Allegheny Mountain-Seneca Creek Loop

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Description: This is a 12.7-mile moderate circuit hike through hardwood forest and along beautiful Seneca Creek. The length of the hike would lend one to rank this as a difficult outing but the minimal elevation gain (500 ft over 4 miles and then 900 ft over the last 5.5 miles) and excellent trail conditions make this a very moderate day hike. There are a couple of slick parts on the rapid 900 foot descent from the ridge to the creek at the mid-point. Approximately 6 wide stream crossings on the final 5 mile leg also add to the adventurous nature of this outing. Alternative footwear should be considered here.

Make sure to stop and explore all of the waterfalls. Some are hidden behind Rhododendron thickets and require some bushwhacking to visit.

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Printable/Downloadable Map

Printable/Downloadable Map

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Trail Notes: All trails are signed at trail junctions. All blazes are blue plastic or metal diamonds. From the parking lot take the Seneca Creek Trail (TR515), through a rapidly growing Red Spruce forest, for 0.9 miles to the junction of Tom Lick Trail (TR559). Turn left onto Tom Lick Trail. Cross a meadow and then the headwaters of Seneca Creek on a footbridge.

Gradually climb up to the crest of the ridge on an old forest road. In about a mile, come to the junction of Allegheny Mountain Trail (TR552). Turn right.

Walk on a nearly level trail for the next 4 miles, first on a forest road and then a footpath towards the end. You will alternately walk through mature stands of deciduous timber and wildlife clearings. Shortly after turning onto Allegheny Mt. Trail you will pass North Prong Trail (TR528) on the left and at 0.7 miles Leading Ridge Trail (TR557) also on the left. In another 0.25 miles, walk through the 4-way intersection with Swallow Rock Trail (TR529), staying on the Allegheny Mt. Trail.

After 1.4 miles from the last junction, cross the intersection with Bear Hunter Trail (TR531). In about a mile arrive at a large clearing. The trail is a footpath at this point and may be hard to follow in summer months. The continuation of the trail is nearly straight ahead at about the furthest distance from where you entered the clearing. There will be a blue diamond blaze on a tree marking the trail.

Shortly after re-entering the woods you will pass Spring Ridge Trail (TR561-not highlighted on the map) on the left and arrive at the Horton Trail (TR530). Turn right onto Horton Trail and quickly descend to the valley below, there are a couple of slippery rocks on the trail that need special attention. Otherwise the descent to the valley floor is easy. At the bottom you will meet the first of 5 or 6 stream crossings.

Cross Seneca Creek and climb the opposite bank to reach an old abandoned railroad grade. This is Seneca Creek Trail (TR 515).

 Although it appears you could go either way, the northern part of the trail (downstream) has been closed due to storm damage and is not maintained. Turn right (upstream) here and in about 0.5 miles come to a great campsite and Seneca Falls, one of the best lunch spots in the Mon.

The trail back to the cars is rather obvious from here. For 5.0 more miles gradually climb out of the valley as you visit many falls, rapids, slides and wading pools. You'll cross Seneca Creek five more times on the way out. I tend to wear whatever is on my feet for the remainder of the hike. You could lose an hour of travel time changing boots at every stream crossing.

After the falls, continue upstream passing the junction with the Huckleberry Trail (TR533) on your left. Soon arrive at your next stream crossing. Cross and walk through another excellent camping area in a grassy clearing. The exact locations of the remaining crossings elude me but they are there.

In about 1.6 miles from the last trail junction look for a little unmarked side trail to the left that leads to another campsite across from a waterfall. This one is unique because it has an old grist stone from a mill long ago abandoned/destroyed as a functional tabletop.

Return to the trail, pass Bear Hunter Trail on your right, and soon arrive at the premier campsite in the valley, Judy Springs. It is not uncommon to find 10+ campers here at peak season. Above this clearing, Judy Springs Trail (TR512) crosses a footbridge on goes left. Dont cross the bridge but stay straight along the west bank of Seneca Creek.

In about another mile pass Swallow Rock Trail on your right and then in another 1.4 miles the familiar Tom Lick Trail that you traveled at the beginning of the trip, also on your right. In between take note of a large marshy area on your right. This used to be a large beaver pond but the dam ruptured a couple of years ago and the tenants never rebuilt it.

Retrace your first 0.9 miles back to the cars.

Printable/Downloadable Directions and Trail Notes

Critique this outing!



Name: Kim                                                                                                                  Hike: Allegheny Mountain-Seneca Creek Loop
Date: 11/20-21/2011                                                                                              Rating: 5

Critique: We did this hike as an overnight backpack. FR112 is now paved all the way to the intersection with FR104. At that point it becomes gravel but is very well-maintained and was no trouble at all, even in my little Honda Civic! Day one we hiked from the trail head, up the Tom Lick trail, up the Allegheny Mountain trail, down the Horton trail, and then along the Seneca Creek trail to our campsite. Notice I mentioned "up" several times. Despite the small elevation gain, these trails just seemed to keep going up! Switchbacks were practically non-existent. Note that along the Allegheny Mountain trail, the sign for the Bear Hunter trail is practically destroyed and is marked as trail 529 instead of 531. It's correct at the intersection with the Seneca Creek trail, though. Once reaching the Creek we crossed probably 5 times on our way to camp. Water shoes are a great idea and the water is freezing! It was worth it though to camp at the site with the waterfall, "den" of tables, love seat, and fire pit, and "kitchen table" made of an old grist stone. This is easily the best campsite I've ever found! The second day was an easy hike along and through Seneca Creek back to the car. I'm sure these trails are packed during the warm months but this weekend it seemed like we had all of Spruce Mountain to ourselves! We saw only one other person on day one and two others heading to Judy Springs while we were hiking back to the car.


Name: Mark & Dottie rust                                                                                         Hike: Allegheny Mountain-Seneca Creek Loop
Date: 11/06/2010                                                                                                     Rating: 5

Critique: originally we planned to do a one-night backpack, but w/ temps calling for 19 degrees, we decided to car camp instead. we camped Friday & Saturday nights in a local campground, Yokums--nothing fancy, nothing bad but will use seneca shadows next time. Saturday a.m. we drove to the trailhead for our hike. while up on Allegheny Mt. trail, we realized the weather was quickly deteriorating. we used bear hunter trail as a bail out, hiking to Judy Springs campground earlier than planned. after a quick lunch stop, we hiked out on Seneca creek trail. total hike was 9 miles, not the 12.7 we planned. all trails were marked, though some signs have been well-chewed, so carrying maps is essential. the snow-covered woods were indeed lovely. thanks, mike, the website descriptions were perfect. we'll return to complete the hike.


Name: Casual Hiker                                                                                                  Hike: Allegheny Mountain-Seneca Creek Loop
Date: 05-29 to 31-2010                                                                                           Rating: 4

Critique: I'm adding comments to the Alleghany Mountain-Seneca Creek loop description, even though I didn't do the complete loop, to describe a beginner backpacker's alternative. My husband and I didn't trust ourselves to be able to get all the way to Seneca Falls by way of Allegheny-Horton with our packs in one day, so we did an out-and-back on Seneca Creek trail, with a day hike to High Meadows in between (see day hike description under "Big Run-Seneca Creek-Lost Meadow Backpack" elsewhere on this awesome site). This is a great option for beginners, as (a) Seneca Creek trail is mostly flat, (b) a water source (the creek) is readily available, and (c) there are numerous, and beautiful, campsites all along the trail on the way to Seneca Falls. An all around beautiful weekend. I took off 1 point for (a) the popularity of the trail (but that's to be expected given the waterworks) and (b) the condition of the trail. Horses are permitted on Seneca Creek, and manure was liberal
ly strewn across the trail when we were there over Memorial Day weekend. As you purify your drinking water from the creek, I would suggest keeping in mind that the trail includes multiple stream crossings (and the trail proceeds downstream from the trailhead).

This website is the go-to source for hiking in the mid-Atlantic region. Thanks Mr. Hyker!


Name: Koyote                                                                                                            Hike: Allegheny Mt.-Seneca Creek loop
Date: 5/12/07                                                                                                           Rating: 4

Critique: The 4 rating for this backpack is due to the trail conditions that existed at the time of this hike. That being said, This is a 5 otherwise, due to the most incredible campsites imaginable. The scenery along Seneca Creek Trail is awesome! The hike directions are wonderful, as always. The Tom Lick trail is a steady climb, but not too bad. the problem is the number of blow downs on the trail. They become a bit frustrating when you have a good pace going. I do not believe these are too recent, as side trails are already starting to show. The Allegheny Mt. Trail is fairly uneventful, but the meadows, I found, are really beautiful. The crickets were so numerous as to make the grass seem to move and make a noise. Side trails make shorter hike options if time is an issue. The return leg on the Horton trail is quite dangerous. One large rock over the trail is flat and very slippery. Be careful here. I also came to a large section of trail that had washed away. In some places the trail crumbled off the edge as I walked. Torrential rain did not help at this time! Use extreme caution! The trail drops off precariously to your left as you descend. Once at the bottom, be prepared for the first stream crossing. This was knee deep at the time, due to the heavy rain. You will quickly come to the first of many gorgeous campsites and Seneca Falls. I stayed at a site just up from here, with a waterfall coming off the mountain and a swimming hole at the site as well. From this area it is just over 2 hours out to the parking area. You will pass numerous other sites and so many waterfalls and water slides to count. If possible, take time to enjoy this incredible scenery. The Seneca Creek trail is quite muddy in some areas if it has been wet lately. Watch for deep mud. There was also a number of blow downs from the storm I experienced at the time of this hike. Hopefully trail crews will be out to this area soon. There were a few groups out, but more than enough sites to choose from. This is a must do for any backpack wish list. Spruce knob is nearby for some spectacular views and photo opportunities.


Name: Tony Van Vugt                                                                                               Hike: Allegheny Mountain-Seneca Creek Loop

Date: 9/24/2005                                                                                                       Ranking: 5


Critique: Wow! One of the prettiest stream hikes in the mid-Atlantic. With campsites that are hard to beat. If you like to BP make sure you add this fantastic hike to your list. You'll be back again and again!


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