Return to the main
trail and continue north. For the next 1.19 miles the trail is
mostly flat as you walk across a saddle to the junction of the
Landis trail on the right.
Pass Landis Tr and
continue straight on the North
Fork Mt Trail and descend
to avoid a posted Peregrine Falcon nesting area. As quickly as you
descend you will change direction and climb back to the top of the
ridge. Look for a side trail that will take you out to an area I
call “Table Rock” for obvious reasons. Besides views to the south
and west you get an impressive view north of the focal point of the
hike, Chimney Top.
Continue north on The
Fork Mt Tr for about
another 0.5 miles to a lesser overlook. As you leave the vista the
main trail will slide down off of the ridge but a footpath will
continue along and/or right behind it, close to the rocks. This is
one of the side trails to Chimney Top. At some points it may look
like the trail ends but a quick step up onto a large rock will put
you back on it. Walk through some pitch pines and avoid the
temptation to look out into the valley. At a sandy spot the trail
makes a sharp left. It’s a matter of climbing up onto a rock outcrop
to arrive at your destination. Another option is to pass this
sketchy trail and continue a short distance to a more obvious trail
marked by cairns. Turn left and climb
until the trail seems to stop at a long rock. Step up onto the rock
and connect with the previously discussed trail. When traveling
north I like to take the first one in and the second trail out for
After taking in all
the grandeur that the North
Valley has to offer, return
to the side trail that goes back to the main trail. You can either
go all the way back or look for the other trail that descends more
quickly to the main trail. It is just beyond the pitch pines you
walked through earlier and requires you to steep down off of the
rocks to reach it.
Regardless of which
trail you take back to the North
Mountain trail, proceed north
on it. At intervals of 0.21, 0.19 and 0.29 miles come to even more
vistas. Down in the valley you can see Smoke Hole Caverns and the
Town of Cabins. Looking north you
can see New
From there it is a
relatively rapid descent, via switchbacks, to get back to your cars.
Return at approximately 1.66 miles from the last
Hike: North Fork Mountain
Date: 10/11 and 11/21/2009
An early start from Pittsburgh had me at the north trailhead by
first light. It was pretty gloomy, but just bright enough to notice
that the trees were clad in full fall finery. 50yds into the hike
and a beautiful stand of trees stalled forward progress almost
before I even got started.
After regaining focus I headed upward on a consistent, but
relatively gentle slope. The light improved steadily and I knew that
it was going to be a glorious day. Not much happened until I crested
the ridge. The views were quite spectacular. Fog still hung in the
valley below thought it was burning away quite quickly. Shadows
nestled in the various folds of Shroud Ridge, across the Potomac
River valley. It was all quite peaceful.
Well not completely peaceful: a goodly amount of elevation gain
still remained. Thankfully though, it was all in the open now, and I
didn't even notice the climb up to Chimney Top. I had initially
thought that Id travel further along the ridge, but my camera
developed various issues, so I decided that enough was enough and
headed back down.
Stats (round-trip): 5.7mi, 2000ft (cumulative) gain:
North Fork Mountain: Landis Trail North Fork (Nov 21, 2009)
A month earlier I had been stymied by camera problems and had had to
cut my hike along North Fork Mountains ridge crest short. It was
time for a return. Another early start (3:30am from the house) had
me at the Landis Trail trailhead and on my way by 7:30am.
I was immediately struck by the change in scenery: it seemed that
fall had moved its magic from the trees to the ground. Leaves,
leaves and more leaves. The trail was thick with crunchy goodness,
at times ankle deep. In no time at all I was rolling around on the
ground taking photos. Chestnut and Red Oak leaves, intermixed with
beech (I believe) created pretty patterns and color contrasts. Quite
I reached the ridge crest and decided to head south since Chimney
Rocks, which I had visited earlier, were just north of me. One
spectacularly craggy viewpoint after another made an appearance
(though none quite as nice as Chimney Top). Eventually, I reached
the 3653ft North Fork high-point, where I turned around.
Stats (round-trip): 7.5mi, 2000ft (cumulative) gain:
Name: Craig Hardy
Hike: North Fork Mountain (Entire Trail)
We had a group of six do this hike from the south to north in early
January. We started hiking Friday night around 9:30 pm once we got
our vehicles situated. We shuttled ourselves. It was a clear night
for the most part, and the snow cover of 2-4inches actually helped
us navigate the trail. We hiked in about 6 miles before setting up
camp. Temps were cold but normal for that time of year, (mid20's I
recall.) Saturday morning, we woke up to partly cloudy skies and a
great view on both sides of the ridge. As we hiked, we made our way
past the glider launch and down to the mid-way parking lot. Then it
started to rain, and then freezing rain. By this time we were almost
out of water. I carried about 4 liters in, and the rest of us had
various amounts. Our biggest mistake was hoping to rely on snow melt
for our water source. (The rain melted the snow along the way.) The
one really big drawback to this hike is that there is no water along
this trail whatsoever. We almost made do with a couple of puddles
near the top of the mountain by the tower, but I don't think that
any of us were that desperate at that point. We trudged through
Chimney Rocks and down to our vehicles after a 17+mile day. We
originally were going to camp Saturday night, but with the freezing
rain and no solid water source, we opted for the truck and a hotel
in Franklin. Great trip overall, but I cannot emphasize enough, that
you must pack in enough water or stash it midway to do the trip as
there is no source along this ridge trail. What awesome views of the
valley below on both sides most of the way. You can even see Seneca
Rocks below you.
Fork Mt Shuttle
Date: 05- 25-27 2007
Critique: I hiked all 24 miles of the trail from south to north in
three days with a group of nice folks that I met on online forums
Smiley, Mellew and Oh 7016. We all enjoyed the scenic overlooks and
watching the birds fly in the thermals coming over the mountains. I
highly recommend this trail cause of the great views and the
beautiful campsites that are close to the trail. The only complaints
I have is the weight of the extra water I had to carry, the last 2.5
miles of downhil and I wish the weather was a little less hot/humid,
But at least it didn't rain on us during the trip.
North Fork Mountain Shuttle
Date: May 3-6, 2007
I thought this hike was outstanding and I've hiked and climbed in
the Colorado Rockies, Grand Tetons, Mt. Rainier, and Canadian
We started at the Redman Run Trailhead in the late afternoon, hiked
up the mountain a couple miles and found a great first camp for 5
backpackers. Very nice overlook into the valley below.
Next day we hiked north on the trail to Chimney Top. Another great
overlook and view of the ridge looking back to the south.
We found a camp near Chimney.
Next day we hiked down the mountain a few miles to the Potomac for
water. We were going to do a water filter pump fill up but found
some cabins and housekeeping let us in to fill water bottles at an
inside sink, which was very nice.
We then turned around and hiked back up the mountain. This was by
far the toughest part of the hike but very doable. I think a lot of
people don't go down the mountain and turn around a go back up, but
we thought what the heck, we have the time and it's great exercise.
Also, some nice lookouts along the ridge looking to the north.
This same day we hiked back to the first night's camp because we
liked it so much and it had abundant room to spread out.
Next morning we hiked down the mountain which took less than an hour
back to the vehicle. We were back at the vehicle by 7am for the
12hr drive back to Grand Rapids, MI.
So... we did 3 nights total and all in all had a great time.
Overall based on our timeframe this was a very relaxing hike, it
had some moments of pushing up the mountain but nothing too extreme.
Maybe one slight negative was you could hear traffic sometimes on
the ridge from the valley road below, but other than that, Beautiful
Make sure to stop by the Seneca Rocks visitor center and check it
out. Nice spot to get more details on trails and do some additional
planning before hitting the trailhead and... the rocks are are nice
to look at.
North Fork Mountain
9/04 Ranking: 5
Critique: We did the whole 24 miles. Used 3
cars. One in the middle with more food and water. This trail is like
a fireworks display. You start out on the South End with the little
cliffs and then work your way up to Chimney Top which is the finale.
Chimney Top is awesome. I called the big chimneys "the old men"
cause the limestone looks wrinkled, and they almost seem to have
some sort of consciousness or presence. Especially if you are there
Boettner Hike: North Fork Mountain Shuttle
9/09/2005 Ranking: 4.5
Critique: We started from the top of North Mtn,
near Judy Gap on Rt. 33, and hiked the whole trail, 23.8m, which
came to end on Smoke Hole River Road (below Chimney Rocks). We
started at 10am and got to Redmund Trail around 6:30pm - about 16m -
and camped out for the night. The next day we left camp around 8am
and finished up around 11am.
In retrospect, I would have camped the first night at the
water drop off - forest service road 79- near the big bend in the
road. We decided to carry water with us instead, which is good and
bad. Good b/c you don't spend so much time preparing for the hike
when you get there, and bad b/c it's a lot of weight.
Starting at the Redmund Trail, as outlined above, is the
most scenic part of the trip. We hiked on the weekend after Labor
Day and only saw one other human being on the trail (and that was
close to the end).
The hike is not difficult and maintains a level grade for
much of the hike. There are only two spots, coming from the south,
with strong upward grades. But neither of them are long, maybe .5