Caledonia State Park - Quarry Gap Circuit

Revised 01/10/07

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Description: Approximately 7.1 mile, moderate, circuit hike using park trails and the AT to form a "figure 8". Total elevation gain of about 1200 feet .... 400 feet in 0.5 miles. Take lunch in cool and refreshing Dark Hollow surrounded by Rhododendron Thickets, Hemlock trees and massive rock formations.

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Park in the second parking lot on the left after passing park office. Trailhead is at the rest rooms.


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Trail Notes: The white blazes of the AT are on the trees to the right of the rest rooms. Proceed south along the AT, passing the yellow-blazed Ramble Trail on the right and crossing a bridge over Conococheague Creek.

Bear right and begin walking on the berm of the old Rolling Mill Race. You will be surrounded by Hemlocks and Rhododendron during this segment of the hike. US 30 will be to your left.

At 0.45 miles the AT will turn left and cross the mill race on a narrow bridge. Continue straight along the mill race on now yellow-blazed Ramble Trail.

Cross the old Mill Ruins (probably the location of the water wheel). Descend through a swampy area on boardwalks and re-cross Conococheague Creek on another well-constructed bridge.

In another 0.68 miles, come to an intersection with an un-named blue-blazed trail. Turn left on this trail and soon cross a dirt road. Take a few steps to your left to regain the blue blazes. This is the beginning of the short but steep climb mentioned in the description. Climb to the top in 0.38 miles. An un-blazed trail comes in from your left. Turn right staying on the blue Trail.

The AT will come in at an angle from your right in another 0.28 miles. Continue straight on the white-blazed AT.

In 0.63 miles join Locust Grove Trail (a dirt road). Turn right. In a short distance (0.16 miles) the AT will turn left onto a footpath. This is part of your return route. (The segment you just walked between here and the last blue-blazed trail will be retraced on your return.). Continue straight down the hill. To your right is Quarry Gap Rd. Bear left, passing a yellow forest gate and crossing a stream filled in with gravel. This is Locust Gap Tr.

You will gradually ascend, passing some fenced in areas on either side. These are deer management study areas to see how a timbered area recovers without deer (They can't get in.) vs. when deer are able to feed on the new growth (the area you're walking through). Can you tell the difference?

Descend slightly. There will be a trail with blue blazes and a sign post sans sign on your left at about 0.68 miles from the forest gate (Hosack Run Trail). Turn left here, walking through a tunnel in the Rhododendron. (Note a drop in temperature.) Cross the stream. This is the best spot in the circuit for lunch.

After your break continue up the hollow, re-crossing Hosack Run. Climb steeply via switchbacks to the crest of the hill and a junction with the AT (white) at 1.13 miles from the last junction. Turn left on the AT. Cross a stream and a rock field before coming to the PATC Quarry Gap shelter in another 0.64 miles.

Proceed steeply  for 0.60 miles and rejoin Locust Grove Trail (dirt road). Turn right and soon pick up the AT on your left. Follow it past the blue-blazed trail on your right that you came up on earlier. Descend steeply for another 0.5 miles to the park road. Turn left and follow it back to your cars.

Critique this outing!


Name: Jim                                                                                                                 Hike: Caledonia State Park - Quarry Gap Circuit
Date: 8-20-11                                                                                                          Rating: 4

Critique: I completed this hike as part of a longer attempt to do 20 miles in one day. I tied it in with the Rocky Knob-Quarry Gap trail and did both in their entirety in on the same date.

The early portion of this trail follows the yellow blazed and VERY easy Ramble trail. It's quite scenic and the excellent directions made it idiot proof to stay on course.

A note of correction occurs with the "un-named blue blazed trail". It is now clearly identified as the "3 Valley Trail". The initial climb here is steep, but brief. Trekking poles were a real help here powering up the trail. When you reach the top, the "unnamed trail from your left" has now been blocked off by a wall of branches laid out in such a fashion as to keep you going the right way.

The trail meanders along the AT for a bit from here and eventually drops down to Quarry Gap Rd, where I parked for my second hike of the day. Once again the directions are crystal clear and the terrain is easy with very little climbing in this segment.

When you reach the fork in the trail, the sign post is now two marked posts, the left taking you up Hosack Run, the right continues the Locust Gap Tr. The quick left in to the rhododendrons left me almost claustrophobic. They were so thick but beautiful none the less.

The lunch spot recommended was scenic, but the gnats were insane when I passed through. I opted not to stop there and pressed on up the trail. When the directions indicate that this is a steep set of switchbacks, HE'S NOT KIDDING. While not as steep as the earlier climb up the 3 Valley Tr., it is a bit of a challenge and it's not a short climb. You'll want to stop for water at the top.

Once you turn toward the PATC shelter, it really is all downhill from there. There are a lot of large rocky areas so just be aware that trail runners may not be your best idea here. Once again, my trekking poles were an ankle saver. The shelter itself is beautiful and well maintained, a chipmunk makes it's home under the front porch. I was up to speed by this point so I just continued down hill and almost ran out of the bottom of the trail.

Overall, this is a fantastic and fairly easy hike. I'm very much looking forward to going back in the fall and trying it again when the foliage dies off a bit.


Name: Patrick                                                                                                           Hike: Caledonia State Park
Date: 07/15/06                                                                                                        Rating: 4

Critique: On a whim I hiked the lower 1/3 of this hike this morning. Of the 15 or so hikes that I have completed in mid-Maryland and south-central PA, this is without doubt one of the best. Although not at all challenging, the Ramble Trail is very scenic and follows a river for most of the run. The blue blazed trail and the loop it forms with a small section of the AT get the old heart racing and give one a sense of actually working towards the goal of getting to the top. The intersection of the AT and blue blazed trail has several fallen logs that make an ideal spot for a quick snack and drink of water. I look forward to taking in the entire loop at a later date.


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