AT-Old Horse-Shoe Trail Loop


Description: For more background information on Saint Anthony’s Wilderness and SGL211 see the Rausch Gap Loop. Described here is a moderate 10.0 mile circuit (Add 1.0 mile if you do the out-and-back to the Stony Mountain Fire Tower.) with 1674 feet of elevation gain. The main draws of this hike have to be the broken views of De Hart Reservoir, the gap in Sharp Mountain and of Peters Mountain on the final leg as well as a taste of industrial history. Special thanks goes out to the Susquehanna Appalachian Trail Club who’s volunteers relocated part of the AT off of a badly eroded woods road. What is so amazing about the task is all of the stone work (large steps and bridges) through a veritable continuous scree field that they performed to make the traveler’s journey relatively comfortable.

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 The hike starts at the large parking lot where the AT crosses Rt 325.




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Trail Notes: From the parking lot cross Clark Creek on a concrete bridge. Almost immediately bear left onto the AT, an old road at this point. The trail leaves the road to the right on a footpath and arrives at the red blazed Henry Knauber Trail on the right in 0.50 miles. Continue on the AT as you climb obliquely up the northern slope of Stony Mountain. Rejoin the haul road in 0.95 miles. A sharp eye can spot old overgrown grades on either side. Pass a strangely out of place flat area along the grade with a fire ring in 0.38 miles. Since this is outside of the SGL it might be the only legal campsite in the area. For the next 1.53 miles enjoy broken views of the reservoir before arriving at the Northern Terminus of the 121 mile long Horse-Shoe Trail (H-ST). Turn right and follow the yellow blazes down into a gap in Sharp Mountain. On a clear day in winter you might be able to pick out one of the Hershey Chocolate plants in the distance. Arrive at an old haul road in 0.68 miles. Recently the H-ST was relocated, turning left here and following the road down to the S&S railroad grade. You want to ignore the blazes and turn right to follow the old route of the H-ST. The climb is very gradual as you gain the ridge of Sharp Mountain. Pass a large rusty water tank on the left and reach the southern terminus of the Henry Knauber Trail in 2.64 miles from leaving the “new” H-ST. In another 0.20 miles walk through a large grass field (perhaps a wildlife clearing?). Arrive at the junction with the Stony Mountain Fire Tower Road on the right in 0.78 miles. The Water Tank Trail will be on your right in about 0.10 miles. It might be hard to spot. When we did this hike it was marked with a 2 rock cairn. There are no trees to support blazes close to the road but you will see one back in the woods. Turn here and follow the trail for 0.19 miles. To avoid some excessive road walking turn right onto an un-named red blazed trail (previously pink).   

The descent is steep and rocky at first but lessens considerably as it passes through an area overgrown with low growing Striped Maple and Black Cherry trees. Here you will get views of Peters Mountain. In 1.01 miles from leaving the Water Tank Trail turn right onto a service road, the continuation of the Water Tank Trail. In 0.62 miles the service road curves to the left and re-enters a more mature forest. In another 0.37 miles arrive back at your vehicle.


Critique This Outing



Outing Critiques

Name: lwtrekpa                                                                                                                      Hike: AT-Old Horse-shoe Trail Loop

Date: 12/24/14                                                                                                                      Rating: 4.5


Critique: The is long hike, but not a majorly difficult one. Please plan time wise for this hike. I would venture to say at least 5 hrs if your going to take in glimpses of DeHart's Reservoir along AT, sign register at northern terminus on Horshoe, stop at Devil's Race Course, Water Tank, Stony  Mtn Fire tower,  lunch and water breaks and any other small venture you may encounter along way(i.e. Snakes, Deer, grouse, frogs, etc). I've done this hike the way described, backwards, used both the blue and H. Knauber trail to ascend and descend. Note, if you want more of a vigorous challenge,  do this hike in reverse or use the H.Knauber to ascend up to Old Horshoe Trail. Either pink connector or H Kauber are real good climbs up Stony Mtn. If one wants to shorten this hike slightly and still see all the sights but the actual water tank, I have an alternate route. When ascending Old Horshoe Trail and you see the start of the red blazed H.Knauber trail..turn right onto it and take it. this takes you thru a bit of a marshy area depending on time of year but climbs to the crest of Stony Mtn. Once there you will see a rock cairn where you can turn right onto red blazed H. Knauber and continue down Mtn or go straight onto a blue blazed trail. Follow blue hashes along a trail that takes you along ridge of Stony Mtn and winds up at Stony Mtn Fire tower. After spending time at tower continue on regular road that takes you back to Old Horshoe trail(people also refer to this as Ellendale road). I absolutely love this trail for the variety and time away from "it all"!  During hunting seasons please wear at least some orange.



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

Critique: 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: chris rockwell                                                                                                             Hike: 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: Joe                                                                                                                               Hike: AT-Old Horse-Shoe Trail Loop
Date: 07/03/2011                                                                                                                 Rating: 3

Critique: Wow, this hike took a lot out of me. Granted it was very hot and humid, with it being July and all, but still it was one heck of a workout.

The AT portion is, well, like the AT. A big wide trail that is clear of brush, etc. You can catch plenty of glimpses of the reservoir. Once I picked up Horse-Shoe trail it became a little narrower, but a good trail. I suggest carrying a long stick or hiking poles. Crossing rattling run was about the neatest part of the trail, as you can hear the water, but cannot see it through all the rocks. Plus the boulder field is huge, about 20 yards wide, and as far as the eye can see. Once you pick up the 'old' trail, that is basically a road you can move at a good speed, as the road is very clear. Once you get to the top, the road becomes very grassy, and it would be wise to watch for rattlesnakes. I found one stretched across the trail, but they are easy to spot. Picking up the blue trail is tough, as I walked right past it and didn't see the cairn. It is more of a narrow deer trail at first, and I did see where some deer have been bedding down. I was pretty tired at the end of this, but it was worth it.


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