Last Updated: 07/28/2014
Welcome to a web site full of information on hiking in the Mid-Atlantic Region (PA, MD, VA and WV) ... topo maps, 3-D maps, elevation profiles, GPS data, directions, trail notes, photos.... everything you need to prepare for an excursion into the wilderness. Information for 317 hikes and over 3,645 trail miles are now available. Venues such as, but not limited to, Shenandoah National Park/VA, George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, VA and WV, the Monongahela National Forest in WV, state forests throughout PA, Green Ridge State Forest in MD and regional, state, county and federal parks throughout the Mid-Atlantic region are represented.
"Yet in the walks I take through nature in quest of truth and demonstration, I recognize a poetry in earth and sea and sky, ruled in their cycles of harmonious actions, deeper and more sublime than ever muse un- taught in science could inspire." William B. Rogers: First State Geologist of VA, First president of M.I.T. and namesake of Mt. Rogers, Va.
Latest Published Hikes
Three Ponds Loop, PA
.Bark Camp Lake Loop, VA
05/03/2014: "The Mid-Atlantic Hiker's Guide: Central Maryland" is now finished. It includes 45 day hikes from the shores of the Chesapeake Bay to Catoctin Mountain and from the Potomac River to the Mason-Dixon Line. The one hundred and eighty-four page book uses the same format as the West Virginia book (below). Orders are being taken.
After two years of hard work my first book is finally finished - Orders are now being accepted: The Mid-Atlantic Hikers Guide: WV. I've teamed up with Scott Adams Enterprises to produce a two hundred and eighty-nine page manuscript complete with large topo maps, elevation profiles and waypoint tables, all keyed together to totally integrate the hiking experience. There are sixty-four hikes in all, ranging from a 2 mile flip-flop walk to visit the beautiful Sandstone Falls on the New River to 25+ mile, three day, strenuous forays into the wilderness areas of the Mountain State, and all other kinds of hikes in between.
M. R. Hyker's Latest Adventure(s)
07/26-27/14: Quebec Run Wild Area Overnight Backpack: Some friends and I had previously explored this area on a day hike while camping at Cooperís Rock S.F., WV. I was so taken by the beauty of the forest that I promised myself I would return to spend the night there. I had originally schedule an arduous 3 day trip on the central part of the Laurel Highlands Trail but recent issues concerning what Iíll call trail fatigue made me reconsider the venue Ė downsizing to something that I was comfortable with and perhaps even prettier. Hardcore, Short Stack and Brendon met me at the West Friendship, MD park and ride and we made the 3 hour drive uneventfully except that a fawn ran out in front of my truck just 10 minutes from the trailhead. I totally ran over the poor thing but was amazed to see it run up a hill and out of sight as I looked in the rear view mirror. We met Lisa (a rookie) and Tracy exactly at 12:00 at the west parking lot on Rt 2001 Ė Skyline Drive. I planned the hike such that we would explore the upland hardwood forest first by following the Hess Trail to its terminus at the north parking lot. The towering maple, poplar and oak with a thick understory of ferns were something to behold.
We passed through several moist coves full of Rhododendron treating us to the last of their blooms. We took a break at about 2.5 miles (the Brocker Trail) and then another at 3.5 miles at the intersection with the Rankin Trail. We dropped our packs and explored a couple of awesome campsites buried under the Hemlocks along the upper reaches of Quebec Run. The canopy was so thick it almost seemed like it was nighttime. I imagine it would be hard to wake up a sleeping camper in the morning. Up to this point we had been hiking mostly downhill. The next mile required us to climb about 500 feet but only a couple of short sections were steep. We were in no hurry so took another break at the north parking lot before continuing on the Miller Trail which descends to Mill Run, gradually at first but then plunging steeply through a majestic Hemlock forest. We turned right onto the Mill Run Trail and soon found ourselves crossing Quebec Run on a stout bridge. The site that we wanted to camp at was already occupied but another 200 yard walk through giant Hemlocks brought us to an equally nice site complete with a fire ring and shallow swimming hole. The water level was low, revealing most of the rocks in the stream but the pool was deep enough to allow a weary hiking a chance to refresh and relax.
Distance: 6.8 miles
E.G.: 500 feet
The last weather forecast called for severe thunderstorms rolling into the Bruceton Mills area around 7:00. At a quarter til we heard the rumbling coming in from the west. We hastily finished up our dinner and hung the bear bags with about fifteen minutes to spare before all hell broke lose.
Let me tell you, Iíve camped out in the rain before, even thunder storms, but Iíve never experienced such a violent storm up close and personal like this. You know how youíre supposed to start counting when you see the lightning until you hear the thunder to estimate how far away the strike was? Well, many of the strikes occurred after 1000 Ö! I never got the ďand oneĒ out. Although it seemed longer the most intense part lasted about an hour. There was a light shower afterward but another storm hit a few hours later, not quite as intense but enough to shake the ground under us. After that episode a gentle rain fell until the wee hours of the morning. It was also amazing to just lay on my mattress and listen to the previously gurgling Quebec Run turn into a raging torrent. The next morning all of the rocks in the stream were hidden under the rapidly moving chocolate water.
Another bad weather event was supposed to come sometime after 12:00 so we broke camp early, wet gear and all, eating mostly snack bars and Pop Tarts for breakfast. We were on the trail a little after 8:00. Initially the hike continued to follow the west bank of Quebec Run with a few more campsites under the majestic giants before veering away from it and climbing steeply up a badly eroded road to the junction with the Tebolt Trail. There was a little bit more climbing after we turned onto it but for the next mile we enjoyed relatively flat to downhill walking through a hardwood forest as we did the day before. At the bottom of the descent we caught a glimpse of Tebolt Run (It was also raging.) but the trail soon gained a bit of elevation to follow the stream from above. We could hear it but couldnít see it. The next mile was a roller coaster affair with short ups and downs as the trail crossed several streams that are usually considered part time but not today. We were making good time so we took a 15 minute packs off break at the Quebec Run Road crossing. As we continued the hike we were once again plunged into the world of Hemlocks and Rhododendron thickets. The trail zig-zagged as it crossed a tributary of Tebolt Run on a bridge before joining an old railroad grade. There were a few flat stretches but generally speaking we were mostly walking uphill, gradually at first but steeper near the end. We had already climbed 500 feet. Over the last 2 miles we would climb 700 more. We had to splash across the stream towards the end. The stream was running so high that part of it was flowing down the trail between the two fords, making its own shortcut. As we approached the parking lot spur the grade steepened but I pushed on to meet the rest of the crew
at the trail junction. We were out of the woods by 11:30. We changed our clothes and headed for the Little Sandy Truck Stop for brunch before heading home.
Over the last 10 years I have sampled many of the backpacking venues that the Keystone State has to offer and, as far as sheer beauty goes, this one has to be in my top 10 favorites.
Distance: 5.9 miles
E.G.: 1200 feet
Latest Outing Critiques
Name: Mike G. Hike: Trout Run Valley Circumnavigation
Date(s): 07/18-20/14 Rating: 4
Critique: We did this hike in the direction laid out in the narrative. Our first day, we left Wolf Gap at 9 am, and headed north. Be forewarned that the well pump at Wolf Gap is broken, and has been since last fall. After a steady, but not too grueling climb, we reached the side trail where the vista was awesome from Big Schloss overlook. Back on the main trail, we reached the Sand Spring area, which was the first water we spotted that day. The water was flowing well, but had an odd chalky taste despite being filtered. We then reached the Tuscarora trail intersection, where there was no sign pointing out the TT, but it was obvious to go straight since the blue blazes were easily spotted. There was a confusing intersection where a steep jeep trail comes down from the left. Do not go that way. Just a little ways past that jeep trail (perhaps a half mile tops), we arrived at Day 1 camping at the intersection of Half Moon and TT. Good campsite, and as noted below in another critique, plentiful water flowing just before the bridge you cross before getting to the camp. Day 2, we went on down the Half Moon Trail and a couple of us hung up our packs on nails in the tree at the intersection and went off on the Half Moon overlook trail, which was an easy mile each way...there was some sort of small outlook structure up there built of stone, and the view was nice, although not as good as the Big Schloss view. Continuing on, generally downhill, we reached a really nice campsite with a creek..this was the intersection of the Bucktail Connector Trail. I think this would be a great alternative Day 1 campsite if you wanted to push on a little further than where we camped. We followed the directions given, and reached the end of the Bucktail Connector. The left onto the orange blazed Bucktail trail is more like a merge, and that trail is a very wide grassy fire road. Go down just a quarter mile or so, and reach a nice set of benches and take a break! Once we got across Trout Run Road, we began a big ascent up Long Mountain Trail. Much of this trail is an old fire road, and there are lots of grassy clearings, as described...the rock field is pretty daunting, yet lots of fun. Eventually you will reach a creek (I believe the one MR Hyker says is the last creek .64 miles before the Ben's Ridge site). There is a really nice site on the right just after that creek, back in the woods a ways, with a big fire ring. It would be a great Day 2 site if you are too weary to make it to his Day 2 site at Ben's Ridge. We went on to Ben's Ridge, which was pretty decent. A big clearing, but definitely slanted slightly, with a fire ring to the right. No sign of a spring anywhere, but a nicely flowing creek is just south of the clearing. Not obvious, but as you walk south, you will see the creek getting a little closer to the trail (it never crosses the trail). Day 3...from the Ben's Ridge site, it's a pretty steady and long climb, but eventually we came to a forest road and turned left...there is a nice campsite at this junction, but no water. Hike about 2 miles on this gravel road, and you will come to a very unceremonious trail head for the Tibbet's Knob trail on your left. A trash filled fire ring, and space for tent are there. The trail is pretty rocky and gets sketchy, but it is well blazed...eventually you reach the Knob, and it is one of the best views I can remember. You then descend, very steeply for a while, then the trail becomes more gradual. Just when you think you are about to reach Wolf Gap, you have to make one more pretty steep climb up a hillock, with great views as your reward. Then a short downhill hike afterwards puts you back at Wolf Gap. A great hike overall, and I think going in the Fall for color, or in the early winter or late winter before the trees leaf out would make it even better as you would have great views from the ridges.
Name: MSF Hike: Volkswagen Circuit
Date: 07/20/14 Rating: 4
Critique: Overall a very enjoyable hike. The highlight has to be the cascading stream in Clifford hollow, whose trail crossing make for good lunch spots. The abundant mountain laurel suggest late May/early June would be the best time to hike. Although the weather was beautiful for late July, we only saw 3 mountain bikers the whole hike. One note, the sunken jeep road is severely washed out and a few bad blowdowns significantly impeded the path. Mountain bikers have cut a parallel path to the south and west of the road that would be advisable to follow instead (can be picked up by following single track path to left of Catoctin Trail on the south bank of the sunken road crossing).
Name: Diane and Dave Hike: Hammersely Wild Area
Day(s): 07/04-05/14 Rating: 4+
Critique: My wife and I did this backpack and dayhike over the July 4th weekend. We followed Mikeís directions completely. I even downloaded his GPX route onto my GPS. It made finding the start of the bushwack real easy. Being the holiday weekend we did encounter 7 other backpackers, 2 dayhikers, and a trail maintenance volunteer. The pool was beautiful, deep, and cold. The gas pipeline was rather steep at times. The views from the wild fire meadow were great. The ferns in the meadow were hip high. The blazes along the Twin Sister trail were a mixture of rectangles and circles, either orange or yellow or both (one on top of the other). Finding the start of the bushwack was made easy as the 3 rock cairn is now a 5 rock cairn and itís right in the middle of the trail. The bushwack down the Dry Run was trying at times since the valley was chock full of Stinging Nettles. We tried hiking along the side of the run and at times down the middle of the creek. Whichever route had less nettles. There were also a lot of blowdowns which made the going more difficult. After the backpack we enjoyed the bubba burger at Debís Cross Fork Inn and ice cream at the general store across the street. Iíve attached photos of the parking area in front of the DCNR garage, the start of the trail along Rte 144, the start of the gas pipeline, the end of the pipeline at the gravel road, the 5 rock cairn signifying the start of the bushwack, the bushwack down Dry Run, and the humongous bubba burger.
Name: Michael Hike: Mid State Trail-Old Tram Trail Loop
Date: 07/05/14 Rating: 3
Critique: This is a fairly nice hike, exhibiting typical central Pennsylvania terrain (ridge and valley, mountain laurel). Probably best done in early June when the mountain laurel is in bloom. We did the loop as a quick backpacking trip to try out some new gear and found that the trails (other than MST) are somewhat poorly maintained, though all trails described here were easily passable as of hike date. One MAJOR inaccuracy of this hike description is the absence of the described campsite at the junction of Old Tram and Cracker Bridge trails. We had planned on camping there, but when we reached the trail junction (no sign), we found that it was impossible to turn right onto the trail, as described. I took off my pack and bushwhacked in a ways finding a bridge, as though there had once been a path there, but it has truly and utterly disappeared. Continuing on along Old Tram trail, we did find a small campsite on the left after a short distance, as described. This site was basically "carved out" of the laurel and offered space for maybe one tent, but was a bit claustrophobic feeling with little available wood for a campfire (you'll need one to deter mosquitoes if nothing else). We passed up this site and found the grassy clearing on the right a little further along. You'll have to keep your eye out and walk off of the trail a few steps to the right before it opens up, but this is the largest laurel free and relatively rock-free space you will find on the hike. It is actually a beautiful grassy area with some tall trees, downed trees, and scattered rocks. There is a good space for one two person tent near the fire ring, which we rebuilt from an old one. There is probably space for one to two more tents, as well. Best of all, there is actually a bit of decent firewood in this clearing (otherwise hard to find in this hardwood/laurel/wet terrain). We left a few pieces stacked so as to stay dry near the fire ring ;) It is a decent, quick, overnight with an ok campsite (grassy area) if you want the trail to yourself... Plus, you can swim when you get back to the park!
Name: Richard Hike: Canaan Mountain Loop
Date: 07/04/14 Rating: 3
Critique: 4 stars for solitude minus a star for trail conditions and less interesting stretches on the road. In mid summer the seeps and mud holes might be fun for the mountain bikers but can lead to blistered feet. Many overgrown spots on these trails, but overall not hard to follow despite minimal markings. One clarification - the campsite near the fork of Lindy Run on Plantation trail is only about 80-100 yards from the stream still at the base of the hill. The directions to climb up a short hill confused us and we passed the site multiple times. The ferns had grown over most of the meadow and obscured the fire ring and rock furniture so it was hardly recognizable as a camp site. Very nice site once there. Would be interested to see if conditions are more favorable in fall and winter.
Name: Chris Hike: Roaring Creek Tract - Backpack
Date(s): 07/04-05/14 Rating: 5
Critique: My wife and I wanted to go for an overnight hike with the dog, and this one looked to be close enough to home to be a last minute decision. We started around 8:45 in the morning on July 4th expecting to hit lots of crowds. WRONG!!! Absolutely peaceful. The only people we saw were on the main trail. The trail itself was marked fairly well, with a few questionable intersections at the beginning. We thought the campsite would be crowded out because of the awesome weather on the holiday weekend, WRONG AGAIN!!! We were the only ones there for the night, we arrived at the campsite at 2:15, and had peace and quiet the whole night. This was our first time camping without a group, and I must say, in an unfamiliar place, I was quite paranoid, but didn't let on to my wife, about the possibility of a bear encounter. But, with our 85 pound black lab with us, I knew we had a good warning system in place. The night was uneventful with nothing but the sound of owls and bullfrogs. The next morning we were up, packed, and ready to go at 9:15, we continued on the well marked trail around the reservoir and back to the gravel road, where we finally encountered people. We made it back to the car by 11:45. Overall great hike that could be done in one day if you planned on it. Very easy overnight that leaves you with plenty of time for R and R. Bring cards or a book, you'll have plenty of daylight. Thanks for the great trail directions and map MRHyker! I'll continue to follow your backpacking trips!
Name: Dan Hike: Black Forest Trail-Total
Date(s): 06/28-29/14 Rating: 5
Critique: Did the entire loop over 2 days. Absolutely beautiful and I saw no over night backpackers anywhere. Be prepared for a lot of ups and downs but they are well worth it. The vistas, creeks, waterfalls are just outstanding and I'll definitely be back to hike some of the sections I really liked with my son. I had planned on a three day hike but since I did 19 miles the first day and there were possible storms Sunday night I figured I could do the last 24 miles Sunday. I paid for the 24 mile Sunday hike with sore quads and hips that night. My recommendations for anyone doing this is to go light and enjoy. No need for heavy boots and packs that weigh 40+ lbs. I cowboy camped Saturday night under the stars and listened to the bubbling brook for music. I would not do this hike clockwise do to some of the ascents. Counter clockwise is the way to go. Be alert for the wildlife. I almost got it from a rattle snake by not paying attention to what I was doing. Go out and do this hike. Its a true gem of Pa and take Pictures!
Name: Eaglescout/Outdoorsman Hike: Brown Mountain-Big Run Loop
Date: 06/28-29/14 Rating: 5
Critique: I do a lot of backpacking in the Shenandoah National park. I decided to do a loop on Brown Mountain trail this past weekend, with the return being on Rocky Mountain Run Trail back towards the parking on skyline drive. I have done other hikes in the Big Run area but I had never done Brown Mountain trail before. The area is one of the most wild areas in the park. The trails are usually narrow, and can be overgrown at times. However, while the rocky and rugged terrain is hard to navigate at times (especially with backpacks) it will reward you with several nice views of the Big Run Wilderness area. Definitely bring a camera. You will come to multiple places with rock outcroppings where the outcrops will reach above the trees. You can climb several of these to see stunning views of the valley, Rockytop, and Big Run trails. MOST DEFINITELY Bring bug spray that will deter ticks. I remembered from my experiences with Rockytop trail that the ticks were really bad in this area so I opted to bring "Deep woods Off" repellent for both mosquitoes and ticks. I must say, I have NEVER, seen that many ticks. And what really surprised me, I didn't have a single one on my body. I found them inside my tent the next morning, in my backpack, on my clothes and even on my sleeping bag, but even after a thorough check I discovered no embedded ticks or bite marks. (Thank you bug spray) There were lots of Dog ticks and Lone star ticks, so again, I would highly recommend some form of bug spray. We camped on Big run portal trail which gave us two leisurely days worth of hiking. The valley surrounding Big Run as well as the canyons of Big Run are well worth exploring, providing great views and unspoiled wilderness. Overall one of my favorite trips in the SNP
Name: Paul Fofonoff Hike: Big Blue-Vance's Cove
Date: 6/14/14 Ranking: 4
Critique: I scouted this trail, day-hiking on 5/31/14, and then led a group backpacking on June 14-15, for the DC Chapter of the Appalachian Mtn Club. On my scouting trip, there was a spectacular display of Fringe-Tree in the open meadows on the ridge- I'd give that one a 5. By mid-June, the blossoms were gone, but there was still lots of Mountain Laurel. The group included beginners and rusty backpackers, and this hike was a good fit, with moderate grades, good views, and a chance to see a mountain sunset. The consensus for the group was 4 out of 5, The one major change in the trail is that the Gerhardt Shelter trail has been recently altered to add switchbacks. The upper sections are a rough bulldozer trail, and it's now about a mile from the shelter to the spring. so if you're backpacking, top off your water at Terrapin Spring. One more warning- the shelter was swarming with ticks, so we all used our tents, and had to check frequently. Over all, this is a great hike, I've posted a report and photos at http://www.amc-dc.org/tripReports/2014/GreatNorth0614.pdf Happy Trails, Paul