Hull School Tr/Thornton River loop


Description: This is a moderate 8 mile circuit in the north district of SNP. The loop is formed using Hull School, Thornton River and Appalachian Trails. The highlights are the north fork of the Thornton River (with a pair of small falls as a lunch spot), an abandoned old car and the views from Byrds Nest # 4. In the winter and early spring views of the surrounding peaks are available on the initial descent. The first couple of stream crossings can be challenging during periods of high water.


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The trailhead parking area has a signed concrete post.



Printable/Downloadable Map

View 3-D Map

Zipped National Geographic. TOPO! GPS and Universal GPX Files

GPS Text File for Non-TOPO! Users



Trail Notes: All trail intersections are marked with concrete posts. Trails are well blazed. The trailhead for the Hull School Trail is just north of the parking lot. Follow the yellow blazes down into Thornton River Hollow. The tread is mostly an old fire road. There is a couple of places where the trail leaves the grade on a footpath. At 2.11 miles ford Thornton River. In a few more yards arrive at a 4X intersection with blue blazed Thornton River Tr. Turn left onto it. You will cross the river several times as you hike up the valley.

In a little more than a mile arrive at a pair of small but nice waterfalls. This is a great lunch spot.

Continue up the river. The trail will soon leave the valley and begin switchbacking up to Skyline Drive. Shortly after leaving the river pass the hulk of an old car on the right. In three miles from the last trail intersection arrive at Skyline Drive and the parking lot for the Thornton River Trail.

Turn left onto SLD and walk a few yards south on the shoulder. Cross the drive and climb steeply up the remainder of the Thornton River Tr for 0.25 miles to the junction of the AT.

Turn left (south) onto the AT. You'll walk under the Jeremy's Run Overlook. In 1.16 miles from the last trail junction pass a spur trail that leads out to Skyline Drive.

In 0.28 miles arrive at a 4X trail junction. Yellow Neighbor Mt Tr is to the right. The AT goes straight. Turn left onto a yellow blazed spur trail that takes you to Byrds Nest # 4. Soon pass another yellow spur trail on the left that also goes to SLD. Continue on the Byrds Nest # 4 spur for 0.5 miles.

After taking in the view finish the last 0.4 miles on a wide road which will initially be grassy and arrive back at your car(s).

Printable/Downloadable Directions and Trail Notes

Critique This Outing



Name: Michael Eckert                                                                                               Hike: Hull School/Thornton River
Date: 2/9/09                                                                                                              Rating: 4

Critique: Another nice mid-winter hike on a relatively warm day. Great views, even in the valleys, as trees are somewhat less dense through this area.

One mishap on the trail while crossing the Thornton River, as I slipped while crossing and took an unwelcome plunge into the river. There was no ice on the rocks, so I am assuming just some bad luck. I was using hiking poles and one bent as I tried to save myself. Very, Very cold water and I was completely soaked. Fell in backwards into a pool that was about 2 feet deep. Air temperature was around 50 and water probably in the middle 30s as ice/snow was along the banks. I can't say enough about wearing water wicking clothing. I quickly undressed, wrung the water out and redressed and then drudged uphill for about 3 miles. Within 30 minutes I had warmed backup. I did have an extra light jacket/wind breaker in my pack that was dry. Most items in my pack stayed dry as I got out very quickly. I was fortunate that I only hit my hip and wrist on rocks as I fell down. It could have been worse.


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