Stone Tower Loop


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Description: For more information about Saint Anthony’s Wilderness and SGL 211 see the Rausch Gap Loop. Although this hike is shorter than the other SGL 11 hikes described on this site it is much more “rustic”. Although their ancestors were also old haul roads and tram grades, these trails have a much wilder , rugged feel to them. Most have more vegetative encroachment than experienced elsewhere and are considerably rockier in places. Add to this two very significant, nearly vertical rock scrambles (both up and down) and you have one very challenging hike. From a historical viewpoint you’ll visit the name sake of the hike, the Stone Tower, which is actually a chimney or air shaft used during coal mining times, The ruins of the village of Yellow Springs and the ever popular General, an abandoned “steam” shovel (actually powered by an internal combustion engine but the thought of steam power is a lot more romantic) trapped by trees that probably weren’t even seeds when its fate was dealt to it. A keen ear and eye will help you locate an orange spring created by acid leaching of a hidden coal mine and perhaps one of the few vistas in the entire venue.

The hike starts at a small pull over marked with double blue blazes on a tree on Rt 325. It will be hard to spot.




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Trail Notes: From the pull over follow a trail to Clark Creek. During periods of normal or low water flow it is a relatively easy rock hope. At 0.2 miles from the road the blue blazed Sand Spring trail continues straight up the mountain. Bear right instead onto a pink blazed connector trail. Enjoy a pleasant hike through dense Hemlocks and moss covered rocks for 0.9 miles where the red blazed Stone Tower comes in from the right. Continue straight on this trail. In 0.3 miles arrive at a yellow blaze straight ahead. I’ve been informed by the folks that work on the trail system that this is a bogus trail. Turn left and follow the red blazes. The trail soon disintegrates into a steep talus slope. Continue to follow the red blazes , some on rocks, straight up for about 0.3 miles. Here the trail bends to the right joining an old tram grade. Small loose rocks continue for a while but the pitch of the grade lessens dramatically. After another steep but short climb reach yet another grade, this one nearly rock free. In 1.5 miles from turning left out of the valley arrive at the junction of the yellow blazed Yellow Springs Trail on the right and a blue blazed connector on the left. Follow the blue connector and in 0.1 miles arrive at the Stone Tower. After examining this industrial artifact continue on the blue trail for another 0.4 miles. This is the intersection with the AT and the site of what was once the village of Yellow Springs. Turn left and follow the well manicured AT for 2.1 miles and turn left onto the blue blazed Sand Spring Trail. Cross Raucsh Creek and in 0.3 miles from leaving the AT bear left onto an unsigned but otherwise obvious trail. In 0.2 miles reach the General and all of its rusting glory. Retrace your steps to the Sand Spring Trail, passing a spring contaminated by acid run off to the right, and turn left. The trail immediately begins a steep rocky climb. As you reach the summit, look for a yellow blazed trail on the rightthat leads to a nice vista. From here the trail begins a rapid descent through a rock field, similar in difficulty to the initial climb but perhaps harder on the knees. About halfway down the trail joins what seems to be an old skid road as it travels through a dense Hemlock forest. In 1.1 miles from the summit the trail rejoins the earlier pink connector. Cross Clark Creek once again and retrace your initial footsteps back to your vehicle.

Critique This Outing




Name: lwtrekpa                                                                      Hike: Stone Tower 

Date: 11/15/14                                                                                                        Rating: 4.3


Critique: Directions are pretty spot on. As far as trailhead goes, your are more apt to see blue spots on tree off 325 heading east away from Deharts reservoir then you will be coming west. A good guesstimate would be that the trailhead is 1.5 miles away from inlet side of reservoir. Parking is best on opposing side of trailhead about 50 yards past (going east) the trailhead.
     This is definitely one of those circuit hikes that makes you feel like your in the middle of nowhere. Once on pink connector trail I did not hear any traffic at all from 325 the rest of the day. The climb and descent from Stony Mountain were both lung and knee testers. I would not recommend this hike for beginner hikers or for low cut/sneaker style boots.
     Was witness to grazing flock of turkeys as I reached the top of Stony mtn just before Stony Tower. I was amazed I could get my trusty four legged friend to sit still long enough to observe this spectacle. Stone Tower and village of Yellow Springs are a testament to the will of man to succeed and overcome any obstacles be it elevation, terrain or inclement conditions. Ran into some weekend warrior AT hikers at Stone Tower and their 4 legged friend. The kids had a good romp thru the woods. Thanks to these guys I got an education on merino wool (check it out!!!) Its well worth the price even if it's not 100%).
      This was the prettiest and most manicured section of the AT that I have hiked on thus far. I embellished the serenity that this section of the trail lent me.
      Had lunch with the "General" as there was makeshift fire pit and logs surrounding it that made it an ideal place to stop and try regain some energy before the ascent back up Sharp Mtn.  The vista from the yellow blazed trail is "ok". One has to be a bit of a mountain goat to get out onto rock and stay on the rock to get most from the vista.
      If you have done any of the other SGL 211 loop hikes this one has to be on your bucket list for sure.


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

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


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: 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.


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