beginner hike for anyone you're trying to introduce to backpacking, and it can be done effectively either way (we would have camped on the north side of Rocky Knob trail if we had to do it again). Fantastic hike, thanks for the write up! PS. There's a fun little geocache just north of the reservoir right on this hike! I think there's another one on the AT too but we passed it...whoops!

 

 

Name: Tasha                                                                                                            Hike: Roaring Plains Circuit

Date: 07/05-06/13                                                                                                 Rating: 5

 

Critique: These directions were great and guided myself and 2 adventurous girlfriends almost seamlessly for an overnight backpacking trip. The "unofficial" trails are pretty well trodden by now and currently marked with cairns often enough for experienced hikers to follow fairly easily. The rocky terrain and steepness hiking down Boar's Nest Trail were rough on the knees, feet, ankles; however the views from the canyon rim were worth every step! Our trip was over a holiday weekend and we didn't see anyone else on the trail over the 2 days....a great alternative to the traffic in the Dolly Sods. Thanks so much for sharing the info!

 

 

Name: Michael Mac                                                                                                 Hike: Otter Creek - Condon Run to Dry Fork

Date: 06/17/13                                                                                                       Rating: 5

 

Critique: Hiked the entire length of the Otter Creek trail and, as noted already by Corey, there is approximately a mile and a half stretch near the middle of the trail that has yet to be cleared from the storms last year. Encountered only 4 people the entire hike: a couple hunkered down right in the middle of the aforementioned storm carnage, and 2 forest workers on their way to check out a significant landslide (on the Otter Creek trail, in the midst of the uncleared area). The workers informed me that this stretch of the Otter Creek trail, along with Green Mountain trail & Possession Camp trail are the only areas that remain to be cleared...and will be tackled in the fall most likely.

 

 

Name: Rebecca                                                                                                        Hike: Big Mountain/Pine Tree Vista

Date: 07/05/13                                                                                                       Rating: 1

 

Critique: DO NOT go on this hike. I am an experienced hiker. I've hiked all the way up and down the east coast from Katahdin's Knife edge to Mt. LeConte in the smokies. This was the worst hike I've ever done. The first portion to the big mountain viewpoint is pleasant but it's not worth it because you can just drive there. The rest of the hike is extremely poorly maintained. I missed the sign for the Richmound trail because it's only visible coming up the mountain and not down the mountain. I hiked on the Tuscarora trail about a mile out of my way because I missed it. Then, I hiked up to try to find the viewpoint over allens valley and even with the warnings in the comments I could not find the vantage point. Most of the trail is tall grasses that are poorly maintained. I pulled several ticks off of me during the course of the outing. Finally, after failing to find the second viewpoint and after having pulled several ticks, I decided to give up on the rest of the trail and walked pack to my car up Augwick road. If you're into serious off trail hiking, this could be the right one for you. Might also be good on horse or bike. But it's completely unsuitable for a day hike, and I would recommend that they take it off the website.

 

 

Name: Bruce                                                                                                            Hike: Gun Powder Falls-West

Date: 07/04/13                                                                                                       Rating: 4

 

Critique: I did the Gunpowder Falls west loop on the morning of the 4th of July. Overall the trail notes are fine. A couple of comments. Starting point, there is not a "no bikes" sign but the trail start is fairly obvious across bunker hill rd coming back up from the parking lot on the left as you come out the way you entered. The latrines in the archery range are not locked. It looks like someone broke into them. The trail leaving the area identified as the rock area is overgrown, but obvious if you stay along the river. I did not go up the dam because it was getting hot, so I stuck to the base route. When I got back to the bridge, I decided to crossed the bridge on Masemore Rd walked .5 miles to Bunker Hill Rd and took a right to head back to the parking lot about .75 miles. My mistake was forgetting that I would need to cross the river! The water is pretty cold for July, but it only came up to mid thigh and my dog had to swim, but it really cooled him off. I saw a couple of joggers, another group of 4 hikers and quite a few fly fisherman up in the rocky area. Overall a good hike.

 

 

Name: Bruce                                                                                                             Hike: Susquehanna State Park

Date: 06/29/13                                                                                                       Rating: 4

 

Critique: I did the first 5+ or so miles of this hike, I cut through on the gray trail to the red and headed to Grist mill (eliminated the orange and yellow). The description is really good. On the first leg along the tracks, it is a little bit over grown. I was the first one to go on the tracks in the morning, so I was met with a large amount of spiders and their webs across my face, but it was worth it for the views of the river. The White Oak is worth the side trip. Overall the trail is well maintained. There were only a couple of other hikers, a horse rider, and 1 mountain biker. I took my dog with me and there were no issues for him. Beautiful weather and a very nice day trip. Thanks!

 

 

Name: Ben                                                                                                                Hike: Laurel Fork Backpack

Date(s): 06/29-30/13                                                                                           Rating: 4

 

Critique: Three of us did the hike as described the last weekend of June, 2013. The area was beautiful and like much of that area looked more like Canada or New England in places. For the most part the trails were in good shape. The two exceptions were the Bearwallow Trail and a few parts of the Laurel Fork trail itself. The upper portion of the Bearwallow was hard to follow. The blazes were faint and the path was almost non-existent in the beginning. The trail does improve once you get on the grade by Bearwallow Run but be prepared to spend some time in the beginning looking for blazes. The Laurel fork trail was for the most part in great shape as it was worked on a couple years ago by the student conservation association. It had nice fresh blazes and they cleared out the rhodos. The only bad part was a couple sections where the side hill had washed out forcing one to walk in Laurel fork a little ways. The campsite by the intersection of the Laurel fork and locust run trail was great though.

 

 

Name: Bob Handelsman                                                                                         Hike: Laurel Fork Backpack

Date(s): 06/19-22/13                                                                                            Rating: 5

 

Critique: A few years ago, I did a post for this hike which I did in 1978 and again in 1979. I always wanted to go back and finally did -- after 34 years. It took us, a 54 year old, a 60 year old and a 65 year old, about 2 1/4 hours to hike down the Buck Run Trail and set up a base camp on the flat ground near the confluence of Locust Spring Run and the Laurel Fork. There are a number of very good campsites there. If you want to cross the Laurel Fork Trail and hike the trail there, it looked easier to cross by the campsite closest to the Laurel Fork and, if going north, easily bushwack over to the trail. The trail going north only goes to the Cold Spring Run trail which is a nice walk but no views on the top. Going south, there are 2 good campsites after crossing the Laurel Fork about 100 yards south of Locust Spring Run. We met a local guy who said he caught about 25 brook trout in the Laurel Fork in an afternoon, the biggest about 13 inches. To fish the Laurel Fork effectively, one needs wading boots for ankle support and a wading staff. CAUTION: IF GOING SOUTH (UPSTREAM) ON THE LAUREL FORK TRAIL, THERE IS A RATTLESNAKE DEN DIRECTLY ON THE TRAIL ABOUT 2/5 MILE SOUTH OF LOCUST SPRING RUN. AT THIS POINT, THE TRAIL GOES DOWN TO THE RIVER AND IS MARKED BY 2 ROCK CAIRNS. THE DEN IS BETWEEN THE 2 CAIRNS UNDER A LEDGE/STEP. When we were there, someone stuck a note on the first cairn warning of 2 "big" rattlesnakes and we saw a shed snake skin estimated at 3 feet in length. The note may not be there for the next hiker.

 

 

Name: Bruce                                                                                                             Hike: Gunpowder Falls-East Circuit

Date: 06/22/13                                                                                                       Rating: 4

 

Critique: The description is good. I made it without the map, but used my gps a couple of times to make sure I was on the approximate right track. The trail was overgrown in spots, but for the most part not too difficult. I saw a total of 7 people on the hike. 4 runners, two other hikers and a guy standing by the water at one of the entry points. I took a dog with me and had no problems. The other two hikers had a dog as well.

 

Photo at the amphitheatre

 

 

Name: JNK556                                                                                                          Hike: Roaring Plains Base Camp and Day Hike

Date: 06/15/13                                                                                                       Rating: 4

 

Critique: Did this hike with ArfcomHkr, weather was nice, all be it still a lot of mud with all the rain we have had. South prong trail is nice, but rocky, good views off trail in the boulders. Hidden Passage is really nice, trail is pretty easy to follow, but could be confusing in some spots. Canyon rim trail is very rough, and in many places over grown, but still pretty easy to follow. We lost the trail near where you cross Roaring Creek, but picked it back up with a little searching and our GPS's. ArfcomHkr took a fall after "The Point" on some rocks, so we decided to cut the loop short and go through the TeePee trail. I wish we wouldn't have. TeePee trail is overgrown, hard to follow in alot of spots, we actually had to bushwack though a thicket to find the trail, and we ended up lost for 30min at the very end of TeePee about 25yds from the Roaring Plains intersection, as you have to pretty much fight your way though a thicket and a small seep to get out on to Roaring plains. All in all though it was a fun hike, and the views are great along the whole way, just don't try it unless you are very skilled with a GPS, compass map, and have a good sense of direction.

 

 

 

Name: Corey W.                                                                                                      Hike: Otter Creek Backpack

Date(s): 06/14-16/13                                                                                           Rating: 2

 

Critique: **WARNING** *SECTIONS OF OTTER CREEK TRAIL NEARLY IMPASSABLE SUE TO FALLEN TREES AND LANDSLIDES* Our group of six began at Mylius trail head at 5pm. We climbed the moderately steep but charming Mylius and Shavers Mountain trails until we arrived at a nice flat grassy campsite near the edge of a cliff on Shavers Mountain where we found a mostly obscured view of the valleys and mountains in the distance. In the morning we filled up our water bottles at the spring at the campsite on the other side of the trail opposite our own, and continued on to Green Mountain trail. This trail was thick with vegetation, wet, rocky and steep as it neared Otter Creek. Some time after the first crossing we were forced to struggle through OVER A MILE OF FALLEN TREES, BUSHES, AND SOIL DANGEROUSLY CLOSE TO THE CREEK BANK which delayed us for several hours. Luckily we brought a small axe and WERE FORCED TO CHOP OUR WAY THROUGH SEVERAL FALLEN TREES TO GET THROUGH. We went on at a extremely slow and tiresome pace until nearly dark when we camped in a site surrounded by fallen trees. We were very worried we were not going to be able to make it out the following day, or if we would miss our turn altogether due to the fallen trees, and that we may have to go about 10 miles back the way we came. Thankfully, we found the next morning that we only had to travel about a quarter of a mile more through the fallen trees before we reached where the trail had been cut clear. From that point on the hike was pleasant and beautiful, but we were all so stressed over the hard trek over the destroyed trail that we didn't get to enjoy it very much and were just happy to have gotten out without more than cuts, bruises and fatigue. This hike would have been very enjoyable (5 out of 5 rating) if the trail had been clear, but as there was no warning of this danger at the trail head, I am writing this review to alert others of the adverse conditions to be expected. I for one would love to hike Otter Creek again, but not until the trail is cleared. Hike at your own risk and take care!

 

Photo of trail damage.

 

 

Name: Jay Neale                                                                                                     Hike: Morgan Run Loop

Date: 06/16/13                                                                                                       Rating: 3

 

Critique: I did the loop in reverse order today, (Clockwise). I cut out the loop in the center of the west side for a total hike of 6.8 miles. Recent high water has taken out several of the fire road culverts on the east side. Little Morgan Run had a lot of fresh washout, which made for a good place to sit and eat lunch. Afterwards I took my boots and pant legs off, got in the creek and scouted it out. because the first crossing was so muddy, I walked up the feeder creek to where the trail crosses. There I found sandy soil and a nice log to put my boots back on. Watch out for muddy patches and poison ivy in the low spots. Otherwise it was a very enjoyable outing!

 

 

Name: Jo Ellen                                                                                                         Hike: Long Pond Backpack

Date: 06/08-09/13                                                                                                 Rating: 2.5

 

A group of us did this hike as our first one of the season. We actually did not do the whole hike, but camped at what we think was the "Oldsmobile" campsite. However, we couldn't figure out why you call it that. I tried to look at Don's photos, but they are not longer available on shutterfly. So, what gives? Why "Oldsmobile"? It was a good first outing as it had some elevation and some water crossings. Even with all this rain, the "slippery rock" waterfall had no water....but it did have a slippery rock. It was fun, but nothing that would draw me back.

 

M.R.Hyker Notes: Thanks for telling me about Don's photo links being broken. I removed them. As far as the Oldsmobile site ... there used to be an old Oldsmobile hubcap hanging on a tree there. I guess someone took it.

 

 

Name: Ed D.                                                                                                              Hike: Loyalsock-Link Loop w/Haystacks

Date: 06/06-07/13                                                                                                Rating: 5

 

Critique: By far the best backpacking we have done in Pennsylvania ever. The trail starts out at the visitor center with a large parking lot, and you need to register to hike. You can fill-out the paperwork if the office is not open. The people working in the office are so friendly and nice. The trail has everything from beautiful views and the scenery/vegetation changes. Oh do not get discourage if you are following the trail notes and the first 1.5 miles is nothing but straight up. You have fresh legs and a full backpack. Your legs will be screaming stop, but your eyes from the beauty will say continue. The trail markers are the best I have ever seen. Seems like every 15 feet the is a marker. The Loyalsock trail is 59 miles and you are hiking on part of it. The campsites are near water, and setup great. We had some rain and wet shoes and socks. We decided to do the haystacks and it was worth the hike. There are many streams for water sources. The trail notes are right on mark for where you are hiking. The people responsible for the trail maintenance, we would like to thank you. the campsites were clean, and had fire pits with rock chairs with flat tent areas. The second day with the overviews before the hike end was amazing. We love the workout with the 3500 feet elevation climb through the hike, which makes the views well worth it when you get to the top. I am kicking myself for not bringing a camera. Not that the camera could capture the views, which seem to limit the beauty. There were also numerous campsites that were not on the map, so do not be scared in getting to the campsite that is occupied. The first campsite on the trail seemed to be the best with the view and the rock chairs and a good distance from the trail. We stayed at the campsite at the intersection to the haystacks. It was nice and the trees provided shelter from the rain at night along with the tent. We are always looking for different places to backpack, but this one is one to come back. We did not see much traffic, but we also did go during the week in early June.

 

 

Name: Ed D.                                                                                                              Hike: Ricketts Glen Falls Hike

Date: 06/09/13                                                                                                       Rating: 5

 

Critique: This is a great day hike. We camped a Red Mountain camp sight, and did the day hike with Ricketts Glen Falls. Oh, BBQ next to camp sight is the best. I am from Texas and know the good stuff. You will need to get out early if you do not like crowds if this is during the summer or weekends. We were on the trail at 8:30 and by 9:30 there was a lot of people. By the time we got back to our car at 11:30 the lot was full. This hike is busy with traffic. Since you are going down and hiking back up there are a lot of steps, and the stones are wet. Hiking shoes or shoes with traction is a must. We had hiking poles to help with stability. The views are amazing, and make sure to bring the camera. There are some other trails of the main loop, and nothing to see that I can remember. We did see a four foot long black snake. I was hoping to see some black bears, and we did see bear markings on the bear creek road trail.

 

 

Name: Ed D.                                                                                                             Hike: Pinchot Trail

Date: 06/08/13                                                                                                       Rating: 1

 

Critique: We started this hiking on 6/8. The rain from the night before made the thick trail a water wonderland for your hiking boots and pants. Even with gaiters my shoes, socks and pants were socking wet. The sights were not impressive. We also just hiked "World End Park" the day before this hike. We had planned on backpacking for two to three days on this trail. We had ran into some other hikers that were not impressed by the views or trail. On some of the other hikes we have encountered we have different scenery and the vegetation changes as with trees. These trails all seem to have the same views. We had a few camp sights that we were going to stop at for lunch, but nothing was impressive. The viewing platform was nice, when we stopped for lunch. The trails were marked well. The beginning of the trail was so thick you could not see the trail path. We were planning on stopping to camp at the camp sight at Behler Swamp, but the dead dog carcass mostly decayed scared my wife. She started running back down the trail for the highway. I have never seen her run that fast with her full backpack. I wanted to look at the bright side and tell of the good thing of this trail, there was a babbling brook under the rocks. I guess maybe the south trail might be better. There is some many more hiking trails within an hour from this that are so much better. The trail was marked well, and had nice trailhead parking. Trail notes were right on target and help us find the viewing platform. The other funny thing was in the trail notes it mentioned twice about half way through if you want to bailout take this trail. Thank you for the trail notes, and we have much appreciate for the people that mark and maintain the trails. It is hard with miles of trails. I am sure we just hit the trail at a bad time.

 

 

Name: Linda                                                                                                             Hike: Big Mountain/Pine Tree Vista

Date: 06/05/13                                                                                                       Rating: 2

 

Critique: A friend and, co-leaders of an all-women outdoors group, did this hike as a preview to see if it was suitable for the group. Between the 2 of us we probably have 30 years of hiking/outdoors experience, maybe more. I point that out to show that we are not inexperienced hikers by any means. Where to start....The trail notes on the site were just adequate. Even with them and the map, had we not had a GPS with us we would have been very lost more than once. As it was we made 3 wrong turns (following the notes) and had to backtrack each time. They could have used far more detail - i.e. Note total lack of signage and blazes at most turns; indicate that the marshy area is wide, long, deep, and that above-the-ankle waterproof boots are MUST, not just a recommendation. We were wearing boots like that and still nearly had them sucked right off of our feet a few times and had the water/muck come right to our boot tops. Note the rocks...this is PA and we're well aware of the long big-rock filled stretches of trails there. Those who aren't aware of it or who have a deep visceral fear of snakes (encountered 3 including a big fat rattler stretched across the trail) need to know it's coming, how long it is, how bad the rocks get, and to make sure they have hiking poles that can be banged on the rocks and rotted wood to try to force a retreat of any snakes. Poles, in fact, should be used on this entire trail. Not impressed by people who don't believe they ever need them. If and when we take a group on this hike we will turn away anyone that doesn't have a pair of hiking poles and the high-cut waterproof boots. Trail maintenance is pretty much non-existent. There are wide stretches of the Tuscarora Trail that appear to maybe get mowed/weed-whacked now and then but that's it. We encountered big blown down trees that had clearly been there for several months and in some cases several years. After emerging into a clearing, before hitting the road walk and turning right onto another trail, we turned around and could not see where we had just come from...no sign of a trail in there whatsoever. Anyone coming the other way would be at a loss as to where to go next. Due to the wrong turns and time taken to backtrack, and a schedule to keep, we had to decide to bypass the last big vista point. In any case, with a group, I'd bypass it and opt to drive up after the hike was over. If the notes and all had been better, had we not had to waste time backtracking, we would have enjoyed this trail a lot more. I don't know that I've even been on one that had such varied terrain. And besides the snakes we had close encounters with a huge wild turkey mom and her brood, and a mother grouse and her brood. Saw a doe and her fawn right after we arrived. There were big, definite bear prints in the muddier parts of the trail but no encounters.

 

Name: Joy                                                                                                                Hike: Little Fork-Middle Fork Loop

Date: 5/25/13                                                                                                         Rating: 4

 

Critique: We took our time, camped at Big Beechy campsite night one after just 2.5 miles in. The next day, hiked down to the Laurelly campsite and enjoyed the solitude of the beautiful forest.The third day, we hiked (the North-South Tr  to the Little Fork Tr) which is a pretty trail, lacking any campsites. We ended up hiking to where the car was parked, grabbed some leftover refreshments in the cooler and hiked appx .25 miles to a campsite that was on Middle Fork, where we began our loop. The campsite needed some attention after an obvious storm had made a little mess, but left us a lot of great firewood for the resurrected fire ring. A great, relaxing 3 nights out. The only problem was finding the trailhead. Google directions didn't help with the last 4 directions. Make sure to double check your directions. This trailhead was located at the campsites for the Three Forks. there is parking at the end of the gravel road.

 

 

Name: Kathy                                                                                                            Hike: Dolly Sods Wilderness Backpack

Date(s): 05/19-20/13                                                                                           Rating: 5

 

 

Critique: We followed the trail notes almost exactly. We saw far more bsckpackers than we were expecting on Sunday, but they were gone on Monday and we had the trails to ourselves. The campsite icons on the trail map were particularly helpful, and the campsites themselves were amazing. There are a couple of additional sites on the ridge near the Lion's Head that are spectacular. My favorite of the campsites was on Dunkenbarger trail between the two old hemlocks, but unfortunately the trail itself is in terrible shape with tons of blowdown. Next time I'll skip that trail. The variety in this 17-or-so mile loop is great and the terrain is not challenging. I found it to be a perfect, fairly easy two-day loop, and it would be ideal for first-time backpackers (especially kids) because of the relative ease, variety, abundance of water and nice backcountry campsites. I am looking forward to coming back and doing the north half of the Sods.

 

Lion's Head Photo

 

 

Name: Ben                                                                                                                Hike: Red Creek/Dunkenbarger Loop

Date: 05/25/13                                                                                                       Rating: 5

 

Critique: I did most of this loop as part of a longer backpack trip over memorial day. The trails were beautiful and the view from the Lion's Head was great. One word of warning. As of the date that I did the hike there are still a lot of blowdowns, probably from hurricane Sandy. They were particularly bad on the Dunkenbarger trail where sometimes every 50 feet there would be a another tree down. Since most of the forest on the Dunkenbarger trail was Pine and rhododendron it make getting through or around the blowdowns a little trickier than if it was an open hardwood forest. That being said I was able to get through but it took about twice as long as it normally would so just plan on taking extra time until these get cleared.

 

 

Name: David                                                                                                             Hike: Piney Ridge/Thornton River Loop

Date: 05/25-26/13                                                                                                 Rating: 3

 

Critique: The hike was nice with lots of canopy cover to keep you cool. Some interesting spots like the graveyard and the shelter at the beginning of the hike. Not too many camp spots but did find a good one on the Thornton River section. Once you make the first river crossing it is about 30 yards from the river to the left in the hollow. There are no overlooks on this hike thus the 3 ranking but it was definitely worth the trip.

 

 

Name: Mike                                                                                                               Hike: Dolly Sods North BP

Date(s): 05/24-26/13                                                                                           Rating: 5+

 

Critique: This is my favorite trip yet, not that I am experienced much. But the scenery is so beautiful, the hiking so easy, water is so readily available, and the campsites are like something from a dream, it has to be a 5+! The trails were well marked, unlike some of the older reviewers have stated. The campsite about 1 mile into the hike had room for up to 5 tents, and a nice fire ring. The campsite further along on the left branch of Red Creek (where it says Camp Here on the map) is tremendously large. It was almost big enough to be a campground, and was perched right along the Creek. Be forewarned that the trail just crosses a beaver dam down near where the Upper Red Creek and Dobbins Grade Trail intersect. You will see the ponds from a distance and realize the trail goes right through them over the dam. The Dobbins Grade is very muddy and you will get muddy and wet without fail (maybe not true in drier times of year?). Overall, this is a beautiful trip with lots of vistas, varieties of terrain and plant life, and gentle climbs and descents. I would even say beginners could easily do this trip.

 

View from Cabin Mountain

 

 

Name: Rob                                                                                                                Hike: Dolly Sods Wilderness Backpack

Date: 05/25-27/13                                                                                                 Rating: 4

 

Critique: We did this hike Memorial Day weekend. The weather was absolutely perfect, which probably accounts for the (relatively) large numbers we saw on the trail, but still by no means as crowded as some of the more established parks and trails. The directions and descriptions were right on and very easy to follow. We camped the first night just after the Red Creek ford. There are a couple of sites on the right, and the second one before the trail gets steep was really nice, with a big fire ring and easy river access. However, the section of trail just after that site gets pretty messy. Lots of downed trees with some steep and tricky scrambles to get around. Nothing insanely hard, but it adds quite a bit of time and effort to the regular trail. We actually ended up skipping the Dunkenbarger and Little Stonecoal leg, because some guys out there warned us off, as well as the previous review on this site. Just to get onto the trail from the junction there is an immediate tree to duck, and it seems like it doesn't get much better. Other sections of trail have had a bit of work done, but still quite messy. Just be aware that there are no campsites or water spots on Big Stonecoal after the Dunkenbarger junction. So we continued down to Red Creek, and camped just after the ford. This made for a longer day than planned, but wasn't too bad. We'd even considered just hiking out that night, but I'm glad we stayed, even if the sites were pretty full and we had to ask to share a site with another group. Make sure you have solid boots, because as the description says, the trail is very rocky in parts. We didn't encounter any big muddy areas, but it has also been very dry. Any rain at all and you could easily be up to your shins. Highly recommended, just plan to spend some extra time fighting the lingering results of Sandy.

 

 

Name: Bob                                                                                                                Hike: Copperhead Point

Date: 05/26/13                                                                                                       Rating: 3

 

Critique: Thanks for getting this on the map. The fire road, especially past the first left fork down to the reservoir, on May 26 2013 was overgrown with thigh-deep grass, and I wasn't prepared with DEET, so I took the left turn down to the reservoir instead to avoid collecting ticks, after a short exploratory walk down the fire road. To be fair, I have not yet found any ticks on my body or clothes after my shorter foray in 24 hours, but if you are preparing for this hike, prepare for ticks. I may revisit this hike again next winter when the grasses may be somewhat shorter.

 

 

Name: Sam                                                                                                               Hike: Mud Hole Gap (modified)

Date: 05/25-26/13                                                                                                Rating: 4

 

Critique: Cognac Jack and Wooly Bully did a variation of this hike as an overnight backpack. Saturday started out cool, clear, and breezy, and stayed that way. Starting at around 9:30 at the Elizabeth Furnace Recreational Area "inner parking lot", we followed the white blazed Botts Trail, then west (right) on the Sherman Gap Trail to the Passage Creek. No bridge here, definitely a boots-off crossing! Thankfully the water was fairly low and not all that cold. The trail then crosses Fort Valley Road, passes thru a gravel parking lot, and proceeds to the Mudhole Gap Trail. The first part of the Mudhole Trail is a gravel service road. The last part becomes more interesting when it passes over a single track and then over an old wagon road. The wagon road parallels Little Passage Creek, and fords it at least 5 times, all rock-to-rock crossings. A pretty stream, flowing fast and making lots of water noise. We had a pleasant lunch at the 2nd ford. Beware of the third ford - we found out that hiking poles float down the rapids quite nicely! The last part of the Mudhole Gap Trail gets pretty busy, where it dead-ends at the intersection of the Massanutten Trail (MT) and FR66. After taking a right on the MT we passed several car campers on the right side of the trail, and the Powells Fort Camp (closed) on the left. The MT follows another gravel road for around 2 miles, and then follows a nice trail around the west side of Strasburg Reservoir to some large some large camp sites at the north end. We stopped here for the night, at around 2:30, 9 miles from the starting point. Set up camp, took a walk around the reservoir which is quite pretty, and then settled down to dinner. With all of the young, straight as an arrow tulip poplars we were not able to find a suitable branch for hanging the bear bag, but Cognac Jack found a horizontal section of a snapped off tree that worked nicely. It was around 25 feet up, took me four tries to get the rope over and back down. Despite being a holiday weekend, we were the only campers at the reservoir. Clear cool night, nice background from the fast flowing stream beside the campsite. A whippoorwill started up around 10pm, close by at first but then moving farther away. Sunday morning was clear and cold, by 7:30 we were back on the MT which shunts back onto the gravel service road just north of the reservoir. The road become progressively steeper as it approaches Signal Knob. Signal Knob was fantastic on this absolutely clear and windless morning, with great views to the west and north. We continued on the MT, first fairly level along the ridge top and then descending with the trail becoming all rocks in places. This is a very pretty trail, with occasional views to the left, and with the laurel just starting to bloom. As we moved down the mountain we passed the first hikers of the day, and the traffic got heavier at the trail neared the Signal Knob parking lot. Another mile got us back to the car, for a total of 8 miles for Sunday. After stowing the gear and cleaning up, we had a great lunch in Front Royal at the Jalisco Mexican Restaurant. We had no trouble cleaning our plates and downing several large glasses of sweet tea. By 2:00 we were back at the I-70 / Rt. 94 park and ride. This was a great backpack, and we figured out some nice variations of the loop for future trips. Many thanks to Cognac Jack for putting this together!
 

Photo as we descended Signal Knob

 

 

Name: Dar                                                                                                                 Hike: Conestoga Trail (modified)

Date: 05/25/13                                                                                                       Rating: 5

 

Critique: Lovely hike and deserving of the strenuous rating. We didn't want to take two cars for the shuttle hike so we decided on starting at the Pinnacle Rock Overlook parking lot and doing an out and back to the Wind Cave. We overshot the Wind Cave a bit on the way north (easy to hike right by northbound, hard to miss southbound) and went past it to the woods road before turning around. Total mileage was 9.1 with a total elevation change of 2500 feet each way according to our GPS tracker program for a total hike elevation change of 5000 feet. It's a death by a thousand small, steep hills kind of trail so be prepared to be tired. I realize that was doubly so for us because we chose the hilliest part for the out and back but I'd still highly recommend this hike. Really nice scenery and cool with lots of shade, breezes and waterways along the route. The Tuquan Creek stretch is particularly lovely and a great break from the harder bits to either side of it. We did the stream crossing and found a place about 10-15 feet past the actual marked crossing where we could rock hop without really getting our feet wet. The blazes are much improved from the previous years' comments. In fact this trail is now very well blazed. We had no trouble following the orange blazes - the turns were well marked as were the bits going over and through rock formations, and the orange Conestoga trail was easy to distinguish when it ran alongside other trails and then split off from them. At some points you may need to pause and look for the markings (ie- around the rock formations) but they are there and easy to make out. Note that 3 other trails run alongside on the Tuquan Creek stretch (blue-blazed Tuquan Glen on the south bank and white and yellow trails on the north side) so just watch for blazes marking the split offs for the Conestoga trail- they are slanted double slashed and well-marked.

 

 

 

Name: SlugMaster Garret                                                                                      Hike: Chuck Keiper trail-East and West

Date: 05/22-25/13                                                                                                 Rating: 4

 

Critique: We did the east loop from the Fish Dam Vista parking lot and heading clockwise towards the northeast. The trail was well blazed and easy to follow. Ticks were particularly numerous in Drake Hollow. There are a few downed trees across the trail between Hall Run and the top of Diamond Rock Hollow that require going off trail. A trail maintainer with a chainsaw would be useful in this area to clear the path. Other than these obstacles the trail was a pleasant walk. We started around 2:00pm on Day 1 and reached the Connector trail around 2:00 on Day 2. I agree with the previous poster that this trail can be done in 24 hours if you move at a decent pace and start the hike early in the day. My group decided to continue forward onto the West Loop at this point and continue rather than take the connector back to the car.

 

 

Name: Sam                                                                                                               Hike: Pinchot Trail

Date: 05/11-13/13                                                                                                 Rating: 5

 

Critique: Ted E. Bear, Wooly Bully and Shortstack did this BP (26.8 mi) in three days, with mileage being 5.6, 12.4, and 8.8 respectively. The terrain is indeed moderate, but very diverse. We enjoyed the Balsam Swamp, hemlocks, rhododendron tunnels, lots of orange salamanders and frogs, plenty of pretty streams and a great 360-view from the tower. Wooly Bully downloaded the waypoints from the website on his GPS and we all had M.R. Hyker maps. All campsites indicated were easy to locate, mostly flat and water was no issue. The trails were well maintained with only a few blow-downs that we had to walk around. Beware, there is new construction near the pipeline intersection along the White Trail. We followed what may have been a snowmobile trail / new road construction which took us to Bear Creek Rd., east of where we should have been to connect to the White Trail. (For GPS users, we went off track shortly after waypoint #23). It was not too long of a road walk to get back to the connecting White Trail, but future hikers should beware of this area. There were orange diamond markers, then the new gravel/mud road which had yellow posts with orange on them, but we were not sure if they were for the trail, snowmobile trail or road construction. Other than that, trails are well marked and sections are indeed rocky, so good boots are a must.

 

 

Name: Geoff                                                                                                             Hike: McKeldin Area

Date: 05/15/13                                                                                                      Rating: 5   

 

Critique: I want to share the route I take when I go running on the trails in McKeldin. Start out at the parking lot just above the dam, not the one closest to the dam, the one at the top of the hill. Follow the rapids trail down to the beach, then when the trail forks go straight, don't keep following the rapids trail, those rocks aren't fun to run on. Follow Switchback across bridge, gain elevation, then you want to fork right take the trail that goes back down to the rapids trail. Follow the trail along the river ALL THE WAY, following the river until you past the first entrance to the plantation trail on the left. Don't take that one, well, you can, but the better hike is further up. Follow the switchback trail until you see the next entrance to the plantation trail. This one is much steeper. Follow the plantation up up AND UP to the highest point in the park, you'll know you're close after a very steep incline, you'll notice a fork to the right and if you follow it you'll come to a high summit with a pole with a white flag. Anyway, keep going on the plantation, this is my favorite part of the park. keep going until you come to the meadow. Keep going through the meadow, across the road, onto the tall poplar, go left at fork. Follow the tall poplar all the way back to your car, fork to to the left to get back to parking lot where you started. Love this park, so beautiful, and running on it is great. I think this circuit totals to a little over 3 miles, but I could be wrong. Watch your footing, hope to see some of you out there!

 

 

Name: Mountainstreamflood                                                                                  Hike: AT-Sunset Rocks Circuit

Date: 05/12/13                                                                                                         Rating: 4

 

Critique: Hike: Overall this is a pretty good hike. The views from Sunset Rock are outstanding and the two crossings of Tom's Run are gorgeous (would be even better in late June/early July when Rosebays are in bloom). We did the hike backwards to save my knees from the steep slope of Little Rocky Ridge but this has the disadvantage of getting the best of the hike (Sunset Rocks) out of the way in the first 3 miles, leaving nondescript but pleasant 5 mile return back to the car. Also, we used Old Shippensburg Road to avoid the out-and-back on the AT between Sunset Rocks Trail and Pine Grove Furnace. One note, it appears the AT has been rerouted at Halfway spring (just passed first crossing of Toms'Run.) Rather than following the logging road to Michaux Road at Camp Michaux, the trail now proceeds on a footpath to the north and directly across Michaux Road. As a result the trail bypasses the ruins of the old stone barn. 

 

 

Name: Dick/Roger                                                                                                     Hike: Black Forest Trail - North

05/11-13/13                                                                                                               Rating: 3-4

 

Critique: We delayed starting out by one day due to weather, but still passed through rain in Williamsport on the way! In total the Williamsport area received 1.80 " of rain from 5/09-12. View this as the lower limit for defining the trails as being "high water"! Checking the rainfall in the area, particularly in the Spring, is a must before going! This is critical because during Day 2 you have to ford Slate Run... there is no bridge left because it continually was washed out! If you can't ford it you have to backtrack up to the Old Quarry Road and go right down to an old steel bridge on Pine Creek, then up Rt44 for over a mile to the Black Forest circumnavigation parking area above Slate Run. We forded Slate Run in high water (mid-thigh running around 6mph). Neither of us will ever do that again...extremely dangerous and foolish! On the positive (and sane) side, it's a really nice hike! The ridges have oceans of mountain laurel. Next year we'll go back around the first week in June when it reported blooms up there! The lower elevations have very nice conifer groves. The vistas are pristine in terms of seeing no signs of civilization! The trails are well maintained with only a couple of rocky spots! The first night we camped at the furthest campsite up Morris Branch before the climb out of the valley! It would handle 3-4 tents, the second site was also nice, but smaller (2 tents). The first along the branch was not as good! (We didn't go down the initial path to see whether there's a good site there)! The second night we camped at Foster Hollow! Multiple level sites near the pond including off trail in the woods! The pond water was very clear and flowing through from and into a creek! Whether this continues thru the summer is a question, but it looks as if it would! Because of high water we chose to take the Sentiero Dishay ski trail (marked as the "high water alternative") back up north instead of going further west to the BFT on County Line Creek! It had some bogs and places where it was hard to follow. The Dishay is now clearly marked off of the Blackberry Trail! However, where it meets Meadow Rd. the road crosses and now continues west. When widening the road they apparently wiped out any visible blue blazes. Go right on Meadow Rd for about fifty yards to the other side of the creek where you'll see ample blazes on the left side of the road Also, there is a new road that you'll cross before coming to Gravel Rd. We're guessing that they're getting ready to "frack" in the area! Oh yes, by the way, it was snowing and sleeting while hiking (13th of May).. not detrimental to enjoying the hike though!! Bottom-line: With less rainfall immediately before it, and with the laurel in bloom, this would be a really outstanding hike! It was a very nice one as it was! Stopping at the Bullfrog Brewery in Williamsport on the return provided closure!

 

 

Name: Tony and Penny                                                                                                       Hike: Kelly's Run - Pinnacle Overlook

Date: 5/11/13                                                                                                                      Rating: 5

 

Critique: Took this hike yesterday. Weather was wet, rained night before, trails were in great shape but wet. Missed the turn after fording the creek at the bridge and took an unmarked trail to the Conestoga trail eventually to the Pinnacle. Ate lunch at the Pinnacle then took the Pine Tree Trail then continued with the rest of this trail. Trail was blazed very well in most places. Rained over lunch and about 2 miles of the hike. Overall it was a great hike, first one of the season for us, was long, I think we hiked about 9 miles with doing different trails etc. Thanks for the directions or never would have found our way around this! Look forward to doing it again in the future.

 

 

Name: Zach                                                                                                                           Hike: Plantation Tr/CLR 13 Loop 

Date: 05/04/13                                                                                                                   Rating: 3

 

Critique: First and foremost, this website is an invaluable resource for hikers throughout the region and I am incredibly appreciative of it. All directions and trail descriptions were accurate for the hike - finding Lindy off of CLR13 should be easy as long as you make sure you are looking for a small rock cairn just off the side of the road. As noted in the description, the USFS no longer maintains the Lindy Run Trail to the Plantation trail - this is easily noticeable as the trail is becoming impassable at points thanks to the sheer number of blowdowns on the trail. Unfortunately, this does not cease once you reach the Plantation Trail, as some sections may take several minutes to move a mere 10 feet. Estimating that there were at least 25 blowdowns severely blocking the trail would seem to be a conservative estimate after finishing the hike. The area was very scenic regardless, however the frequency of blowdowns made this a very stressful hike. Fortunately this ceases once you reach the Table Rock trail. The views at Table Rock are absolutely incredible and are worth the distressing hike down the Lindy and Plantation trails. The walk back on CLR13 is certainly long, but it is a very pleasant and easy walk. I don't believe any vehicles travel down the road anymore - it looks like it'd be a very difficult time even for a Humvee. All in all, a recommended hike if you've already hiked most of the other areas of WV or really want to get to Table Rock. 

 

M.R.Hyker Note: Super Storm Sandy has really done a number on most of the hiking venues in the MNF. Forest Service personnel and volunteers are currently overwhelmed. It will take some time to get all of the trails open.            

 

 

Name: Joe                                                                                                                             Hike: Dolly Sods Wilderness Backpack

Date(s): 4/27 to 29/13                                                                                                      Rating: 4

 

Critique: I did this hike with my girlfriend for my birthday around the end of April and overall it was a great hike. We hiked to the campgrounds near the breathed mtn trail/red creek trail junction on the first day and that seemed to be a good place to break it up. The first day there is a lot of pushing through overgrown rhododendrons and the trail is very hard to follow at places, especially between the trailhead and somewhere around the big stonecoal trail junction. After the first day there isn't a lot of green yet in the area and we saw very little wildlife aside from some birds and a deer. We also saw no other people after the first campground. The latter half of the Breathed mtn trail and especially the Dunkenbarger trail were full of downed trees. It became laughable after awhile and it felt like we were bushwhacking more than we were actually on the trail. The downed trees got very old after awhile but the area is beautiful and I highly recommend this hike. Be prepared for lots of gnats that show up if you stop near the river and very, very cold water crossings.

 

 

Name: K.C.                                                                                                                            Hike: Dolly Sods Wilderness Backpack

Date(s): 05-04 through 06-13                                                                                          Rating: 4

 

Two friends and I did this hike on an early May weekend. We did about 8 miles the first day, and the remaining 5 miles the second day. We had beautiful weather: 70-75 highs with an overnight low in the 30s. The greenery schedule is a bit slower in this area than in D.C., so the deciduous trees were just starting to bud. Most of the greenery was in the form of rhododendron and spruce trees. Like others, we had a bit of trouble at the early part of the red creek trail because there are a lot of misleading cairns. On the way back we followed the trail, and I found the point that we lost it on the way in. Perhaps 300 yards in, the trail descends out of a wooded area and you get your first unobstructed view of the creek. The trail appears to veer off to the left towards the creek, but it actually goes up a short muddy hill. Standing at this point, it is very hard to tell that there is a trail ahead of you because at the top of the small muddy embankment, it curves slightly to the left behind some tree trunks. Even if you can’t find the actual trail, once you hit the Little Stonecoal Trail (you’ll see cairns on either side of the creek), you can easily head back away from the river and pick up the Red Creek Trail again. We had a lot of trouble with down trees on the latter half of the trip (beginning at about the junction of the Red Creek Trail and the Rocky Point Trail). The area must have had a particularly ice or snowstorm, because the trees most affected were medium size Red Spruce. This was worst on the Dunkenbarger trail; it was to the point where we were bushwhacking around or climbing under/over downed Red Spruce every 50 meters or so. Often it was difficult to find the trail again on the other side. Other than the downed trees, this was a fantastic trip! The second half (once you leave the Red Creek Trail) was very secluded, and we encountered few people. We also encountered almost no wildlife except for an occasional bird.

 

 

Name: Axel Jones                                                                                                                Hike: Stone Tower

Date: 4/28/13                                                                                                                      Rating: 4

 

Critique: Hike is fun and "The General" is a cool sight. If the water level is high there's a fallen tree with wire strung across for hand holding across Clark Creek. Rocky and occasionally steep in parts so bring tough boots.

 

 

Name: Andrew                                                                                                                      Hike: Red Creek/Dunkenbarger Loop

Date: 04/19-21/13                                                                                                             Rating: 2

 

Critique: Only rated so low because of the poor trail conditions. There was so much storm damage that I lost count of the downed trees after 100. The lower points of Red Creek were particularly undetectable - might as well just bushwack. The water level was also raging. We waded in waist deep, some opted to crawl over logs hands and knees. Once up on the plateau things got a little less hairy - snow must not have been as heavy up there. The nice group camp at Dunkenbarger and Big Stonecoal was still intact and beautiful as ever.

 

 

Name: Ed S.                                                                                                                           Hike: Old Rag

Date: 04/22/13                                                                                                                    Rating: 5

 

Critique: I finally made it down to Old Rag, having wanting to go there for probably about 20 years now. It does not disappoint. From the open lot, the hike is about 9-9.5 miles. The beginning is a long switchbacked climb, sometimes near boulders, a couple of wet spots, some views of what's to come. Then is the rock scramble. I've done Billy Goat, Sunset Rocks, Potomac Heritage and other well known rock scramble trails. They have nothing on old rag. Drop into crevices, shimmy up another, jump and step over yet others. Take a short caving expedition. Numerous views in all directions during this time. It was a weekday, and so, while plenty of people were on the mountain, I got to do the scramble fully by myself. There were plenty of people at the summit, along with basically 360-degree views. The return by the Saddle Trail is all downhill, with some views left, one of a balanced rock on the southern part of Old Rag. Finally comes the long fire road walk, the least interesting section of the hike, but there were displays of white trillium along the way, plus views of cascading Brokenback Run and the Hughes River, the last a short side trip along the beginning of the Nicholson Hollow Trail.

Name: Fernando                                                                                                                  Hike: Big Schloss
Date: 4/13/2013 - 4/14-2013                                                                                          Rating: 5

Critique: Great hike.  We turned this into a 17+ mile backpack by adding an extension to Half Moon lookout (take Tuscarosa Trail past Mill Mtn Trail, descend 1.5 miles to intersection and take yellow blaze to lookout.  There is a great unmarked overlook and campsite right at the intersection)-- highly recommended.   Mid April with 60 degree temps during the day and 30s at night.  Didn't see much water once we headed down Mill Mtn.  Camped at Sandstone spring which was flowing (treat water, said to have giardia).  Great solitude, tough but fun trail.  Didn't see anyone except near Big Schloss.  Much of Mill Mtn Trail follows the ridge and you can see mountains to the east (Blue Ridge) and west (Allegheny).  Timber rattlesnakes are active in the area and we were greeted by a huge rattler on our ascent up Stony Creek.  Great campsites everywhere, a great alternate to SNP.  I will be back to explore White Rocks and other nearby peaks in GWNF.  I used PATC Map F and found the Lee
  District Rangers to be really helpful.  The trails are well marked and easy to navigate.  As noted, the descent on the cutoff trail is brutal (though brief).

This is my first review though I use the site often.  Thanks for this website-- it is really an incredible resource.

Name: Bob H                                                                                                                         Hike: Reddish Knob Summit
Date: 4/12/13 - 4/14/13                                                                                                  Rating: 5

Critique: This was a great hike with some of the best views I have ever had on a summit.  We did it as a 3 day backpack, but it can easily be done as a two day trip.  A few words of caution though.  The lower section of Buck Mtn Trail contained 3 shallow fordings of the river, so plan accordingly.  The upper section of Buck Mtn Trail was some of the most difficult uphill hiking around, definitely worthy of the strenuous hike rating, it was tough.  After that the trail is great, with spectacular views at Reddish Knob.

Water was a challenge to find at the first spring on Bald Mtn Rd, it is more than 500ft off the trail, a GPS is probably the only way to find it.  The trail leading to the spring was completely overgrown, hard to find, and not a reliable path to find water.  I don't think it even leads to the spring itself, you will have to bushwhack.  The coordinates are N38 25.418, W79 15.175 from our GPS.  The ponds on Timber Ridge Trail were reliable sources of water this time of year.

There were few leaves on the trees this time of year which lead to great views of the surrounding ridges and valleys for almost the entire hike.  Great views if you're willing to tough out the hike up Buck Mtn.

Name: Andrew                                                                                                                      Hike: Ramsey's Draft West Loop
Date: April 12-14, 2013                                                                                                      Rating: 5

Critique: A group of nine of us from midatlantic backpackers meetup camped at the trailhead Friday night and then headed up the draft trail Saturday morning.  The draft was high and unruly, and the trail was washed out pretty bad in the bottoms.  We had to perform a bushwack and an indiana jones-esque log crossing to regain the trail.  In total I counted 16 draft crossings, some of which required waist deep wading for some of the shorter members of the group. Fortunately, everyone was a trooper and saw the adventure in it.  Weather was perfect in the 60s with sun so once we reached Hiner Spring we lit a fire and dried everything out.  The draft trail is pretty undetectable during the final mile to camp so we ended up just following the stream.  I can't imagine doing the loop in reverse.  Sunday on the Shenandoah Mtn trail was night and day from our experience Saturday - no ascents, no rocks, no water crossings...only flat gentle trail.

In spite of the obstacles, the hike was a blast, a truly memorable experience.  High marks!  I'm glad I finally checked this off my list after two planned trips here that fell through.

Name: John                                                                                                                           Hike: Long Mountain/Tibbet Knob Shuttle
Date: April 13-14, 2013                                                                                                      Rating: 4

Critique: I did this as an overnighter this weekend with 5 other people. Overall this is a great hike - although not one I'd recommend for kids, people who are out of shape, or those without adequate hiking boots.

The hike lives up to its "strenuous" rating. We went 10.5 or 11 miles the first day and took about 8.5 hours. This included frequent breaks, but my friends and I ranged from "satisfyingly tired" to "completely exhausted" by the end of the day. While their differences reflected their respective states of physical conditioning, everyone agreed that it was a nice, long, tough day. That said, we were carrying (too much) gear for an overnight.

The campsite near the trailhead looked beautiful and would be easily accessible if you wanted to set up camp after driving out late Friday afternoon/early Friday evening. It's right by the stream, which is rather large - not something that would easily go dry, so you can pretty much rely on there being water at this site.

A few streams that showed up on my PATC map were dry, despite the fact that it had rained heavily the day before we hit the trail. I could have been misreading the map. The first good water source we came to (except for the creek at the very beginning) was not long before the first campsite mentioned in the description above. It was flowing very nicely and had beautiful, clear water.

The last water source came shortly past that campsite  I saw no water for at least the last 5 or 6 miles of the hike. So be sure to take advantage of these streams.

Speaking of the campsite described above, it doesn't take long to reach. Even moving very slowly and taking a long break for coffee and lunch, my group reached it in about 4 hours. The first half of the hike has some uphill in the beginning, but youre on a wide, grassy, relatively flat trail for a long time.

As of this writing, the trail was not blazed spectacularly. The yellow paint had faded and in some spots it was difficult to distinguish it from moss or discoloration on the trees. In other spots, it could be blazed more frequently. This became a problem a little past the first campsite, when my group lost the trail for about 10 minutes. We were focusing on navigating another rock-field-like stretch and completely missed a turn in the trail, which at that point was indistinguishable from the rocks all around us. So be sure to keep an eye out.

As for campsites, the first part of the hike had very few: The one the trailhead, the one described above, and maybe another one. That said, there were several grassy fields where one could easily pitch some tents.

Once you get to FR 691, however, there are a lot more spots to camp: One at the junction of the Long Mountain Trail and FR 691, and a number of them further along FR 691. There are also two nice sites on the Tibbet Knob trail near FR 691: One at the trailhead directly at FR 691, and one just barely past that. My group stayed at the latter spot, which boasted a nice fire pit, room for 3 tents and a hammock, and a large stack of split wood! Given how exhausted we were and how little daylight we had left, we were incredibly grateful to whoever had left that treasure trove  thanks! We didn't burn too much of it.

There is also a beautiful  but small  campsite at Tibbet Knob itself. Its sheltered by trees and has a beautifully built-up fire pit with stone benches.

Name: ryan booton                                                                                                             Hike: Rocky Knob-Quarry Gap Backpack
Date: 4/13/13                                                                                                                      Rating: 4

Critique: Great loop that is well maintained and blazed.  The AT has some incredible shelters on this loop.

Trail has some variation of landscape which is a nice bonus, and doesn't have a lot of elevation gain, so great for beginners and quick hikes.

Trail is rocky in places, so nice stiff sole boots (ankle high) will help from foot fatigue. Quite a few camp sites littered all over on this hike. Large portion close to the lake, but they are close to forest road access so I could see them filling up pretty quick in the warmer months.

Name: Chris C                                                                                                                       Hike: Tuckahoe State Park Circuit
Date: 3/29/2013                                                                                                                 Rating: 3

Critique: An enjoyable hike.  I parked at the PeeWee Trailhead on Crouse Mill Rd (it's not on the map), and did the loop in the reverse order as listed.  Skipped some of the southern barbell, but added a few extra loops inside the Adkins Arboretum.  Probably 7-8 miles for me.

Best to attempt this after a few dry days.  Even with that, there were a few creek crossings:  3-4 feet jumps.  Although there are some bridges.

Most of these trails allow horses, so that's the only real complaint.  The PeeWee section, especially, had lots of evidence (without the horses, I'd probably give it a 4).

Mostly flat, but a few ravines to descend into, 20-30 feet at most.

Trails are well marked in the state park.  Trickier in the Arboretum.  All the trails have different names, and many are blue-blazed.  Just watch for the North (or South) Tuckahoe Valley Trail signs.

There aren't many hiking trails like this on the Eastern Shore, so it's a great place to stop on your way to the beach.

Name: Desiree                                                                                                                     Hike: Billy Goat Trial A
Date: 4/7/2013                                                                                                                   Rating: 4

Critique: I thought I would add my critique. As a person with multiple (read 15) knee surgeries and currently in knees braces, and multiple foot surgeries, I was a little nervous going into this hike due to the rocky surfaces and inclines. It was for good reason. If you have legitimate lower joint, back, or neck issues this hike will be very difficult for you. However, it is doable. I made it. I am sore but am functional. It was beautiful and offered great views not available from other vistas or sites. My advice is to know your limits. I am young and active and I am headed to total knee replacement  anyway so my boundaries are a bit loose. If you know your body cannot handle inclines, rocky terrain and climbing this is not the hike for you.

Name: Boone                                                                                                                        Hike: Rocky Knob Quarry gap
Date: 09/2012                                                                                                                      Rating: 3.5

Critique: I have done this hike twice now, and plan on doing it again in a week or so.  I didn't start at the same point as the current description, but did do the full loop, starting at the parking area North of the Birch Run shelter, continuing down and staying at the Quarry Gap shelter for the night, and they coming back around on the Loop Gap Tr. to the Rocky Knob Trail.

I really like this hike, to me it's a leisurely backpack that I don't feel as thought I have to rush to finish in a weekend trip.  The Birch Run shelter is nice, although if you are staying there and want some seclusion before you cross the foot bridge into the Birch Run shelter, there is a small trail that leads off to the left before the footbridge w/ several hidden away campsites, all very close to the stream.  That's where by group has stayed just to leave the shelter open for others, and for a but of privacy.

The hike from there to Quarry Gap is nothing spectacular but a good hike w/ random wildlife sightings.  However, the Quarry Gap shelter is a shelter that is well worth stopping at for the night if you can.  Jim, who take care of the shelter, does a fantastic job and is a spectacular host if he's there as you are staying.  The shelter is meticulously well maintained.  He's has routed a small run off of the stream to go right to the shelter, the shelters are always clean, even of forest leaving and such.  The fire pit is well done and he usually leaves plenty of wood around for fires, you just have to look.  He's also carved out an area for larger groups to camp, as well as built 2 platforms for shelter overflow for tent campers.

He also has a large archway of rhododendron bushes as you leave the south exit of the camp which is pretty cool.

The remainder of the hike around Long Pine Run reservoir is also very nice w/ several scenic views as you walk along.

Name: Jordan Abbott                                                                                                         Hike: Black Forest Trail - North
Date: 3/23-26/13                                                                                                               Rating: 4

Critique: We began from the start/end point on the map right off of 44 - you can't miss the trailhead (it's right before the Potter County GOD's Country sign), and because of the snow we parked in the hunting lodge's drive- granted you're able to park and not block anything.

The trail's well blazed and there are only a few parts where it might get tricky. There's a pretty gnarly stream crossing about half way in- be prepared to pay the Indians to cross/chalk the wagons- ha but seriously, be ready to get wet. There's a pretty large campsite on the other side of this loop so if the water's cold, you'll have an opportunity to get warm/bed down (summer levels will probably be lower and barefoot would be an option).

Past that obstacle a ways in, the author notes in his trail notes that you'll pop out on a road and 'go some ways' until you see a hunting cabin to which you'll pick up the loop bringing you back around. I appreciate the author's detail in his site, but distances would have been very nice. Take a right where there's a deer fence, then you'll come up to an intersection, you'll continue straight past one cabin (with a deer hook outside), then maybe another- eventually you'll see the cabin you're aiming for at about 3-4 o'clock. There's an outhouse on the right, and the driveway is pretty long- see it and that's it!

We didn't get to finish out the trail (winter weather was getting reaaaal bad at this point), but instead chose to walk up 44 to our car.

It's definitely the Dolly Sods of PA, with the difficulty as well ha. Don't get me wrong for all of the hills you're rewarded with amazing views!

Look forward to doing the entire loop soon!

Name: Justin                                                                                                                        Hike: Caledonia State Park - Quarry Gap Circuit
Date: March 23, 2013                                                                                                         Rating: 4

Critique: The directions are very good for this hike.  Instead of printing them I downloaded the GPS file into my Garmin.  My dog felt like going clockwise for the second loop around Hosack Run/Dark Hollow instead of counter clockwise as shown here.  It makes the ascent easier/longer but the descent is quick and steep.  All in all, it was a great day and a great hike.  Michaux SF is a gem in this part of the state.  The AT Shelter here is one of, if not the, nicest shelter I've ever encountered.  It is well kept and they were working on it while I was there again today.

Name: Terry                                                                                                                          Hike: Neighbor Mountain-Jeremys Run
Date: Summer of 1985                                                                                                        Rating: 5

Critique: I hiked the Neighbor Mountain - Jeremy's Run Trail nearly every weekend in the summer of 1985, the year I quit smoking. The Shenandoah Park guidebook had the trail described counterclockwise, so that is the way I did it. One time I vowed to walk the whole hike without sitting down to take a break and I managed to do it. The trick was to take baby steps while ascending Neighbor Mountain; otherwise I would have never made it. I recall I took two half-gallon plastic canteens of water cris-crossed on my chest under my arms, with a small backpack. By the end of the hike I had nearly finished the gallon of water. There are some rocks called the gendarmes on Neighbor mountain, notorious at the time for rattlesnakes. An exhilarating feeling when done and a fantastic aerobic workout, highly recommended.

Name: Andrew                                                                                                                      Hike: Roaring Creek Tract - Backpack
Date: March 16, 2013                                                                                                         Rating: 4

Critique: Beautiful hike. I thought that it had great diversity between the ridgeline and the reservoirs. It was awesome to see the forest transform from no snow on the ground to several inches by the end. I would recommend this hike in winter because of scenery and solitude. Note: We were not trying to hike quickly, stopping for several pictures, but we finished this hike comfortably in one day (in the snow with full packs, and we even hiked up Big Mountain again just for fun!). Nevertheless, it was a great hike and your trail notes were great too.

Name: Danny H                                                                                                                    Hike: Pole Steeple Circuit
Date: 9/15/2012                                                                                                                 Rating: 3.5

Critique: This was a very interesting and unique trail as it is mostly up-hill. We hiked the Pole Steeple Trail from Laurel Forge Pond (off Railroad Bed Road) straight up to a rocky cliff face which over looks the pond and damn area along with Leaper Farm Road which you can see in the distance and then back down the other side across the Appalachian Trail to a dirt road we later found to be named Piney Ridge Road and had followed it a ways before we turned around and hiked the Appalachian Trail west-ward until it ended at the Railroad Bed Road hike/bike trail and followed it back to the lake.

The hike it's self is not very pleasant even in the autumn due to it's steep nature and the zig-zag pattern by which you must go up the mountain side and back down again. My hiking buddy and I reached the rocky cliff and were both stunned by the view and out of breath for several moments. The Appalachian Trail is at least well marked but there could be a warning about Piney Ridge Road because you don't really see it until you are actually stepping off the trail and directly onto the road and it would be nice if there were a sign that stated the trail ended here and not to walk the road. When we came out we found ourselves following it to the west for some time (thinking it was the Appalachian Trail) until our trail GPS updated and informed us we weren't on a trail anymore. Once we got back on the
Appalachian Trail we found it was poorly maintained in spots but once you get closer to the rail-trail you see it more cleaned up. The bike/hike trail (Rail bed Road) is very nice and pleasant to walk back on after having climbed up and down several hills on the trail.

Overall I would say if your looking for a good 3 to 5 hour hike, the path we took is a great way to spend a warm autumn day. One final notice; since I tend to hike all seasons if you plan on doing this trail here are some tips as always -

Spring & Autumn - The ground is soft and susceptible to slick spots as most up-hill trails tend to be. Go on a warmer day as the wind is very strong at the top of the cliff face.

Summer & Winter - Dress appropriately as always and be prepared to look for the markers for the Appalachian Trail in snowy or drizzly weather; not suggested for foggy or humid days however.

Name: Danny H                                                                                                                    Hike: King's Gap
Date: 3/10/2013                                                                                                                 Rating: 4

Critique: I have hiked this on three separate occasions and it never fails to excite me. The trails are marked clearly, the terrain is very easy for the most part at least until you get closer to the top and the King's Gap mansion area at the vista of the hill. Some of the trails you really must be careful on during the winter and spring months.

Here are my tips for seasonal hikers -

Spring: Good spring views can be seen on Ride Overlook, Forest Heritage, and up King's Gap Hollow trails. As always be prepared for sudden rains or spring snows.

Summer: Some of the best places to hike on a humid or even just warm day are the Water Shed, Boundary, Ridge Overlook, and Locust Point trails; you can also check out the Pond trail which has a large 10 feet by 12 feet size pool of water with frogs, bugs, and the usual pond life swimming just below the surface.

Autumn: Good autumn views can be found on all the trails but for best color head up Kings Gap Hollow, Water Shed, or/and Locust Point trails which go up in elevation enough to show off the brilliant forest.

Winter: Good cold weather trails are Locust Point, Forest Heritage, and Boundary trails due to the relative easy terrain. If you decide to go up Kings Gap Hollow or Ride Overlook be prepared for slick surfaces and as always be prepared for sudden rain or snow storms on these steep climbs.

Name: Keith Robertson                                                                                                       Hike: Big Mountain-Pine Tree Vista Circuit
Date: 3-9-13                                                                                                                         Rating: 4

Critique: What a view! Other than the Pinnacle, this is the best view I've seen in PA yet. The drive out there was scenic too- plenty of rolling farmland- and then you're at the mountains, and big ones for southern PA at that.

My hike here today was a few days after a snowstorm, so despite the 60 degree weather on the mountain, most of the trail still had 6 inches or more of heavy wet snow on it. I was glad I had my trekking poles, as once I got off the fire roads and onto the Tuscarora trail itself, some of the footing became challenging. This proved to be more tiring than expected, and added to the late start I got, I cut this short and returned on Tower road back to the trailhead, creating a smaller loop. This was a surprisingly beautiful area though, and I plan on checking out some of the trails just to north starting at Cowan's Gap state park.

Name: Dave                                                                                                                          Hike: Bull Run Mountain
Date: 3/8/2013                                                                                                                   Rating: 5

Critique: This is an excellent day hike that offers some spectacular views! Use the Conservancy's map--which you can get at the kiosk at the main trailhead. Follow the colored circles associated with each trail and you should be fine. When taking the Ridge Trail to the peak, definitely go beyond the park boundary and map to the top (which you can easily see). No longer do you need to go around the fence - the trail now continues onward and a sign tells you you're leaving the park and that it's OK to do so. We took the hike with a few inches of snow on the ground - beautiful! Now we'll need to come back in the spring.

Name: Keith Robertson                                                                                                       Hike: AT-Sunset Rocks Circuit
Date: 3-3-13                                                                                                                         Rating: 4

Critique: A friend and I did this today. We opted to bypass the out and back section on the AT by parking at the end of Old Shippenburg road instead, which puts you right at the intersection of the Sunset Rocks trail and the AT. We also went directly up to the rocks, deciding that it would be best to get the tough part done first just in case we were too tired at the end. I will warn if you go this way, the way up is exceedingly steep, but not too long. The view from the rocks was one of the better I've seen in Michaux, and the scramble afterwards was fun but not too terribly challenging. After that the rest of the hike was pretty low-key but a chance to walk in the woods is always good in my book. One interesting thing to be seen on the AT portion though is the mid-trail post that was built recently, and the mailbox that some joker put next to it (which has a trail ledger inside.)

Name: Brad Spagnola                                                                                                          Hike: Hemlock Gorge
Date: 3/3/2013                                                                                                                    Rating: 5

Critique: Niece and I hiked this trail for the first time today. Very peaceful and interesting trail with the history of the Hoffman paper mill. The gorge area is as beautiful as everyone says it is. Loved hiking along the rocky trail thru gorge, seeing and hearing the rushing water below. We took our time and spent 5 hours enjoying the sights and sounds along the trail. Seeing the mother of all hemlocks was impressive.

The directions on the map and trail notes are accurate and easy to follow. I will definitly come back and hike this trail in the summer.

Name: Ed. S                                                                                                                           Hike: Gunpowder Falls East Circuit
Date: Feb 10, 2013                                                                                                              Rating: 4

Critique: This was a good hike. For being in the suburbs, it reminded me quite well of my more typical hikes in the mountains, especially while looking up the gorge walls of Gunpowder Falls. Water is involved with the main highlights here; there are good cascading streams, almost waterfalls, flowing into the Gunpowder. The Gunpowder itself is often lined by mountain laurel bluffs. The Panther Branch area contains numerous historical ruins; and there is a serene pine stand near Hereford High. Trails are a mix of woods roads, floodplain routes, and narrow ledges along steep sidehills. The only caution would be that the Gunpowder North/South Trails appear to get flooded during high water. In addition, the Gunpowder North Trail was sparsely blazed, and I drifted off the trail while in the floodplain west of Big Falls Road. (Though, with the river next to me it was not hard to work my way back to the trail.

Name: Jeremy K                                                                                                                   Hike: Laurel Highlands Trail-South
Date: 24 February 2013                                                                                                     Rating: 4.3

Critique: Our average score . . . this is an awesome hike. We started in just the cold, but by the time we reached the cabins it started snowing, making the rest of our 11+ mile journey really nice. There's nothing more beautiful in the wintertime than virgin snow on a ridge. This group was of mainly intermediate hikers, and some of the "final words" to describe the hike (when we reached our cars long past sunset):

scenic peaceful steep relaxing snow icicles unpredictable diverse nice bridges hilly narrow climbing a great day

The one critique is that it was not so well maintained, but it's relatively understandable during the wintertime. However, there are a good number of hazard trees all along the trail, and many branches coming into the trail zone.

Name: adam                                                                                                                         Hike: FMF-Four Ponds-Rock City Loop
Date: 2/10/2013                                                                                                                 Rating: 5

Critique: Overall an amazing hike and pretty well documented. We had some trouble finding a path across the river but found a downfall about 100 yards downstream. The only major problem we had was that we messed up the end of the hike and ended up on the same trail where we started. We are not sure how that happened.

Name: Jeremy K                                                                                                                   Hike: AT-Sunset Rocks Circuit
Date: 09 February 2013                                                                                                      Rating: 4

Critique: A fun hike for beginners, but it's too easy to be taken as a serious 8+ mile hike. We rated it as a 3.5 because we all had a good day, but were a bit confused because our route did not match the trail notes very well.

However, our route didn't take us the same way as in the trail notes here: we reached Camp Michaux and Michaux Road right from the "old woods road," If you continue on the old woods road you'll reach Michaux Rd (paved) and a parking lot in front of the Camp. Turn right and head uphill on Michaux Rd until you read the AT crossing; turn left and soon you'll be at Tom's Run Shelter.

We didn't see the spur to get to the Camp after eating lunch at the shelter.

There should also be a better marker for the Sunset Rocks spur; we walked right by it, making our trip shorter and a bit disappointing.

However, it's still a great hike! Too short to warrant a 2-hr drive from DC, but good for locals / long-term trips.

Name: Adventure Runner                                                                                                   Hike: Sugarloaf Mountain
Date: 1/13/13                                                                                                                      Rating: 4

Critique: I ran the mountain today. Have been hiking and running here since I was a little kid. This is one of my favorite spots to hike or run.

There is a network of loop trails and summit trails here that allow you to create a route suitable for you. Personally, I like parking at the bottom of the mountain at the entrance gates. I take the white trail up to the East Overlook, climb to the summit on the orange trail, go down the red trail and then complete the circuit around the mountain on the blue and white trails.

Although the mountain is not very high, it's a lot higher than any of the surrounding land, so there are a number of great views. The summit is nice, but I think the best views are probably from White Rocks at the north end of the blue trail.

The trails are also fairly steep as a result of the difference in elevation. Nothing insane, but there are some climbs. The only one that might cause anyone any trouble is the orange trail, but it's a blast if you like steep, rocky trails. Some of the trails are suffering from erosion and braiding from all the use and abuse, especially around the summit area, but they still have a nice flow to them.

Being the closest mountain to DC is this area's only drawback. It's convenient for a quick getaway with a real mountain flavor, but don't expect any solitude unless you come early on a weekday in bad weather. Parking can also get tight in some of the smaller lots.

Name: Justin                                                                                                                         Hike: AT-Old Horse-shoe Trail Loop
Date: 2/2/13                                                                                                                        Rating: 3.5

Critique: I did the same as another poster here - I missed the turnoff and made it all the way down to the Stony Rails-Trails. The AT section and Rattling Run Road (Old Horseshoe Trail) are more like road walking or rails-trails than a trail. Due to my mistake and the short daylight hours, I took the H. Knauber trail back (red blazes). It was a good workout and there was a lot of solitude on a February afternoon.

Name: Adventure Runner                                                                                                   Hike: Catoctin Mountain Loop
Date: 1/6/13                                                                                                                        Rating: 5

Critique: I ran this loop today. The only modification I made was that I used the official park trail to get to Park HQ instead of bushwhacking along Hunting Creek. It's too close to the road to be worth the effort IMO. I've been on almost all the trails in the park on several occasions.

The trails here are exceptionally well maintained and marked. However, they are fairly rocky and there are a couple of steep sections. With 5 separate overlooks and a big waterfall, you really get a lot of bang for your buck here. Combine that with the park's proximity to DC and Baltimore, and its amenities (visitor center w/ bathrooms, NPS management), and it's easy to understand why this place can get very crowded.

For example, I got out early in the morning today, it was cold, and there was snow on all the trails. I still saw about 15 people on the trails, plus several families hanging out a the falls. Understand that it won't feel like wilderness if you come in the middle of the day on a nice weekend.

Name: graham jones                                                                                                           Hike: Billy Goat A
Date: 3 Dec 2012                                                                                                                  Rating: 4

Critique: After reading all the warning notices, I was apprehensive about doing this trail alone. I need not have worried. It was easy, and seemed to be used some as little more than a stroll. True there is some boulder scrambling to be done, but this is tedious rather than hazardous. Most 10 year olds would find it easy. The only iffy bit is the cliff face, and if you walk anti-clockwise and climb rather than descend, it is straightforward. To give some perspective to the difficulty of the walk; of the thirty or so people I met, only three had boots, and a few walkers wore flip flops or sandals and were dressed in beach wear. In other words, the dangers are grossly exaggerated, as is the time needed. I took 90 minutes and that included a picnic and numerous stops for photographs or just to admire the views. The latter are splendid and make the trail worthwhile

Name: Danny H.                                                                                                                   Hike: Gifford Pinchot SP (East side)
Date: November, 2012                                                                                                        Rating: 3

Critique: I have hiked this area many times from 2010 to current date of posting and my last outing was a mixed review of time and usage.

I have hiked several trails around here including the Lake Trail and the ones intended for horses; overall I must admit the horse trails are sometimes better maintained then the walking trails.

There are several worn-paths near the lake (Lake Side Trail included) which at points go from very narrow to rocky to wet with a stream running through them.

During a dry day the trail is nice and pleasant for small walks and very good for a decent 3 to 9 mile hike but during any wet days steer clear of the south eastern side near the trails marked Old Farm and Ridge due to the muddy, rocky, and somewhat dangerously slick terrain. Also take caution in spring and autumn and please wear bright orange, yellow, or brilliant red colored vests as these trails are open for hunting during those times.

Here are some helpful recommendations for seasonal hikers -

Spring: Good spring views can be seen from Alpine and the Ridge trails and try to take the Quaker Race, Gravel, and Oak trails during wetter days, take extra socks with you in case of accidents as the ground here tends to retain water. Steer clear of the Midland and Fern trails during this season as they are both on hills and can be treacherous.

Summer: For great summer heat relief take the Lake Side, Oak, Ridge, and Midland trails. Steer clear of the Frisbee Golf area, its very busy in the height of summer and is often difficult to get around the crowds for a hike. Do not take Quaker Race or Alpine if you can avoid it; they are both steep and in summer not very pleasant.

Autumn: Good autumn views can be seen from Alpine and the Ridge trails just like in spring but also take the Old Farm and the southern portion Lake Side trails for peak-season leaf coloring. Steer clear of the northern area of the Lake Side trail if possible during mid-autumn due to horse back riders and the occasional hunter.

Winter: While all the trails are good in the winter the best are Lake Side, Quaker Race, Midland, Oak, Alpine, and Old Farm trails. If it snows or rains stick to the same ones you would in spring/autumn too avoid soaked feet.

Name: Adventure Runner                                                                                                  Hike: Greenbrier State Park
Date: 12/30/12                                                                                                                   Rating: 3

Critique: I ran this route as described today. Mountain biked here a couple of times many years ago. This is a close-in mountainous option for people who live in the DC/Baltimore area. It's not bad (getting out in the woods is always good), but there are better options nearby.

On the positive side, the trails are well-marked and there is an excellent topo map at literally every trail junction. The park service has updated the maps with "YOU ARE HERE" stickers, making it impossible to get lost or even off-track. You actually don't even need to bring a map. The lake is pretty and the trails seem generally underused - it seems like most visitors come for the lake and other amenities. You'll probably have plenty of solitude.

Even though the trails are well-marked, they are mostly old roads that suffer from some erosion and drainage issues. They are full of small pointy rocks, without any interesting scrambling or boulder-hopping. You can see a little through the trees on Short Hill in the winter, but there are no real views from the ridge tops. The "mountains" are not impressive and the woods are mostly scraggly second-growth. The only scenery of note is the lake, which is extensively developed.

With these pros and cons in mind, you're better off going to Gambrill State Park or Sugarloaf Mountain (both closer to DC/Baltimore), or Catoctin Mountain Park and Cunningham Falls Park (about the same distance from DC/Baltimore). Another option is to check out the lake and then head up the Bartman Hill Tr to the AT, and go either N to Annapolis Rocks and Black Rock Cliffs, or S to Washington Monument (all options similar in mileage).

I think this venue is most useful for mountain bikers (who have no access to AT) or for hikers/runners with families. You can escape on the trails for a bit while the kids and/or significant other play on the beach, swim, rent boats, etc.

Name: Adventure Runner                                                                                                   Hike: Gambrill State Park
Date: 12/28/12                                                                                                                   Rating: 4

Critique: Ran the loop as described today. Used to mountain bike here fairly often and have complete a number of trips on the Catoctin Tr.

For many people in central MD, Gambrill State Park is the closest area that is "in the mountains". Sugarloaf is closer, but it stands on its own. These are pretty modest mountains, but they're definitely a step up from the typical Piedmont terrain around DC and Baltimore.

There are many route options here, but the loop described here does a good job of keeping you away from the road as much as possible. Several trails built by bikers are very squiggly. Today the trails were covered in snow, but they're usually very rocky and steep. The park is popular, so I guess they've tried to squeeze as many miles of trail as possible onto the relatively small tract of land. The number of different trails can make things confusing, but all of the trails are well-marked and easy to follow. Just take a map and you'll be fine.

The North Frederick and Middletown Overlooks are very pretty considering how small the mountains are here. The South Frederick Overlook is underwhelming, and is basically a lesser version of its northern twin. In winter, you'll also get plenty of views through the trees since you're up on top of a ridge most of the way.

Name: Adventure Runner                                                                                                   Hike: Gunpowder Falls West (Hereford Area)
Date: 12/23/12                                                                                                                    Rating: 5

Critique: Ran this loop today. I included the out-and-back to the dam and took the official Gunpowder S Tr back to the lot. Truly a beautiful area.

This route is quite challenging for not being in the mountains. There are quite a few steep hills, lots of downed trees to climb over and under, and some rocky, scrambly sections. Some of the trails are also narrow and eroded. They are all well-marked and easy to follow.

The river is beautiful, as is the area around it. Highly recommend this loop.

Name: Bogdan                                                                                                                      Hike: Big Schloss
Date: 12/16/12                                                                                                                    Rating:

Critique: Big Schloss is indeed a special place, but perhaps camping should be restricted on the outcrop. An alarming amount of living woody vegetation has been hacked away to serve as firewood for the numerous campsites near the peak. The plant communities found on the rock outcrops are astounding for their ability to exist in a windswept environment with minimal organic material and should be admired, not burned to cook your hot dogs. While it may be "cool" to camp on Big Schloss, there are multiple campsite options nearby in which short hikes to the rocks can be made
.

M.R. Hyker Note: While the PATC or Forest Service could post the proper signage it would probably just be used for fire wood.

 

 

Name: Adventure Runner                                                                                                   Hike: Piney Point / Middle Run
Date: 12/15/12                                                                                                                    Rating: 4

Critique: I ran this loop today for the second time. This is a decent spot to get away from it all without traveling too far from DC or Baltimore. There is plenty of green in the winter and nice views of the reservoir. Both times I've been it's been quiet and peaceful. The section of trail along Middle Run is short but also very pretty.

The trails themselves are mostly wide old roads. Sometimes they're rocky and eroded, sometimes they're soft and covered with pine needles. I have not seen any horses, but the trails seem to get a fair amount of equestrian traffic. Several sections of trail are pretty churned up and there are a number of sizable mud pits. Expect downed logs and debris on the trails since they aren't really maintained or groomed.

The stream crossings are shallow, but wide. There are large flat concrete chunks to aid in crossing, but they were submerged both times I was here. You can probably keep your feet dry with high-top waterproof boots, but otherwise plan on getting your feet wet.

It's possible to make a loop out of the Piney Point section of this route while adding a little more single track mileage to the route. When you get to the end of the peninsula, a faint path veers left and takes you to the shore for a view. If you veer right on the more obvious path, you will almost make a U-turn to follow the shoreline. This path is narrow and twisty but easy to follow. It climbs in and out of ravines and winds around coves with great views of the reservoir the whole way. Eventually, it will drop you off at an old road. This road is directly across from the small rocky island on the side trip described at the beginning of the hike. I'm guessing the bridge abutments were for a bridge for this road. Follow the road up and away from the reservoir and you'll get back to the main trail through the pines at the funky intersection altered by downed trees you passed earlier. Turn left to continue with the described route.

 

 

Name: Adventure Runner                                                                                                   Hike: Sweet Air
Date: 12/8/12                                                                                                                      Rating: 4

Critique: Ran this loop today and on one other occasion. Very beautiful area considering how close it is to Baltimore. The river is pretty and some of the fields are nice as well.

All of the trails on the N side of the river are well-marked with signs and blazes. It can get confusing because there are so many trails but it's impossible to get lost and there are signs that lead you back to the parking area from many junctions.

Did not get to the trails on the other side of the river, but have read good things about them as well. The loop described on this site does a good job of keeping you on narrow footpaths as much as possible and seeing the best scenery of the area. Some of the other trails are wide, straight, and eroded.

 

 

Name: Adventure Runner                                                                                                   Hike: Gunpowder Falls (Hereford) East
Date: 12/2/12                                                                                                                      Rating: 5

Critique: I ran a modified version of this loop today and have hiked most of the trails in this area at some point. This is an extremely beautiful and peaceful area considering how close it is to Baltimore.

I started at the big parking area at the bottom of Bunker Hill Rd, and followed the loop from there. When ascending Panther Branch, I followed the official trail all the way to a meadow from which I could see Hereford HS. I used a wide mowed trail to cut over N of the school, and dropped down to York Rd right across Bunker Hill Rd on a gravel drive between the school track and some houses. I then descended the Bunker Hill Tr back to the parking area.

All of the official trails S of the river are in good condition and are well-marked. The Gunpowder N Tr seems to receive much less maintenance than the rest of the trails. Every time I've been on it, it is overgrown with thorny, scratchy plants, and the blazes are faded and intermittent at best. Currently, there is also flooding damage from Hurricane Sandy that has not been repaired, but it is still passable without too much trouble. It would be hard to get lost because you just follow the river, but you may feel like you're bushwhacking at times and need to scout the best route.

The only other place that can be confusing is Panther Branch. The trail is easy to find from the river, but as you go up along the creek, you need to pay attention. At the point you need to turn up a feeder stream, an obvious path continues to ascend Panther Branch. I'm not sure if this drops you S of Hereford or into a neighborhood to the E of the stream. You'll be able to tell you missed the turn if you don't see any blazes for a couple of minutes. The official trail has little numbered posts along it as it climbs the side stream.

There are numerous connecting trails and routes to the HS and out to York Rd. I think the easiest way is to climb the official trail until you get to an open meadow. Cross the meadow and at the far end, the blue blazes take you a across a mowed track. Turn left on this track, then veer left on a more narrow path to follow the fence line along the HS track. This leads to a gravel drive that passes 2 houses and takes you to York Rd directly across from Bunker Hill Rd, making the circuit very simple.

Very enjoyable loop. The river and its tributaries are beautiful, the falls are nice, and there is plenty of mountain laurel and pine to keep things green all year.

 

 

Name: Terry Reifsteck                                                                                                        Hike: Mau Har Loop
Date: 11/3012                                                                                                                      Rating: 5

Critique: Plan on 9 hours of the best Virginia Highlands hiking this side of Interstate 81. I strongly recommend starting this trek from Tye River, because what goes up will indeed descend. My trip took 10 hours with 9 on the trail and 1 for lunch and stops. Since I'd been up Three Ridges before from Tye, it seemed prudent to hike this loop clockwise, if only to avoid the monster climb you'll encounter going against time. Weather was perfect today, with temps in the low 30's at the start and overcast sun for most of the day. Mau Har is interesting to say the least. From the junction at AT south, plan on a park like lope for the first 30 minutes. Then, the ridge in front of you begs for a tunnel but alas...chug up this hill only to descend another 500 feet into the next drainage. Mau Har must be Latin for Rocky, Steep and Unrelenting. But, don't lose hope. As wild as this ride gets in the middle, on the other end you get to lope through the park again. The rocks quit, the gradient eases and you'll find yourself at Maupin Shelter within 4 hour of your Tye River start. The rest is all down hill, with the exception of a minor climb to the top of Bee Mountain. Nice overlooks, lunch spots and not much water between the shelters. Go out there and enjoy this one. That's why it's there.

 

 

Name: Vincent                                                                                                                      Hike: Fair Hill SP-1
Date: at least once a week                                                                                                Rating: 5 +

Critique: My Grandson and I, for the last 5 years have investigated a lot of the marked trails and a lot of the unmarked paths. He wants to know where that path goes. We walk about 2-3 hours and saw a few deer, beautiful trees, flowers and a lot of other hikers. A great park for hiking , fishing and just roaming around.

 

 

Name: Adventure Runner                                                                                                   Hike: Hemlock Gorge
Date: 11/25/12                                                                                                                    Rating: 5

Critique: I've run this route twice now, both times in winter. This area is beautiful - even the drive out is beautiful. Highly recommended.

Hemlock Gorge proper is incredible - you'll feel like you're in the wilds of northern PA. There are caves, swimming holes, rapids, hemlocks (obviously), the works. The rest of the area is pretty as well, just not as spectacular as the gorge itself.

Even though there are no signs or blazes, the directions are easy to follow. You're either on old roads or along a creek or river. The directions and map from the site are more than sufficient as long as you pay attention. The trail along the river between Silver Run and Walker Run is a genuine scramble, but it is not too long. The first time I ran here, there were a couple of inches of snow, and it was very slippery. So be careful if it's wet or icy.

Summer has the advantage of swimming in the river, but I really recommend this area in the winter as well. The green of the hemlocks and mountain laurel contrasts nicely with the snow, and interesting ice formations form along the rapids and up the feeder streams. The brambles and stinging nettle are also at a minimum - although I could still tell where the problem areas are.

The only downside is that I saw a fair amount of trash in the gorge today - beer cans, coffee cups, etc. It's possible this is leftover from flooding from Hurricane Sandy (I didn't notice the trash on my first trip), but it looks like the gorge's proximity to the road is attracting the wrong kind of visitors. Hopefully this problem doesn't get worse.

 

Name: Chris J                                                                                                                        Hike: Billy Goat Trail A
Date: 11/25/12                                                                                                                   Rating: 4

Critique: went on Sunday morning at 11 am so we did run into 3-4 other groups of hikers but it was by no means crowded. Good light warm ups on the tow path and small rock scrambles. The one larger climb up the rock face was a lot of fun and at that point we were definitely glad to have other hikers' input. We left back to the towpath at trail marker 2 so overall took about 1 hr 15 min. Great easier hike with a good mix of light hiking and fun rock climbing!

Name: Big Mo                                                                                                                       Hike: Old loggers path
Date: 11/23-11/24/12                                                                                                      Rating: 4

Critique: This is my second time hiking this trail. First time clockwise and this time counterclockwise from trailhead to rock run then back out. Some pointers for others. If you are looking at the trailhead sign left is clockwise and right is counterclockwise. If you are going counter clockwise its easy to miss the beginning of the trail there are 2 roads which split right at the trailhead and its not immediately clear where is the beginning. Only after going up a road a ways did we backtrack and find the post which says old loggers path and a sharp right arrow at which you basically have to head straight up the mountain.

Definitely wear quality waterproof boots because there is a lot of mud and water on the trail that is unavoidable. At some points boots were sinking in up to ankles where water naturally flows across the trail down the mountain and makes the ground really soft. Also were quite a few blown down trees to go around.

Saw a lot of hunters so be cautious and wear orange if possible. Didn't see any wildlife at all but some bear scat on the trail which was cool.

Overall this map and guide is very helpful. Seems that more and more people are hiking this trail. When we got to rock run saw someone camping there but there are plenty of other sites at rock run. Noticed a lot more trash on the trail than last time. Hikers using energy gels and bars and then just tossing it on the ground. Keep this place clean people there's not many spots left to find true wilderness and solitude and trash everywhere plus the oil drilling evidence are gonna ruin this place.

Name: Adventure Runner                                                                                                  Hike: McKeldin Area
Date: 11/23/12                                                                                                                   Rating: 5

Critique: Ran the route as described today. Really enjoyed it.

It seems like whoever designed the trails tried to get as many miles out of the terrain as possible, but that's fine. It's a really beautiful spot with great river views. Since it's not a huge area, you can still get decent mileage in by using all the trails. It would be really hard to get lost here.

If you use all the trails as described, you end up with a decent workout because you climb in and out of the river valley a number of times. If you just follow the trails along the river, it's pretty easy going.

Expect some horse and mountain bike traffic on most trails, but people are almost always friendly and just out to enjoy the trails.

There are some unofficial connecting trails that lead across Marriottsville Rd to Liberty Dam, but I have not been on them. There are also plans to connect s bunch of the unmaintained trails in the park along the river to build a "Through Trail" that goes from McKeldin to Avalon - should be neat. Some really long routes could be made using this trail.

Name: Glenn                                                                                                                         Hike: Morgan run
Date: 11/23/12                                                                                                                   Rating: 5

Critique: I did this hike solo on Black Friday 2012 before reading this. It was all on instinct and I did most of the finger trails and a bit of very fortunate bushwhacking. Full disclosure, I had my smartphone and was looking at topo maps periodically and always found my way back to the fire roads. Great experience and it took me about 4.5 hours, with a few backtracks and the aforementioned side trips. I've done most of the reservoir trails and this is one of the most diverse and rewarding sections. The footing is much less eroded than other areas.

Name: Adventure Runner                                                                                                   Hike: Glendening Preserve
Date: 11/18/12                                                                                                                   Rating: 4

Critique: I ran this loop twice today. I would have rated it a "3" if it weren't for the new boardwalk and viewing platform.

The trails are mostly wide old roads. The terrain is very flat and smooth, sometimes sandy. Very easy for hiking or running. The most interesting trail is the Cliff Tr - it has nice views of the wetlands through the trees and some narrow, twisty single track sections.

The new boardwalk has been built, and it goes way out into the wetlands. It ends at a small pier, where canoeists and kayakers along the Patuxent could stop and tour the trails if desired. The view here is spectacular. I was amazed at how extensive the wetlands were this close to DC/Baltimore. You cannot see any development from this viewpoint, although you can hear the traffic from MD4.

The new boardwalk makes the out-and-back described above unnecessary. It doesn't have a very good view of the wetlands and you can see houses from where it ends. Skip it and take the steps to the new boardwalk.

Other than the impressive boardwalk, it's just a flat walk in the woods, but good for stretching the legs. I did see some birds - don't know any species, but they were colorful. IMO, the Pine Barrens and the Sand Barrens were kind of a disappointment, although it was neat to see prickly pear in the wild less than an hour from DC.

The directions and map here are all you need to find your way. The signs are pretty consistent. Some of the trails other than the Red Oak Tr are blazed white, but not consistently. Ignore any surveyor's orange ribbon and little laminated alphanumerical signs. Even if you make a wrong turn, the area is so small, that you'll quickly be able to get back on track.

Overall, short, easy leg-stretcher that is close to home for DC/Baltimore residents with an impressive view of a very large wetlands area.

Name: Adventure Runner                                                                                                   Hike: Big Mountain / Pine Tree Vista
Date: 11/10/12                                                                                                                    Rating: 4

Critique: I ran this loop today. Actually, I walked quite a bit, but I ran as much as I could. This is some of the most wild and rugged terrain this close to the DC/Baltimore area. I had a blast, but this route might not be for everyone. I did not see a single other person on the trails. Here are a couple of tips/updates for anyone interested:

NAVIGATION: With the exception of the Tuscarora Trail (TT), trail blazes and signs are pretty inconsistent. Make sure you bring the map and directions. A compass might be useful too, but it's pretty easy to estimate where you are based on the topo map. You should be comfortable with your navigation skills and the possibility of getting a little lost. I personally missed the Richmond Trail (my fault for misreading directions and map) and ended up taking the Log Slide Trail down to Augwick Road. There is no sign for the Richmond Trail, but it's right where the forest road and footpath come together after the shelter. There is a prominent sign for the Tuscarora Trail there. The following trails have intermittent blazes that might be useful (just don't count on relying solely on blazes):

Tuscarora Trail: Blue
Lincoln Trail: Red
Lockard Trail: Green
Fore Trail: Red

Also, there is one small mistake in the directions that can be confusing. Once on the Lockard Trail, the Fore Trail branches off to the right. Veer left as mentioned in the directions. The second time, the Fore Trail branches off to the LEFT, not to the right as indicated in the directions. There's an old beat-up sign at the first intersection, but there are only faded blazes to mark the second intersection.

Finally, if you want to see the Pine Tree Vista, make sure you veer left BEFORE cresting the ridge, as mentioned above. You should see a clearing to your left. The vista looks back over the terrain you have been covering, not over to the other side of the ridge. The King Trail seems to continue through the undergrowth along the ridge or down the other side of it.

TRAIL CONDITIONS: The TT is well-maintained, but most of the other trails follow old roads or game trails and seem to enjoy minimal maintenance, if any. There are a couple of narrow sections of trail through mountain laurel where you might want long pants or tights. I wore running shorts, and my legs are pretty scratched up - drew some blood. Also, the old roads on the return part of the route pass by several seeps and springs. There are some substantial mud holes that can't be avoided without bushwhacking through mountain laurel and rhododendron. The Lockard Trail also shares its route with a good-sized stream for a couple hundred feet. In spots, it might be difficult to keep dry feet even with waterproof hiking boots.

OVERLOOKS: The Big Mountian overlook is spectacular, even though you can drive to it. I found the shapes of the mountains very interesting and aesthetic. The Pine Tree Vista is also pretty, but the field of vision is narrower due to the growth around it. The trail is also quite steep and overgrown, so if you're not feeling up to it, know you've already seen the best view at Big Mountain.

Name: Penny Kennedy-Smith                                                                                           Hike: Old Rag
Date: 10/14/12                                                                                                                   Rating: 5

Critique: We are both in our mid 60's and had not climbed Old Rag since living in Va in the early 90's. it was hard work but absolutely fantastic and the sense of achievement when we got back to the car was wonderful! It was very crowded and everyone was (much!) younger than we were but people were so friendly and encouraging over the more difficult bits. The scenery was every bit as beautiful as we remembered and though I doubt we will climb it again (due to living in England) it was by far the best climb we did on our recent visit. It gave my husband's year old hip replacement a good work out! Highly recommended!

Name: Travis Murphy                                                                                                          Hike: Big Schloss
Date: Oct. 26 - 27th, 2012                                                                                                 Rating: 4

Critique: We did this hike as precisely as outlined by the Author. The first day started out overcast and in the 50's. The hike up Little Stony Creek trail was very enjoyable and offered a few nice views of the creek at the beginning. About the first half mile of this trail is not that bad of elevation gain. After the first half mile the trail starts to steadily gain in elevation and becomes more of a strenuous hike, although it is still not that bad if you have done hiking before. We stopped and ate lunch at the cabin before making our way up the Tuscarora/Pond Run Trail. This is a wide access trail that is very easy to navigate. After being on this trail for half a mile, we came to the intersection to pick up the Mill Mountain Trail. This trail starts out uphill, but levels off once you reach the top of the ridge. The old beacon tower is grown up now and is not a very big grassy area. It is now overgrown in brush with the exception of a small access trail and a small clearing where the tower used to sit.

We made our way to Sandstone Spring where we topped off our water supply as well as filled a 4 liter water tank for use at camp for the night. We set-up camp a short way up from the spring in a campsite off to the left. This was a nice site with plenty of space and a nice fire ring. Firewood is scarce, so be prepared to walk down the main trail a ways to find some.

We woke the next morning to a damp and chilly surprise. We hit the trail around 9am on our way to Big Schloss. We stopped at the unnamed vista, which was a beautiful, foggy morning view. At this point the rain started to fall, so we put on our shells and continued on our hike. We reached the intersection of the Mill Mountain and Big Schloss Cutoff. At this point we dropped our packs and hiked towards the Big Schloss Trail.

We made it to the summit of Big Schloss, but it was very overcrowded. There was a bus trip from DC with about 40 hikers from an area hiking Club on the trail, and summit. The rain and weather made the views very foggy, but it was still a very enjoyable site and climb. After a while enjoying the Schloss, we made it back down and backtracked to our packs. We picked up our pack and continued down the cutoff trail back to the parking area and our vehicle.

Overall, this was a very enjoyable hike. Very clearly marked trails with enjoyable scenery. This hike would have been more enjoyable without the 40'some people from the hiking club trying to get to the top of Big Schloss, but it was pleasant talking to them. I will definitely do this one again in the spring when the weather is projected to be better.

Name: .com                                                                                                                           Hike: Big Schloss
Date: Oct. 27, 2012                                                                                                             Rating: 5

Critique: A great hike, interesting terrain, lovely woods. Trail was leaf-covered so footing was tricky since the leaves covered the rocks. At one point it was helpful to use hiking poles so as to better navigate along the hidden rocks. Weather was foggy & slight drizzle, fog always enhances a hike in the woods. Mike's directions were right on, except for locating FS 92. There is a brown sign painted w/ 92 & nailed to a tree, but it can be hard to spot. We had to turn around and backtrack a bit. Mike's trail descriptions & map were excellent, and definitely needed to complete this hike safely. We decided to skip hiking up Big Schloss due to no views & light rain, so will return again. Next time maybe an overnight, there are so many lovely campsites along the way. Thanks, Mike, for listing such a great hike!

Name: Jon Lee                                                                                                                      Hike: Big Schloss
Date: 10/6/2012-10/7/2012                                                                                            Rating: 4

Critique: Overall a great hike. Amazing views and fall foliage made the hike spectacular. Did not get to see much wildlife except maybe an owl. There were a few other groups on the hike but not too packed. Drove down with a friend from Baltimore and met up with another friend from North Carolina. Trailhead was a little tricky to find if coming up from Johnstown road; you need to make the left at the fork in the road but there were no markings.

Got excellent fall weather during our first day all throughout the night even though there was a forecast for 50% chance of rain. But it probably rained the days prior since most of our firewood was pretty wet and had a hard time keeping a big fire.

We did the loop counter-clockwise from the trailhead like the directions said. Not too challenging but definitely some good elevation gain in the first day. Hiked about 5.5 miles to get to the Mill Mountain camp site by 4:30 (a little over 3 hours). Set up camp, gathered fire wood and cooked dinner before night fell. Later in the night, decided to hike to the overlook to see if we could get a good view of the stars. Was actually very tricky because it was hard to find some of the markers especially at night. Ended up leap-frogging the entire way and managed to make it there safely. The view was superb and the sky was extremely clear but a bit windy.

Day two, we woke up a little later (6:30) because it rained overnight and into the morning. Was hoping to catch the sunrise but unfortunately that was not going to happen. Packed up and made our way over to the overlook and got a better view of the valley. Was still cloudy but rain had slowed down to a little drizzle by then. A little further down we found a rock formation to our left and decided to climb up to the top to see if we could see any views. Definitely was tricky and a bit scary because of the rain and the slippery rocks. Eventually made it down to Big Schloss after crossing the foot bridge and saw awesome views! We tried to continue on the white trail to see if it connected back to orange trail in a loop but ended up not doing so especially since it was wet and unclear. Went back on our way and made it back to the trailhead by noon.

Name: .com                                                                                                                          Hike: Volkswagen Circuit
Date: Oct. 6, 2012                                                                                                               Rating: 5

Critique: Great hike near Gambrill State Park. Mike has made connections between the Catoctin Trail (blue) and the popular mt. bike paths. The MB paths are not always blazed but Mike's trail notes and map are all accurate. It is essential, in my opinion, that the notes & map be carried and frequently referred to when hiking

Name: gayle                                                                                                                         Hike: Ricketts Glen Falls Trail
Date: 9-29-2012                                                                                                                  Rating: 5

Critique: Absolutely beautiful!!

Weather was a little misty in the morning but was able to take the rain coat off by noon.

First time and it did not disappoint!

Would highly recommend.

Name: Matt                                                                                                                           Hike: AT-Horseshoe Trail
Date: 9/29/12                                                                                                                      Rating: 4

Critique: We made it to the top where the Northern terminus is and signed the trail register. However, we missed where the the "old" horseshoe trail turned off and so we went to the railroad grade. This proved to be a little more difficult to get back once we realized where we were and had to get someone to pick us up.

Name: Jukebox                                                                                                                     Hike: Laurel Highlands Trail Thru Hike
Date: 9/5-9/9/12                                                                                                               Rating: 5


Critique: Video: 9/5-9 Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail (LHHT) SOBO Thru Hike

Ive been trying to hike the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail for two years. When the guy who wrote a book about it posted a trip on the Facebook page for the LHHT I thought looks like a great way to hike the trail and get to learn a lot about it in the process. We had a great trip and ended up meeting up with another south bounder on the first day (five miles into the trip) who ended up changing his plans (three days) and hiked out the rest of the trip with us. We had a great trip together and the trail was fantastic ..even in the rain.We did our thru hike over Five days traveling from the northern terminus in Seward to Ohiopyle. Here are the daily mileages and where we camped:


Wed (9/5) - hike from Seward to RT 271 Shelters (about 14 miles)
Thurs (9/6) hike from 271 to RT 30 Shelters (about 11 miles)
Friday (9/7) hike from RT 30 to RT 31 Shelters (about 14 miles)
Saturday (9/8) hike from RT 31 to RT 653 Shelters (about 14 miles)
Sunday (9/9) hike RT 653 to Ohiopyle (about 18 miles)


The last day was long but by the time we finished eating our cheese steaks at the Falls Market it all seemed worthwhile.

Here's our U-tube video.

 

 

Name: Lane                                                                                                              Hike: BRMC - skipped Quarry Tr spur
Date: 9/26/12                                                                                                         Rating: 4

Critique: Did the described loop as a trail run minus the spur on the Quarry Tr to the ruins. The area is rather small, the "mountain" is not very big, and it can get crowded on nice weekends. However, this is definitely the biggest climb and the best view this close to DC in VA. Nice mix of trails for running. Coming down from the overlook on the singletrack is a blast, as is the trail along the eastern edge of the property that crosses the RR tracks.

Great directions, but a couple of updates:

1) There are no more colored discs or blazes (except faded leftovers. The Conservancy uses a system with numbered posts at each trail junction. The trails are pretty well-maintained and are still easy to navigate. Check out the map here:
http://brmconservancy.org/trail_map.html.

2. If you visit the Chapman Graveyard and the Quarry Trench at the beginning of loop, you cann no longer cut back directly down to the Fern Hollow Tr. You need to retrace your steps or continue up the Quarry Tr to the Chestnut Ridge Tr and turn left to rejoin the described route.

3. The continuation of the Quarry Tr N of Catletts Branch is no longer an official trail and is not on the official map. The junction is still marked with a post (#13) and you can easily make out the old roadbed that crosses the creek there

 

 

Name: MountainStreamFlood                                                                               Hike: Martin Hill Wild Area-Central Loop
Date: 9/23/12                                                                                                         Rating: 4.5

Critique: Overall a great hike. Fall colors were in full brilliance this past weekend, especially the plentiful blueberry bushes which have turned a fiery red. The foliage is nicely set against numerous views of the surrounding ridges and coves.

A few notes. First the MST has been rerouted and no longer follows the power line cut at mile 1.35. Instead it crosses underneath the line and then bears left and parallels it on a newly constructed footpath in the woods. The trail passes back under the line just below Tower Road at the view of the Sideling Hill Cut, before ascending to a junction with the road (this adds ~0.3mi to the trip). Second, both the un-blazed Jackson and red-blazed Fetters Trails are extremely overgrown for much of their length. For the most part, as noted, they are still easy to discern, with the exception of the very beginning of the Fetters trail, where there is no visible footpath and the old and fading red blazes are few and far between.

Still a wonderful hike, that I would highly recommend, great scenery and seclusion!

 

 

Name: Sam A                                                                                                            Hike: AT-Mau-Har Trail Loop
Date: 9/23/12                                                                                                          Rating: 4

Critique: Nice hike! Got in late and slept at the Maupin Shelter. Woke up at 530 to catch some stars and packed along the AT with a headlamp to find a decent place to catch the sunrise. Though tough at times, I thought it was not too bad if you're in shape. I got back to the shelter via Mau Trail in about 7 hours (including a 1 hour roundtrip to go back and get a knife I left at a vista), so definitely doable in a day if you haven't much time and are up for a challenge.

Only place I really got lost was at the big campsite at Campells Creek. I went along the yellow blazed trail to the waterfall then couldn't find the Mau Trail again... it's dead ahead from the sign post, you'll see the blue blazes on the rocks ahead of it.

 

 

Name: Tom O'Donnell                                                                                              Hike: Roaring Plains Circuit
Date: 09/22/12                                                                                                        Rating: 5

Critique: I've got to say this is, hands down, the best hike on Roaring Plains. The trails are all in excellent shape except there is currently a large blow-down on the South Prong trail that requires a hands and knees crawl to get under with a pack.
The infamous Tee Pee Trail is becoming more distinct with each passing year and I had little difficulty following it this time. There are some strategically placed cairns that help a lot. The trail is hemmed in close with laurel, but the footway is pretty distinct. However, it still requires attention to stay on the trail.


Thanks to someone who cut out some bad blowdowns on the Canyon Rim Trail. Those would have been some bad spots to negotiate! The really rocky footway on this section is probably the most tiring part of the hike, but the views make it all worth it.
I had previously done all of the pieces of this circuit at different times, but had never done it as a complete hike. Total time on the trail was almost exactly 9 hrs.


Surprisingly I had the most trouble of the day finding the path to the rocks for the view of the South Prong, the rhododendron wall is really thick there. Look for the many-branched tree.

 

 

Name: Billy Richmond Jr.                                                                                       Hike: Brown Mountain-Big Run Loop
Date: 09/22/2012                                                                                                   Rating: 4

Critique: First day of Fall so decided to take a Hike :) 64 Degrees at the Brown Mountain Overlook when I started at 8:15am. The descent right from the overlook is kinda steep but soon levels out. Some excellent views back over to RockyTop from the top of Rocky Mountain. Also got some good views of Masanutten Mountain although a little hazy looking toward the Alleghenies. I did notice the fire damage from the 1986 fire but Nature is taking over quite well. While walking on the Big Run Portal portion of the hike after the 4th crossing of Big Run I ran right into a bear. He wasn't big by any standards but wasn't little either :) I banged my hiking poles and he took off into the woods. First Bear of any size I have seen this Summer/Fall. Ran into 2 backpackers/campers on the Rocky Mountain Trail who had camped overnight in the vicinity. Slowed to my normal snail's pace moving back up the Mountain. At the cement post that marks .7 miles back to the overlook met an interesting gentleman who said he had spotted 3 bears during his hike with one being large he guessed around 300 lbs. Made it back to the Parking lot about 1:30pm for a total trip time of 5 hours and 15 minutes. Met two other hikers on the trail for a total of 5. Drank about a liter of water and ate an energy bar. It was 70 degrees in my car when I finished. Weather was beautiful. Great Hike !! Also like walking along Big Run. One day I'll try my hand at fishing.

 

 

Name: Ed. S                                                                                                              Hike: Dolly Sods North Circuit Hike
Date: August 27, 2012                                                                                            Rating: 4.9

Critique: A very good hike, in a very scenic area. The numerous large meadows make this trip one with a near endless variety of views, and also a unique area for the Mid Atlantic. The meadows are dry and windswept in the highlands portion of the hike, interspersed with lone trees. In the lowlands the meadows are significantly more open and are boggy in areas. The views are especially good along the Rocky Ridge Trail, where you can look into Canaan Valley. This area also sports intriguing wind carved rock formations. The meadows are often punctuated with spruce forests, with obviously lower temperatures, refreshing on an otherwise hot day. Three crossings of the two forks of Red Creek give nice stream views. A fair amount of wildlife, saw a weird albino spider, a green snake, a ribbon snake, and a fair number of grouse. In general, the trails are easy to follow. The only exceptions are the Red Creek crossing on the Bear Rocks Trail (if going west, hang left when ascending), and on the Dobbin Grade Trail after the Left Fork crossing, where you need to hang a right onto the old Dobbin Grade RR bed at a four way junction.

The only negatives, which account for the not-quite-highest rating, are three mucky bog crossings on the Dobbin Grade Trail, where your feet will sink no matter how you cross, and also one short section of the same trail which is fully grown in with head high grasses and weeds. The eastern half of the Bear Rocks Trail is highly threaded, but only a minor complaint.

Finally, if you do this on a hot, sunny day like I did, remember that you will be exposed to the sun for at least half of the hike, so prepare accordingly.

 

 

Name: Tony Woodrum                                                                                           Hike: Glade Creek Trail WV
Date: 9/01/2012                                                                                                    Rating: 4.0

Critique: My wife and I are 50 years old and decided too start hiking again. I grew up in these mountains of WV and have a deep passion for what God has created here for us.
Upon entering the trailhead, you will soon be confronted by what seems like small narrow overgrown weedy trail...this soon turns into an open wooded nice trail along an old rail bed. A few old relics along the way takes you back in time too a time when steam whistles filled the air and the sound of an old logging shay coming up the mountain would have been an every day event.
The stream was really low while we were there but after a bit we came up on a beautiful hole of water with a nice rock waterfall had the creek been running a bit more. Several of these are right along the trail as you traverse up a very subtle incline.
We turned back before the walk bridge and headed back too camp at the waters edge in one of the several primitive sites they have.
The new river runs past the camp and has great fishing however you can only keep fish that arent bass (smallmouth, largemouth and spotted) are catch and release in this section. But the fishing is great.
Also.....the water is great shape in Glade Creek and also in the New River.....I filter all my water but wouldnt hesitate too drink right from either water body.
Camping is free but only on the numbered sites.....it is not legal too set up anywhere other than numbered campsites.
You are in copperhead/ rattlesnake country here but we didnt see any snakes.....no bears, coons, or skunks bothered anything at camp either.
Very peaceful place and extremely beautiful camping and hiking experience.

 

 

Name: gardel                                                                                                           Hike: Dolly Sods Circumnavigation-mod 1
Date: Aug. 24-26, 2012                                                                                         Rating: 5

Critique: Few things are better than they're reported to be. This is one of them. The change in terrain and environment over the course of the hike was remarkable -- starting with high meadows, moving to a windy ridge with beautiful views, then down into a pine forest, lush mixed forest reminiscent of Washington state, rocky mountainsides, waterfalls -- it was all stunning, with something new every hour. We extended the second day to camp at the intersection of Blackbird Knob Trail and Red Creek, which was not as pretty as the Forks, but also less occupied. The final night we had a lot of rain, so instead of getting onto the Beaver View trail, we exited along the Blackbird Knob trail to Red Creek campground and walked up FR 75 to the cars. Even that became a lovely hike as the rain cleared away and left an enveloping fog. I want to go back!

 

 

Name: Aisfor                                                                                                             Hike: Chimney Rocks (Michaux State Forest) Loop
Date: 09/01/2012                                                                                                   Rating: 4

Critique: Loved this hike. The bugs were terrible but that is expected with the humidity and time of the year. We did the 6.2 mile loop. It was a little disconcerting to hear the crackle of guns from the target range which recently reopened but that did not take anything away from our hike. I am adding this to my list of local favorite hikes with a note to do during cooler weather. Can't wait to go again during the fall.

 

 

Name: Laura                                                                                                             Hike: Sugarloaf Mountain
Date: September 1, 2012                                                                                       Rating: 2

Critique: I was really looking forward to this hike, and was disappointed on so many levels.

First, we opted to take the "scramble" up the orange blaze; we are experienced hikers who just finished a week in the Eastern Sierra.

It was horrible. The trail is suffering massive erosion, and is a *very* steep grade of nothing but rocks and roots. Calling it "steep" is disingenuous; it is treacherous, especially considering that many people were hiking with young children who were crocs and flip flops.
M.R. Hyker Notes: I don't think we can be any clearer than the warning in red posted in the Trail Notes. We cannot be responsible for parents who let their children wear crocs or sandals when hiking.

The mountain was far too crowded for me. Noisy crowds of people everywhere.

 

 

Name: Mike Mayton                                                                                                Hike: Signal Knob
Date: 8-31-12                                                                                                          Rating: 4.5

Critique: This is a very fine hike if you like a good ascent, varied walking surfaces and views that make you say "Wow!" It can be rocky and I appreciated my boots, but wore hiking sandals (like Keens) on the way down and had no trouble. The hiking pole was a big help. 2 hours up and 2 hours back. We did not do the Meneka Peak Trail route.

 

 

Name: Mitch                                                                                                             Hike: Waterfall Wonderland
Date: 8-30-12                                                                                                          Rating: 5

Critique: Beautiful but difficult hike. Late August was the perfect time to do this hike as the water levels were relatively low but all of the waterfalls were still flowing.

We passed every waterfall on Heberly Run on the left side (if you were facing the falls). There are probably multiple ways to bypass each falls though and you should choose what appears to be the easiest method on the day you are there. We also did not take the haul road after Lewis Falls and stayed in the water. It is not a difficult hike this way and you still end up at the intersection of Quinn and Shanty Runs. There are two white poles on Shanty Run that showcase a path back up to the haul road.

The plateau trail is obvious for the most part and we had no trouble there.

We hiked down Sullivan Branch every which way. In the woods, in the stream, around the waterfalls, down the waterfalls, and yes - through the waterfalls. Some areas were very slippery and it was slow going moving down the creek.

The hike took us just shy of 8 hours. We stopped briefly to admire (and photograph) almost every waterfall, took a 20 min lunch break, and sat at Sullivan Falls for close to 30 mins as late afternoon rolled in at the end of the hike.

 

 

Name: Matt Mc                                                                                                         Hike: Kelly's Run - Pinnacle Overlook
Date: 8/29/12                                                                                                         Rating: 5

Critique: Did this hike yesterday, thanks for the directions as they were spot-on. A lot of cool sights to see along the way, from the rock formations, abandoned/closed PPL road along the ridge, washed out bridge, nice winding stream, and of course the views from the overlook. Many, many hawks riding the thermals at the Pinnacle were an added bonus. All around a great day hike.

I've been doing mostly flat terrain hikes in the White Clay Creek Preserve in SE PA. This is certainly not a flat trip! I am hoping to eventually graduate to multi-day backpacking trips, and some of the relatively moderate climbs and grades on this one made me respect those folks lugging 40/50lb packs over rough terrain even more. Looking forward to the challenge of doing this again with a full pack as a test run for longer trips.

 

 

Name: mtc                                                                                                                Hike: Red Creek / Dunkenbarger Loop
Date: 8/17/2012 - 8/18/2012                                                                             Rating: 4

Critique: My wife and I did the 7 mile version of this loop as an overnighter. Not having been to the Dolly Sods before, I wanted to get a feel for the area. It was a very nice hike. The trails were quite obvious and well "cairned". There were many great places to camp, though they were all close to the trail. I suppose if they weren't close to the trail I wouldn't have noticed them. Nonetheless, a great place to initiate someone to backpacking. The hike was more easy than moderate in my opinion. I was surprised by the number of hikers out, but it was a good scene overall.

 

 

Name: shaz                                                                                                              Hike: Dolly Sods Central Ciruit
Date: 8/19-8/21 2012                                                                                           Rating: 4.5

Critique: I only did a portion of this circuit as it was quite pleasant lounging on rocks and chasing crayfish in Red Creek. The Forks area looked pretty beat up - watch out for lots of "latrine sites" along the way and all around the campsites down there.

The trail notes were terrific as was the map. Thank you!
NOTE: the water pump at Red Creek Campground is broken and the Forest Service said they do not know when there will be enough funds to fix it. Please be sure to have a way to treat water if you stay here!!!

 

 

Name: Bob Ardner                                                                                                  Hike: AFT-Eastern Section
Date: August 17-19 2012                                                                                      Rating: 2

Critique: I hiked the Eastern Section of the AFT with a friend on August 17,28, 29 2012.
Friday 8/17/12. We started from the Black Moshannon State Park parking area near the beach, and had a hard time finding the Shingle Mill Trail (SMT) above the dam. We ended up walking Black Moshannon Road to the bridge where we crossed the creek and picked up the SMT. We followed it to where it connected with the Allegheny Front Trail (AFT).
We were surprised to see that the AFT was blazed yellow. All of the trail write ups we read prior to the trip indicated that the trail was blazed orange with no mention being made that the AFT was being re-blazed.
This section of the trail was easy to follow with signs that there had been trail maintenance done recently. After crossing the creek at the green cabin it started to rain and continued for over an hour. Shortly thereafter the trail became overgrown and continued to be overgrown for most of the rest of the day until we got to the Rock Run campsite, the additional water from the overgrown foliage not only added to our becoming even more wet, but slowed our pace since we couldnt see the foot bed of the trail so we had to slow our pace to make sure of our footing and to be sure we could see the blazes. The blazes had also changed back to orange.
Saturday 8/18/12. This was a perfect day for hiking. Cool, sunny with low humidity. The AFT was blazed orange through this section. When the first steep climb started we found the trail choked with picker bushes that were as tall as we were and because of the thorns, slowed our progress considerably along with tearing clothes and scratching bare skin. The blazes changed from orange to yellow again. After the vistas (which were impressive) we continued on to the Smays Run campsite. However at Underwood Road, the blazes abruptly changed to red. We wasted more time checking and double checking our maps and the written trail description we had. The was no mention of red blazes. We followed the red blazes and moved on to our camp. We took the small camp site near the bridge and found it to be fantastic.
Sunday 8/19/12. Our last day, so we were up early and on the trail by 7:20 AM. The weather overnight was cold (low 50s) and the day was cool with low humidity and clouds. When we hit the park boundary, the blazing changed again to yellow. As we continued into the park we were looking for the Moss-Hanne trail (MHT) to be blazed with orange triangles as stated in the on line trail description. We found the MHT had been re-blazed with yellow blazes. Our compass readings agreed with the topo map and the overall topography was right, so we pressed on and completed the hike by noon.
Overall rating: 2. Fully 45-50% of the trail was overgrown and the numerous changes in blazing was confusing, and in some circumstances could be dangerous to novice hikers/backpackers.

 

 

Name: Ryan Richie                                                                                                  Hike: Great Falls Maryland, Billy Goat Trail, Section A

Date: 8/20/12                                                                                                         Rating: 4

Critique: Best strenuous hike near D.C. I would say that so long as you don't have balance problems and/or a fear of heights, anyone should be able to do this hike. Caveat- it is all in how fast you want to do it. For a real challenge try running it- with the understanding that there will be some areas where you'll have to slow down (the rock scrambling sections). I give it a 4 simply because it can get crowded- though I have been there plenty of times when it's not. My recommendation- pay the $5 to get into the park and hike it North to South. Why- you get to hit the rock wall as a climb rather than a descent- much more fun and challenging to see how fast you can get up it. Watch for snakes- I have run across black snakes and copperheads on and near the trail- leave them alone though and they will leave you alone too.

Name: Kathryn                                                                                                         Hike: Brown Mountain-Rockytop Loop
Date: 8/16-8/17/2012                                                                                          Rating: 5

Critique: I did a slight variation of this hike as an overnight backpack trip. I started at Brown Gap, hiked the AT to the Big Run Loop trail and then the Rocky Top Trail. I hiked down to the junction with the Big Run Portal trail and camped at one of the sites just past the bridge. That part took me a surprisingly long time -- about 4 hours. I had a lovely, peaceful afternoon sitting on rock in the middle of the river, reading a novel.

In the morning, I headed up the Brown Mountain Trail -- so many amazing views - then down the Rocky Mountain Run trail to the Big Run Portal Trail. I was prepared to get my feet wet, but was easily able to rock hop all the crossings. I met a ranger who said that just a few weeks earlier, the crossings were much deeper. I was back to my car in about 6.5 hours, despite several pretty long stops. It was a climb coming out, but neither day was all that strenuous. I saw one bear on the way out, a few snakes in the talus fields and lots of little bitty frogs. Plenty of stinging nettles along the way. Many of the trails were pretty overgrown and there were a fair number of small, downed trees.

Name: Irene Burke                                                                                                  Hike: White Rock Gap - Torry Ridge Loop
Date: 8/13/2012                                                                                                     Rating: 5

Critique: The printable Trail Notes and map accompanied the two of us on this hike on Monday. We also took the PATC Map 13 and a compass. The notes were clear, concise and accurate, a rarity among trail descriptions both print and online. This means a lot to those of us who have no GPS. Thank you

Name: Neil                                                                                                                Hike: Mason-Dixon shuttle
Date: 8/15/12                                                                                                         Rating: 4

Critique: Because of the posted warning at the upper parking lot, I parked at the lower lot. It wasn't clear where the trail began but I followed the yellow blazes down the sidewalk & steps, crossed a wooden bridge & picked up the blue blazes by the historic lock. Some of the steep descents were very hazardous because the rocks were wet from last night's rain. A solid 6-hour round trip for the 10 miles. Well worth the effort for the views of the river, the many rhododendrons, the lapping of the waves against the shore when you get close to the Susquehanna, a lot of waterfalls, scenic streams, quiet forests. Very well-maintained trail showing recent evidence of cutting overgrown foliage & sawing through fallen trees.

 

 

Name: Greg Romano                                                                                               Hike: Old Loggers Path
Date: 8/11/12 - 8/13/12                                                                                      Rating: 3

Critique: Pleasant Stream Road is still closed, so pay careful attention when following directions to the trailhead. We followed the custom Google directions and ended up having to re-route twice to find Masten.

The trail was overgrown in areas and in need of maintenance. Many blow downs and overgrown bushes slowed us down. The trail was so tight sometimes we could not see our feet. The trail notes are very accurate, you just need to pay attention to those orange blazes! We took the wrong path three different times.

This was my first time hiking in this area, so I can only compare the views with those in the Appalachians. And in my opinion, they were just ok.

We met quite a few people backpacking the loop as well. We had to share the campsites both nights, which wasn't a big deal, but if you are looking for solitude, this isn't the hike for you.

I was set on giving this hike a 1 rating, until we hit the Rock Run campsite. This was awesome. We had a blast climbing on the rocks, swimming and exploring all the rock formations. That campsite made the whole trip worth it. The water levels were low, but there was enough water to jump in and cool off.

All in all I doubt I head back to hike the whole loop again. I would probably just hike in to Rock Run and enjoy the campsite for a whole day.

 

 

Name: Hard Corey                                                                                                  Hike: AT-Sunset Rocks
Date: 08-12-2012                                                                                                   Rating: 4

Critique: Good 8+ mile hike. The rock scramble is enjoyable, but not as difficult as some would leave you to believe. We followed the posted trail directions, however, should you want to increase the difficulty, turn left at the first Sunset Rocks Trail signage and steeply climb to Sunset Rocks. Invert the remaining directions as applicable.

 

 

Name: Ed. S                                                                                                            Hike: Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship
Date: July 29, 2012                                                                                                 Rating: 3.5

Critique: A warm weekend, so I decided on somewhere nearby, a not long hike, and not too much elevation change, and so the Blue Ridge Center fit the bill. I did a loop approximating the one here, about 8 miles, using the Derry, Sweet Run, and Legacy Loops, along with the Piney Run Spur, but skipping the Wood Thrush and Old Bridge Trails.

Located in Loudon Valley, this makes a hike different from your typical mountain location. There are some good views, both of Short Hill Mountain and the Blue Ridge, at the Mountain View Vista, the parking area, and Sawmill Fields. There are a couple of streams gently flowing through the property, and a few ponds. Gordon Pond on the Legacy Loop makes a good lunch break. This area also must have a rich history, with many old cabins/houses along the trails, evidence of old waterworks in a couple of places, and an old line of cairns stretching across the trail. It also is a fairly popular place; I saw about two dozen hikers and three horseback riders while there.

A couple of other notes. Watch for poison ivy in season when on narrow trails. It's readily avoidable, but you do have to watch your step. Butterfly Alley (aka the powerline) is now a gravel lane, but the butterflies and wildflowers are still present.

 

 

Name: Ed Duguid                                                                                                     Hike: Jeff Mitchell's Waterfall Wonderland
Date: August 6, 2012                                                                                              Rating: 4

Critique: Great waterfalls, we loved hiking in the river. We hiked with five people, in good shape. We started at 9 am and finished at 530 pm. Two times swimming and lunch break. Everyone was tired at the end. The trail has little markings but seemed travelled frequently.

 

 

Name: Joel                                                                                                                Hike: Mason - Dixon Shuttle
Date: 8/3/2012                                                                                                       Rating: 4.5

Critique: I did this as an out and back starting at the north end. The hike started out on a wide road but quickly got into some nice single track. I enjoyed it all. You do have to watch out for the double blue marking indicating trail change when you get out along the river road in order to catch the nice single track paths. The waterfall and elevation changes (strenuous), on the section of path that goes through the power line cut make this a section you don't want to miss unless you don't enjoy switchbacks and hard climbing.

 

 

Name: Thomas                                                                                                         Hike: Mason - Dixon Shuttle
Date: 7/28/12                                                                                                          Rating: 4

Critique: We went on a really hot humid day and started around noon at the lock 12 parking lot. There is a note at the upper parking lot warning drivers that there have been many car break-ins so we proceeded to the lower lot which is more secluded from the roadway. The lot also has latrines nearby.

The lock 12 and lime kiln ruins were cool. Based on maps and other on-line descriptions of this hike there may be other ruins in the area. However, perhaps due to going during the time of peak summer foliage, we didn't spot any.

The description of the hike is very good up to the point where the trail descends to River Road at the dam. We turned left up the road and couldn't find where the trail headed. The description mentions an old road and some cottages but we couldn't find those. We ended up walking quite a ways up River Road to some farms. At this point we heard thunder and decided to start heading back to the lock 12 parking lot. On the return back down the road we did see a change of direction blaze that we missed earlier, but we still couldn't make out where the trail went.

The storm hit just as we made it back to the high voltage line towers. The storm actually made the hike even more fun as it was really sweltering hot and the cool downpour really was a relief. Luckily we made it back to the car without slipping on the rocks or getting struck by lightning.

 

 

 

Name: Thomas                                                                                                         Hike: Susquehanna SP
Date: June 5, 2012                                                                                                  Rating: 5

Critique: This is the first hike we went on from this website. This hike not only included historic areas but also a variety of nature vistas including riverfront, farmland, forest, and fields. The description of the hike was also excellent as it really takes you through many areas of the park. Without this description we would have not had any idea what trails to start out on and we would surely have gotten lost as many trails intersect. Thanks!

 

 

Name: Rexpit                                                                                                           Hike: Kennedy peak
Date: 7/28/12                                                                                                         Rating: 4.5

Critique: Awesome hike. Went by myself to watch the sunset, it was beautiful. Nice steady climb with a pleasant grade, and great leg burner on the last "leg" up to the peak. I enjoyed solitude on the mountain as no one else was on it, great part of hiking in GWNF. Nice partial views on the way up but the boom at the top .. sweeping vista all around, it was powerful.

 

 

Name: J. Parker                                                                                                       Hike: Dolly Sods Wilderness Backpack
Date: July 19-21, 2012                                                                                           Rating: 3

Critique: Thank you for the trail notes! I think we might still be lost out there without them. We definitely did not get to experience the cool mountain air of the Sods. High humidity, temperatures in the low 80s and lots of rain made this a bit of a death march for my 15 year old son and me.

As others have said, the most difficult route finding was in the first mile or so on the Red Creek Trail. The trail appeared to descend, then just ended at the river. You need to stay high above the river for a while. The Dunkenbarger Trail was by far the worst trail conditions I have ever experienced. At first, we didn't know it was a trail because it was a running stream complete with small waterfalls. After that, it became a series of ponds with only a few rocks and roots to help you cross.

My son fell in the water on the final crossing of Red Creek. The high water conditions made this one a little scary. Looking back, we probably should have tried to find the alternate crossing.

It certainly felt like a huge accomplishment to complete this one. I'll come back, maybe in the early fall next time. Thanks again.

 

 

Name: Sam                                                                                                               Hike: FMF - Clifford Hollow Loop
Date: July 22, 2012                                                                                                 Rating: 4

Critique: Sunday morning started out with light rain but had stopped by the time I arrived at the trailhead. I made a few modifications to the route, crossing the road at the parking area and starting out on the lower Yellow Trail, making for a "clockwise" loop. This put the more challenging Catoctin Trail segment at the 2nd half of the hike. Even with all of the recent rains the trail was pretty dry and the streams were low enough to cross rock-to-rock. Trails are unmarked at the north end of the loop, but in general bearing to the right gets you to the Catoctin Trail (keep in mind I was making a clockwise loop vs. the CCW loop shown in the map.) It was a good workout (carrying 35 pounds) and overall a nice hike in the woods.

 

 

Name: Melissa                                                                                                         Hike: Rockytop-Big Run Loop
Date: June 2-3                                                                                                         Rating: 4

Critique: My husband, myself, and a friend of ours did this hike as an overnight. We did the loop in reverse as shown on this site, and if I were to do the hike again, I would do it that way again.

I have literally spent hundreds of nights out of doors backpacking, and the campsite we had on this trip was definitely "top tier." This campsite is not located by a symbol on the map! It is on a shelf above the stream and shows signs of frequent tent use and good care (no trash, unsightly fire messes, etc). This is located along the trail at a ford south of the bridge crossing 1-2 miles. Camping = 5.

Describing the trail is somewhat difficult, as the trail's two "sides" are completely different. Nevertheless, I can say that this trail is NOT as strenuous as advertised. Our first day (remember, we are doing this in reverse) was downright easy, a stroll through the woods on a well-marked path. Boredom did not set in, however, as we had some beautiful water to look at and fords to navigate.

Our second day brought the only real climb of any note if you are doing this in reverse. The hike was completely different. Out of the valley, it was rocky and exposed, leading to some nice views. We were also rewarded by seeing two bear cubs and one mama crash around in the brush on the opposite hillside.

Views= 4

Solitude was not high, though my prediction is it would be a little better not on a holiday weekend. Solitude= 2.5

This all sounds good, right? Umm... here's the thing. Our hike was almost ruined by the massive amounts of ticks. During the whole hike, in a time span of less than 24 hours, I found exactly 38 ticks on my person. These included deer ticks and dog ticks of all kinds. Thankfully it is now over a month later, and I have not come down with a tick-borne illness. My dog and hiking partners were also beset by these pests, though as I was hiking in front for the most part, I got it worst of anyone.

I would rate this hike a 4 IF it is hiked not in late spring/early summer. I am rating it a 4 because I believe that is its potential, though our experience was not quite a "4" due to the ticks.

Also, another important note is that the trailhead that "google custom directions" will take you to is not the correct one. If you are coming from the south, you will need to keep going about another 4 miles.
M.R.Hyker Note: I've triple checked the Google Maps Waypoint and it is correct. There is another access point about 0.7 miles further north at the Big Run Overlook. The next access point to this hike is yet another 3 miles north at the Patterson Ridge Trail and there is no parking area there. Preceding critiquers did not note this problem. Did you load the way point into a GPS? Perhaps you made an error?Name: Melissa                                                                                                            Hike: Rockytop-Big Run Loop
Date: June 2-3                                                                                                            Rating: 4

Critique: My husband, myself, and a friend of ours did this hike as an overnight. We did the loop in reverse as shown on this site, and if I were to do the hike again, I would do it that way again.

I have literally spent hundreds of nights out of doors backpacking, and the campsite we had on this trip was definitely "top tier." This campsite is not located by a symbol on the map! It is on a shelf above the stream and shows signs of frequent tent use and good care (no trash, unsightly fire messes, etc). This is located along the trail at a ford south of the bridge crossing 1-2 miles. Camping = 5.

Describing the trail is somewhat difficult, as the trail's two "sides" are completely different. Nevertheless, I can say that this trail is NOT as strenuous as advertised. Our first day (remember, we are doing this in reverse) was downright easy, a stroll through the woods on a well-marked path. Boredom did not set in, however, as we had some beautiful water to look at and fords to navigate.

Our second day brought the only real climb of any note if you are doing this in reverse. The hike was completely different. Out of the valley, it was rocky and exposed, leading to some nice views. We were also rewarded by seeing two bear cubs and one mama crash around in the brush on the opposite hillside.

Views= 4

Solitude was not high, though my prediction is it would be a little better not on a holiday weekend. Solitude= 2.5

This all sounds good, right? Umm... here's the thing. Our hike was almost ruined by the massive amounts of ticks. During the whole hike, in a time span of less than 24 hours, I found exactly 38 ticks on my person. These included deer ticks and dog ticks of all kinds. Thankfully it is now over a month later, and I have not come down with a tick-borne illness. My dog and hiking partners were also beset by these pests, though as I was hiking in front for the most part, I got it worst of anyone.

I would rate this hike a 4 IF it is hiked not in late spring/early summer. I am rating it a 4 because I believe that is its potential, though our experience was not quite a "4" due to the ticks.

Also, another important note is that the trailhead that "google custom directions" will take you to is not the correct one. If you are coming from the south, you will need to keep going about another 4 miles.
M.R.Hyker Note: I've triple checked the Google Maps Waypoint and it is correct. There is another access point about 0.7 miles further north at the Big Run Overlook. The next access point to this hike is yet another 3 miles north at the Patterson Ridge Trail and there is no parking area there. Preceding critiquers did not note this problem. Did you load the way point into a GPS? Perhaps you made an error?

 

 

Name: Ed. S                                                                                                              Hike: Hemlock Gorge
Date: July 15, 2012                                                                                                 Rating: 4 (3 when poison ivy out)

Critique: This is a nice short hike, which I suppose is easy to get to for more people than it is for me. The highlight is certainly hemlock gorge itself, along the Gunpowder downstream of Gunpowder Road. Steep rock bluffs, hemlocks, and gentle cascades make this a nice area to take a break from hiking and watch the river. There are also two cemeteries to pass, plus two good side streams. The upland parts of the hike make for pleasant reasonable level sections.

Two words of advice, one already made by many. First, expect poison ivy to encroach the trail along the river downstream of Gunpowder Road, when on the dirt benches. Also on the final connector trail next to River Valley Ranch. I needed to do some fancy footwork to avoid it. It'd probably be better in the cooler months. Second, except for hemlock gorge itself, the woods roads are heavily used by horseback riders, and so on those trails you also have to watch where you step.

 

 

Name: Singlemalt                                                                                                    Hike: Circumnavigation of Trout Run Valley
Date: 7/11/2012                                                                                                     Rating: 4

Critique: Back here again after about a year. I decided to take some leave from work and get out in the middle of the week when the heat broke a bit. I did the trip in reverse again because I wanted to camp at Tibbets Knob and I was arriving late in the day. What a great place to wake up and have breakfast with a spectacular view up the valley. I got an early start hiking because I intended to get to Half Moon to camp that night, about 16 miles.
I found water, but not much, at the three stream crossings on the Long Mountain Trail. What an interesting trail through a karst area. You are walking along the main drainage of the valley which is dry, and the feeder streams coming down from the East have water in them. There are sinkholes here and there to the sides of the trail, and places with water loving plants growing, but all the water is underground after reaching the valley floor. After reaching the road and taking a rest I headed up the trail toward Half Moon, and decided that because of the heat and since it was getting late in the day, to camp at the Pond Run/Tuscarora Trail junction rather than get water there and backtrack for two miles to Half Moon. The water was just flowing at the wooden bridge past the junction. After dinner and breakfast with a view back up the valley from where I had come, I set out for Wolf Gap and my truck. Sandstone Spring was just barely flowing as well, so if you do this hike in the immediate future you might have to look way downstream from the trail crossings to find water in the streams.

 

 

Name: Bryan Smith                                                                                                Hike: Rausch Gap Loop
Date: 7/13/12                                                                                                         Rating: 5

Critique: First, kudos to those that put this site together. I planned on hiking all 10.5 miles but I ended up stopping too many times to take pictures of all the stonework and old mines. Even though I downloaded the trail to by GPS I found and went on some side trails. I typically hike a new route then, if it seems interesting and relatively safe I bring my boys out for a hike. But I typically hike at 4 mph and was falling way behind because of the all the sites, plus the trail was overgrown at about 3 miles (from Gold Mine rd) and I was catching ticks and saw a copperhead in the grass. So I turned around, but will be back out here to explore with the boys, perhaps with a metal detector - come winter. In the interim I will be bringing them here to ride our mountain bikes, and perhaps ride west to Rausch Gap and take some pictures and look at the swamps. When I was done with this hike I turned west off the road and hike through the woods along a 'clean' stream, not the
yellow one. Nice, scenic, etc. Will look nice after a light snow. Researching this area I see there are lots of trails and things to do.

 

 

Name: Dave                                                                                                              Hike: Piney Ridge - Piney Branch Loop
Date: 6/23/12                                                                                                         Rating: 4.5

Critique: This was a very enjoyable hike. If Little Devil Stairs is the bully of this neighborhood in SNP, Piney Branch is the beautiful girl next door. There are waterfalls and swimming holes all along this route, and plentiful campsites by the river as well. We did the hike backwards, going down Piney Branch and up Piney Ridge. You can see pictures we took here.

 

 

Name: J. Pierce                                                                                                        Hike: Mt. Rogers Backpack
Date: 6/29/2012-6/30/2012                                                                               Rating: 4

Critique: After reading the trail notes for this hike, I was definitely excited about coming to Mt. Rogers. We stayed at Grindstone Campground as our drive from Ohio was 6.5 hours and we came in on a Thursday. We started Friday morning but the connector trail from the campground was closed as a tornado had taken down many trees. We walked Rt. 603 down to the start of the Mt. Rogers trail. That trail is very tightly packed with vegetation, though a very well marked and steady trail. It was overgrown due to the phenomenal spring/summer weather so far. Once we got onto the AT, it was completely different. My husband, who had never hiked any section before was pleasantly surprised at the shape of the trail and how well it's taken care of. We lunched at the beautiful bald overlooking the mountains. Not to be missed for sure. We unfortunately hit the open mountain up to Mt. Rogers during the hot afternoon sun and the climb soon wore us out. It is only a short hike from there to the shelter, which for us was about 2:00 p.m. A little too early for our taste, and because we didn't know the trail, did not head on to find another campsite later on. We could have done so because there are so many beautiful campsites in the next mile or so of trail. Keep that in mind when you go. Mt. Rogers peak was a little sad, because there is no view. Tall trees surround the top so you don't get the beautiful view that you get at Thomas Knob shelter. Spectacular sunset. As for the Crest Trail, it was very well marked with a sign and we found our way down to Scales with no problem. Again, this part of the trail is completely open and so we were glad we hiked it early and the sun wasn't beating yet. Scales is a nice respite and once you regain the AT it's all woods and cool and clear. We decided to hike out the same day. It was only 8 miles and again, made it to Old Orchard by 1:30. We rested for an hour and then took the next (EASY) 4.5 miles out.
We got back to Grindstone about 4:45 and booked a campsite. The last mile on the horse trail is climbing the hill back up, be ready for that, but overall that horse trail was great! Got to talk to a lot of horse people and the road is wide and not too muddy. Great suggestion for a hike, the only negative was the early arrival to shelters. My husband isn't one for just hanging out and it seemed we had too much time. I prefer getting in around 5 or 6 to camp. Other than that, was terrific!!

 

 

Name: Mark Skidmore                                                                                            Hike: Dolly Sods North Circuit Hike
Date: 6/29-6/30/12                                                                                              Rating: 5

Critique: We hiked this in the reverse direction and made it into a backpacking trip staying overnight at the campsite where Dobbin Grade cross the Left Fork of Red Creek. Very nice campsite back in among the trees (it kept us safe and sound from the massive storms that swept through the area) plus there are several more in the area. Hiking in on Dobbin Grade was the driest I've seen it with minimal detours, but after the heavy rains I'm sure it is worse now. The forks of red creek were running with plenty of water even with the dry conditions, but water elsewhere looked pretty stagnant.

Again, many thanks to Mr. Hyker for the great descriptions and directions!

 

 

Name: Amy                                                                                                               Hike: Kelly's Run - Pinnacle Overlook
Date: June 27, 2012                                                                                                Rating: 5

Critique: Appreciated the step-by-step guide! Been to the area several times, but never hiked this exact route. Appreciate going UP the streams and getting the cornfield out of the way!! Would have been lost without the guide.
Thank you!!

 

Name: Rexpit                                                                                                           Hike: Dolly Sods circum mod 1
Date: 6/25/12                                                                                                         Rating: 5

Critique: Yep Dolly Sods lives up to all the raving reviews, a truly fantastical place. Hiking here def gives the aura of being in the lord of the rings...shire...or something like that. Everything I've read on the Sods tells of a truly Unique beauty, wind swept mountain balds with a plethora of plant life...yes it's all true. One thing that id like to mention about this place is there are "views" everywhere....literally

 

 

Name: Rexpit                                                                                                           Hike: Canaan valley loop/24 mile
Date: 6/16/12                                                                                                         Rating: 5

Critique: Amazing...my first foray into the Mon and not disappointed whatsoever. The plant life in this park abounds, water everywhere, beautifully moss. I mean this place is stunning. I really enjoyed the obstacle course of bogs too...seriously those were so much fun to navigate. Last but def not least Table Rock and Lindy point are awe inspiring vistas .. beautiful.

 

 

Name: Hard Corey                                                                                                  Hike: Pole Steeple Circuit
Date: 06-24-2012                                                                                                   Rating: 3

Critique: I enjoyed three parts of this tour... the AT, Pole Steeple, & Buck Ridge Trail. There was a little too much 'road' walking for my liking. I would recommend this hike to the casual weekend hiker who wants to step up their miles. The difficulty is moderate at best.

 

Name: MountainStreamFlood                                                                               Hike: Kelly's Run - Pinnacle Overlook
Date: 06/16/12                                                                                                       Rating: 5

Critique: Absolutely great hike. Scrambling up the rock formation on the Conestoga trail above Kellys Run made for a fun climb. Spectacular views of the Susquehanna and countryside abound and last but not least, the wild and scenic hike up Kelly's Run gorge was amazing, especially since the wild rhododendrons were in full bloom.

We added the Pine Trail, which can be picked up from near the second Pinnacle overlook and loops around the Pinnacle's knoll and connects with Old Pinnacles Road for an additional 1.5mi of hiking.

 

 

Name: Dan                                                                                                                Hike: Susquehanna State Park
Date: 3/1/2012                                                                                                       Rating: 5

Critique: This hike is pretty amazing for being in the Greater Baltimore area. There's a little bit of everything in terms of scenery - first along the river, then through patches of dense forests, then the parts where the trail cuts straight through the fields. Overall it was quite beautiful, and the directions given here are spot-on!

 

 

Name: Garrick                                                                                                          Hike: Cranberry Wilderness BP 1
Date: 6/14-6/16 2012                                                                                           Rating: 4.5

Critique: Did this hike on 6/14/2012 and followed the route as listed in the trail notes. The weather was perfect for the three days we hiked. Absolutely loved it! Navigation was no problem with cairns and signs at every junction but thankfully no blazes. The North Fork trial has some wash outs and there are a number of down trees along the trail. Although some of the reroutes were tricky to locate overall it wasn't bad. We found a great campsite with a picnic table the first night between the two shelter houses along the forest road. The aptly named Birch log trail was in good condition although appears to be seldom used and the climb to the ridge top is challenging without being sadistic. The Laurelly Branch trail was soggy but otherwise nice. The Middle fork trail had some down trees but was in the best condition overall and we made amazing time hiking out on the third day. The wildlife was active as well; saw a deer that about wandered into our first camp, spooked some grouse, saw all kinds of fish in the river, butterflies, and a member of our group even saw a bear between the Three Forks Trail head and the waterfall campsite (great site btw).


We did run into two separate groups of hikers attempting the County Line Trail to the north of this hike and both were forced to bushwhack their way out due to the trail disappearing on them. One group seemed a little frazzled by the experience so steer clear of the Country Line trail if you're not prepared for some wilderness navigation. Overall great this is a great hike!

 

 

Name: Ed Duguid                                                                                                     Hike: Old Loggers Path
Date: 6/8/12-6/10/12                                                                                          Rating: 5

Critique: My wife and I really enjoyed this hike. We started at the trail head, and had some adventure getting across the river. In the beginning of the trail there were some thick spots, which could be wet from rainfall the night before. The campsites on the trail were nice, and beautiful scenery. One campsite was amazing with the waterfalls. We brought our dog with us, and she had a blast. The trail was marked well with orange. We packed too much stuff 50 lbs packs. Although we did a get a workout with going up hills. The trail notes are accurate and work well with the map.

 

 

Name: Will                                                                                                                Hike: Big Schloss
Date: 2-3 June 2012                                                                                               Rating: 5

Critique: We turned this into a 17-18 mile backpack by adding a side trip to White Rocks. The trail condition was generally excellent, and we didn't get lost once. We stayed at the campsite closest to the intersection of the Big Stony Creek and Tuscarora Trails, which was excellent, as advertised. The Mill Mountain Trail occasionally had rocks hidden by grass, which were a bit treacherous. In general, a great time.

 

 

Name: Judith Hafner                                                                                              Hike: Old Rag Mountain
Date: 6.4.2012                                                                                                         Rating: 5

Critique: I am 54 years old and this was my first hike of any level challenge, other than a stroll in a local park or on flat ground. I will admit it was a challenge for me but it was a suggestion from my daughter as something we could do together. she attends and teaches boot camps. So her having faith that I would do well was a very great compliment. Though there were difficult spots the others on the trail were very encouraging and helpful. She was patient with me as I did have to stop many times to rest and drink. I do have several health issues but she is a nurse and as said earlier she thought I could do it. I did make the whole loop of the trail and truly enjoyed the view from the summit. To feel like the birds and experience the majesty that only God could create can only be eclipsed by the birth of your own child. The views are fabulous and beyond what is seen in the pictures we all share and take on this hike. I have to say if my daughter did not suggest this trip for us I would have missed out on an experience of a lifetime. I will be forever in debt to my daughter for this outing.

 

 

Name: Hard Corey                                                                                                  Hike: AT-Old Horse-Shoe Trail Loop
Date: 05-06-2012                                                                                                    Rating: 4
 

ritique: This is a very enjoyable hike. My friend 'Rock God' and I used this route to reach Devils Race Course. Look for the orange blazes approx. 1 mile from where you turn right onto the 'old' Horse Shoe Trail and start to climb out of the valley. We modified the hike slightly by taking a right on the Henry Knauber Trail (red blaze) near the top of Sharp Mtn. This will take you across a swamp and bring you back to the ridge on Stony Mtn. At the 30+ rock cairn you can follow a blue blazed trail approx. 1 mile or so up to the Stony Mtn. Lookout Tower. This variation will avoid the 'out & back' to the Lookout Tower. Total mileage was 10.25 miles for the whole loop.

 

 

Name: Adam                                                                                                            Hike: Quehanna Trail-West Cross Connector
Date: 5/19-5/20/2012                                                                                          Rating: 4

Critique: Just did this hike this weekend. Weather was perfect. Very nice two day trip. Lots of water available. This is an easy hike. The Cross Connector spends lots of time on flat open roads and old logging/gas trails. One very significant descent and one reasonable climb. We did 16 miles on day one and stayed at the Saunders Run campsite. Well worth it! Great campsite, great way to spend an evening outdoors.

 

 

Name: Adam                                                                                                            Hike: Black Forest Trail - South
Date: 5/11-5/12/2012                                                                                          Rating: 5

Critique: This was a great, albeit challenging hike. Wasn't expecting it to be as tough as it was, but the vistas and top notch campsites make it all worth while. We got caught in a bad thunderstorm on day 1, got the tent up and the fireworks started, confined to the tent for 12 hours. At least we had shelter. The day 2 climb really gets your heart racing, nothing like starting your day with an almost vertical 1,000 foot climb.

Met Bob Weber, spirit of the forest. This trail is incredibly well maintained, unreal. It was not lost on us, and we appreciate it!

We will definitely be back to do the Northern Loop.

 

 

Name: Jack B                                                                                                           Hike: Tea Creek/Tea Creek Mt Loop
Date: 05/19/12                                                                                                       Rating: 4

Critique: Very enjoyable hike. Hiked counter clockwise per directions. Found all the trail heads to be well marked (and mapped). The trail was wet throughout and it's amazing that mountain bikers push through (or sink in). The creeks were beautiful, the forest deep and dark. I don't know if the referenced beaver has moved out, but the "beaver pond" looked low with water only in the channels. Trail is obvious throughout, though quite overgrown in spots. Know your stinging nettle and consider wearing long pants. The trail and creeks make up for any little inconvenience like that, though! Would recommend this area and I want to better explore the whole area.

 

 

Name: Jack B                                                                                                           Hike: Frosty Gap - Pocahontas Loop
Date: 05/18/12                                                                                                       Rating: 2.5

Critique: A nice enough intro hike for me and Cranberry, but it really didn't rate terribly high. Five or so miles of this loop are actually on a forest road. The rest (minus the western end of Pocahontas) were just so-so in terms of beauty. All trails are well signed at junctions, though the trails were often overgrown. Would skip over this one and hit one with a proper mountain stream.

 

Name: Peter Fleszar                                                                                               Hike: Fayetteville-Kaymoor Loop
Date: 5-18-2012                                                                                                      Rating: 4

Critique: I followed the directions from the site pretty well - however I skipped the Long Point view and went directly to Kaymoor Top then to Kaymoor Bottom and back up to the mine. Most signs are back up now except for the last two turns onto and off of the connector trail from the Fayetteville Trail to the park loop. Also the NRGNR web site has a trail guide with a more up to date map now and if you stop by the visitor center you can get it printed with Uncle's ink instead of yours. The guide says there are 821 steps from Kaymoor Mine to Kaymoor Bottom, I counted 837 including intermediate steps on landings. My mind's eye pictured the steps from the description as the ones the miners years ago would have used, like the Thousand Steps on PA's Standing Stone Trail, but these steps are a Park Service construction over top of the old "haulage" or steeply inclined cable railway. On the bottom it was a nice change vs. other sites to still see a lot of metal items, a negative was
the trails below the steps are dim traces around (justifiably) fenced off areas with just enough poison-ivy to make things interesting. Leaf-off time would be better to explore the bottom. There had been some rain recently so I enjoyed the various cascades beside the old roadbeds on the return trip.

 

 

Name: Cindy                                                                                                             Hike: Hawksbill Summit/Rose River Falls Loop
Date: May 17, 2012                                                                                                 Rating: 5
 

Critique: This hike gives you a little bit of everything with waterfalls on one side of the drive and vista views on the other.

We hiked the course in a different order, because we wanted to end up at the falls at lunchtime. We parked at the Upper Hawksbill parking lot and began hiking on the horse trail. The horse trail was rockier than I'd expected. The falls were spectacular thanks to recent rains. We hiked to the lower falls, which was worth it. No bushwhacking was required, as another viewer stated, but the wet ground was a bit slippery.

The AT portion of the hike offered beautiful views of the valley, including the grand finale at the Hawksbill Summit. We saw lots of wildlife on this hike, including a mountain lion about 40 yards ahead of us on the AT. Fortunately, he moved on so we could continue our hike.

 

 

Name: Steve Appler                                                                                                Hike: Halfmoon Lookout
Date: May 4 - 6, 2012                                                                                             Rating: 4

Critique: Halfmoon Lookout Backpack.

The directions on here to the trailhead are great. We - Lisa, Greg, Austin and myself, parked and headed up the trail at about 4:30pm on Friday, May 4. We wanted to set up camp before dark, so we went in the opposite direction from that described here since it is about a 1/2 mile shorter that way. It took us almost 3 hours to get there, but the trail was open, well marked and a long gradual climb that wasn't too difficult for our first backpack of the season. We found the very nice, grassy open campsite below the lookout, but still climbed up with packs on just in case there was a better site up higher. There was a very small site up there, but we went back to the large grassy site just below and set up. It was a wonderful site with it's own overlook, though the short climb to the lookout was well worth the effort and we climbed up a bunch of times.

The only negative is that there is no water anywhere close. You have to pack in enough for the first night. Saturday morning Austin and I headed off to re-supply. From the point where the white-blazed Halfmoon Lookout Spur Trail meets the yellow-blazed Halfmoon Lookout Trail we walked 1.7 miles staying on the white-blazed trail until we crossed two wooden bridges and found an active stream where we loaded up with enough water to last into the next morning.

We spent the day lounging at the campsite. Very lazy. The whole loop is fairly short, so we saw no point in moving on when we clearly had the most spectacular site to ourselves. Beware of snakes in the rocky overlook area. While everyone else lounged around napping on Saturday I headed up with my book and upon spotting the perfect reading rock I headed down only to find a nice rattlesnake basking in the sun. After making like Roadrunner and bashing my knee in the process I retreated to the campsite and napped. That area must be home to a whole bunch of whippoorwills because Friday night one started singing and kept appearing in various places around the camp. It was as curious about us as we were about it. Its eyes glowed in the light of our headlamps and it allowed us to approach as it sat on a rock about 2' off the ground. We got to within about ten feet to study it until it finally flew off. It hung around all night and others nearby answered its call frequently. It was a
novelty at first and then we begged it to please go to sleep. It was very noisy and was still quite noisy Saturday night. There's cell service (AT&T, but no Verizon) up there, so (forgive us) we Googled and found that whippoorwills are active at night and eat insects. They also nest in the ground, so they are susceptible to predators and are not often seen.

We also happened to be at the site on the night of the "Super Moon" which was vivid when not shrouded in haze. We had rain Friday night, off an on on Saturday and some Saturday night. Regardless, it was a great relaxing trip. Very unlike our usual camp, move camp, camp, move camp marches.

On Saturday Lisa, Austin and I left Greg napping and headed down the German Wilson Trail to see what awaited us on the hike out the next morning. It's VERY steep. We hiked down a good way, saw no reason to keep going, turned around and climbed back to camp, headed back up on the overlook, said "hi" to the rattlesnake who was also napping (and Austin had to sneak down and get a picture of it) and that was that for exercise for the day. We had a fine dinner (packitgourmet pizza), slept great and then headed out early and wet the next morning returning the same way we went in so we didn't have to slide down the German Wilson Trail.

We didn't see anybody else up there the entire trip. We saw a tent on our departure hike next to the stream at the intersection of the Halfmoon Trail and the Bucktail Connector Trail, but no humans. The hike is like normal mountain woods. Not particularly exciting and no overlooks until you get to the top. But once you get to the top the view is glorious. The rain went away in time for us to get some beautiful sunset photos. It would be a great day hike and, as we found, a very relaxing backpack.

 

 

Name: Russ                                                                                                              Hike: FMF-East Ridge Loop
Date: 5/11/2012                                                                                                    Rating: 3

Critique: It was a beautiful day today for a nice walk in the woods and this loop fit the bill. The birds were tweeting and the butterflies were flying.

The ponds were very nice to relax by although the second one is running very low on water. It actually looks like the damn may not be holding the water back. The view over looking the valley was wonderful on this clear day. We were able to see eastward across the entire valley.

These trails are also used by horses and mountain bikes but were in extremely nice condition.

thanks,

rsjrny
PATC Trail Patrol Volunteer

 

 

Name: Jimi                                                                                                                Hike: Mt. Marshall Trail / AT loop
Date: 5/3/2012-5/4/2012                                                                                   Rating: 4.5

Critique: Great hike that in my opinion is not strenuous but only moderate - though this was my first hike in Shenandoah and I realize difficulty ratings are fairly relative. The trails in this loop, overall, are ~80% "flat", meaning they hug one elevation line and any ascents that are significantly steep are short and far between. The one exception is the ascent from skyline drive to South Marshall, which is really not even the steepest climb on this hike, merely the longest.

There are a lot of parking lots along this loop and therefore many different ways to break it up. The key decision to make is where you want to camp. We camped on the Bluff Trail right at the junction with the Big Devil Stairs Trail, where there is a lot of open space to camp and the stream is nearby.

However, there are really pretty backcountry campsites at the overlook on the western slope of North Marshall, about half a mile "south" on the AT form the summit. This outlook is not actually on the trail but is reached this way: when the AT reaches elevation ~3200 on the western slope of North Marshall (approx. where the 2 photo-op yellow spots are on the map on this page), the AT turns sharply to the left and climbs up some a steep hill, but if you instead continue straight, going off the AT, there is a large boulder face ~100 ft. ahead. Turning left at this boulder, there is a short scramble up to the top of it, where you can walk onto the top of the boulder and look out to the west. The boulder is a nice area for potential camping with very pretty views.

The only problem with this campsite is there is no water. However, if you filled up at Bluff Trail/Big Devil Stair junction and brought enough water with you to camp with, the views might be worth it.

Overall my main recommendation is going into the Dickey's Ridge Visitor Center (if approaching form the north) and talking to them about the best place to park and camp.

 

 

Name: Chitra Sundaram                                                                                                     Hike: North circuit Tr 522-524 and back
Date: April 8, 2012                                                                                                              Rating: 5!

Critique: Hi All: I just wanted to drop a quick note on Dolly Sods for all of you. We did go to DS Wilderness area. Since it was early april, we had to park part way thru Fireroad 75 and walk the gravel road to the parking area. no problem with that. Then we did trail 522 to 524, and then after a viewpoint on 524 we retraced our steps. In total 13miles including the 3 miles up to the parking area. couple points for all future walkers:

a. Utterly magical. We had bright blue skies, two snow flurries two rain with some hail and it was all magnificent :) especially walking thru the meadows on trail 522.

b. the signposting was great!! contrary to some of the previous reviews on this and other boards/trail discussions. It was quiet and we only met one other couple all the way, but it was not difficult to find our way at all. reminded me of a mix of Scotland and Wales and Maine and everything else in between.

So completely recommend walking there :) we were 2 adults and 2 hardy kids (9 and 12) and I had been a little worried of getting lost, but staying on the clearly defined trail - clearly defined by so many previous hikers - we were totally fine and really enjoyed it.]

 

 

Name: Andrea L                                                                                                       Hike: White Oak Canyon-Cedar Run
Date: 4/29/2012                                                                                                     Rating: 5

Critique: This was a very fun and scenic hike. It took my husband and I about 5 1/2 hours to complete this hike. We took breaks about every hour. The views along this trail are a must see, especially the waterfalls. I was amazed at how clean and clear the water was along this hike.

This strenuous hike has a very steep uphill climb on White Oak Canyon and a very steep downhill hike on cedar run. My husband and I hiked this together and enjoyed walking the yellow blazed horse trail/fire road, but only because it gave us a break from the steep elevations of the uphill white oak canyon. This trail was wet in a few spots so you had to use some caution so as not to slip in the mud or on the rocks.

The trail paths are marked by concrete posts. With the blue trails you will find along the path that every so many trees there will be a splash of blue paint and for the yellow trails, yellow paint. We found the paint markings on the trees more useful than the concrete posts.

The trail notes offered on this website are very helpful. I had them printed out and in my pocket while doing this hike. However, when the notes indicated you cross Cedar Run twice I assumed there would be a bridge. No bridge. You had to carefully walk or crawl over rocks and logs. A bit intimidating for me since I have not done many hikes but it did add to the fun and excitement of the hike.

 

 

Name: Pascale & Loic                                                                                             Hike: Chimney Rocks (Michaux State Forest) Loop
Date: 01/14/2012                                                                                                  Rating: 4

Critique: Great hike very well marked. We did the 8 miles loop and enjoyed it even if it was a gray winter day.
This hike brought us to all kind of landscapes: first a rocky summit with a vista that really worth going up, then a quiet walk in various kind of forest and a cool way down using the woods road.

For those like me that do not know how a pipeline crossing looks like, it's simply a large way/path (about 50 yard wide) without any tree.
We barely had any snow and that was unfortunate because this would have been a perfect day-snowshoeing hike. Thanks a lot for giving us this idea :-)

 

 

Name: Loic & Pascale                                                                                             Hike: Bear Meadows-Indian Wells Loop
Date: 01/15/2012                                                                                                  Rating: 5

Critique: Great Hike. We did it in the middle of a cool winter. Just enough snow to be a winter hike without having to use our snowshoes and - considering the rocks on the ridge - that was better without those anyway.

We did it the other way: From the parking to Keiths Spring, then we climbed and followed a very scenic ridge (Indian Wells vista is breathtaking and was also perfect for lunch).
Considering the snow, the road conditions and the very early sundown, we shortened the hike, and came back using Kettle trail (very steep and with the snow it was better to go downhill).
Leaving at 10.30, we reached the top of the ridge around noon and were back to the car at 4.30 pm.
That way, it was a perfect moderate hike for a perfect sunny (but short) winter day. Thanks for your indispensable website.

 

 

Name: Christi                                                                                                           Hike: BGT-A
Date: 4/28/12                                                                                                         Rating: 5

Critique: We loved it. I couldn't have done this 30 pound ago, and before I started running though. Its pretty difficult, and we turned around when we got to the very difficult rocks, didn't make it to the traverse, but my 5 year old said it was "awesome" and wants to go back soon!

 

 

Name: Sara Bird                                                                                                      Hike: Otter Creek - SE Loop
Date: April 22, 2012                                                                                                Rating: 3.5

Critique: I hiked part of this loop on Sunday, April 22, 2012. I've hiked the entire loop many times and it is magnificent. At any rate, I write to post an update on trail conditions. Specifically, at the very start of the hike, a newly constructed beaver dam in the otter creek headwaters has caused quite the flood. In Mike's trail description there is no mention of a bridge, but at some point a bridge/boardwalk was built. However, it is now rendered virtually useless. The effect of the beaver dam is that the once adequate boardwalk crossing the headwaters on Hendrick Camp Trail is nearly submerged and the crossing now requires some wading. I imagine as the dam continues to back fill that bog area, hikers will need to wade what will be a rather deep, but still crossing. I for one am pleased to see such active beaver presence in the area. Also, I like it when beavers strike back against man. I recommend gingerly scoping out the beaver dam and beaver lodge on the nort
the east side of the crossing. Quite the development.

 

 

Name: Dave                                                                                                              Hike: Old Rag
Date: 4/7/2012                                                                                                       Rating: 5

Critique: This was my second time hiking Old Rag. My first was in 2009. This trail is fun, but it is difficult and not for everyone. When we were walking past the trailhead after finishing the hike, we saw so many people who were completely unprepared for the hike it made us wonder how the ranger at the parking area could ethically allow them to start the trail. Senior citizens wearing crocs, dads with two year old kids on their shoulders, a little girl in glittery shoes with a stuffed rabbit, etc. You can read the full description of our hike on my website.

 

 

Name: Dennis                                                                                                           Hike: LT + Link Loop (starting @ eastern terminus of LT)
Date: 4-6-12 to 4-8-12                                                                                             Rating: 4.5

Critique: Two of us hiked this loop on Easter weekend, but started from the eastern terminus of the LT, on Mead Road just off US 220 near Ringdale instead of inside Worlds End Park. We started about 12:30pm on Friday.

(This is the link to the DCNR pamphlet and similar topo map that we used in conjuntion with the map on here: http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/ucmprd2/groups/public/documents/document/dcnr_002940.pdf )

We started at the eastern terminus of the LT, where there is a parking lot right off of 220. Before we started hiking we stopped into the Resource Management Center, just a short ways south on 220, past the Mead Road Comfort station (if coming from the north, see link/map above) to check in with park officials and register our vehicle. The woman said that there are no fires allowed anywhere because it had been so dry for so long...

Once parked, we geared up and set out (the LT hooks right up to the parking lot). Just as you get started, you run into the first big attraction on the trail: Dutchman's Falls. An awesome, good sized, waterfall. Nice way to start the trip. From there we followed the LT along the river, but be cautious as it also pulls away from the river in some sections and climbs shortly. Haystacks were cool, stop for lunch, then pressed on. When we got to the bridge, we took a right, over the bridge, and climbed up our first (and probably hardest) vertical section. Once at the top, we took in Sone's Pond, and crossed Annes' Bridge. A lot of the upper portion of this hike seemed to indicate wet hiking, but the recent drought had most everything pretty dry. We hiked until we got to the camping spot after Ken's window and before High Rock Vista, near a nice stream we used for water.

Day two we hiked until High rock Vista, snapped some shots, then went down into World's End (carefull here, big downhill over rocks) Through the Park and and parking lot and back up the other ridge on the south side of the Park. Then up to (big, short climb) World's End Vista, and back down to Double Run. Along the Double Run portion of the trail there are great spots to hang out, and also some cool, smaller falls. From there we joined up with the X-Link trail, with some more nice water features. Up another (and last big uphill) all the way to Canyon Vista. From there it was onto the Deer exclosure, around that, and then the long descent down to the Loyalsock Creek again. After crossing rt154, we walked along the creek until we found a nice big camping spot, about .5mi before the Bridge again. There are many nice camping spots in this section.

Day three, we got up and hiked out the last 5 or so miles and then took our time at Dutchman's Falls again. Afterwards, we drove a short distance to the overlook @High Knob Vista and visited Dry Run Falls, near there as well.

All in all about 25 miles of backpacking, some great views, waterfalls, and nature. Saw some turkey and a porcupine...not bad for the first backpack of the season. Looking forward to coming back in the fall, when the leaves start to turn!

Thanks again to all the hard work and effort to put these hikes, maps, pics, and info online, available to us. Really Appreciate it!!!

 

Name: Dan                                                                                                                Hike: Loyalsock-Link Loop w/Haystacks
Date: 4/21-4/22                                                                                                     Rating: 4

Critique: I hiked this a little out of order. I started at Mead Rd (Eastern Terminus of the LT) and hiked the LT to World's End. From there I took the Red-X 6 Link trail back. There are a some challenging ascents and descents, but it's balanced out by a few long flat sections and a tiny bit of road walking. There are a couple decent vistas (Ken's Window, High Rock, and Loyalsock Canyon). There is also lots of scenic stream-side hiking.

The trail was maintained pretty well, and EXTREMELY well marked. You just have to be careful because, at a glance, the LT discs can be confused with the yellow side trail discs. There were some spots that were muddy and wet (strange considering how dry the spring has been), and paths were worn around many of them, where hikers took a drier route. Makes me think that they never actually dry up. There were quite a few nice looking campsites along the way. Good hike!

 

 

Name: Ed. S                                                                                                              Hike: Tough Creek SP
Date: April 8, 2012                                                                                                  Rating: 5

Critique: An amazing area! I did a variation of the hike described, adding in the Ledges Trail and parts of the Boulder Trail. Nice small rapids on the Laurel Run Trail, with rhododendrons, large rock formations along the Boulder and Ledges Trail. A fair view of Raystown Lake on the Brumbaugh Trail, plus four good views of the area from the Ledges Trail. Good rock formations along Trough Creek, especially Copperas Rock, Raven Rock, and an unnamed one near the first Ledges trailhead. The highlight, however, has to be Abbot Run, its gorge, and Rainbow Falls, a very picturesque gorge with a nice cascading stream. One of the Ledges Trail vista is not far away from the circuit, and so can be readily added to the hike even if one does not want to hike the entire Ledges Trail.

A few other notes: There is a switchback to avoid the steep climb/descent along the Rhododendron Trail. The Laurel Run Trail seems to be going some relocations to eliminate four of the stream crossings. One part of the relocation is up a loose, rocky slope. Hopefully that will be improved. The Brumbaugh Trail is still somewhat overgrown on the Trough Creek side, but there are plenty of yellow/orange blazes and I did not get lost. It is easy to miss where it leaves the woods road (though it may be a better idea to continue on that, as that section of trail is in especially bad shape).

 

 

Name: Barb Rodekohr                                                                                            Hike: Cranberry Wilderness BP 1
Date: 4/14-16, 2012                                                                                               Rating: 5

Critique: A group of six of us did this hike, following Mike's directions. We had no real problems with navigation. The junctions were signed and there are cairns at any confusing spots. In spite of it being an ideal weekend in April, we saw only one other party of backpackers, and a few bicyclists and fishermen on FR 76. That being said, the trails are in pretty rough shape in spots, with lots of blowdowns and berry canes blocking the way. If you want to hike on autopilot, don't do this one! This was my first trip to Cranberry Wilderness but won't be my last. It's a beautiful place, with beautiful streams and great campsites. We even got to have ramps for dinner.

 

 

Name: R, B & J                                                                                                          Hike: Fallen Timber/MST Loop
Date: April 20-21, 2012                                                                                          Rating: 3

Critique: Trail starts out nicely on the MST, but the elevation gain fails to mention the steepness of Pine Creek Road before you reach the true trailhead! The mountaintop is beautiful but barren and quite rocky, thus the "strenuous" label. Campsite on the logger's road was quite nice. Trail notes were descriptive and accurate.

 

 

Name: jenny s                                                                                                          Hike: Three Ridges loop
Date: 4/14 to 4/16/2012                                                                                      Rating: 5

Critique: Did a 3-day loop starting at the south end on the AT by the Tye River. Recommend the campsite on the ridge above Maupin Field Shelter (on the AT side) for some nice breezes. Campbell Creek is beautiful and beautifully cool. I'd prefer to do this counterclockwise any day. Great views and sore muscles and healthy lungs at the end of the trip.

I have not even one photo of any of it because I lost my camera on the AT portion of the trail between Chimney Rock and Bee Mountain (probably north of the high point). Offering a monetary reward for its return as a functional camera. It's a pocket Canon SD1300 digital (http://reviews.cnet.com/digital-cameras/canon-powershot-sd1300-is/4505-6501_7-33975897.html) and has about 200 to 300 photos on it. It's in a small black carrying case with a thin shoulder strap. Find it and I'll put some money toward a new camera for you. Contact me at jensmeltz@hotmail.com. Thanks.

For the plant and wildflower fans...saw HILLSIDES of trillium especially along the Mau-Har, also dutchmen's breeches, pink ladyslipper (just starting), dogwood, solomon's seal, fire pinks, blueberries starting to bloom (!), LOTS of poison ivy, may apple, spider wort, wild geranium, even a couple of fallen tulip poplar flowers, and showy orchis.

 

 

Name: kth-7                                                                                                             Hike: Old Rag
Date: 4/14/2012                                                                                                     Rating: 5

Critique: I don't have a lot of hikes to compare it to, except Bull Run Mountain, which I would rate a 2.5. My sister and I did this hike and loved it. We are the type of people who work out 3-4 days a week, run a couple of races, and are usually active. We were pleased with our ability to do the rock scramble and steep hike upward (at times). We arrived at the parking lot at 6:30am. There were only a dozen cars in a 200 car parking lot. Bring money. The fee is $15. The climb up was just as interesting to look at as the climb down. There was a lovely stream that flowed over huge boulders most of the way down. Everyone should do this hike once in their life.

Just a note: if you want to do a part of this hike and not strain yourself too much, just go up in reverse. Take the yellow blazed
Weakley Hollow Fire Road trail to the blue blazed Saddle trail and up to the Old Rag shelter. Then come back down. This in itself is about 4 miles.

 

 

Name: Chris Hughes                                                                                               Hike: Otter Creek Backpack - Lost Green Croc
Date: 4/6-7/12                                                                                                       Rating: 5

Critique: Two of us took the hike starting from Mylius Gap trail-Shavers Mountain Trail- Green Mountain- Possession Camp- Otter Creek- Mylius Trail loop. (The shorter route as described by your notes) Absolutely gorgeous which made us wish we spent more time down near the water. Due to the cooler temps, we couldn't enjoy the water to the fullest extent though. Temps were in the 30's over night and high 50s and 60s during the day. The boggy sections along shavers mtn. trail are enough to suck your boot right off.

Note - The "abandoned trail" sign that is mentioned in your notes was nailed to a tree at the merge off the Shavers trail and the green mountain trail. Other hikers that we encountered did miss it, but your notes made me look for it.

Note- Unfortunately, I lost a green croc along the way most likely somewhere along the possession camp trail. If anyone finds it, please fell free to let me know or dispose of it so it gets off of the trail system. I did hike back a good mile from otter creek but didn't come across it.

 

 

Name: Ransilfour                                                                                                     Hike: Kellys Run / Pinnacle
Date: 4/4/12                                                                                                           Rating: 5

Critique: Thanks SO much for piecing together the instructions for this loop! My wife and I are backpackers from "back in the day" and wanted a hike that would help our 14 and 11 year old boys see why we like hiking. Well, they LOVED it, and it was the perfect length to feel like we accomplished something, without feeling like you never wanted to come back. They want to come back next week :) The trail is a great mix of terrain, with lots of variety to look at. We'll definitely be back in other seasons.

 

 

Name: Ed Lyman                                                                                                     Hike: MD-Otter Creek w/ bushwhack
Date: 3/31/2012                                                                                                     Rating: 4

Critique: Great hike. BE WARNED: DO NOT PARK AT THE BOAT RAMP WITHOUT FIRST CHECKING AT THE CAMPGROUND. When we arrived, the gate was open, we figured it was fair game, so we parked. When we returned the gate was locked. $50/car to get out. It is well-posted, but we didn't read carefully.

 

 

Name: Unknown                                                                                                      Hike: Brown Mountain - Rockytop Loop
Date: 03/23-25/2012                                                                                            Rating: 4.5

Critique: Beautiful hike with varying scenery -- wide vistas, alongside the river, rocky, and lush. Good balance of strenuous climbs with relaxing views and moderate distance.

We found that the old campsite at the intersection of the Big Run Loop Trail and the southern terminus of the Big Run-Portal Trail had a "No Camping" post, so plan to camp at the next site 0.67 miles up. This was a pretty, spacious site next to the river. We also suspect that the Big Run shelter on the map at the same intersection was taken down, because there was another no camping/re-vegetation area where we thought it should be.

It rained for about half of our trip, and we encountered about 4 smaller river crossings in addition to the fords indicated on the map. Definitely recommend bringing a pair of secure sandals for the crossings! The fords had become knee/thigh-high wades.

 

 

Name: Blackmamba549                                                                                         Hike: Rocky top-Big Run
Date: March 16-18/12                                                                                            Rating: 5

Critique: Tough Hike. Got food poisoning in the Valley of Browns Mt. trail so that didn't help with the the strenuousness that followed. Pretty views from the Mt tops but the valleys winding rivers and peaceful scenery gave the trail its uniqueness. Plan on doing it again when i am back to full strength!

 

 

Name: CJ                                                                                                                   Hike: Difficult Run Loop
Date: 3.18.12                                                                                                           Rating: 4

Critique: I'm just starting to get into hiking, and this was my first time at Great Falls. I really enjoyed this trail. It was not very difficult but not boring either. We have had little to no rain lately, so the whole trail was in good shape with only a few wet spots and no really muddy sections.

When you enter the actual Difficult Run Loop, there is a barricade and a sign saying the trail is closed. I think there are a few hundred yards of passable trail, and then a section where the trail might have been washed away. You would only be able to continue if you descended about 10' and then ascended approximately the same height to get through the washed out section. This might only require some careful walking along some narrow ledges.

The views of the Potomac River are outstanding. There were some rock climbers descending from the rock face about 30 yds from the River Trail. It was an overcast day but it was still really nice to see the rushing river at the base of tall rock faces. We took our sweet time, sat to eat lunch, explored nooks and crannies slightly off the trails, and finished in 4hrs, 15mins. It likely would not be a fun hike following a rainstorm or big thaw.

 

 

Name: TG & BZ                                                                                                         Hike: Dolly Sods North
Date: 3/18/12                                                                                                         Rating: ???

Critique: Hiked this one today. Or tried to...

First up, I should say we're experienced hikers and one of us is a trail-runner. We are not novices.

After the first three-quarters of a mile or so, the trail was imperceptible. It petered out after one large rock pile (not exactly a cairn, just a rock pile). From that point on, this hike should be considered a bushwhack.

Despite having maps, a compass and a GPS, we could not find any of the first several trails, and just happily wandered around a bit.

Also, FR 75 is closed about 1.25 miles from the trailhead because of minor water damage that has caused minor erosion to the road, so add a bit to the length of this one until/if USFS repairs the road.

 

 

Name: kayakdog                                                                                                     Hike: Stone Tower
Date: 3-5-2012                                                                                                        Rating: 4

Critique: Write up was right on, we had a great hike. Thanks!

 

 

Name: Androo                                                                                                           Hike: Otter Creek Backpack
Date: 05-06 August 2011                                                                                        Rating: 5

Critique: I was part of a group of four planning our first overnight backpacking trip after years of car camping. The shorter of the Otter Creek Backpack loops looked perfect for our group - under 15 miles, with a longer first day leading to a scenic destination (reward!) where we could set up camp.

We went in Friday, 05 August 11, driving to the trailhead from our basecamp in Audra State Park. As to be expected, we started a bit later than I had hoped but were on the trail by 8am.

The morning fog burned off pretty quick as we ascended. The climb of Shavers Mountain proved to be perfect for our group. Challenging, but never spirit-crushing. I also found that the delicious energy chews I had brought were an effective group reward after particularly difficult stretches Even so, reaching the Shavers Mt Trail intersection (900ft climbed) was met with plenty of joy. The rest of the climb was easy.

We broke for lunch at the grassy area/spring on Shavers Mt (the left turn of the 4-way intersection). This was a nice spot, although there were tons of (non-biting, thankfully) flies. Also, I don't think there had been much rain, or perhaps my expectations were just off, but the spring seemed low to me. We had brought tons of water however, so it wasn't really a concern.

Continuing down the Green Mountain Trail it began to rain while in the Rhododendron (or Mountain Laurel? There were no blossoms to make it easy for me to tell) so we hurried on to the intersection with Possession Camp Trail. While waiting under the canopy, we saw our first other hikers, a group of three that came from the same direction behind us, but continued on the Green Mountain Trail. After about 20 minutes, the rain stopped and we turned on to the beautiful Possession Camp Trail.

We finally made it to Otter Creek around 3pm (beating my planning guess of 1 mph with plenty of time to spare) and celebrated by collapsing on the rocks for a while

Eventually we hiked north along the creek, and found our campsite. We returned to one of the beautiful swimming holes and everyone enjoyed the cool and refreshing water while we ate dinner.

The next morning, it looked like rain was coming, so we skipped the big breakfast and got a move on. Heading south on the Otter Creek trail, we came across one more group of two camping next to the first big ford (south of the Possession Camp/Otter Creek/Moore Run intersection).

As soon as we got our boots back on the other side, it started to rain. It quickly became a ridiculous Forrest-Gump-in-Vietnam-scene downpour. Luckily, we were prepared and our packs stayed dry. And we were so quickly soaked that it was funny instead of miserable. Even so, we kept a pretty quick pace back to the Mylius Trailhead, and were headed for home by 11am

In conclusion, I can not recommend Otter Creek highly enough for a similarly novice group. It really was the perfect mix of challenge (just one big climb), solitude (only five people despite a Friday-Saturday in summer), and destination (arriving at the creek was the perfect reward after 9 miles of hiking). Also, while I over-prepared (with GPS, and Topos, and printouts) the trails were all very clear and easy to follow which definitely helps to put the rookie hiker at ease.

Best of all, the trip worked exactly as I hoped, and the entire group was hooked and is eager to go backpacking again.

 

 

Name: Karen                                                                                                            Hike: Iron Horse Trail, PA
Date: 03/04/2012                                                                                                  Rating: 4

Critique: Do not go into the woods at the Eby Cemetery. It is nothing but brambles. Instead, stay on the paved road (same side of the road as the cemetery) and turn in at the dirt road that has the large hunting camp on it (mentioned in the directions). This means you stay on the paved road about 1/3-1/2 mile. This avoids all the brambles. Also, toward the end, you will again be very near SR 274 (on your left). The trail makes a sharp right to go onto the mountain and it is very rocky. If you want to avoid this, stay on the trail by the road and it turns into a dirt road. Then you can cross 274, facing traffic and walk about 1/3-1/2 mile the end. Because this is "Rocksylvania" - it will avoid going over another rock field at mile 9.5. All in all, a nice hike - it snowed a lot but nothing stuck. Always nice to be outside - my 3 dogs (2 Labs, Shepherd) loved it - lots of fresh water.

 

 

Name: dottie                                                                                                            Hike: FMF--Clifford Hollow Loop
Date: 2/25/12                                                                                                         Rating: 5

Critique: excellent hike in nearby Gambrill park. Gambrill offers several hiking trails, along w/ lots of unmarked mt. bike trails. Mike has created several hiking routes that follow both. the Clifford hollow loop is a delightful hike in the woods, just enough steeps to make one work, as well as lots of serpentine paths to keep one marching onward. Saturday's wind was howling full-blast w/ sun and clouds exchanging positions. this hike is a keeper for sure, thanks Mike!

 

 

Name: Colin and Brian                                                                                            Hike: Knob Mtn / Jeremy's Run
Date: 2/24/2012                                                                                                     Rating: 4.5

Critique: We took this route after a storm delayed our start on the neighbor mountain trail. Tough climb to Knob Mtn. ridge. It has good views through the forest due to the lack of foliage, but we would have preferred more trail time on the park side of the ridge instead of overlooking the surrounding farmland. We camped at the first site on Jeremy's run. The stream was running very high, making some crossings difficult. The first crossing from the Knob Mt descent required pack throwing and a leap of faith, but all crossings after that were easier though still sometimes treacherous. The counterclockwise route is best, hiking up Jeremy's run was the best part of the hike. The waterfall is definitely worth a stop, especially during high water. Only saw one person, at least in part due to the heavy rains ending minutes before we hit the trail. All in all a worthwhile hike!

 

 

Name: Linsey                                                                                                           Hike: Reddish Knob Summit
Date: 2/25- 2/26 2012                                                                                          Rating: 4

Critique: Overall, a great hike with most of the details laid out. For winter hiking, the weather was changing constantly. We started out with 60 degrees and warm, followed by rain and wind for the latter part of the day. Waking up the next morning with 3 inches of snow. There were about 3-4 river crossings prior to reaching the hike up to the summit. I wish I would have known about those. The climb up the first mountain was strenuous, but fun. The distances were pretty accurate for the hike descriptions. Descending the next day was enjoyable but our legs are paying for it for the 3700' descent in one day. Thanks for posting this and we look forward to trying many more of the hikes this year.

 

 

Name: Andrea L.                                                                                                      Hike: CSF-Orange Loop
Date: 2/3/2012                                                                                                       Rating: 5

Critique: My husband and I really enjoyed this hike. Weather was perfect for February. Low 40's and an overcast sky with no wind.

The trail was marked great with orange arrows and the paths were very easy to follow. The paths are very level with few hills to climb.

We only encountered 5 people on this 6.7 mile hike. Two were mountain bikers and the rest were hikers. It was very quiet and peaceful. I imagine it is a pretty quiet forest in the winter.

The highlight was the beaver pond. You could see freshly fallen trees where the beavers had chewed right through them.

There is a $3.00 parking fee. The visitor center is closed on Saturday's and Sunday's.

There is a sign outside of the visitor center recommending that you wear bright orange. Part of the forest is a designated hunting area, but the paths do not travel through this area. We did hear gunshots but they were so far off in the distance they were insignificant.

I would recommend this hike to others and hope to do it again myself.

 

 

Name: Greg Romano                                                                                               Hike: Mount Rogers/Grayson Highlands-2 Backpack
Date: June 2011                                                                                                       Rating: 5

Critique: We linked Grayson Highlands and Mount Rodgers for a fantastic 3 day backpack loop. We started on Mount Rodgers and the trail is maintained very nicely. Once you near the top, the smell of evergreens hits you, and you're in heaven. Even with the elevation gain, this was not that hard of a climb. It is not that steep, although it does go on for a few miles. The view from the shelter and campsites is amazing. I took a group with me and I decided not to tell them about the trip to surprise them. Once we got into Grayson Highlands, everyone loved the rock formations and the ponies. The rocks are very cool looking and so much fun to play on. They could not believe the openness of the Highlands and the ponies topped it all off.

All in all what a great hike! We hiked in June, so the flowers were blooming, the grass was green and the sky was blue with huge white puffy clouds. We had perfect weather and it made for an awesome trip.

Note: We did heed the warning about parking and paid the $3.00 a night at Grindstone. I am glad we did. We had no incidents, and it was one less thing I had to worry about.

 

 

Name: Greg Romano                                                                                               Hike: Old Rag Mountain / White Oak Canyon
Date: June 2008                                                                                                       Rating: 5

Critique: I took a group out and we backpacked Old Rag Mountain and linked over to finish down the White Oak Canyon. This was a fantastic hike! Old Rag is a classic and belongs in Cooperstown. It is by far one of my favorite hikes. It is a strenuous climb but once you near the top the bouldering is way too much fun. This is the part that keeps me coming back and is a great place for the adventurous type! We hiked on a clear and hot day and this did pose some water problems for us. Make sure you bring plenty of it. We then spent a day on some connector trails to get over to White Oak Canyon. This was an unexpected surprise. I had not done much homework on WOC, so to see the size of the waterfalls was a pleasant surprise. The grade on WOC is steep and there are no switchbacks, so be prepared for a climb.

I have been taking high schoolers out on backpacking trips for several years, and this trip has been a favorite. I can't wait to go back!

 

 

Name: XXXX                                                                                                             Hike: Piney Ridge - Piney Branch Loop

Date: 02/04/2012                                                                                                  Rating: 4

Critique: Clearly marked trail, good variety of streams, elevation change, can't wait to get back to the area in the spring for wildflowers. It started snowing about halfway through the hike, and fog covered the higher elevations, which made driving back fun. Saw only one other pair hiking.

 

 

Name: chris rockwell                                                                                              Hike: AT-Horse shoe Trail Loop

Date: 02/10/2012                                                                                                  Rating: 4

Critique: I've hiked parts of this hike before and decided to do the whole thing today. We left late and was running out of daylight time so i was looking for the Henry Knauber Trail which i took last year, so we could get back to our vehicle and end our hike. I was going by the instructions on this hike and I have to warn anyone reading there is a section where they are wrong. You pass the Henry Knauber Trail on your right hand side off of the Horse shoe trail BEFORE you get to the water tank. The instructions here sound as if the trail comes after the water tank. So we had to backtrack a bit. Other then that the hike was great. There was 2 inches of snow on the ground, tons of animal tracks everywhere, and it was a pretty clear day out. Going to attempt the whole loop again soon.

Name: jon                                                                                                                  Hike: Gilford Pinchot SP
Date: 2/1/2012                                                                                                        Rating: 1

Critique: Please don't waste your time, honestly it is the worst trail system I have ever hiked. Overall the hike is flat and lacking interesting scenery, other than standard views of a man made lake. I could forgive that however, and overall would have enjoyed this hike if the trails weren't a total disaster. To me it seems like whoever built the trails just followed every available fall line and erosion formed gully they could find, threw up a few blazes where they felt like it, and called it a day. Because of this I found myself hiking in mud up to my ankles for 3/4ths of the way, 50 - 100 yards at a time. I don't know what it is like in the summer, but given that there are much better venues in the area I doubt I will ever find out. This park really needs some friends, someone with some knowledge of trail building could probably fix or reroute alot of the stuff, but it sure would be a huge project. What a shame.

Name: Ben                                                                                                                Hike: Tuscarora - Standing Stone Loop
Date: 1/21-22/12                                                                                                   Rating: 5

Critique: We did this hike in January as an overnight backpack. We camped in the "narrows" that you reach by continuing on the Standing Stone trail north from the point where you turn around to meet the Tuscarora trail. This hike was wonderful. The hike along the Standing Stone trail was beautiful in the snow and with the leaves off of the trees there were constant views. The trail went past several interesting rock formations and a few places even required using one's hands. Overall this is probably my favorite ridge walk in PA. It is better than the midstate along Tussey mountain. This makes a great one night backpack with the optional side trip down the Standing Stone trail. There is excellent camping underneath the hemlocks there.

Name: Paul Schwartz                                                                                              Hike: Copperhead point
Date: 1/7/12                                                                                                            Rating: 3.5

Critique: As I got out of the car to begin the hike, gunshots punctuated the stillness. They would be a staccato accompaniment throughout the hike. I also saw an old bucket holed by shotgun pellets and met a bow hunter on the fire road near gate 4.(By the way: turn left at gate 4 as you leave the fire road-not right, otherwise you'll head back to your car.) These sights and sounds added an air of unease to what would have otherwise been a delightful hike. Fortunately, I was wearing a red vest.
Some scrambling is required because of the numerous downed trees blocking the path which is obscure in some places. Also, some of the blazed trees have fallen and decayed along with their blazes. I walked right by the point and didn't see it until I turned around. But the view was pleasant, there were several stream crossings, and I always enjoy walking through pine forest. Next time, I'm taking a can of blue spray paint and a stencil

Name: .com                                                                                                              Hike: Blackwater Falls/Canaan Loop
Date: 1/5/12                                                                                                            Rating: 5

Critique: Rusty Bucket & I about half of this loop. We left out Yellow Birch Trail and started on the Davis Trail behind the stables. The area just had some snow but temps were on the way up so the hike was snow-covered but slushy in many parts. The first crossing of Engine Run was made easy due to well-placed rocks in the water. Blazes were easy to follow, except the small part where the trail has been re-routed; use your intuition, keep to the right and ascend to the next set of blazes. We lunched at the shelter, then continued a bit on Plantation Trail until the seeps became more cumbersome than fun. We turned around and easily retraced out steps back to our car.

Name: j. a. b.                                                                                                           Hike: Stone Tower Loop
Date: 12/29/2011                                                                                                   Rating: 4

Critique: This was a great hike, especially on a brisk December morning. The trail guide was "on spot". Thanks for the detailed description.

P.S. the yellow trail to the "view" was worth the extra few minutes. I missed it at first and kept following the yellow blazes into nowhere.

Name: CPL                                                                                                                Hike: Billy Goat Trail A
Date: 12/29/2011                                                                                                  Rating: 5

Critique: I am not a frequent hiker and just moved to the area. I was originally put off trying trail A by the NPS warnings that this is a "demanding" hike. I decided to try it anyway presuming that this was some over the top legal team writing this stuff. It is. There are kids as young as 10 or 11 on this trail. As long as you are comfortable walking over boulders you will be just fine. Good shoes a must. Posting in case anyone else has any doubts. Winter appears to be the best time to go, it was very quiet and i maybe ran into 20 people over the entire loop. Doing this in summer seems like it would just be miserable - the number of locations you are likely to run into substantial bottlenecks are too many to count. Go in winter, bring good shoes.

Name: Colleen Palmer                                                                                            Hike: Morgan Run Loop
Date: 12/31/2011                                                                                                  Rating: 5

Critique: Morgan Run is a challenge especially if you take all the finger trails, lots of steep hills and great views of the area, the stream crossings or when the water this high they turn into rivers. To avoid the bridge crossing definitely have two cars and do a drop off on the other side of the bridges so you can drive back to the other car.
(Good idea!)

Name: Scott_R                                                                                                         Hike: Mt. Pleasant
Date: 12/18/11                                                                                                       Rating: 5

Critique: This is quite close to home and I can't believe I've never gone before!

As described, the terrain was moderate; we are both avid hikers and in good shape, so we didn't find the climbs difficult at all. We did the whole loop in about two and a half hours. The trail notes and suggested loop rotation seemed ideal to us. Going counter clockwise would have involved a pretty steady long climb up to the peak, and is not advised unless you specifically want a workout.

The road in was well marked, all the way from US-60, and we had no difficulty finding the trailhead.

Views were just fabulous - completely worth it. The two vistas from the Mt. Pleasant peak were phenomenal. Campsites were as advertised and there were signs for water sources which were pretty handy if you're camping. We'll be going back when the weather warms up a bit for just that. This was just a fantastic gem!

Name: Greg S.                                                                                                          Hike: Old Rag
Date: 12/17/2011                                                                                                  Rating: 5

Critique: Background: My wife and I hiked this as one of our first dates a few years ago, and it was memorable for the wrong reasons. I wore the wrong socks and tore my heels open on the way down off the mountain. By the fire road I had wrapped my heels with bandanas and ended up limping the rest of the way back. We wanted to erase that memory so we tackled this hike again a few days ago.

12/17: For a couple in their mid-20's, we found this hike to be exactly what we were looking for. We moved quickly, and we were back in our car exactly 4 hours after we started. We had time to stop on the north summit, as well as the true summit, but other than that we were hiking at a brisk pace. For December the weather was beautiful, with clear skies and little wind.

Honestly, I can see how the rock scrambling could be difficult if you're not in decent shape, so please be realistic with yourself before you start this hike. If you're not much of a hiker and you are just going for the great view from the top, you might need to find a different hike. All in all however, this is a hike that everyone should do at least once if they live in the DC Metro Area. Totally worth it.

Name: Carol                                                                                                              Hike: Morgan Run Loop
Date: 12-10-11                                                                                                        Rating: 4

Critique: These are the Trail Notes I wish I had read BEFORE I did the hike. I took a few wrong trails down to the reservoir, had to bushwhack briefly, and the last stream-crossing required a boot-soaking wade. It is a lovely area, and I shall hike it again, using your fine Notes.

Thank you!

 

 

Name: Joe                                                                                                                Hike: Stone Tower Loop
Date: 04DEC11                                                                                                        Rating: 4.5             

Critique: Howdy - I hiked the stone tower loop this past Sunday December 4th. I don't know if the water level was high on Clark Creek, but I had to wade through the water break that was 15" deep. My buddy crossed the creek on a tree that was about 2-3' above the water. I don't know if that would be considered normal water flow, but it is possible that all the flooding rearranged the rock hop you spoke of.

Anyways, I followed the trail you outlined and when I reached the junction of the blue trail, I found a yellow blazed trail that headed west. Following this for about 1/4 mile I came across ruins of an old structure and what appeared to be a ramp for loading coal. Following this path you will also see an old embankment going down the mountain. Wanting to save daylight I returned to the blue trail junction and found the stone tower shortly thereafter. Next to the tower is the old entrance to the main mine shaft with a cast iron pipe exposed, and another mine shaft to the southwest that is filled in.

I continued on the blue trail to Yellow Springs and signed the register. We also found an old well about 30' behind the main campsite that was about 10-20' deep. I continued per your instructions and found the sulfer springs and the famous "General". I did a bit of research on this piece of machinery and found out that it was made by the General Excavator Company - hence the name. In Google Books you can find a picture of a very similar excavator made by this company - p.205 of The Earthmover Encyclopedia: The Complete Guide to Heavy Equipment of the World.

Heading back up the mountain I found the yellow blazed trail to the scenic overlook. This trail is pretty rough, but not too far to get to the vista.

All in all - it was a great hike. Thanks for posting it.

 

 

Name: Randi                                                                                                             Hike: Hazel Mountain Loop
Date: 3-7-09                                                                                                            Rating: 4

Critique: By making a couple of wrong turns on our way to the trail head at Skyline we arrived for a late start, leaving ourselves only 5.5 hours of daylight for this 10 mile loop. We figured "no problem." We did it counter-clock wise. The trek down into the valley was brutal as the trail was deeply covered in leaves and the rocky terrain a real hazard. We could hear bears huffing and scraping trees around us but didn't actually see any. The multiple creek crossings were interesting and the trail up with the false summits was challenging. Our "personal gas tanks" were too empty to make it down to the water fall. We made it back to our car just at dusk. I'm open to doing this hike again but this time I will want 6.5 hours at least.

 

 

Name: Galen                                                                                                            Hike: Pinnacle Picnic Area to Mary's Rock Out and Back
Date: 11-26-11                                                                                                       Rating: 4

Critique: Given decent weather, this is a fine walk along the spine of the Shenandoah. A good alternative to the many canyon and hollows hikes. I've been to Mary's Rock via the Meadow Spring Trail but this is a much more interesting route. It takes a mile or two to get away from the car noise of Skyline Drive but past that it's an easy walk (with some modest ups and downs) along a nicely groomed AT with your choice of multiple overlooks. Mostly to the west but you can find a few easterly views. The sunsets must be awesome. I'll be going back with a picnic in mind.

 

 

Name: Kingston Bowen                                                                                          Hike: Gunpowder Falls-East
Date: 11/24/2011                                                                                                  Rating: 4

Critique: Enjoyed great weather and truly fascinating change in scenery over this 4 mile hike. It was tough in spots. The uphill in a couple of spots got the blood flowing. What was cool was hiking in the rocky waterfalls area and then hitting an open meadow and then hitting a very fragrant pine forest. This is only a portion of the Gunpowders Falls area but very pleasing. We look forward to tackling this area again.

 

 

Name: Joanne                                                                                                          Hike: Little Devil's Staircase
Date: Nov. 20, 2011                                                                                                Rating: 4

Critique: Too late in the season for good leaf color. Cool overcast day - a good thing - no insects. DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS HIKE ALONE. BE SURE YOU ARE ABLE TO DO THE 5.4 MILES. THERE IS NO TURNING BACK IF YOU WIMP OUT. THE REVERSE ROUTE IS TOO TREACHEROUS. Take the fire road route back to your car. Get an early start - allow at least 4 hours. Bring a sufficient water supply. But if you use a camelback do not fill the bladder so full that the weight pulls you backwards. The water crossings can be treacherous - slippery rocks and wet leaves. Bring at least one hiking pole to help you. Rest along the way. This is a challenging hike even for the sure-footed. The fresh air and solitude were welcoming. Do it!

 

 

Name: Paul Schwartz                                                                                             Hike: Gunpowder East
Date: 11/19/11                                                                                                       Rating: 4

Critique: This hike must have been spectacular several weeks ago at the peak of the fall leaf season. As it was I enjoyed being in the woods with just the map and instructions and managed to see numerous deer as well as several other hikers and joggers. Parts of the trail are overgrown but as long as you keep the river in sight you'll be fine. I did have difficulty with the last part of Panther branch and managed to take the wrong fork, winning up on the north side of Hereford High School. This hike can easily be subdivided since there is a parking area on Falls Road. The only drawback...the inescapable noise of traffic on major roads for most of the hike.

 

 

Name: Eric Lengel                                                                                                   Hike: Big Schloss
Date: 11/8/11                                                                                                         Rating: 5

Critique: Be ready for the long haul on this hike. It's particularly challenging in the fall. The leaves obscure rocks in the trail and make for hazardous walking. It's all worthwhile though, b/c the views are magnificent!

 

 

Name: Boost Boy                                                                                                    Hike: Cranberry Wilderness Loop
Date: Nov. 4-6, 2011                                                                                              Rating: 3

Critique: Hey folks. I planned and invited 8 backpackers to do this  listed 21+ mile loop, to include North Fork to FR102 to Birch Log to North-South to Laurelly Branch to Middle Fork trails, and the subsequent return to WV150.

We enjoyed the trip, HOWEVER, we could not complete the planned route. Read on. I would NOT recommend this loop to anyone without expert trail-finding skills, endurance-level athleticism, and a perverse liking for the pain that results from carrying full packs in VERY difficult terrain.

North Fork trail was easy to follow due to it's open nature, however the trail is currently very overgrown, and includes numerous downed trees, ankle-twisting erosion, and log obstacles. The main switchback to the right was cairned and fairly easy to follow. The two huge cut banks that occurred from flooding were another matter. The first we circumvented by climbing up a 20-foot sandy chute (no other choice) to find the trail. Luckily there were cairns up to the left to regain the trail. The second one we descended down into and went up the other side with careful climbing as well.

We camped just up the road on FR 102 along the river as a fisherman was already ensconced in the North Fork Shelter. Because of the difficulty of the hike day one, we voted and all decided to take a shorter route back via Tumbling Rock trail to North-South trail day two, and spend the last night in the Tea Creek Campground. Turned out the climb up Tumbling Rock challenged the best of our route-finding skills. Within the first 1/4 mile the trail goes right at a small cairn. If you miss this and continue up a very steep old overgrown forest road, you've gone too far. Later we lost the trail and reconnoitered two additional times, thankfully finding cairns we had passed after backtracking. Two crossings of the stream are required to make the climb correctly. Very difficult terrain and a very faint trail indeed. I have backpacked for 30 years and had a heck of a time staying on the trail as leader all day. As faint a trail as I have ever seen in places. Open forest compounded the
 se issues at times.

After regaining the ridgeline, we turned right on the quite marginal North-South trail and headed back 4.9 miles towards WV 150. This trail climbed quite a bit at times (not much downhill at all), was overgrown and extremely muddy in places. It also had numerous downed trees and was just heinous overall. We lost the trail a couple more times, particularly after 2 huge separate downed trees. Came out just before dark. This 7.4 miles took us almost all day to hike out of. Again, I enjoy difficult terrain, but this was extreme. Next time I come, I will setup a base camp on the river and day-hike these trails.  Not for the faint of heart. Tea Creek Campground was a blessing after the pounding we all took. My friends persevered (many were expert hikers) but all said next time send the invite to noreply@blistermail.com, ha,ha...-pd-

 

 

Name: Tom Tulenko                                                                                                Hike: Old Loggers Path
Date: 8/05/11 - 8/07/11                                                                                      Rating: 5

Critique: Great hike as usual.  Pleasant stream road is still closed and it appears it may never re-open.  A new quarry has opened just above Masten with lots of truck activity and noise. Quarry noises could be heard almost all the way to confluence of Rock Run and Yellow Dog Run hiking counter clockwise from Masten.  Lots of evidence of bulldozer activity everywhere. Fresh bulldozer tracks on long abandoned logging roads and fresh swaths all over Sullivan mountain. Maybe a future gas well site? I hope not.  On the hike down from the top of Sullivan mountain on the way to long run, there is forest fire evidence with a new bull dozer fire road right over top of the trail.  Not so happy about the recent changes to the area but still one of my favorite back packs in PA.

 

 

Name: peter                                                                                                             Hike: Overall Run Falls
Date: 2011-11-06                                                                                                   Rating: 4

Critique: start before noon. the falls are shadowed in the afternoon. got to falls at 3:30pm (last day of DST), the ridge nearby already blocked out sun. have to go back.

did short version, just to see the falls. parked at entrance to Matthew's arm campground, since gate was closed. walked down the road, went in parking lot. there are 3 paths on the right, 1st is marked Traces Trail, which borders the entire Matthews Arm Campground, the other 2 are a short loop that goes to a small amphitheater. took Traces Trail 0.4mi, first right for 0.1 to Tuscarora-Overall Run Trail, left on T-OR for 1.4, right on Matthews Arm Tr for 0.1, then left at to continue on T-OR tr for 0.4 to the OR falls.

don't be fooled by the first few cascades, beginning with one 30ft fall, then a nice rock to sit for about a dozen people group to look at the silly cascades, like a bunch of smaller step waterfalls. keep going for the 90ft fall, you'll know when you see it. the view of the perpendicular valley is awesome, and the waterfall's cool too.

turned around, turned right on Matthews Arm Trail 0.1mi again, then stayed right to stay on Matthews Arm Tr for 0.4 instead of going left back on T-OR Tr, no difference in distance, just a change of scenery. loops>out&back. left to stay on Matthews Arm for 0.3, left again to stay on MA for 0.3, straight on MA for 0.2, veered right to not goto MA Campground, 0.5, didn't want to walk on road, arrive at big parking lot with amphitheater, looked at that, started walking back up the road and noticed a trail marker on the right, right across from the beginning of the parking lot, a much less used trail, but one none the less, and still didn't want to walk on road, it's more straight, and so a bit steeper, follows telephone wires 0.6, then at entrance to Matthews Arm Rd.

about 5.9mi & 4.5 hours, including 1 hour lunch at falls, seemed like shortest & quickest route to see the falls.

 

 

Name: Doug Metzler                                                                                               Hike: Cowans Gap SP - Tuscarora Tr
Date: 10/30/2011                                                                                                  Rating: 4.8

Critique: We hiked this the day after a heavy early snowfall and the snow was ranging from 6 inches to knee deep. It was truly spectacular. The snow made it difficult enough (and daylight was short enough) that we cut out the final loop that comes down the horse shoe trail. Directions were excellent. Blazing and signage at junctions was very good but note that the blazes on the Plessinger trail are now an orangish yellow rather than the red indicated on the map. Since the snow obscured the trail on the Tuscarora trail, and snow was clinging to tree trunks we had to do a little exploring at a couple of places to find the next blaze, but it wasn't too hard. Usually pretty clear where to go. Geyer trail was pretty slippy and difficult in the snow but doable. By the time we hit Plessinger a lot of the ground snow was melted and there were many deep muddy places so I would suggest over ankle boots and gaiters, not low cuts, for these conditions. We drove out from Pittsburgh for th
 is and it was well worth the trip.

 

 

Name: Scott_R                                                                                                         Hike: Jones Run - Doyles River Loop
Date: 10-25-11                                                                                                        Rating: 4

Critique: This was my second trip to this loop; it is definitely a 'waterfall' hike.  There are not really any vistas or other views included, but for moderate - in time, climb and length - hike, it's ideal.  It was an ideal 'date' hike!

My first trip, I did the 'short' loop returning on the fire trail; there may be better views I missed by skipping the two mile stretch along the Skyline Drive, but based on what I saw between Browns Gap and the Jones Run parking lot, I'm doubtful.

My second trip (about which I report here), I came in by way of Browns Gap Tnpk (the fire road) from below the park, and did this as a sort of out-and-back.  The road is quite well maintained inside the park, but not at all between the last farm field gate and the park boundary; it is passable only on foot for about a mile and half before the boundary.  While the park service does have signage up, they don't even bother with a gate.  We parked to one side (just in case someone came by and wanted to get past) and walked up.

We diverted off the road after the first swale we came to inside the park, and dropped down to where the Doyles and the Jones meet, and then picked up the trail back up to the road, giving us a chance to see the two waterfalls on the Doyles.  We then came back down the fire road.  This was an approximately 5 mile circuit and took about three hours - well worth it.

The second visit was mid-week and we saw nobody at all; my first visit was rather crowded.  There are a number of great swimming holes on the Doyles River and I'll go back for a dip in the summer, but mid-week.  A great short hike!

 

 

Name: Bob                                                                                                                Hike: Mt. Rogers Backpack
Date: 10/21-22/11                                                                                                 Rating: 5

Critique: This hike was an amazing experience. To the see awesome fall colors and then walk through a winter wonderland, was amazing. The endless views just blew me away. I did the 2 day version of the hike, but I camped near these two big boulders which offered truly inspirational sunsets and sunrises. Add to the fact that ponies slept beside my tent, and a meteor shower too! just awesome. I've done over 60 hikes, and this was the best hike I ever did. It was a very easy hike on the knees to ;) Check out the pictures from hike and others here: https://picasaweb.google.com/107375326274741613284

This was a real adventure

 

 

Name: Scott_R                                                                                                         Hike: St. Mary's Wilderness
Date: 10/1/11                                                                                                         Rating: 4

Critique: I've been drawn to the St. Mary's because it is a nice large wilderness, with a nice swimming hole, fairly close to home.  Unfortunately, it has a few shortcomings.

My early trips have always been out-and-back to the falls using the lower trail from the FS road and parking area.  As noted in the description, this trail was badly damaged by Irene and only continues to deteriorate.  There have been a series of heavy storms and flooding events in this area in late 2010 and early 2011 and the lower trail has deteriorated noticeably in the past year.

This most recent trip was a two night backpacking trip in which we went in by way of the lower falls trail, camped the first night there and then moved in the morning to the campsites near the intersection of Mine Run trail and the River trail.  This was a lovely camping spot - there are several great sites right next to the river and we brought a filter so we had all the water we could ask for.  We did the rest of the loop with just day packs.

This is not an 'easy' hike, but it is moderate; the climb from the valley up the river trail to the Green Pond area is pretty vigorous for the last short stretch, but most of it is moderate to flat.  This would be a tougher climb with a full pack.  However, as the loop is laid out, it's not bad at all.  If you were set on camping at Green Pond, you might reverse the direction since the climb up Mine Run Trail seems easier than the other (though it's also steep).

The other unfortunate part was just that views were only so-so, except from the Flint Mountain overlook.  Still, not crowded and fairly clean.

 

 

Name: Jeff                                                                                                                Hike: Roaring Plains Circuit
Date: 10/21/11-10/23/11                                                                                   Rating: 5+

Critique: Amazing hike, I appreciate all of your hard work putting this page and hike together.  I won't lie and say it was easy but my buddies and I found all the trails, including the infamous tee pee trail. Your directions were invaluable and the trails were just as you described.   We put an extra cairn in the campsite where the tee pee trail intersects the canyon overlook trail at the campsite as we had a little bit of difficulty finding it for a minute.  My only regret for the whole trip was when we walked out on the canyon overlook trail, it was fogged in, I can only imagine what that must look like on a clear day.  When my knees forgive me for this trip, I definitely plan to go back.  Thanks for everything, it was probably the best trip I have ever been on and certainly an amazing adventure.

 

 

Name: Keith Selbo                                                                                                   Hike: Brown Mountain - Rocky Top Loop
Date: 10-15 to10-17-2011                                                                                    Rating: 5

Critique: Perfect for a fall hike. Cool temperatures, leaves falling like multi-colored snow, grand vistas, roaring rapids, peaceful valleys, dappled autumn shade and a harvest moon you could read by -- what a hike!

 

 

Name: Steve Appler                                                                                                Hike: Hybrid - Roaring Plains Circuit-modified
Date: 10/7-9/11                                                                                                     Rating: 5

Critique: My brother Greg, my son Austin and I just enjoyed a backpacking trip using mostly the trail described here as the MNF-Roaring Plains/Hidden Passage/Canyon Rim Loop, but we didnt turn off at the Tee Pee Trail, but instead followed the Canyon Rim Trail all the way to its junction with the Roaring Plains Trail before returning on the Roaring Plains Trail route.

This was an arduous backpack trip and for those who would prefer to enjoy the spectacular views without the chore carrying a heavy pack through some very difficult terrain I would suggest setting up a base camp as described in Roaring Plains Base Camp and Day Hike and make the Canyon Rim Trail a day hike. M.R.Hyker suggested that to me, but I had to try it.

We reached the western end of the South Prong Trail (also the FR19 end of the Boars Nest Trail) about 5:15pm on Friday and started hiking down the South Prong Trail at 5:35pm. I had not thoroughly read the hike description on this site. Don't make that same mistake. Instead, I followed the trails that came with my Garmin GPS. We got into big trouble. We turned left before reaching the South Fork of Red Creek (this was the mistake) and followed what we thought was the South Prong Trail for some time before it disappeared. (Disappearing trails was to be a frequent theme for this whole weekend trip). We knew we needed to eventually ford the creek, so we bushwhacked our way down a very steep slope through very dense laurel thickets until we reached the creek, crossed without much difficulty and then had to contend with even more dense thickets on the other side. Eventually, we struggled up that steep slope and found a very faint South Prong Trail. By now it was getting dark and we donned our headlamps. We crossed FR70 in the dark and found a group of cars parked there. Ive backpacked there numerous times over the last 20 years and have usually found the gate to FR70 to be locked at FR19, so dont count on driving down this road for a short-cut. We climbed the steep slope up to where there is a great streamside campsite (as described in MNF-Roaring Plains/Hidden Passage/Canyon Rim Loop) and we kept moving on. Very shortly after that we located (actually, my GPS located it and I was damn happy about that) the intersection with the Hidden Passage Trail. I had downloaded the trip coordinates from this site which were extremely helpful throughout the trip since trails were constantly disappearing. (We ran into some hunters training their dogs to hunt bear who said that there were 9 of snow up there the week before and that had obscured many trails by beating down grass and foliage over the trails).


We followed the Hidden Passage Trail (generally) for awhile until we simply lost it. By this time it was about 9:00pm and we decided to give up on the trail and just walk straight to the waypoint of our campsite destination. That wasnt easy since theres a lot of spruce in the way, but we emerged into a semi-meadow area where we found a trail and finally a spectacular site with moonlit views of about 180 degrees. We set up camp and we collapsed. It was about 10:30pm.

We woke to an extremely beautiful scene. Mountaintops far below us rose above mists in the valleys. The leaves were near their colorful peak. The cranberries and blueberries were fiery red and the sunrise lit this spectacular scene magnificently. In my 30+ years of backpacking this was among the most impressive campsites I've experienced. My thanks to M.R. Hyker for bringing this (among many other great trips) to my attention.

We packed up in the morning and enjoyed an easy hike through very Dolly Sods-like plains cranberry & blueberry low-growing brush with grasses and low laurel thickets interspersed with spruce groves until we arrived at the pipeline where we turned left. We delayed making our turn onto the Canyon Rim Trail so that we could enjoy the overlook we found at the top of the pipeline rise. Then we turned back and turned left into the Canyon Rim Trail. Or, so we thought.

If you read the trip description here you will read that the Canyon Rim Trail is the most difficult trail to find. That is VERY true. First, do not follow the obvious trail through an established streamside campsite and down the mountain. Its seductive, but its wrong. We only missed doing that because my son, Austin, pointed out that going down just didnt match the topo there. We then widely and systematically scoured the area looking for any sign of trail and found nothing. (There was another hiker who was looking for that dead tree with a sign in it as described on this site that tree must have fallen down. We met him a long time later coming in from the other direction because he could not find the trail). We had just decided to give up finding the trail and to simply bushwhack our way from GPS waypoint to waypoint starting with a small meadow when the aforementioned hunters came through the meadow towards us. We asked if they knew where the trail was and they responded that we were on it. That's when we learned that the previous weeks snow had caused many mountain trails to be obscured. Once we made our way across the meadow we found and lost the trail numerous times in the dense laurel thickets. We followed the advice of the hunters and MidAtlanticHikes.com and kept the canyon rim close on our left and this worked fine, though the hiking here with packs was exceptionally difficult in the brush and with the constant, though gradual ascent.

There are spectacular overlooks all along the Canyon Rim Trail. The Point is especially beautiful and wide ranging. There were so many views that we started to pass some by and others provided wonderful excuses to remove our loads and to spread ourselves on the cool rocks in the warm sun. It was glorious weather.

We passed a couple nice campsites along the rim, too, though none had the open views of our first nights site. We came across a long section where we had to jump from rock to rock to stay on trail. Thank you to each of you who placed the cairns along that path or we could possibly still be there. That section seemed endless and the trail promptly disappeared again on the western end.
We never noticed where the Canyon Rim Trail met the Tee Pee Trail, but we found the dry campsite that was mentioned there. We knew we were nearing our destination for the night at the junction of the Canyon Rim Trail and the Roaring Plains Trail and since that area was said to be dry we chose to pump water from a small spring under a rock near the dry campsite. We could actually hear the water running behind the rocks. M.R.Hyker had warned me that the water was dirty there, but it looked clear. Of course, he was right and it clogged my filter even through my pre-filter. I found the same thing back in June when I pumped water out of Red Creek down near The Forks. There's some kind of mineral in that water that just clogs filters badly. We got enough water to get by, though, and kept on going.

We collapsed on one more rock outcropping and not long after leaving there stomped through a bog at the edge of some clearings in the spruce and followed the trail up a gentle grade until we finally made it to the trail junction where we found about 20-30 tents already set up. Apparently there was a Washington Backpacking club who came in via the Roaring Plains Trail. There was plenty of room for us, though, and we set up on the edge of the camp with a nice overlook of the valley to the southwest.

The wind howled all night. Over the years Ive found that is typical of most of the Dolly Sods and the Roaring Plains area. We camp in hammocks, so we got a nice rocking motion all night. That is, when we didnt feel like we were being blown out of the trees. We packed up late Sunday morning, doubled back to the Roaring Plains Trail which was our first clearly marked trail of the weekend. It was well blazed and wide open. As a matter of curiosity we found that end of the Tee Pee Trail as we passed by. There were colored flags hanging in the laurel there and my GPS confirmed we were at that junction. We stayed on the Boars Nest Trail, descended, found the pipeline and turned right, and shortly after that came to the end of FR70 onto which we turned left. There were about 10 cars parked there which we passed and shortly afterward we turned left onto the Boars Nest Trail.

The Boars Nest Trail is well marked, wide open and from FR70 climbs steeply for short time before leveling out. There are some great views across the open mountains, meadows, more spruce groves, more laurel thickets and brilliantly lit deciduous forest all around us. Then, we began the painful descent back into the South Fork of the Red Creek valley that lasted more than a mile. I had photography equipment and my load was much weightier than I prefer. Going downhill hurt. We finally made it to the creek and rested. Then we turned our sights to that last very steep climb back to the car. We headed out to Seneca Creek to eat badly and drink great beer in celebration of one more excellent trip.

I'm going back there, but next time I'm going to alter my route and trim my load back to my normal almost ultra light weight. I like long distance backpacking trips, but this trip was long, difficult and with a heavy backpack it wasn't as easy to enjoy the magnificent sites as it would be with a lighter daypack. I'll probably make base camp near where we spent our first night this trip, take the Canyon Rim Trail (now that I know how to find it) as a day trip, turn off at the Tee Pee Trail (if I can find that end of it), turn right onto the Roaring Plains Trail and when I reach the pipeline turn right and walk the mile back up the pipeline until I turn left onto the Hidden Passage Trail and back to camp. Look for me there in a few weeks.

 

 

Name: gale                                                                                                               Hike: Bull Run Mountain Conservancy
Date: 10-16-2011                                                                                                   Rating: 5

Critique: this trail for me was perfect in distance, and the incline to top, with absolutely a beautiful view on top..-- this has to be a secret for Northern VA!! I had found through searching on web-- & never heard of it before....

 

 

Name: Donna Miller                                                                                                 Hike: Big Schloss
Date: September 30 - October 2, 2011                                                               Rating: 5

Critique: This is one of my very favorite hikes. We usually do a 1-2 night backpack on it. Parked at Little Stony Creek Parking lot.

Walked Little Stony Creek Trail to Tuscarora Pond Run Trail, to Half Moon, to Half Moon Lookout. Camped at Halfmoon Lookout (not the greatest/flattest site, also dry, you'll need to fill up on water 1 mile before--but the views off the cliffs and up top Halfmoon Mt. are incredible).

Next day, reverse, same trails to Mill Mt. Took Mill Mt. to Big Schloss, nice campsites up top BS, if you can get them (dry, too). We kept going on Mill Mt. to the mountain ridge above Wolf Gap. Social trail goes off to left when trail goes right off/down ridge. Social trail leads to several nice tent sites. Again, dry. You'll need to walk down to Wolf Gap (steep) for water. Worth it though.

Last day, we hiked back out on Mill Mt., to Big Schloss cut-off trail, back down to FR 92, 1/2 mile to Little Stoney Creek Parking Lot, and our car.

Loop of about 20 miles total. Very, very pretty, not taxing, great views when leaves are down. Temps Sat 45 degrees, with rain and wind. Blah. Woke up to 35 degrees Sunday. All in all, in was a miserably fun trip.

 

 

Name: Tom O'Donnell                                                                                             Hike: Tuscarora-Standing Stone Loop
Date: 10/09/11                                                                                                       Rating: 4

Critique: I looked at several of your posted hikes in this area and decided on this one in hopes of getting some ridge top views of fall color. I missed the peak of color, probably a week early, but that really didn't detract from the enjoyment of the hike.
The trail is easy to follow, well blazed, with junctions marked with signs. The climb up Todd Trail wasn't as bad as it appears from the elevation profile (climb took 30 min.).
Description of "Extremely Rocky" is appropriate for the ridge-top portion. Rain or ice/snow could make this section treacherous. Views are spectacular and many interesting rock formations.
There is some road noise from Allens Valley Road on the Tuscarora Trail section, but the Standing Stone portion seems very secluded.
Although there were hundreds of people in the park on a beautiful fall day I saw only one other hiker until I got to the Knobsville Road section where I saw some folks headed to the overlook. Really enjoyed the hike, Thanks for posting. I'm looking forward to the other hike from Cowans Gap SP in the future.

 

 

Name: Jonnie                                                                                                           Hike:  Roaring Plains Base Camp and Day Hike
Date: Oct 6-9, 2011                                                                                                Rating: 5

Critique: As FR 70 was open to the pipeline, we 4 brothers ages 61 to 69 drove to the pipeline and set up camp 100 yards up the pipeline. Next day, we hiked up the Roaring Plains trail, missed the left turn on the TP trail to the rim as there was an attractive young gal standing in front of the cairn and the trail was overgrown, hiked ~2 miles farther to a nice spruce sheltered campsite on the rim with fire ring and overlook. Reversed direction on RP trail, turned left on unknown trail that we were told would take us to the pipeline a mile from camp. But the trail petered out after a rock field so we reversed again and arrived back at camp.
Next day, hiked southeast on the pipeline to where the "jeep trail" meets the pipeline (nice site nearby with fire ring but no water). Using map and compass (bushwhack needed) we took a heading of 220 degrees from north to end up where we wants to be on the rim, crossed Roaring Creek, eventually picking up the rim trail for the next mile or so.
Views along the rim were gorgeous--deciduous trees in a riot of color down to the bottom of Long Run Canyon, blue ridge after blue ridge to the horizon, deep green of the spruces, scarlet blueberry heaths, grey sandstone rocks, deep blue sky--doesn't get any better.
Continuing on the rim trail, we passed a couple of nice sites with fire rings but no water, missed the TP trail turnoff (what else is new?), carefully picked our way down the "mother of all talus slopes" following the cairns, lost the trail at the bottom, bushwhacked up to and along the rim for another mile or so til meeting the Roaring Plain trail again, and back to camp on the RP trail.
Many folks camping there that weekend , including a group of 16 Washington Backpackers who filtered in between 8pm Friday and 2 am Saturday, and 2 truckloads of bear hunters and bear dogs on Saturday.
The TP trail needs clearing at both ends, rock/boulder fields tricky, several unmarked trails present, map/compass/GPS recommended.

 

 

Name: Matt                                                                                                               Hike: Roaring Plains Base Camp and Day Hike
Date: 10/5-7/11                                                                                                     Rating: 5

Critique: Great hike but you really need to study the maps and trail descriptions. You can easily get lost if you miss a turn. Some of the trails seem like animal paths because they are so narrow. The description provided is excellent as long as you have a good sense of direction.

I lost my way for a moment when I took the group down the Tee Pee Trail to cut over to the Roaring Plains Trail. The problem is the Roaring Plains Trail is only blazed in one direction (three times over 2 and a half miles). So if you take this shortcut be sure to turn right when you hit the trail junction with the old log in the ground. There were two orange markers in the trees to mark the trail head.

I managed to lose my Canon digital camera somewhere between The Point and the intersection of the Tee Pee Trail with the Roaring Plains Trail (taking the Tee Pee Trail instead of continuing on the Rim Trail). I know this is a long shot but if anyone finds a camera please
contact me.

 

 

Name: Mark T.                                                                                                          Hike: Susquehannock Loop (23miles)
Date: October 8 - 10, 2011                                                                                    Rating: 4+

Critique: Wonderful hike. Total solitude. No bears. Delicious organic apples on trees from old farmsteads long gone. Gas line side hike was much tougher than description said. Straight up and down 4 - 5 ridges. Twin Sisters Trail is a good exercise in finding trail blazes non-existent at times. Big Pool and Hammersley Creek were beautiful. Fall views from the meadow were awesome. Do the hike in the fall. And...the Bubba Burger at Bea's Biker Bar after 23 miles in 2 days on a lean diet was awesome.

 

 

Name: Joseph Dooley                                                                                             Hike: Nicholson Hollow - Corbin Hollow Loop
Date: 10/8/2011                                                                                                     Rating: 3.5

Critique: Not many people know or care about this hike, as obviously the main draw is and always will be Old Rag. The weather was ideal for this time of year (sunny, low 48, high 74), calling for two layers, one of which I stripped off at about 10 in the morning.

The first few miles along the Hughes River are a real treat. The area is well-shaded, the water is refreshing, and theres tons of boulders and fallen trees to climb.

The climb to Corbin Cabin is hardly noticeable; its the Indian Run Trail that will gas you. I noted two bear spore on the trail, but no bears, fortunately.

I enjoyed myself so much on the river that I opted to return via the Corbin Mountain Trail eastbound, figuring I will experience the Corbin Hollow Trail at a later date, probably coupled with Robertson Mountain.

Leaving Indian Run Trail, the Corbin Mountain Trail is pretty ho-hum for the first two miles, with one partial view of Old Rag to the south. Then the trail descends steeply to the river. This downhill section seemed to last forever. I couldn't believe I had gained this much elevation at the outset of the hike. Acorns covered the trail, making it slippery in spots. I had one close call, sliding about 6 feet off the trail, and arrested my fall by jamming my toes into the loose earth. I guess that's nature's punishment for my wandering off the trail guide!

All day I saw only one hiker but I passed six backpacking groups, half of them headed up Nicholson Hollow Trail as I made my way back to the parking area. I enjoyed this hike, but the only reason I would return in this direction would be to play on the Hughes River again, or combine it with some of the other trails around Catlett Mountain.

 

 

Name: Mothman                                                                                                      Hike: Dolly Sods Circumnavigation
Date: 9/23-25/11                                                                                                   Rating: 4.5

Critique: Epic weekender. Dolly Sods North is fantastic when it's not completely fogged in. I had covered the Wilderness a few years ago via the Fisher Spring Run Trail, and completely missed out on the North region, although there is a great big view of the Wilderness from an overlook on Fisher Spring Run that I never got from this.

A few trip notes:
- In the middle of day 1, where this hike description describes the Timberline Vistas, if you stay on Rocky Ridge, you'll pass Harman Trail. I didn't see it described and figured it out, but just FYI.
- Not sure if I did something wrong trying to visit Lion Head, but I never saw the "small stream" five minutes from the cairns. I'm not positive it was the right cairn, because I came to a nice overlook and judged that my dog probably wasn't going to be able to get up to the top of Lion's Head, but it certainly seemed that I had hit the "labyrinth of trails" (and had gone well over half a mile) and just never saw the stream. It's been pretty wet, so probably not just a dry or seasonal stream.
- I slipped three times my entire hike, all three times on the Little Stonecoal Trail. Usually pretty surefooted, this trail was a pretty serious down, rocky, and seems never to get sunlight. Word to the wise.
- Reiterating Moonshine's review, at the Dobbin Grade terminus of the Upper Red Creek Trail, there's an apparently unavoidable 20 meter beaver pond ford. Take your shoes off; I nearly lost a flip-flop in the unbelievable muck.
- I probably saw 20 people all weekend when I did the Wilderness only a few years ago; I must have seen about 100 total on this trip (although that included a boy scout troop). Still, a great, great hike.

 

 

Name: Ed                                                                                                                  Hike: Chuck Keiper Trail - East Loop
Date: 6/10-12/2011                                                                                              Rating: 4

Critique: Our first backpacking experience, and this trail was great. The trail notes were accurate and help us out. We had a map and GPS, which help us when we did not follow the trail notes. When we hiked the trail, we came to part of the trail between mile 15-19 where there were some trees down. Ok, there were over 30 full trees down and covering the trail. With full backpacks we were hiking over them and around them. There were nice camping areas for small sites, and water sources were abundant. There was even a spring with running water to refill your bottles.

 

 

Name: Joseph Dooley                                                                                            Hike: Big Schloss
Date: 10/01/2011                                                                                                  Rating: 3

Critique: The middle portion of this hike between the Sugar Knob Cabin and the unnamed vista was tedious, but it got better towards the end. On a cool, windy October day I hardly noticed the 1,500-foot climb up Little Stony Creek Trail. It's a gentle ascent that literally anyone can do. At various points I heard rushing water but could not see where it was coming from. It was only further on that I discovered the source of the sound. There's a spring underneath Mill Mountain! I hadn't read up that much on the hike and was pleasantly surprised.

The views were very good as it was a clear, windy day. I could see all the way to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Once you reach the bridge you see why it was built in the first place. A dangerous class 3/4 scramble would have to be attempted to reach the true summit.

The weather forecast called for a rain/snow mix on Big North Mountain on Oct. 1. Remembering how the meteorologists botched the previous weekend (calling for 2-4 inches across Maryland when in fact we received almost none), I chanced this hike and was rewarded with decent weather. I was surprised, however, at the number of people on the mountain. I encountered about 20 hikers and 2 camping parties.

The descent back down to FR 92 is the steepest portion of the hike. I was glad I was descending this section, not ascending it. Just off the trail, there are many scrambling opportunities, but watch out for thorns.

NOTE: Finding FR 92 for the first time is tricky. It's made of gravel and the only signage is a stop sign. Someone has painted "92" on the back of the stop sign in 3-inch high letters. If you cross into West Virginia, you know you've gone too far.

 

 

Name: Sarah Alice                                                                                                   Hike: Ramsey's Draft Wilderness-West
Date: 10-1-11                                                                                                          Rating: 5

Critique: I love this area. We hiked this loop as an overnight on October 1st and were surprised when almost an inch of snow that fell in the evening. There were a few fallen trees across Ramsey's Draft trail and Shenandoah mountain trail but overall everything was well maintained and the area was beautiful as ever. Keep in mind there is no reliable water on the Shenandoah mountain trail. It was nice to see that there are still some healthy looking hemlocks at the higher elevation!

 

 

Name: Bryan                                                                                                            Hike: Jenkins Gap/Hickerson Hollow
Date: 9/24/11                                                                                                         Rat