All Outing Critiques
Name: Steve E. Hike: Roaring Creek Tract
Date: 09/13/14 Rating: 2.5
Critique: I did not heed the advice of an earlier reviewer and failed to call ahead to check the camping status. I arrived in the morning to discover the area is currently closed to camping. I had intending to stay one night, however decided to hike the loop in one day and substituted the Roaring Creek Trail for the South Branch Trail. Blazes are not the most obvious on Big Mountain Trail and there are numerous other paths leading in other directions. I went on a rainy day with low visibility and had a difficult time keeping the trail. There are some nice views of the reservoir, but make sure to call ahead!
Name: k8tlevy Hike: Old Loggers Path
Date(s): 08/30-31/14 Rating: 4
did this as a two day fast and light backpacking trip over Labor
Day Weekend - loved it, even though it rained like crazy one of
the days! Didn't see the road to Masten was out until we tried
to drive in on it Friday night. Luckily, the detour was easy to
Name: Wooly Bully, Shortstack, Christopher Robins Hike: Otter Creek Backpack (modified)
Date(s): 08/16-18/14 Rating: 4
Critique: Having a base camp in mind we changed this hike to proceed
directly to the waterfall area. We originally planned to camp at the
Otter Creek / Moore Run / Possession Camp Trail junction, but ended up
proceeding further north to find an open site. Busy day, lots of
campers. But easy to why so many come here, the falls and deep pools of
Otter Creek make for great swimming in about as scenic a place as can
be. At this point we decided to ditch the base camp and proceed with a
regular backpack. We stopped at a really nice site, where Moore Run
joins Otter Creek. We spend most of our time hanging out on the large
flat rock, real nice views upstream, downstream, and to the side with
Moore run flowing toward us. Pretty cool having dinner practically in
the middle of the creek! Chris made a great campfire, and we hung out
real late to
9:30 or so.
Name: Eric Hike: Pulpit Rock-Pinnacle Loop
Dates: 08/31/14 Rating: 4
Critique: Long rocky hike with good views as the payoff. Took much longer than anticipated due to rocky terrain. Bring plenty of water and watch for snakes... we saw two timber rattlers (a first for us in PA!) at the Pinnacle and some other hikers saw copperheads at Pulpit Rock. I would not recommend it for kids less than 8 or 9 years old unless they are accomplished hikers.
Name: Navig8tr Hike: Green Ridge North Circuit
Date: 08/16/14 Rating: 3
Critique: I took this circuit as an overnighter to test some new gear. I started near campsite 1. I was glad to find that the blazes were recently painted, and Pine Lick in blue, Twin Oaks in purple, unlike the description above. I ended up doing most of the circuit the first day, and camped in campsite 11. I was surprised to find all the small streams dry, and 15 Mile Creek was an occasional stagnant, muddy , shallow puddle. I took 2 liters of water and took the last gulp when I reached the car. Overall a nice walk in the woods, but maybe better for late spring when the water might still be flowing.
Name: Tim Hike: Morgan Run Loop
Date: 06/17/14 Rating: 5
day is it? Work it, work it...
Name: Ed S. Hike: Pond Run-White Rocks
Date: 05/18/14 Rating: 4
Critique: This was a good long hike, worthy for its good views and cascading runs. I think the Tuscarora/Pond Run summit vista is the best vista along the loop, though White Rocks itself also gives an expansive view of the Shenandoah Valley, Massanuttens, and Blue Ridge. Due to recent rain, the Pond Run section creek crossings were easy cold fords, with other areas of the trail becoming flood channels. The long climb up Pond Run gave me a good workout. The logging road section of the Tuscarora was basically a stream until the Racer Camp Hollow Trail, where the stream became a broad alluvial fan. Pink ladyslippers were prevalent throughout the highland parts of the hike. Waites Run was flowing very well, allowing good photographic opportunities, and it was very good the plank crossing along the Old Mail Trail was there, as fording there would be through thigh deep fast flowing water.
Name: Ed S. Hike: Kings Gap
Date: 06/01/14 Rating: 3.8
Critique: I made a variant starting from the pine plantation, perhaps a mistake as that area was rather buggy. It's a nice area, but there are plenty of better hikes in the greater Michaux area, and thus the lower rating. Most of the overlooks, except for at the mansion and Ridge, are all somewhat grown over. The mountain laurel was starting to bloom, and the ornamental Catawba Rhododendrons around the mansion were in full bloom; as were assorted flowers in the garden. Its lily pond had plenty of frogs plus some blooming lilies. The mansion was open, so I took a quick trek inside. (The photo is the fireplace mantle.) A bluegrass band was performing on the lawn outside, mostly Stanley Brothers covers. With the exceptions of the mansion area and the Scenic Vista Trail, few people were out on the trails.
Name: Shortstack and Wooly Bully Hike: Alleghenny Front trail-West
Date: 08/02-04/14 Rating: 4
Outing Critique: DAY 1: After checking in at the park office, we parked at the "upper lake lot", and proceeded north on the Shingle Mill Trail. The trail follows the Black Moshannon Creek. Even with the dark tea-colored water this creek provides for a great walk, with lots of twist and turns, some deep pools, and lots of rhododendron, Cardinal Flowers, and Joe Pye Weed along the banks. The large flat rock at around 3 miles makes for a great lunch spot. Farther along the trail we saw a dark, mucky spring with a few spots of contrasting white sand jetting out from the bottom. Moving sand this fast requires a substantial flow of water. At the end of the Shingle Mill Trail the AFT heads west, thru an active logging zone, past some overlooks of the I-80 viaduct, and then down to the bank of the Red Moshannon. We continued along the "Red Mo" to Sawdust Run, but couldn't locate the "DAY 1 campsite". No evidence of a road to the right leading down to the Red Mo. We found a pretty good tenting area around 0.1 miles past the run, on the left side of the trail, complete with a big flat rock for cooking and a conveniently located fallen log. 10.1 miles for the day. DAY 2: The day started with steady rain. At 6:30 the rain tapered off enough to let us cook breakfast and enjoy the wood thrush song , but then picked back up before we could break camp. We took advantage of the next lull to pack up our wet gear and head out along the AFT, in heavy rain at times. Six Mile Run made for a scenic section of the trail. The relatively consistent width and slope of the creek bed make it appear man-made in places, but the deep pools and fast flowing water made it very scenic. Lots of wood thrush song in the background, and some high pitched “screams” from the treetops. Possibly porcupine calls? The trail veers away from the creek, thru some pine plantations, and past Wolf Rocks. Aside from a geologist's dream of impressive scale, rounded edges, layers, slots, and overhangs at Wolf Rocks, there was an equally impressive mound of porcupine scat under one of the rocks. Upwards of 1/2 cubic yard, enough to demonstrate the angle of repose! At 13.5 miles for the day we stopped at a campsite under the hemlocks. Set up camp, waited out some more heavy rain, and turned in at 8:30. Lots of mourning doves, and a brief appearance by a whippoorwill. DAY 3: No rain! A few miles on the AFT, and then on to the Moss Hanne Trail. Great views from the extensive network of boardwalks over the marsh. Water lilies, cat tails, and blueberries! Lots of grazing along this section. Also saw some bushes that looked like blueberries but had red fruit. More wood thrush song, that same bird must be following us around the loop. Continued northward, thru more pine plantations, over a drier marsh area with expansive views, and then along the lakeshore back to the car. Blazing and signage made it pretty easy to stay on track. Over three days we saw no other backpackers on the trail. Just one trail runner, and then one family along the boardwalks. Even after factoring out the rain, the AFT-West was OK but not as nice as the other side of the loop, the AFT-East.
Name: Peter Fleszar Hike: Mid State Trail-Little Pine State Par
Date: 02/01/14 Rating: 4
Critique: I hiked part of this loop after completing my quest to hike the entire Tiadaghton Trail. When referring this hike to someone in a Facebook group I noticed a couple of things. First and perhaps most important, Happy Acres Restaurant has been tested and found excellent several times since I submitted the 2011 critique. Second, Spike Buck Hollow Tr south of MST does NOT continue straight west of MST, instead it quickly turns left/south heading down the drainage almost parallel to the narrow ridge, turning again at the bottom of the intermittent stream hollow to follow along left bank of Boone Run for a bit. The trail comes out on Boone Rd at an I-beam bridge over Boone Run, about at the 820' contour.
Name: Boondoggle Hike: Jeff Mitchell's Waterfall Wonderland
Date: 08/02/14 Rating: 4.75
Critique: A Great hike, very slippery, very demanding. The faster you try to go the more you get hurt... so just take your time. The bridge that had washed away has been replaced so it's much easier to get to. This is the 2nd time I've done the hike. The first time we got caught in a thunderstorm and had to take the haul road for the 2nd half of the hike all the way down. This last trip we were able to complete the entire trip. It took 7 hours total, but we did stop to look for a few geo caches and took 2 other breaks for eating and a 10 minute "let the feet dry out a little bit" break. The bugs were somewhat bad, and the plateau walk had some incredible mud pits, one which consumed my leg up to my knee...
Name: Reese Salen Hike: Pinchot trail
Date(s): 07/30-31/14 Rating: 3
Critique: Trail notes very helpful for the most part. It may be good to note that the trail does not follow alongside Sand Spring Creek, it parallels it but never descends to it. Water in Choke Creek and Butler Run in late July was slow moving and I didn't trust it enough to drink from the looks of the water. The footpath as you turn off Tannery Road toward Choke Creek is now signed with "Choke Creek Nature Trail"
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
Daye(s): 07/04-05/14 Rating: 4+
Critique: My wife and I did this backpack and dayhike over the July 4th weekend. We followed Mike’s 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 it’s 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 Deb’s Cross Fork Inn and ice cream at the general store across the street. I’ve 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
Name: Eagle Scout/Outdoorsman Hike: Old Rag
04/26/14 Rating: 5
Critique: I do a lot of Backpacking in the Shenandoah National Park (SNP). I've done Old Rag about 7 times. I decided to do it this time as a Backpacking trip instead of a hike. It was just as worth it, and the backpacks made for an extra challenge while scrambling the rock faces. This loop has gorgeous views, and excellent terrain. The rock scramble is arguably one of the best in Virginia. Bring plenty of water (at least 2 liters) and trail food. We got a late start (arrived at the trail head at 9:45) and had exactly the right amount of time to make it to a suitable area to camp along side the creek running by Weakley Hollow fire road. For as long as I can remember, the parking lot for this area fills up FAST. ESPECIALLY on weekends. I would always recommend getting to the parking lot by no later than 8. This hike can easily be done in 8-9 hours if you are in good shape. It's one of the best hikes in the SNP in my opinion, and I honestly cannot recommend it enough.
Name: Andrew Hike: Thickhead Wild Area/Detweiler Natural Area Loop
Date(s): 6/21-22/14 Rating: 5
Critique: Did a quick overnighter (5pm-9pm then 5am-8am) mostly following the route outlined on the web site, except I took the Shingle Path all the way up to Tussey Mountain Trail and looped back to Bear Meadows Rd. Some climbs are steep but mostly a very manageable hike. Scenery along the route is beautiful and the John Wert path is especially nice with centuries-old hemlocks. The suggestion for the campsite on the Greenwood Furnace Spur is perfect - very nice campsite on soft ground right alongside the creek. I made the mistake of leaving my breakfast (sealed in plastic bags) outside during the night and by next morning it's all gone-a sneaky black bear must have taken it. He even left all the utensils intact and did not touch my garbage bag at all.
Name: Mike C. Hike: Wildcat Mountain
Date: 06/01/14 Rating: 1
Critique: The Nature Conservancy has cordoned off everything but the main loop, making this a pretty boring (and short) hike.
Name: Dave Nguyen Hike: Pinchot Trail
Date(s): 13-15/14 Rating: 4
Critique: This was my first time solo BP trail, that from what I was reading was a good beginners course. Rained most of the time for the first day I was there (pants and socks were soaked). Overall trail guide was pretty accurate found all campsites w/o issues, trails were clearly marked, and elevation was no as severe as I thought. As previous hikers have commented it does get pretty rocky, especially the Northern Loop. I did the northern loop on day one, and finished the southern loop saturday into late Sunday. Overall a great trail once the sun came out. Pretty sights all around.
Name: Ryan Hike: Mount Rogers Backpack
Date: 06/06-08/14 Rating: 4
I am including
a 2000 word blog post I wrote detailing this trip and 25+
photos. Definitely feel free to take a
look at that to get the entire details of my trip. We had a
fantastic time and I definitely encourage anyone to do this
Name: Lefty Hike: Ramseys Dradt-East
Date(s): 06/07-08/14 Rating: 4
Critique: My sons ,both Eagle Scouts and I decided to do this hike over a weekend. They could easily hike circles around me and knowing this to be a difficult wilderness area gave me concern. We decided to hike in to Hiner Springs on Saturday using the longer route Bald Ridge trail. Knowing there to be limited water on this route we all had 3 water bottles packed. This trail was a strenuous workout for me with many ups and downs, some on unsteady rock. We took it slow and steady and made it to Hiner Springs just in time to set up camp before dark. Great camping sites right next to the spring. Quite a few deer in the area to greet us. A few other campers in the area as well. Sunday morning we broke camp, had breakfast and began our return on the Ramsey Draft Trail. All downhill from Hiner Springs. The first mile is mostly following a creek bed needing extra care on the rocky trail. After that the trail is pretty good. There are several deadfall trees you will have to cross which take a little effort but were manageable. At least the 20 stream crossings as described ( seemed the most difficult were near the trail end ). Our return to Mountain House was much quicker due to all downhill and better trail conditions.
Name: Patrick Mulholland Hike: Pinchot Trail-South
Date: 06/06-09/14 Rating: 4
Critique: This trail is great for either a rigorous 3 day hike of the full loop, or easily separated into a more leisurely hike of either the north or south loops. As indicated on the map the south loop has a number of established camping locations, though many are perhaps too close to the trail for comfort. There are also some neat little creeks on both loops to dip your feet or refill water bottles for cleaning purposes. A few open fields provide very pretty scenes, and the elevation changes are never too severe. As others have warned the trail does get very rocky in places so bring a nice stick.
Name: Mike Cooper Hike: Otter Creek-SW
Date(s): 06/06-08/14 Rating: 5
Critique: Two of us did this as a three day/two night trip including the optional day hike for day two. The trail description was very helpful and the GPS information was very valuable at points. I had spent one prior night in the Otter Creek area and had always wanted to get back for another longer stay. We had wonderful weather in early June and really enjoyed this entire hike. The waterworks are very nice, the stream crossings at this time were not very difficult at all, and the sections of the trail through the bogs were a nice chance of pace and scenery. The suggested campsite at the end of day one is quite nice, had plenty of firewood, and has easy access to water. We spent day two on the optional day hike and had a great time and really enjoyed the scenery and challenge of this hike. I imagine that we will be back to this area before too long to try out some of the other trails in the area.
Name: Erin Hike: Pulpit Rock-Pinnacle Loop
Date(s): 05/31-06/01/14 Rating: 4.8
Critique: Just hiked and camped this trail. I am a novice hiker, this was my first moderate trail. The trail up to Pulpit Rock is extremely difficult. When they say it is rocky, they are not kidding. Very steep, walking on rocks 50% of the trail and often uphill at the same time. But the trail is worth it. We started out at Hamburg Reservoir, and went along the outskirts the long way up to the summit. We climbed beyond Pulpit Rock and camped out right at the top of the Pinnacle. Woke up to see the sun rise, the view was unbelievable. The weather was perfect this time of year, luckily no rain, only got windy at night and brisk in the morning at the summit. Much like the previous poster, we had difficulty pinpointing certain paths of the trail, but with slow progression forward and a little backtracking you can find a White marker that reassures you that you are still on the trail. Pack extra socks (your feet will be battered from walking on rocks everywhere) and take your time on the trip up, that is by far the most difficult part of the whole trail. (Photo taken at Sunrise on the Pinnacle rock edge.)
Name: Patrick M. Hike: Roaring Creek Tract - Backpack
Date: 05/25/14 Rating: 3.5
area with some really nice views, but be prepared for that
short-but-intense first climb. Trail dips close to highway at
times which is slightly distracting. Poor blazes mean it's easy
to mistake one trail for another, so recommend not starting out
at night. Lots of nice flat areas for a few tents a good ways
off the trail. The Roaring Creek trail gets a bit crowded during
morning-afternoon with bicyclists, day trekkers, etc. but
nothing too crazy. Call ahead to make sure the trail is not
closed to camping! This has been an issue before. Name: Ben
Roaring Plains Circuit Date:
Rating: 5 Critique:
Over memorial day weekend I led a trip in Southern Dolly Sods and
Roaring plains. We intended to take the hidden passage trail and
hike all of the Canyon Rim, stopping at the large campsite where it
meets the Roaring Plains Trail. Because we weren't making great time
we decided to stop at the campsite at the Tee Pee trail. The Hidden
Passage Trail was easy to follow. The canyon rim was generally not
too difficult either. Having the GPS waypoints on my GPS helped. We
took the Tee Pee trail back to the Roaring Plains trail. It was
quite overgrown but somebody has put cairns along most of it so we
were able to follow it without incident and get to the Roaring
Plains Trail. The views along the canyon rim are just spectacular.
If you bushwack to some rocks near the Tee Pee trail campsite you
can get a great view to watch the sunset. The Tee Pee trail campsite
itself was well sized and easily held 8 tents.
Old Loggers Path
Critique: We did this as a 3 day backpack over the Memorial
Day Weekend, really enjoyed it, great views and streams, weather
was mostly great except for a brief thunderstorm the first
night. Pleasant Stream Road is passable IF and only IF you have
AWD and decent ground clearance, our vehicle was a Toyota RAV 4
and we talked with another group who drove a Subaru Outback
along the road, should not be attempted in a normal road car as
there is a short "home made" detour where the creek washed the
road out, it's only about 30 yards long but is very rough, with
rocks and deep pot holes which would ground a road car, we
scraped once but made it through. Plenty of water along the
trail, mostly in good shape but some blow downs to get
around/over/under. The beginning at Masten is a little confusing
because it's hard to tell what direction you're going, we
initally thought we were doing the loop clockwise, turned out we
were going counter-clockwise, doesn't really matter that much
but it would be nice if DCNR could put up a sign giving an
indication of which way to go for each direction around the
loop. There are also many more campsites than are listed on the
map, although some don't have water.
Ramsey's Draft-West Date:
Rating: 5 Critique:
Hiked this on Memorial Day weekend with my husband and we could not
have picked a better hike or chosen better weather. We ascended
Ramsey's Draft Trail and returned via Shenandoah & Road Hollow
Trails, as per Mike's trail notes. RDT indeed has 20 water
crossings, the lower crossings required sandals and the upper
crossings were managed by rock-hopping, or rock-stretching in some
places. This past winter was a tough one as can be seen by the
numerous blowdowns on RDT. . .some mighty big trees blocked the
trail and it will take awhile before they can be cleared. Nothing
that can't be hiked over/under/around with a bit of patience. Lots
of very pretty campsites along the Draft. . .at Hiner Spring at the
top, we found ourselves alone and set up our tent on a nice flat
spot. As we were eating supper 3 hikers arrived, they found
themselves another flat area on the other side of the spring. The
spring was open and flowing, so water was not an issue. Next day was
an easy hike up the remainder of RDT, then it was all downhill on
the beautiful Shenandoah Trail to Road Hollow. All in all a great
hike, almost total solitude which was nice for us, as it was our
32nd anniversary hike.
Canaan Mountain Backpack-2
critique: Since it
was Memorial Day weekend, I took MR Hyker's advice and did this
trip. Also, I did a modified version of this hike, so I could do it
in 2 days and not have to fight with
traffic. I did the hike as was spelled out, except skipped
Mountainside trail and just stayed on the road to Table Rock trail.
All the trails were well marked. On Pointy Knob trail, though it
looked like someone was deliberately pulling down the blue diamond
markers, but you could still follow the trail, trees were blazed the
old-fashioned way! Saw 3 hikers on that trail, other than that the
trails were all mine. Some traffic on the road, mostly groups of
guys with little gear and lots of beer for the holiday! Table Rock
was unbelievable! It is one of the best views I have seen. Got there
or so. Shared the view with a group of 5 who were up for the day, a
couple mountain bikers rolling through and 1 fat and happy
rattlesnake sunning himself in a nice quiet spot. Later, a guy Joey
showed up with a tent and a camera so it was just the 2 of us there
for a beautiful sunset and sunrise. BTW, Joey is a big fan of
midatlantichikes, so I pitched the books for you Mike! Everywhere I
go anymore... So day 2, after lingering to watch the beautiful
sunrise it was back to bog-beating. There was a lot of water on the
trails. In fact it took spooking up a couple white-tails to remind
me I was in WV, I was singing "Georgia on my mind" to myself when
hopping from root to stone to bank! Oh, and in one sunny spot along
Plantation Trail I heard the distinct rattle of another rattlesnake.
Since it sounded like a "Move along, nothing to see here" rattle,
that's just what I did. Lindy Run Trail was in great shape, someone
is maintaining it. It did get crowded at Lindy Point. I guess I
shouldn't complain since it was the only place I had to put the
leash on my dog. Tourists, families and car campers must have all
decided to go at the same time. And after seeing the sunrise at
Table Rock, I was okay with not staying long there. A bit of a road
walk, a nice walk through the woods on Shady Trace and I was back to
the Lodge. Great trip! One thing-when looking out from Table Rock,
it looked like a meadow at the top of Mozark Mountain. Am I wrong?
Does the Mozark Mountain trail get you near there? The next
Critique: 4 Only because the crowds...Screaming kids ...groups and a
very full parking lot...serves me right - nine
on a Saturday. However, the rock scrambles and the views are so so
worth, its like a giant play ground. I really enjoyed climbing
scrambling and squeezing though the rocks. I went alone was
originally concerned it was a bit to much for me... as I am athletic
but not super athletic...Little sore but finished in about 3 hours
and 30-45 minutes (picture taking time included). The fire road was
not as bad as I thought it would be boring wise because I could hear
and see the water on the way down. I will be going again at some
point but as early as I can and on a week day. PS, its pretty well
marked and easy to follow due to its heavy use I went map-less and I
was fine. Name: Peter F.
Martin Hill Wild Area-Central Loop
Critique: The upper part of Jackson Trail (from the summit circle
down to the "green trail" junction) has been cleared and is now red
Loyalsock-Link Loop w/Haystacks
Critique: Great hike! I started at the Meade road comfort
station. Trail descends over some rocky terrain here. I was hoping
to catch the side trail to Dutchman's falls, but I missed the turn
off. The hike down by the creek was beautiful. Trail turns left and
heads back up to the old railroad grade where I was met by a
beautiful waterfall. This railroad grade continues a ways before
heading down hill to the iron bridge. right after the road walk is
the first lung buster, which led to a flat section at the top.
Shortly thereafter, I arrived at Sonne's pond where I broke for
lunch. More walking, beautiful scenery, tons of streams everywhere.
In many spots, the trail was soaked while everything around was dry.
I was hoping to find a good campsite by
The last one I passed was at
I figured I still had light and I should look for the next one. Next
thing I knew, I was at the vista for world's end state park. Now its
getting dark and there's no place to set up camp. At the visitor's
center, I found a park ranger who told me I could go up the
butternut trail and use some primitive campsites they had there for
boyscouts. Flat spots for my tent, plus picnic tables! Day 2 I took
the link trail, which starts out amazing going past the creek and up
to the Loyalsock vista. This led me up through the woods where I saw
2 deer, then entered a really nice hemlock grove where I stopped to
fill my water in a stream. The rest of the trail was real nice. The
water crossing once you get down past the highway was a little
sketchy, but I made it without busting my butt. Ended up finishing
the whole trail in 2 days. I would like to do it again in late
summer/early fall when there's more leaves on the trees, and take my
time and do 2 nights. I couldn't walk for the next 2 days after
doing it all in 1 night. Overall, great experience for my first solo
backpacking trip. I'm trying to decide now for Labor Day weekend if
I should come back here or check out the Pinchot trail. The Black
Forest trail seems really enticing, but my hiking buddy isn't in
exactly the best shape and I think the climbs may kill him.
Long Mountain-Trout Pond Loop
Critique: Overall this
was a very enjoyable hike. We did the loop on a beautiful sunny day
after spending the weekend at Trout Pond campground and didn't
encounter another soul on the trail. Although the hike includes a
bit of forest road walking, the views of Wolf Gap/Massanutten/Shenandoah
NP along that stretch more than make up for it. We included the
out-and-back to the first overlook along North Mountain Trail, and
though this added a bit more ascent along particularly rocky tread,
it was well worth it as we were rewarded with an amazing view
southeast beyond the southern tip of Massanutten. I would highly
recommend doing this hike if you are staying at Trout Pond.
Roaring Plains Circuit
Critique: We followed the trail notes and they were quite helpful.
This had to be one of the best hikes and worst hikes I've ever done in
summer. The worst part was loosing the trail 1/2 way on the Tee Pee and
ending up bushwhacking thru thick laurel to the pipeline. The trails are
just not marked well. The rock and bog on the trail seemed to never end
either. But the rest of the trail made up for it and more. There was
truly a full range of experience and the views on the rim were
fantastic. Campsites were all inviting and I am looking forward to doing
it again. A map, compass and even a GPS are a must for this trail, this
is not for novices. I would rate this trail very highly, thanks WV.
Name: Jackie M.
Rocky Knob-Quarry Gap Backpack
did this outing as our first ever backpack. We then repeated it
two weeks later. Great beginner 1-night backpack. The directions
are impeccable and very helpful for beginners, we did not get
turned around once. There is a mild ascent up Locust Gap trail
and then you round the lake. Fill up at the stream after you
cross Birch Run Road. If you choose to go right at the Rocky
Knob split you will be greeted with a pretty steep, rocky
ascent, but you're rewarded with a very nice and secluded
campsite on the left side of the trail once you reach the top.
We chose this route on our first trip. On our second trip we
went left, the ascent is more gradual on this side up to the AT.
There's a good sized campsite about .5 miles down the AT to the
right. Then in the morning you back track. Be sure to fill up at
the stream at the PATC cabin, there will be no water until
you're near the Quarry Gap shelter. The views and terrain are
varied and interesting. There are a few easy water crossings. We
had a great time.
Bully & Shorstack
FMF-Clifford Hollow Loop
Caledonia SP-Quarry Gap
Name: Ben Hike: Roaring Plains Circuit
Date: 05/25/14 Rating: 5
Critique: Over memorial day weekend I led a trip in Southern Dolly Sods and Roaring plains. We intended to take the hidden passage trail and hike all of the Canyon Rim, stopping at the large campsite where it meets the Roaring Plains Trail. Because we weren't making great time we decided to stop at the campsite at the Tee Pee trail. The Hidden Passage Trail was easy to follow. The canyon rim was generally not too difficult either. Having the GPS waypoints on my GPS helped. We took the Tee Pee trail back to the Roaring Plains trail. It was quite overgrown but somebody has put cairns along most of it so we were able to follow it without incident and get to the Roaring Plains Trail. The views along the canyon rim are just spectacular. If you bushwack to some rocks near the Tee Pee trail campsite you can get a great view to watch the sunset. The Tee Pee trail campsite itself was well sized and easily held 8 tents.
Name: Swaggie Hike: Old Loggers Path
Date: 05/24/14 Rating: 5
Critique: We did this as a 3 day backpack over the Memorial Day Weekend, really enjoyed it, great views and streams, weather was mostly great except for a brief thunderstorm the first night. Pleasant Stream Road is passable IF and only IF you have AWD and decent ground clearance, our vehicle was a Toyota RAV 4 and we talked with another group who drove a Subaru Outback along the road, should not be attempted in a normal road car as there is a short "home made" detour where the creek washed the road out, it's only about 30 yards long but is very rough, with rocks and deep pot holes which would ground a road car, we scraped once but made it through. Plenty of water along the trail, mostly in good shape but some blow downs to get around/over/under. The beginning at Masten is a little confusing because it's hard to tell what direction you're going, we initally thought we were doing the loop clockwise, turned out we were going counter-clockwise, doesn't really matter that much but it would be nice if DCNR could put up a sign giving an indication of which way to go for each direction around the loop. There are also many more campsites than are listed on the map, although some don't have water.
Name: Dottie Rust Hike: Ramsey's Draft-West
Date: 05/25-26/14 Rating: 5
Critique: Hiked this on Memorial Day weekend with my husband and we could not have picked a better hike or chosen better weather. We ascended Ramsey's Draft Trail and returned via Shenandoah & Road Hollow Trails, as per Mike's trail notes. RDT indeed has 20 water crossings, the lower crossings required sandals and the upper crossings were managed by rock-hopping, or rock-stretching in some places. This past winter was a tough one as can be seen by the numerous blowdowns on RDT. . .some mighty big trees blocked the trail and it will take awhile before they can be cleared. Nothing that can't be hiked over/under/around with a bit of patience. Lots of very pretty campsites along the Draft. . .at Hiner Spring at the top, we found ourselves alone and set up our tent on a nice flat spot. As we were eating supper 3 hikers arrived, they found themselves another flat area on the other side of the spring. The spring was open and flowing, so water was not an issue. Next day was an easy hike up the remainder of RDT, then it was all downhill on the beautiful Shenandoah Trail to Road Hollow. All in all a great hike, almost total solitude which was nice for us, as it was our 32nd anniversary hike.
Name: Christopher Robin Hike: Canaan Mountain Backpack-2
Date(s): 05/24-25/14 Rating: 4
critique: Since it was Memorial Day weekend, I took MR Hyker's advice and did this trip. Also, I did a modified version of this hike, so I could do it in 2 days and not have to fight with Friday or Monday traffic. I did the hike as was spelled out, except skipped Mountainside trail and just stayed on the road to Table Rock trail. All the trails were well marked. On Pointy Knob trail, though it looked like someone was deliberately pulling down the blue diamond markers, but you could still follow the trail, trees were blazed the old-fashioned way! Saw 3 hikers on that trail, other than that the trails were all mine. Some traffic on the road, mostly groups of guys with little gear and lots of beer for the holiday! Table Rock was unbelievable! It is one of the best views I have seen. Got there about 4:30 or so. Shared the view with a group of 5 who were up for the day, a couple mountain bikers rolling through and 1 fat and happy rattlesnake sunning himself in a nice quiet spot. Later, a guy Joey showed up with a tent and a camera so it was just the 2 of us there for a beautiful sunset and sunrise. BTW, Joey is a big fan of midatlantichikes, so I pitched the books for you Mike! Everywhere I go anymore... So day 2, after lingering to watch the beautiful sunrise it was back to bog-beating. There was a lot of water on the trails. In fact it took spooking up a couple white-tails to remind me I was in WV, I was singing "Georgia on my mind" to myself when hopping from root to stone to bank! Oh, and in one sunny spot along Plantation Trail I heard the distinct rattle of another rattlesnake. Since it sounded like a "Move along, nothing to see here" rattle, that's just what I did. Lindy Run Trail was in great shape, someone is maintaining it. It did get crowded at Lindy Point. I guess I shouldn't complain since it was the only place I had to put the leash on my dog. Tourists, families and car campers must have all decided to go at the same time. And after seeing the sunrise at Table Rock, I was okay with not staying long there. A bit of a road walk, a nice walk through the woods on Shady Trace and I was back to the Lodge. Great trip! One thing-when looking out from Table Rock, it looked like a meadow at the top of Mozark Mountain. Am I wrong? Does the Mozark Mountain trail get you near there? The next adventure?
Name: KCJones Hike: Old Rag
05/17/14 Rating: 4
Critique: 4 Only because the crowds...Screaming kids ...groups and a very full parking lot...serves me right - nine on a Saturday. However, the rock scrambles and the views are so so worth, its like a giant play ground. I really enjoyed climbing scrambling and squeezing though the rocks. I went alone was originally concerned it was a bit to much for me... as I am athletic but not super athletic...Little sore but finished in about 3 hours and 30-45 minutes (picture taking time included). The fire road was not as bad as I thought it would be boring wise because I could hear and see the water on the way down. I will be going again at some point but as early as I can and on a week day. PS, its pretty well marked and easy to follow due to its heavy use I went map-less and I was fine.
Name: Peter F. Hike: Martin Hill Wild Area-Central Loop
Date: Various Rating: 4
Critique: The upper part of Jackson Trail (from the summit circle down to the "green trail" junction) has been cleared and is now red blazed.
Name: Blake Hike: Loyalsock-Link Loop w/Haystacks
Date: 04/13-14/14 Rating: 5
Critique: Great hike! I started at the Meade road comfort station. Trail descends over some rocky terrain here. I was hoping to catch the side trail to Dutchman's falls, but I missed the turn off. The hike down by the creek was beautiful. Trail turns left and heads back up to the old railroad grade where I was met by a beautiful waterfall. This railroad grade continues a ways before heading down hill to the iron bridge. right after the road walk is the first lung buster, which led to a flat section at the top. Shortly thereafter, I arrived at Sonne's pond where I broke for lunch. More walking, beautiful scenery, tons of streams everywhere. In many spots, the trail was soaked while everything around was dry. I was hoping to find a good campsite by 5:30. The last one I passed was at 4:30pm, I figured I still had light and I should look for the next one. Next thing I knew, I was at the vista for world's end state park. Now its getting dark and there's no place to set up camp. At the visitor's center, I found a park ranger who told me I could go up the butternut trail and use some primitive campsites they had there for boyscouts. Flat spots for my tent, plus picnic tables! Day 2 I took the link trail, which starts out amazing going past the creek and up to the Loyalsock vista. This led me up through the woods where I saw 2 deer, then entered a really nice hemlock grove where I stopped to fill my water in a stream. The rest of the trail was real nice. The water crossing once you get down past the highway was a little sketchy, but I made it without busting my butt. Ended up finishing the whole trail in 2 days. I would like to do it again in late summer/early fall when there's more leaves on the trees, and take my time and do 2 nights. I couldn't walk for the next 2 days after doing it all in 1 night. Overall, great experience for my first solo backpacking trip. I'm trying to decide now for Labor Day weekend if I should come back here or check out the Pinchot trail. The Black Forest trail seems really enticing, but my hiking buddy isn't in exactly the best shape and I think the climbs may kill him.
Name: MSF Hike: Long Mountain-Trout Pond Loop
Date: 05/11/14 Rating: 4
Critique: Overall this was a very enjoyable hike. We did the loop on a beautiful sunny day after spending the weekend at Trout Pond campground and didn't encounter another soul on the trail. Although the hike includes a bit of forest road walking, the views of Wolf Gap/Massanutten/Shenandoah NP along that stretch more than make up for it. We included the out-and-back to the first overlook along North Mountain Trail, and though this added a bit more ascent along particularly rocky tread, it was well worth it as we were rewarded with an amazing view southeast beyond the southern tip of Massanutten. I would highly recommend doing this hike if you are staying at Trout Pond.
Name: Bill Hike: Roaring Plains Circuit
05/09/14 Rating: 4
Critique: We followed the trail notes and they were quite helpful. This had to be one of the best hikes and worst hikes I've ever done in summer. The worst part was loosing the trail 1/2 way on the Tee Pee and ending up bushwhacking thru thick laurel to the pipeline. The trails are just not marked well. The rock and bog on the trail seemed to never end either. But the rest of the trail made up for it and more. There was truly a full range of experience and the views on the rim were fantastic. Campsites were all inviting and I am looking forward to doing it again. A map, compass and even a GPS are a must for this trail, this is not for novices. I would rate this trail very highly, thanks WV.
Name: Jackie M. Hike: Rocky Knob-Quarry Gap Backpack
Date(s): 04/13-14/14 Rating: 4
Critique: We did this outing as our first ever backpack. We then repeated it two weeks later. Great beginner 1-night backpack. The directions are impeccable and very helpful for beginners, we did not get turned around once. There is a mild ascent up Locust Gap trail and then you round the lake. Fill up at the stream after you cross Birch Run Road. If you choose to go right at the Rocky Knob split you will be greeted with a pretty steep, rocky ascent, but you're rewarded with a very nice and secluded campsite on the left side of the trail once you reach the top. We chose this route on our first trip. On our second trip we went left, the ascent is more gradual on this side up to the AT. There's a good sized campsite about .5 miles down the AT to the right. Then in the morning you back track. Be sure to fill up at the stream at the PATC cabin, there will be no water until you're near the Quarry Gap shelter. The views and terrain are varied and interesting. There are a few easy water crossings. We had a great time.
Name: Wooly Bully & Shorstack Hike: FMF-Clifford Hollow Loop
Date: 04/28/14 Rating: 4
Critique:We did this on a clear and warm day. Without the overhead leaf cover there was an open feeling to the woods, and the mountain laurel provided a lot of green close to the ground. This route must be spectacular when the laurel blooms! The first half of the hike follows the Catoctin Trail, passing thru two valleys. This second descent crosses a pretty stream several times, easy rock-hops. The long and fairly steep ascents made for a good workout. The north end of the route follows mountain bike paths and a power line right-of-way. In general, bearing to the left keeps you on track. The last part follows the Gambrill State Park Yellow Trail. Fairly level, rocky in places, and paralleling Gambrill Park Road. At the end we added a little distance at the end by turning left and taking the Yellow trail counterclockwise around the base of the "High Knob" area, for 9.8 miles. This made for a nice day .
Name: Erin Hike: Caledonia SP-Quarry Gap
Date; 04/20/14 Rating: 2
Critique:If you like walking in the woods, this is a nice hike. However, it's not a very picturesque hike; we didn't even take out our camera's once. The unnamed blue trail mentioned at the beginning is now called the "3 Valley Trail." Locust Grove Trail is now marked as part of the Locust Gap Trail. The Hosack Run Trail is also marked on the sign post now in paint. There are no longer any deer enclosures (exclosures would be a better word). You'll notice rolled up fencing in a few spots. You'll also notice an abundance of young trees where the fencing would have been. My partner said at the end, "it'll be like we never did it." No views. Not very challenging. Meh. Not worth the 2.5 hour drive.
Name: Chris R. Hike: Old Loggers Path
Date(s): 04/12 to 13/14 Rating: 3
Critique: THE BRIDGE AT MASTEN HAS NOW BEEN REPAIRED. I wanted to inform hikers that the bridge is rebuilt. Pleasant stream road is still closed to traffic from around Masten for about 3 miles west to about Short run. According to the ranger at Hillsgrove, it is open for hikers to make a loop out of the southern or northern loop, but is undrivable. The road is now in the process of being repaired as well. Attached is a picture of the bridge if needed. Heading counterclockwise from Masten, there is a nice break spot at a campsite off to the right of the trail about a mile or so before the intersection of Rock Run and Yellow dog run. We discovered a seeping water fall below the small cliff below the campsite which was a pleasant surprise. After teaming up with a group of 6 guys from south Jersey we headed out to Rock Run for a one night loop hike. Due to time we made a small loop using Old Loggers Path clockwise from Masten to Rock Run/Yellow dog run. Then returned to Masten via Old loggers Path to Ellenton Road, to Short Run trail, Cherry Ridge trail back to Old Loggers path. It took about 3 1/2 hours to hike back from Rock Run campsite. Note: If you plan on arriving late into Masten contact the Hillsgrove Ranger Station off of Rt. 87 to get a camping permit in the C.C.C camp prior to getting going the next morning.
Name: Sally Hike: Dolly Sods North Backpack
Date(s): 04/12 to 13/14 Rating: 5
Critique: I did a quick overnight trip and was not disappointed. A few notes: 1. The signage is much better than when this trail was first described. In places where it is indicated there is just a post or a cairn, there are now clear signs. 2. That said -- there are points where a certain trail turns or looks uncertain and there are no blazes to guide you. The description is very helpful here -- also look for footprints. 3. Some boggier places now have wooden walkways, which are nice. 4. This hike was wet when I went, but the weather was nice, so it worked out. Definitely prepare with waterproof boots! And bring extra socks! You're going to need them. A pair of Chacos or the like for crossing streams would be a nice extra. 5. You have to park farther away than this description indicates -- this adds about a mile at the beginning and end of the hike. And the beginning, it's all uphill. At the end, it's downhill. 6. You should pack in water for the first couple of miles as there isn't a place to get water until you're on the hike (so fill up at home or at a rest stop). Once on the hike, there are about 4 places to fill up on water: the first is your first crossing of Red Creek. The second is the small spring described next to the emergency camping spot (though I wouldn't be certain if this would be flowing in dryer times or late summer), the fourth is at your camping spot by red creek, and the fifth is when you cross Red Creek again on the second day. I liked so many sure opportunities for water since it meant I didn't have to carry a lot (which is heavy!) This was a fantastic trip. The weather in mid April was very warm and the solitude was a delight. There were small patches of snow left, which I took advantage of when I got hot and put a scoop in my cap to cool down. I will definitely be returning.
Name: Dan M. Hike: Rocky Top-Big Run
Date(s): 04/05-06/14 Rating: 5
Critique: I have spent a lot of time in SNP, and this by far has to be my favorite hike. I did this in early April as an overnight with my girlfriend. This hike has everything that SNP has to offer. Great views of the valley and rolling mountains. Talus slope crossings. Great wildlife. Stream crossings and a nice walk along a beautiful stream. The trail directions were spot on except THE LAST TWO MENTIONED CAMPSITES ARE NOT THERE. The last two campsites have no camping signs posted in them. I assume they were over used and the park wants to rehab the nature in that area. So if you do this as an overnight and do not want to stop 7 miles in. Make sure you understand there are no official camp sites on the hike. The other thing that I feel the writer left out is you will not come to an area where you can refill your water until the first set of campsites (midpoint Approx. 7 miles in). I did this in April so I was okay with the water I brought. But in the summer, if you don't have enough water this could be tough. You are exposed for a large part of the beginning of this hike if done as the writer dictates the directions. This is a MUST DO hike in SNP. Enjoy!
Name: Kyle Hike: MST-Brush Ridge Backpack
Date(s): 03/14-16/14 Rating: 3.5
hiking started out well. The MST is fairly narrow and did not seem
well traveled. We decided to take the shortcut and head down the
Mutterbaugh trail. This was one of my favorite trails. The stream
was great and the isolation was great. The trip took a turn for the
worse when we reached the intersection of the Otter Gap trail and
Penn Roosevelt Trail. Directions were "Follow the trail to the left.
At the absolute low point of the gap the Otter Gap Trail (hard to
see) goes left while the Penn-Roosevelt trail goes right. Continue
straight, climbing out of the gap. Reach a pretty vernal pond in 0.9
miles and the junction with the Chestnut Spring Spur on the left (No
sign but obvious). This area, being at a high point, is another
place won’t might be able to set up a tent". Well we went left and
then realized our mistake and doubled back. Then we tried to go
"straight" and there was nothing of a trail to follow. We
bushwhacked for a while and eventually doubled back to Penn
Roosevelt trail to make camp for the night. In the morning we
decided to just take the Penn Roosevelt trail up and over the ridge.
Well the trail kind of stopped and looked to go right. After a while
we decided that couldn't be right and just bee lined it up the ridge
and over the other side. The trails are not marked well or very much
at all. The directions were good until the Otter Creek/Penn
Roosevelt trail. Enjoyed the hike nonetheless, but just wish it all
worked out better.
Name: Craig Hardy Hike:
Date(s): 02/22-23/14 Rating: 5
Critique: I did this hike as a
1st backpack of the season thinking that the weather was great in
Richmond so it would be good in the mountains. What a surprise to see so
much snow. I attempted to do this hike as outlined in the Hiking VA
guide book by Bill and Mary Burnham. You find the trailhead on Waites
Run Road as you make your way behind the town of Wardensville, WV. The
trail starts off just near the bridge and quickly gains elevation
following the main creek with multiple crossings. As there was a lot of
snow runoff, the water was really flowing. The trail tops out in a
hardwood forest on the ridge with a major intersection of the Tuscarora,
Half Moon, and Mill Mountain Trails. Interestingly there are several
board walks in this section, presumably for the bog type environment. I
then hiked in very deep snow in the direction of Big Schloss. The
guidebook says to stay on the new Tuscarora trail and not take the
cutoff so I did that on the way up. On the way back I did break bad and
follow this cutoff to save time and not have to walk so far in the snow.
I saw the airway beacon ruins and did not think it was such a much. I
did meet up with a group of guys from PA at the Sandstone spring and
thought it was a nice place to camp. The next item of note was the
overlook on the Mill Mountain trail The view was pretty amazing. I
caught a glimpse of Big Schloss off to the left and decided to push on.
The view from the top was amazing and even more so was the feat of
engineering to have built a huge footbridge at the top of the mountain.
I have often wondered how they got the material up there. It had to be
by helicopter. Sadly there were folks setting up camp at the summit. It
was getting late so it was time to head down. I made it back to
Sandstone Spring to find I had this great site to myself. I saw the
other review and hope that I do not catch anything as I did not filter
my water. The next day was a bit easier as a bit more snow did melt
overnight and I was back tracking in a lot of my own footprints. I did
not see a soul on the way back down
am. I really want to come back here in the summer when the weather is
warmer. This is a great hike with a great view. I highly recommend it.
Name: Mike Hike:
Date: 02/09/14 Rating: 4
Critique: The trail description is excellent, very helpful
towards the end of the loop, as trails can get pretty confusing.
Did this trip after an ice storm came thru the previous week and
found numerous trees down across the trail, mountain biking
trails will need major clean up. The poor/snow covered trail
conditions lead to a very isolated experience, as I did not see
another person the whole trip. Wonderfully quiet, came across a
large Red Fox, numerous Hawks and four deer. A snow storm made
the last 1-1/2 hours even more amazing. Less the sprint back
across the bridge to my car, that was a little sketchy
Date(s): 11/16-17/13 Rating: 5
Critique: I absolutely loved this hike. It was certainly
difficult, especially it being my first overnight backpacking trip.
Going after all the leaves had fallen provided little traffic on the
amazing views along the ridge line. We camped on Big Bald Knob,
which did make for a windy and cold night, but that was to be
expected. The second day was very different from the first going
down into the valley with slippery and difficult footing at many
times. We did not mind having to climb over several large fallen
trees or rock hopping, for us it only added to the adventure and
enjoyment. It was absolutely beautiful the whole way. Be mindful
however that during the wet season you have to be very careful of
your footing past the spring so as to not slip. We packed enough
water to last us the first full day since there is no other good
source of water, then refilled at the spring which is your best bet
of clean water because further down into the valley there are
several beaver dams which can contaminate the water. We did actually
see 2 bears separately, which was fantastic, though also something
to be mindful of safety wise, and lots of scat along the path. This
in my opinion was a great hike, I would suggest however that this
not be hiked in the middle of the summer considering that would make
you lose those great views and would make trudging through all the
brush very difficult.
Name: George Hike:
Lumberjack Tr/Seneca Creek Loop
Date(s): 01/20/14 Rating: 4
Critique: Did the hike in reverse as I was hiking it for the
first time and being January, I didn't want to find out 7 miles
in to the hike that I couldn't cross the creek! Had the whole
backcountry to myself as far as I could tell :) - had to be
creative on the creek crossings as there was much ice but most
of it wouldn't hold me. Managed to make it across all crossings
without getting wet. One item of note to the description above.
The main falls of Seneca Creek are about 100 yards below the
trail intersection with Huckleberry Trail, not .5 miles. Hiking
down the creek below the main falls is not recommended unless
you are into Class 2 fun. Many blowdowns, rhododendron, etc..
Hiked about a mile out High Meadows trail and then bushwacked
uphill to intersect Lumberjack Trail and then back to car.
Lumberjack Trail, even in January was quite soft in spots. Would
not rush back to hike Lumberjack, but High Meadows and Seneca
Creek Trails are very nice and worth the trip. Name: Pete
Gunpowder Falls-West Circuit Date:
Rating: 4 Critique: I
wound up here exactly because "days are short, weather conditions
are less than desirable [at first choice exploration opportunities
in the Tiadaghton] and the urge to get out into the woods is
overwhelming." Hike was as described - except the blazed route just
south of Masemore Rd crosses not on a bridge, but on askew stepping
stones (outbound water went over my boots here).
Name: Craig Hardy Hike: Big Schloss
Date(s): 02/22-23/14 Rating: 5
Critique: I did this hike as a 1st backpack of the season thinking that the weather was great in Richmond so it would be good in the mountains. What a surprise to see so much snow. I attempted to do this hike as outlined in the Hiking VA guide book by Bill and Mary Burnham. You find the trailhead on Waites Run Road as you make your way behind the town of Wardensville, WV. The trail starts off just near the bridge and quickly gains elevation following the main creek with multiple crossings. As there was a lot of snow runoff, the water was really flowing. The trail tops out in a hardwood forest on the ridge with a major intersection of the Tuscarora, Half Moon, and Mill Mountain Trails. Interestingly there are several board walks in this section, presumably for the bog type environment. I then hiked in very deep snow in the direction of Big Schloss. The guidebook says to stay on the new Tuscarora trail and not take the cutoff so I did that on the way up. On the way back I did break bad and follow this cutoff to save time and not have to walk so far in the snow. I saw the airway beacon ruins and did not think it was such a much. I did meet up with a group of guys from PA at the Sandstone spring and thought it was a nice place to camp. The next item of note was the overlook on the Mill Mountain trail The view was pretty amazing. I caught a glimpse of Big Schloss off to the left and decided to push on. The view from the top was amazing and even more so was the feat of engineering to have built a huge footbridge at the top of the mountain. I have often wondered how they got the material up there. It had to be by helicopter. Sadly there were folks setting up camp at the summit. It was getting late so it was time to head down. I made it back to Sandstone Spring to find I had this great site to myself. I saw the other review and hope that I do not catch anything as I did not filter my water. The next day was a bit easier as a bit more snow did melt overnight and I was back tracking in a lot of my own footprints. I did not see a soul on the way back down Sunday am. I really want to come back here in the summer when the weather is warmer. This is a great hike with a great view. I highly recommend it.
Name: Mike Hike: Morgan Run
Date: 02/09/14 Rating: 4
Critique: The trail description is excellent, very helpful towards the end of the loop, as trails can get pretty confusing. Did this trip after an ice storm came thru the previous week and found numerous trees down across the trail, mountain biking trails will need major clean up. The poor/snow covered trail conditions lead to a very isolated experience, as I did not see another person the whole trip. Wonderfully quiet, came across a large Red Fox, numerous Hawks and four deer. A snow storm made the last 1-1/2 hours even more amazing. Less the sprint back across the bridge to my car, that was a little sketchy
Name: Megan Hike: Ramseys Draft-East
Date(s): 11/16-17/13 Rating: 5
Critique: I absolutely loved this hike. It was certainly difficult, especially it being my first overnight backpacking trip. Going after all the leaves had fallen provided little traffic on the trail and amazing views along the ridge line. We camped on Big Bald Knob, which did make for a windy and cold night, but that was to be expected. The second day was very different from the first going down into the valley with slippery and difficult footing at many times. We did not mind having to climb over several large fallen trees or rock hopping, for us it only added to the adventure and enjoyment. It was absolutely beautiful the whole way. Be mindful however that during the wet season you have to be very careful of your footing past the spring so as to not slip. We packed enough water to last us the first full day since there is no other good source of water, then refilled at the spring which is your best bet of clean water because further down into the valley there are several beaver dams which can contaminate the water. We did actually see 2 bears separately, which was fantastic, though also something to be mindful of safety wise, and lots of scat along the path. This in my opinion was a great hike, I would suggest however that this not be hiked in the middle of the summer considering that would make you lose those great views and would make trudging through all the brush very difficult.
Name: George Hike: Lumberjack Tr/Seneca Creek Loop
Date(s): 01/20/14 Rating: 4
Critique: Did the hike in reverse as I was hiking it for the first time and being January, I didn't want to find out 7 miles in to the hike that I couldn't cross the creek! Had the whole backcountry to myself as far as I could tell :) - had to be creative on the creek crossings as there was much ice but most of it wouldn't hold me. Managed to make it across all crossings without getting wet. One item of note to the description above. The main falls of Seneca Creek are about 100 yards below the trail intersection with Huckleberry Trail, not .5 miles. Hiking down the creek below the main falls is not recommended unless you are into Class 2 fun. Many blowdowns, rhododendron, etc.. Hiked about a mile out High Meadows trail and then bushwacked uphill to intersect Lumberjack Trail and then back to car. Lumberjack Trail, even in January was quite soft in spots. Would not rush back to hike Lumberjack, but High Meadows and Seneca Creek Trails are very nice and worth the trip.
Name: Pete Fleszar Hike: Gunpowder Falls-West Circuit
Date: 01/18/14 Rating: 4
Critique: I wound up here exactly because "days are short, weather conditions are less than desirable [at first choice exploration opportunities in the Tiadaghton] and the urge to get out into the woods is overwhelming." Hike was as described - except the blazed route just south of Masemore Rd crosses not on a bridge, but on askew stepping stones (outbound water went over my boots here).(The bridge has obviously been removed.) The scenic highlight (and trickiest treadway) for me was the passage along the river above Falls Rd. I did continued out a bit on the trail towards Prettyboy Reservoir, but there was a multi-stemmed chain saw blowdown in the 2nd hollow that I didn't want to navigate twice so I turned around. With a skiff of snow on the ground, as they say in western PA things were a bit "slippy" so I stayed on the Gunpowder South trail for the last leg of the return rather than attempt the lower fisherman trail. For the non-local a few notes about the trailhead might be in order. The last half mile or so of Bunker Hill Rd is a bit rough, possibly not winter maintained although no sign said that. There is an alternative pull off area where the hike re-crosses Bunker Hill Rd on top of the hill, almost underneath I-83 by the sign for the archery range. In PA one expects a large State Park parking lot to have a map kiosk and a functioning restroom. This new parking lot at the bottom of the hill despite its size and crowded nature on a weekend morning had neither. In fact there are no trail signs at all. It was only on the return that I saw the restroom building that clearly cost the taxpayers of MD a pretty penny - with sign "Closed for Winter". The paved path back to the parking lot was long enough to obscure visibility, pine needle covered and totally unsigned behind a nondescript gate so it was evident why I had missed it. (There is now a continuation of the Bunker Hill Trail before you reach the rest rooms that leads you more directly back to the parking lot. BTW, there is now a 4X4 post with a blue blaze marking that trail at the parking lot.) Hereford also appears devoid of the normal highway commercial establishments as well. Nor is there a welcome center on I-83 southbound at the state line. If driving some distance coming from the north to this venue, get off at Shrewsbury PA for a bodily function break.
Name: Dan Hike: Waterfall Wonderland
Date: 2009/2010/2013 Rating: 5+
Critique: First, I have to admit that I've done sections of this hike on different occasions - never the full hike at once. I've done all of Sullivan Run. It worked from the top, but not the bottom for me, but I know of someone who went in from the bottom and made it (he was very much in shape and trail-professional). Perhaps, I was just nervous to get a wet camera... I've done most of Heberly Run. I didn't hit Big Falls, but I've done the rest. I found what I saw to be rather beautiful, but the Sullivan Run section is much better than anything out there that I've ever done (and I pride myself on taking in as many waterfalls as I can (though Ricketts has "more" it also has drawbacks - see below)). I also was lucky enough to be escorted back to Quinn Run, which isn't in the Scott Brown guide (his stuff is fantastic, by the way AND NO, I'm not him). It's a great place to get lost and get trained. I liked this a whole lot, too. I agree with the reviews of how wonderful and difficult the hike is. There's definitely a sense of accomplishment, but there's also a sense of take your time and THINK but don't get too in your head out there. It's definitely a place that you will have for yourself, and that's what I like about it. The litter and hordes at Ricketts Glen have really detracted from an otherwise beautiful place in recent years. I heartily recommend Sullivan and the other places if you want to go off the grid since there is no trail or crowds. If you want a taster of Sullivan, I recommend hiking up to Quinn Run and testing your feet on the smaller waterfalls for ascent and descent purposes. Some of the hike in is a little steep, but it's not a lot of vertical - just a drop on the sides.
Name: Hikeer Hike: Dolly Sods-Central
Date: 12/28/13 Rating: 4
Nice hike. Did this as a day hike and it took about 6 hrs, allowing for a couple times I lost the trail in the snow. Did it in reverse, but dont' think it would really matter which way you hiked. Lots of nice campsites along both forks of Red Creek. Breathed Mt. trail brings you out right along the ski slopes at Timberline, which I didn't expect. Not a lot of long distance views, but nice scenery along creeks. Lots of ice on the trail, especially at Canaan end of Blackbird Trail.
Name: Jeeremy Krones Hike: C&O Canal/Long Pond Shuttle
Date: 11/24/13 Rating: 3.2
Criitique: While this was a great hike on a beautiful day, it was nothing like what we expected. The group members (13 UMD students) each rated the hike, and our average is 3.2 (the highest was a 4, the lowest was 2.5). We started the hike at 10:30am and finished at 4:10pm on a cold, windy day (~20ºF). This trail is not in any way strenuous. Moderate, certainly, and even on the tough side of moderate *at times*, but by and large this was not nearly as difficult as any other 'strenuous' hikes we've done nor was it any more difficult than many of the moderate hikes. If anything, the distance of the trail (NOT 15 miles – very possibly closer to 12) (if you did the entire hike, from the canal to Headquarters I can guarantee you it was 14.7 miles. If you did the short version, not hiking the canal part, it was 12 miles. I think your group is just in excellent physical condition.) made it more difficult than most other trails in MD. Additionally, while the trail is very clearly blazed (no real trail notes needed: follow the Red blazes until the first marked junction and then follow the clearly marked signs to the Headquarters, on Blue blazes), it is NOT very well maintained. Slope cuts were highly eroded; our downhills were steep, slippery, and dangerous at times; and the "boardwalk" bridge in the last few miles was treacherous to cross (pictures to come). The bridge is warped in the middle and very unstable to cross. The final critique is that there were no great views – we did it in the wintertime, which means that in the summer whatever views we saw would be even less due to more leaves. However, it was a nice trail, and an interesting one. The landscape and geological formations were great to look at, and the various bodies of water were fun. The cabin added to the experience, too. NOTE: from the first kiosk at the turn-off from the C&O Canal, just follow the base of the slope (as mentioned in the notes) instead of following the red blazes right off the bat; the "trail" is nonexistent on the slope, and more use can only increase the erosion and potential danger until a real tread is constructed.
Name: Paul D. Hike: Lumberjack Trail/Seneca Creek Loop
Date(s): 11/15-17/13 Rating: 4
Critique: Five of us geezers hiked and camped at Judy Springs for a two-nighter. Parked at Lumberjack Trailhead just after the BIG switchback o the right. Hiked in on Lumberjack. Arriving Friday around 2 at Judy Springs gave us first choice of sites. We took the big site across the bridge, being a bit more private than the field site. Firewood was scarce, as this is a very popular area to camp. We had 15-18 hikers come by throughout the weekend, some camping nearby. Others were sent downstream to the smaller, but more beautiful waterworks sites. Trail conditions were wet on all trails, an inch of snow on trails on Friday, after the couple inches they rec'd. earlier in the week. The field descent down Judy Springs trail was slippery. Highs were in the 40's, down to 32 Friday, then warming as the weekend went on, to a high of 61 on Sunday. We did have moderate rain Friday night which dampened our party to a 9 pm. lights out. The rain sound was beautiful and lulling in the tent. Clear weather on Saturday so we hiked downstream for 40 minutes to the big waterfall and back. Four stream crossings each way! that I remember, all rock-hoppable at the low water level we encountered, but were still dicey. One of us had a slamdown cuz the rocks were quite slippery. Would be impossible in high water. A leisurely pace and many wet sections plus the crossings resulted in a 2.5 hour hike, about 3 miles total, including more pic taking and a long lunch at the great flintstone furniture site, just below the big fall. Then back up to Judy Springs for night two. Clear weather sunday monring, and we left around 1030 am, hiking out on Seneca Creek Trail. Made record time with food and beer-lightened packs. Trail also quite wet and muddy. Reached FR112 and hiked five minutes back up to the cars. A great outing, no injuries, many beautiful photos taken, and camaraderie shared. I only give it a four rating instead of the five it deserves because of all the company we encountered, but that's to be expected in a place this beautiful, even in mid-November. The whole area is a gem.
Name: Ted E. Bear and Shortstack Hike: Oregon Ridge
Date: 11/09/13 Rating: 4
This was Ted E. Bear’s first hike after recovering from a painful bout of plantar faciitis and his first hike in this park. Oregon Ridge was a great place to test out how well the old feet would work. For a small park this 5 mile hike had a little of everything: rock hops, hills, views, stream crossings, and even a quaint little pond. Shortstack knew the park so we didn’t pay attention to the directions which we had with us just in case. We did get a little off track once or twice because of the heavy leaf litter covering the trails this time of year. On the brisk Saturday morning when we started there were few other hikers, but by the time we finished the parking lot was full - so start early. (Gates opened at 8:45.) The only negative was a particular ignorant arrogant local with a dog, who ignored the leash your dog rule, and when behind us, the dog got in front of us once or twice. Fortunately the dog had bells on so we heard it coming. Owner of dog with bells on - please leash your dog! Note what we think of you above.
Laura T. Hike: Lost Pond Circuit
Date: 11/09/13 Rating: 3
Critique: Nice views and a pleasant hike - enough hills to get the heart rate up without being killer. Nice for an afternoon after work. At 3pm on a chilly Friday, I only saw a handful of other people. But the rocks, oh the rocks... The rocks rolled under my feet. The rocks caught my trekking poles. The rocks slowed my pace to a crawl, especially going down hills... I stubbed my toes several times on rocks hidden beneath layers of leaves. I'm sure it's a very different hike in the spring and summer.
Name: Laura T. Hike: Hashawha Pderimeter
Date: 11/08/13 Rating: 4
I hike the loop at least four days a week. It's a great hike. Trails are well marked and fairly well maintained, though out on the Yellow loops (Wilderness Trail) you will find newly downed branches and such (and don't take Yellow Loop 1 in the summer if you dislike spider webs). The only treacherous part is the descent of Yellow loop 3 to the stream. I would recommend trekking poles for that. You can also cut around that (and add some length) by taking the equestrian trails when they're not closed for hunting). Scenery is nice and you'll see everything from muskrat to deer to black rat snakes. Many butterflies in the summer months. I do hesitate to call it easy. It's easy if you're fit but if you're just starting to hike or only go on the occasional weekend, you /will/ be winded by some of the Yellow loop hills. The injured raptor cages and Bear Branch nature center are nice additions, especially if you're hiking with children. There is some trail traffic but even on weekend afternoons I don't usually see more than 2-3 other groups.
Name: Rob Hike: White Rocks Circuit
Date: 11/08/13 Rating: 4
Fun hike, I would agree with the moderate description. Few additional notes. Stop and pick up a map at the crossing of the Yellow and Pink Trails (Wilson Cove/Old Mail). I did this hike in the autumn after all the leaves fell, so at times on the Racer Hollow Trail (orange) it was difficult to pick up the trail. Outlook was amazing. Lots of campsites along the way if you want to do an easy backpack trip. As far as the directions, very accurate. Don't make the same mistake I did though: When you leave the White Rocks trail, don't go all the way back down the mountain!
Name: Ed S. Hike: Red Creek/Dunkenbarger Loop
Date: 08/25/13 Rating: 4.5
Critique: This is a nice hike, especially with regards to water features. It's rather different than the meadows of Dolly Sods North. On the plus side are the waterfalls and cascades, plus some mountaintop views. On the minus is the lack of the expansive meadows to the north. I suppose the main issue I had with the hike (other than it taking longer than expected) was that many stretches seemed somewhat typical, and not too much different from other more nearby destinations. But that should not make one think that this is a bad hike. The waterfalls, and the views make this hike more than worthy. The different forest types, from dense pine and spruce stands, rhododendron lowlands, and mixed forests give it a wide variety as you move from trail to trail. The streams are different, from serene Dunkenbarger Run, roaring Big Stonecoal Creek, majestic Red Creek, and the cascading side runs of of Red Creek. Watch out for muddy trails, especially Dunkenbarger and parts of the Red Creek Trail.
Name: Ed S. Hike: Green Ridge North Circuit
Date: 09/29/13 Rating: 4
Critique: A good hike, among the hollows and low hills in Green Ridge State Forest. I started at the old US40 crossing, and also took the spur to the Mason-Dixon Line to extend the hike. The hike runs often in the lowlands of creeks in the area, fairly dry at this time of year. Others are up on narrow benches constructed in the steep bluffs high above the creeks. In other places, it wonders along the low hills and shale barrens of the area. The trails are not that busy, which makes it a good place for seeing wildlife. The trails are often narrow, and you do have to be on a near constant lookout for poison ivy, especially near road crossings and floodplain campsites.
Photo of an Eastern Hogneck Snake
Name: Jennifer Hike: Overall Run Falls-Heiskell Hollow
Date: 11/03/13 Rating: 4
Crirtique: We ended up hiking the trail in reverse, so we actually did not reach the falls until the hike started to decline back down the mountain. The view was fantastic! The low point of the hike was losing a bracelet that my mom gave me while I was expecting my daughter 5 years ago. I am hoping that anyone reading this review and taking this hike will take a moment to look for it on your trip. In a race against the sunset, we were really booking it back down the trail after the Great Falls. This is the steep rocky part of the trail. Well, I went down and recall snagging the bracelet on my walking stick, but did not think I had broken it. It is a thin silver chain bracelet with a single silver baby bootie charm on it. My mother passed almost 5 years ago and I have worn it everyday since my daughter was born. If anyone is lucky enough to find it, you may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be eternally greatful to whoever is able to return it to me! I am from the Richmond, VA area.
M.R.Hyker Note: I will give the finder of Jennifer's bracelet a free copy of my book, The Mid-Atlantic Hiker's Guide:WV, upon its safe return to her.
Name: Laura Hike: Dolly Sods North Backpack
Date(s): 10/19-20/13 Rating: 4
Critique: We did this hike October 19, and loved it. The area is really like nothing else in Virginia, but more like what you would see in Canada, or Scotland. In reading about Dolly Sods, I saw that it was classified as a sub arctic bog, but I have yet to understand how something in Virginia came to be classified as sub arctic. The place is certainly popular enough—hardly room to park the car. We saw plenty of hikers and groups on Bear Rocks Trail. But after we got onto Rocky Ridge Trail, we were on our own. Great views, really amazing landscape. Even at this high point, the many rocks on the ridge were seated in water, and the heath was as damp as a wet sponge. The directions were good, and the signage was better than I had expected. It can be a bit tricky to pick your way down the southern part of Rocky Ridge trail, as it is only rocks, and there really is no discernible path. There is the odd cairn here and there. Red Spruce Grove was a fabulous campsite—large, sheltered, near water. My only complaint is that is very popular, and that in the hollow, sound carries *very* well. We thought another group had camped only a short distance away, but when I went to get water, I saw that they were actually at least twice the distance we had thought—yet we could here every word and laugh at their camp. The next day, things got…interesting. We enjoyed hiking along Blackbird Trail and Upper Red Creek. We were prepared for boggy areas, with waterproof boots and gaiters. What we weren’t expecting was nearly a solid mile of trail that was bog. I don’t know if forces of nature had conspired against us, or if it is typically like this. Hiking through boggy sections was at first run of the mill, then as they stretched out and got longer and wider, more difficult. When we had covered more than a mile and still weren’t leaving them behind, they began to mar the enjoyment of what would otherwise have been a very pleasant hike. I am still wishing I had taken the turn at the Raven Ridge Trail, although I have no way of knowing whether this would have been better. We met several hikers coming from the opposite direction who had given up on the trail. Some had their shoes off, and were in the process of draining. One fellow had gone into the bog up to his knee. All of them were turning around. Disappointing as this section of the trail was to me personally, my greater concern was for the trail, and the landscape itself. Most hikers, when faced with a boggy section of trail, were going around. This meant that the trail was widened, and the natural landscape given way to numerous boots wishing to stay dry and mud free. I can’t help but think this will have a extremely negative impact on this section of Dolly Sods. I really loved the hike in Dolly Sods, and would go back there again in a heartbeat.
Name: Hard Core and Wooly Bully Hike: Trout Run Valley Circumnavigation
Date(s): 10/19-21/13 Rating: 5+
Critique: We opted to do this hike as a clockwise loop (vs. the CCW loop in Mike's trail notes), as the CW direction avoids a steep descent from Tibbet Knob. Everything else - daily mileages, camp locations - stayed the same. Saturday started out cool and cloudy, and stayed that way. Leaving Wolf Gap a little before 10am, we reached Tibbet Knob in about an hour. Very steep in places, but the fantastic view made up for the hard work. From this vantage point, we viewed the entire Trout Run Valley and our route for the next three days. The far end of the valley seemed a long way off! The next sections went by fast, with a 2.5-mile road walk and then finishing the day on the sometimes-rocky Long Mountain Trail. We reached the Ben's Ridge campsite at around 3pm, logging 8.2 miles for the day. We decided to camp in the trees to provide some shelter from the windy and cold conditions. Overall, this was a nice spot, with a large clearing and nearby water. Just a few drops of rain before dinner, a blustery and cool night, with a very bright full moon. Sunday found us back on the trail by 9am, continuing north on the Long Mt. Trail, and then reaching Trout Run Road. Somehow, we got off track just before the road crossing, but taking a right and then a hundred yards or so got us to the Bucktail Parking area. We really appreciated the comfortable benches and informative maps at the trailhead, a very worthwhile outcome of an Eagle Scout project and a perfect lunch spot at the midpoint of our 12.6-mile day. From this point, the trail climbed steadily for the rest of the day. The Half Moon Lookout afforded a neat perspective of the Trout Run Valley; viewing Tibbet Knob and then tracing our route along Ben's Ridge helps us see our progress for the past two days. An impressive distance! We reached the campsite at the intersection of the Half Moon Trail and the Tuscarora Trail at around 4pm. Another nice site, on a narrow ridge, in the trees, with a small but flowing stream about 100 yards down the trail, just across the equestrian boardwalk. The calm and cool conditions let us enjoy Sunday evening's campfire while watching the full moon rise in the eastern sky. Except for a pair of barred owls meeting near our tents and exchanging a weird string of partial calls (two or three notes vs. the normal eight), we had a very quiet night. Fortunately, the temperature was warmer than the predicted mid 30's. The ridge top location provided a nice sunny breakfast spot for Monday morning. Monday started out on the Tuscarora, and then south on the Mill Mountain Trail. We passed Sandstone Spring (flowing nicely), toured the expansive campsite, and then proceeded south. During the section before the Big Schloss Cutoff, we passed three stones, maybe a half mile apart (about the size and shape of a 2' tall gravestone). We could make out a few engraved numerals - maybe these stones serve as some type of marker? When approached from the north, Big Schloss really appears fortress-like. The USFS did a nice job on the new bridge, complete with concrete footings, laminated wood beams, and sturdy side rails. Another great view! From Big Schloss we continued south, still climbing with more views of the mountain ranges to the east, and then finally descending back to the Wolf Gap campground to complete the circuit. This hike deserves a 5+ rating, and the trail notes are spot-on.
Name: Gumby Hike: Dolly Sods Circumnavigation-mod 1
Date(s): 10/18-20/13 Rating: 4
Critique: Three of us arrived at the trail head late afternoon on Friday October 18 with the goal of camping at the correctly described fantastic but dry campsite where we had a front row seat for an amazingly bright hunters moon. While there were a number of cars parked on the fire road we didn't see anyone on the trail out to our first camp site. The next day we headed for the Red Creek on the Harman Trail, after lunch and water we moved on to camp at the junction with the Dunkenbarger Trail. We passed a few other backpackers and day hikers on Saturday and Sunday, but not many. On Sunday, the view from the rocks off of Rocky Point Trail were spectacular, with excellent fall colors and unspoiled views. We had lunch at the Forks and hiked out, having an excellent dinner at Mallow's Roadside Cafe (get there before 7PM on Sunday). The trails and signs were in good condition, though I am happy that I had gps with me to check our location a few times.
Name: Kyle Hike: Otter Creek Backpack
Date: 10/19/13 Rating: 5
Critique: Did the whole backpack loop. It was excellent. The trail damage has been cleared and is good to go. Only a few trees to duck under no big deal. The trail was great the descent on green mountain trail is steep and rocky a little rough on the knees but not to bad. Didnt see one person the whole trip!
Name: Dave Hike: Gunpowder Falls East Circuit
Date: 10/12/13 Rating: 5
Critique: This needs to be updated--I think the park may have built some trails that make the early description obsolete.
Name: Bob Hike: Red Creek/Dunkenbarger Loop
Date: 10/12/13 Rating: 5
Critique: There has been recent trail work on Red Creek. All blow downs that cross the trail have been cleared.
Name: Privy Hike: Torry Ridge-Mills Creek Loop
Date: 10/11/13 Rating: 3
Outing Critique: Thanks for the details on this hike. It is a great route with lots to see, if weather cooperates. We did not have great weather so most views were fogged out. Also, the hike out of the creek valley is very strenuous, so be prepared. Footing is rocky. The second campsite is in a great spot with a nice fire ring and creek access.
Name: Peter Hike: Rocky Knob-Quarry Gap Backpack
Date(s): 10/05-06/13 Rating: 3,5
Critique: As others have mentioned, this is a very well maintained area, which is nice. The weather was superb this past weekend (autumn color were showing, and it was beautiful, albeit a bit hot for the season). The hike was quite easy, but that allowed for us to enjoy the forest hiking more. The reservoir was a great perk on this hike and made up for the lack of views elsewhere. There seemed to be tons of blueberry bushes, as others have mentioned, but, unfortunately, it wasn't their season. Also, like other's said, the Quarry Gap shelter is probably the best I've ever seen. Lots of other nice campsites at many points along the trail. We didn't see many other people, nor did we see much wildlife.
Name: The Mad Hatter Hike: Jeff Mitchell's Waterfall Wonderland
Date: 07/16/11 Rating: 5
Critique: Certainly one of the best, prettiest and most challenging hike I've ever done, and that with only one serious trailess climb. Will probably never do this again but still very memorable.
Name: Dottie Hike: Four Ponds-Rock City Loop
Date: 10/05/13 Rating: 5
Critique: Hiked this today, unusually hot day, but bright and sunny, and saw only 2 people all day. Trails covered w/ leaves yet still easy to follow if using the trail notes & map. Once we crossed Fishing Creek, the leaf-covered trail--mt. biking trails--was quite challenging to find & follow, as the trail notes simply cannot provide a specific description. Remaining alert and looking for even the smallest sign of a trail is what got us through. It was fun! By the end of the hike, we felt that mileage must be closer to or greater than 12 miles. . .seemed like the very last 2 miles were extremely long. ..any error in those miles? All in all, wonderful day!
Name: Ryan Hike: Old loggers Path
Date(s): 09/13/13 Rating: 4
Critique: We did
the upper loop and cut across Pleasant Stream Road (21.5 miles). Very
well maintained trail, blazes were freshly painted and someone very
recent was doing trail work since most of the brush was freshly cut with
shears. All the inclines are quite gradual and the vista's are quite
nice. We ended up camping at popular swimming hole. The water carves out
great swimming holes and the camp sites were quite large. The weather
was cooler this weekend and jumping in the water was not an option, but
would really like to check this out next summer for. Overall a nice
trail and had limited traffic. Our GPX can be downloaded from here.
Name: Mntjohn Hike: Roaring Plains Base Camp and Day Hike
Date: 9/14/13 Rating: 5
Critique: my GF and i drove up FR70 to the pipeline and did a modified version of this hike. pipeline to canyon rim trail to teepee trail and back to the pipeline via the roaring plains trail. the descriptions given here are excellent, we did this with no map, compass or gps(although i did have the description and map and a compass i never had to use them.) the route was pretty obvious to me and although we did get misdirected a couple of times it never took more than a minute or two to get back on track -even on the teepee trail. the week before this we hiked the south prong from fr19 to fr70, fr70 to the pipeline and hidden passage back to the south prong and out ...again doing this without the use of map, compass or gps. had a little problem after the meadows where the hidden passage veers right, took us about 5 minutes to re-find the trail, otherwise was smooth sailing the scenery and views are second to none and we had a great time on both hikes. i highly recommend doing these hikes in segments as to allow more time for exploring and soaking up all the great views and scenery my advice to anyone wishing to hike the canyon rim and hidden passage is to study this page and the corresponding topo as much as you possibly can -get it into your bloodstrem so to speak. then i believe if you have good backcountry intuition and a good sense of direction that you will have no problems ...as always take your time and know the terrain ..print this page and the maps and you will be fine this area is fast becoming my favorite, thanks for the grat maps and trail descriptions
Name: Hard Core, Wooly Bully, Cognac Jack Hike: Neighbor Mountain-Jeremy Run
Date(s): 08/31 to 09/01/13 Rating: 4
Critique: We did this as an overnight backpack during the Labor Day weekend. Accessing SNP at the Thornton Gap entry station, we filed the obligatory back country camping permit, and then proceeded to the Elkwallow Picnic Area to start the trip. Following the Jeremy's Run cutoff trail, and then left onto the AT, we headed south for several miles, at times close enough to Skyline Drive to hear the traffic. The AT gently climbs and descends along this stretch. Proceeding along the Neighbor Mt. trail, it was a constant climb to the high point, with not much in the way of overlooks. We did see an 18" timber rattlesnake, which was spotted by the "sweep" hiker. She has sharp eyes! The descent down to Jeremy's Run offered nice views of the Massanuttens, but less shade as a fairly large section had recently burned. Turning uphill to follow the run, we passed the waterfall site (which had been taken by a young couple) and proceeded to a grassy camp site on the left side of the trail. Within a few minutes after stopping, a passing hiker (also headed up the run) reported seeing bears a "few minutes back". We must have just missed them. With rumbles of thunder from the south, we hurriedly made camp and set up the bear bag hang, and then waited out the shower. The storm provided little relief from the hot and humid day. At sundown the owls started up, first in the distance but then with a large owl stopping directly above the campsite. These guys are loud! Continuing the next morning we crossed Jeremy's Run about 20 times, fortunately the low water made for rock hops. Highlights included seeing a large caterpillar that could swim like a seahorse, brook trout, an interesting conversation with a thru-hiker, and an almost-dead raccoon. Back to the car at 11am, we cleaned up (running water at the picnic area!), enjoyed blackberry milkshakes at the Elkwallow Concession, and then headed back home. This makes for a great overnight trip, just the right length at 15 miles, gentle grades and smooth trails, and within reasonable driving distance. The map and trail notes are spot-on.
Name: Lacy Hike: Laurel Fork Backpack
Date(s): 08/30 to 09/02/13 Rating: 4
Set out early in the morning for a 2 night backpack. The directions were incredibly specific and easy to follow. We didn't get lost even with my complete lack of navigational skills. Some things to note, in the 3rd paragraph of the instructions, when you're looking for the footpath on the left with the small arrow sign--the tree marked with the blaze has fallen down across the path and the sign has come off the tree. We leaned the blaze against the fallen tree, but this may not be a lasting solution. We came across the rattlesnake area, but found the sign (still there!) after passing the "danger zone", so I guess we were walking the opposite direction of the hiker who posted the sign. We didn't see any snakes or signs of snakes here, but just be careful when you start walking on the rocks by the stream. The only snake we saw was a brown unidentified snake on the rocks prior to this area near where the trail erosion was. We saw him as we were trying to avoid a large fishing spider sunbathing with a full egg sack on the rock we were trying to cross. Strangely enough, these two were the only animals we saw on the trip (minus an alleged deer sighting by my partner and the millions of gnats constantly swarming us). It was quiet hike through the woods, rarely even heard birds. Only saw two other groups of hikers on the trail throughout the entire 3 days. Campsites are nice, some have seats built of river stones (some with backrests!) and most sites had extra wood the previous hikers hadn't used still sitting next to the fire pits. We really enjoyed our time out in the woods. Recommend bringing two pairs of shoes as we used one for hiking all day and crossing the rivers, but had a second pair at night for around the campsite. Thanks for the great directions and reviews! We will be using this site for camping trips in the future!
Name: Moonshine Hike: Laurel Fork Wilderness-Allegheny Trail
Date(s): 08/31 to 09/02/13 Rating: 4
Critique: I added an out-and-back to High Falls on Day 1. After recent rains the waterfall was spectacular. The trail over Shavers Mtn is rocky and washed out in some spots. Laurel Fork Tr North of the campground is overgrown with weeds in many places, but tall cairn don't let you get lost. North of the Wilderness boundary new blue diamonds guide you to the ford and all the way to FR44. Now, the really important issue: McCray Run Tr has lots of blowdowns. They are so bad that I chose to walk the creekbed wherever possible. Allegheny Tr is not much better for the first 0.5 mi. Overall, I made about 37 mi in 2.5 days and capped the trip with a refreshing dip in the river in Glady.
Name: Tom Hike: Big Run-Seneca Creek-Lost Meadows backpack
Date(s): 4/30 to 05/02/2013 Rating: 4
Critique: Did this hike minus the Big Run entrance. Started at Seneca Creek trailhead instead. Warm days, chilly nights, beautiful water works. A small handful of other hikers. Was nice to hit High Meadows when it isn't overgrown. Also found the plane wreckage on Lumberjack since there was no vegetation. Had walked by it many times before and never saw it. Enjoyed the understory off-trail a bit too. Went past the Lost Meadow and found another trail to an even higher meadow on top the mountain. Looks like a 4-wheeler or hunter's trail that is easy to follow. Could be getting onto private property. Beyond the top of the mountain, I did not explore to the north, but you can look south along the entire spine of Spruce Mountain. Farther away you can see clear to Bald Knob on Back Allegheny Mountain over in Pocahontas County. One interesting feature is visible in the brush behind the fire ring near the south side of the the Lost Meadow. There are three nearly identical rock cairns spaced in a line about the same distance apart, each is 6-7 feet tall and remarkably well built. They have been there a while, as evidenced by the trees and brush growing in and around them. Maybe aliens built them, or maybe they are markers along an old trail. Anybody have a clue who built these and why?? Love this hike, and plan to go again, possibly this fall in the color season.
Name: Tom Hike: Piney Ridge-Piney Branch Loop
Date: 08/30/13 Rating: 5
Critique: I made a two day hike out of this. Started on Skyline Drive; hiked down Piney Ridge Trail, taking a left on the trail at the intersection with Fork Trail, and continued on Pine Ridge to the Hull School Trail, where I crossed the stream and camped for the night. The next morning I continued west on Hull School Trail, right on the Fork Trail, and hiked back to Skyline Drive on Piney Ridge. The 1.11 stretch of Piney Ridge to Piney Branch is very steep, with a lot of switchbacks. Suggest going downhill on this stretch, not uphill. Saw a black bear in this area. There is a good camping spot at the intersection of Hull School Trail and Piney Branch, just on the west side of the stream, far enough away from trail to be hidden. Only ran into two groups the entire hike. Overall, it is one of the lesser used routes in the northern section of SNP.
Name: Andrew Hike: St. Mary's Wilderness
Date: 08/23-25/13 Rating: 4
Critique: Parked at the BRP and hiked Mine Bank to the junction of the River trail. This trail is clear of blowdowns and seemed very recently cut back. Other trails are mildly overgrown but still passable.) We turned right and hiked 0.3 miles to the group camp described above. Easily room for 3 or 4 boy scout jamborees here. Saturday we did an out and back to the Falls. The best swimming hole, in my opinion, is just upstream of the lower falls - 10 ft. deep, clear water, complete with rope to haul yourself out with and plenty of rock ledges for canonball jumping.
Name: Bill Thomas Hike: Roaring Plains Circuit
Date(s): 08/11-13/13 Rating: 5
Critique: What an amazing hike! Thanks for the trail notes and GPS route waypoints. Could not have done it without these two critical pieces of information. We left the parking lot mid afternoon and were at the nice campsite by the stream way before dark. What a beautiful place to spend a peaceful night. The next day we took our time and enjoyed the many excellent views on our way to the Tee-Pee campsite. We just about lost the trail just after getting off the pipeline swath -- "iffy" indeed! We filled up all our water at Roaring Run as a precaution, and good we did, as Tee-Pee was dry (until it rained late that night!). A nice campsite, but no views. Next time I will stop at the campsite just down the trail from “The Point”. Tee-Pee trail and the subsequent Roaring Plains Trail were very wet - basically like walking a stream all the way to the swath. Boar’s Nest Trail was also quite wet -- only dry part was on top! Last view is great, then a very steep descent. The last ford was wet, as we couldn't find any rocks to hop across. But after all that downhill, the water actually felt really good. And our cars were still there!! A great hike! But would have been much more challenging without the tools on this site. Thanks!!!!
Name: Janet Emily Hike: Rocky Top/Big Run Loop
Date(s): 08/07-09/13 Rating: 4
Critique: First - thank you so much for this site. It is the most helpful planning site I have found for any area of the US. We followed the route as outlined in the description, but made it two overnights so we could spend more time in the area. For the ridge section, I would add that the nice lunch stop appeared to be the only nice lunch stop. I mistakenly thought I would find another spot farther on, but eventually we hunkered down in some shade right on the trail. The campsites near the bridge were wonderful and we loved the wading pool. The water was warm enough for a refreshing bath. On Day 2 we took a side hike up Brown Mountain Trail. This is roughly 1000 feet over 1 mile so we left our packs at the camp site. There are no pre-made viewpoints, but at the .9 mile mark you'll see a fairly open area that you can climb up and perch on a rock outcrop for a wonderful view. We failed to discover the "best camp site" mentioned. We found one site that could have matched the description, but did not match the GPS distance. The site offered room for 3 tents and was wide, under some hemlocks. But the creek access along the full length of the site was guarded by lush stinging nettles. I found one path through them to collect water. Also, this site was completely hidden from the trail. You have to look for it to find the faint manpath to it. We liked the first campsite better. Also, the last campsite on the trail, just short of the connector to Big Run Loop trail, is bare minimum. It is on the creek side, but there is no water access. On the other side of the trail the site is marked "No Camping". Maybe the "best camp site" was one of these marked "No camping". We were glad we went back to find the "best camp site" and found a good one. We saw a school of Brown Trout, maybe 50 fish, in a pool 1/4 mile prior to our second camp site. Right after a ford. My husband caught 4 trout in a hurry, but they were not quite big enough to eat. It was August. We walked out the final 3 miles the next morning and loved the climb out. Just beautiful, and we were fresh enough to enjoy it.
Ed S. Hike: Big Mountain/Pine Tree Vista
Date: 07/29/13 Rating: 5 (4 if uncountable spider webs present)
Critique: It may be odd for me to review this hike, but after reading the recent reviews it'd be a good time to revisit, especially as I'd never hiked Big Mountain in summer. I did the hike in the described CCW direction, but I started at the King trailhead, in the valley instead of atop the mountain. When I went, the trails were in much better shape than recently described. The State Forest trails (Lincoln, Plank, Richmond, King, Lockard) have all seen recent brush clearing and blowdown removal. The logging road sections have been mowed, not quite as recently as the trail clearing though. In my experience, the logging roads get mowed perhaps a few times a year; the State Forest trails get cleared no more than once a year at best. The Tuscarora Trail was also in good shape and well trodden. It is a narrow footway, and there was tall grass to go through on both sides of the Big Mountain overlook. The King-Lockard connector sees some use; though its start off the logging road is still somewhat obscure. Look for where the mowing ends or for where non-fenced-in trees appear in the middle of the logging road; the bypass is cut into a small rise above the logging road. I did some rough clearing along the rest of the bypass; so where to leave the logging skid is perhaps a bit more obvious. As to where the trail to Lockard begins, be sure to work all the way to the southeast corner of the bypassed wet area while staying within the tree line. In addition to the two overlooks and the shelter and its pond, my favorite part of the loop is the Lockard Trail, a serene wonderland for a good part of its length, through hemlocks and mountain laurel. It's a great trail for all seasons, and most of the time you can quickly forget you are closely paralleling a road. Plus, apart from the Big Mountain overlook, most likely you will experience full solitude. (Of course, that can be an issue; in the summer on a lot of the trails I was clearing spiderwebs strung across the trail which often seemed like every 20 feet or so.) The rough path to the King Trail overlook is apparent as soon as you once again see the lone pine atop the mountain. I should note that this overlook can be skipped in the summer, as it was somewhat leafed over. I hope that is merely a seasonal issue. In clearer times you can see the surprising offset in Tuscarora Mountain at Cowans Gap, along with fleeting views of the lake. Some navigation notes. (1) Except for the Tuscarora Trail, blazes are faint and infrequent. Plank and Lockard are green; Lincoln, Fore, Richmond, and King are red. (2) There is no longer a sign for the Lincoln Trail at the start though it is clear due to the yellow gate. (3) At the split of the Logging Roads at the Tuscarora Trail, make a sharp left turn. (4) Halfway between the Lincoln and Plank Trails, the Tuscarora narrows from a logging road to more a woods road. (5) The woods road that the Tuscarora Trail follows makes a 90-degree left turn at the <b>unsigned</b> junction with the Plank Trail; the Tuscarora continues straight ahead there as the narrow footpath, not further along at the Fore Trail. (6) The sign for the Richmond Trail atop the mountain does face north, so you would only see the back of the sign. However, just north of the junction is where the Tuscarora Trail rejoins the logging road, with a sign that'll be fully visible whichever way you went. From the Tuscarora sign just face south on the logging road and the Richmond Trail will be readily visible. (7) There are two Lockard/Fore Trail junctions, as they are co-aligned to cross the creek. The lower/first junction has a Fore Trail sign resting in a tree; veer left and stay on the obvious trail. The second/upper junction is in a very small clearing, veer right and make a very short descent to cross a usually dry streambed. (If you take the Fore Trail at the first junction; you'll find yourself climbing Cove Mountain on a rough unmaintained trail, and unless you are hiking all the trails in Allens Valley or want another steep climb and descent to do there's really no good reason to head up it. If you take Fore at the second junction, you'll find yourself in a narrow rock walled side-hollow and soon climb to the paved road. It can make a good shortcut between the Lockard, Gish logging, and Tuscarora Trails.) (8) The Lockard/Lincoln junction only has a sign for the Lockard Trail, but the junction will be obvious, as will the direction as the Lincoln Trail climbing Cove Mountain did not get the recent care the other way did. As for wet areas, assuming you remember the bypass, the only issue I had was immediately before the stream crossing along the Lockard Trail, for maybe 20-30 feet. In the spring there are more areas, as is clear from the mosses along the trail, but I recall these to be easy to get through. One final word. Consider an alternate start to the hike by walking up gravel Tower Rd to the Plank Trail, and take that east to the Tuscarora Trail. The distance and elevation change are basically the same, plus you get to walk past the "bowling pin," and thanks to past logging operations, you get some good views of the ridges to the east, Cumberland Valley and South Mountain, and the Bear Pond Mountains.
Name: Hardcore/Wooly Bully/Shortstack Hike: ATF-East
Date(s): 08/03-05/13 Rating: 4
Critique: Encouraged by word of recent trail clearings and re-blazing for a trail race on AFT, Hard Core, Shortstack, and Wooly Bully stopped at the Black Moshannon State Park office, to sign in, get maps and trail updates from the park ranger. We faced light rain as we headed north up the Shingle Mill Trail, descending along the Black Moshannon Creek, charming with plenty of flowers, including Hollow Jo- Pye Weed and Cardinal Flower, sometimes growing in the center of the creek. After joining the AFT, we headed east through fields of ferns and ended the day at a campsite just past the Rock Run cutoff trail. Day one was a nice woods hike with relatively smooth trails and little elevation gain. Overnight temperatures were in the low 50's, with some traffic noise from I-80, and owl and coyote calls in the distance. Day 2 proved different. The weather improved with nice, low-humidity conditions for the remaining of the trek. After crossing Rt. 504, the trail became very rocky (ROCK ALERT!), with some steep sections. At one of the rougher sections, we meet backpackers from the Penn State Outdoor Club, participating in a five-day "Freshman Orientation." We continued up towards the overlooks enjoying more ferns, three "named vistas," and lots of blueberries! After crossing Underwood Road, the blazing (fresh yellow paint to this point) disappeared for a while, and then turned red. The blazes and trail maintenance had been good to this point, but the trail race must have ended here. Three tired hikers almost called it a night at the first Smay's Run campsite along a wood road, but fortunately decided to take the second site under the hemlocks. Again, we had the campsite to ourselves except for the owls and whatever roams through campsites at night (deer?), and everyone slept well. Day 3 included fantastic views of marshlands from a network of boardwalks and more blueberries. The trail notes may need updating here, as we had a few confusing sections getting on to the Indian Trail and Bog Trail was not labeled until on top of it, but we ended up in the right place, along the lake on beautiful boardwalks. The last two miles of the circuit were road-walking past nicely kept lakeshore houses. Overall, this was a nice trail, 32.8 miles total. It was a little rocky, rutted, and steep in the middle as accurately described in the trail notes, but otherwise moderate, seeing only a few groups of hikers and mostly, well marked except as noted. A plus for summer outings here, the beachfront was open and the bathhouse available for showers and changing.
Name: Gary Hike: Chuck Keiper trail - West
Date(s): 08/09-10/13 Rating: 1
Critique: This trail has not been maintained in quite some time, I'd estimate at least 2 years. Anybody attempting this trail please go with the knowledge that you will be bushwhacking and sliding down once narrow footpaths that are now nonexistent. The trail is deceiving because the footpath in the beginning and sections near roads are pretty navigable, but once you pass a creek for the first time the trail quality deteriorates. I've included a picture of what used to be the trail (you can see the bright orange blaze in the circle). After spending an entire day bushwhacking with the hopes that it would get better I cut my planned 3 day trip to an overnighter and headed home disappointed. I wish this trail was still a trial as I think it would be a nice hike but in its current state and in rain is almost dangerous on some of the sections that used to be footpaths that are now just rock slides.
Name: Mountain Stream Flood Hike: Morgan Run N.E.A.
Date: 07/27/13 Rating: 3
Overall this a pleasant outing and contains a bit of everything one can find in a Piedmont hike in Maryland; from rolling hills and open fields to the Appalachian like mini-gorge of Morgan Run. This hike, however, cannot be done as described, at least not during the summer months. The second single track trail ("0.22 miles to another single track trail on the left") has been completely overgrown and obscured by a dense thicket. Also, the footpath along Morgan Run, while discernible, is very badly overgrown and can be slow going. If you cross Morgan Run, which was easily accomplished even now with the abnormally large amount of rain lately, you can pick up a much better trail on the north bank of the river. About 0.1-0.2 miles from Klee Mill Road, this trail ascends some very cool rock formations above the creek providing excellent views of the gorge.
Name: Ed S. Hike: Shawl Gap/Sherman Gap Loop
Date: 06/13/13 Rating: 3.5
Critique: This was an OK hike, but without anything spectacular about it. There are only a few window views, and only typical streams. The Elizabeth Furnace ruins are a plus. The ridgeline hike never gets very technical, and some stretches where poison ivy makes for difficult walking. The Sherman Gap Trail seemed endless, and often fairly open to the sun. Instead of taking the Botts Trail at the end, I continued on the Sherman Gap Trail and then the Bearwallow Spur to reach to the Tuscarora Trail to get back to the picnic area. My advice, take the Botts Trail. While the ford on Passage Creek was easy if deep enough to get my shorts wet, the bottomlands trail past it was overgrown, buggy, muddy, and miserable. On the plus side, I got to experience my first cicada brood since 1987.
Name: Katie Junghans Hike: Grayson Highlands - 2
Date(s): 07/23-27/13 Rating: 5
Critique: Your descriptions of this hike were a great intro to this beautiful area. My son and I were feeling sorry that we couldn't see the June rhododendrons in bloom, but were thrilled to see the white variety blooming along Lewis Fork and Big and Little Wilson Creeks in late July. Even better than the flowers were the high bush blueberries that we began eating on the AT Spur Trail and never stopped enjoying the entire hike. Also, the variety of mushrooms along the Cliffside and Lewis Fork Trails, and then along the AT between Old Orchard and Wise Shelters was phenomenal. Every color and shape, and many we had never seen before. We made this a 3-night, 4 day trek by adding in Mt.Rogers and the Cabin Creek waterfall loop. Thanks for your great website.
Name: Jay Hike: Hemlock Gorge
Date: 07/20/13 Rating: 4
Critique: This was my first unguided hike. My wife and I took the day and followed the planned route. The hike was very scenic and just challenging enough for a couple novice hikers. The sandy bench section of the trail was quite overgrown and gave us some battle scars from the thorns, etc. The Swimming Hole was the perfect location to stop and cool off after forging through the overgrown sandy bench and climbing along the rocks. (Side note, for a slightly deeper location, there is a well worn trail on the opposite side of the river leading to a large rock. This section of the river appeared to be deeper and was occupied by a few locals and their pets who all looked to be having a great time). Overall, it was a great day!
Name: Bubbles Hike: Dolly Sods Circumnavigation-mod 1 (modified)
Date(s): 07/13-15/13 Rating: 4
Critique: We delayed a day (thankfully) due to rain, but still expected wet, humid conditions, and adjusted the full circumnavigation accordingly! It was "boots off" on the Bear Rocks Trail at Red Creek after slogging through the bog leading down to it! The Raven Ridge and Rocky Ridge were fine. There appeared to be a small spring draining water across Rocky Ridge Trail near the two "dry" camp sites: could be seasona1! We opted not to do the Harman/Blackbird Knob loop; staying on the ridge! I validated the existence of the sink hole at the beginning of the Big Stonecoal Trail, saying afterwards that "I seem to remember reading about this somewhere!!" The very nice campsite 1.11 miles down Stonecoal(2nd waypoint) was occupied, so we went down to the merge with the Dunkenbarger. At the ford point before the merge when you cross the creek (logs to the right of the trail) there is a very nice campsite about fifty yards up the creek to the right in a spruce grove! It's by far the best one we found! The next morning we took the Rocky Point Trail around Lion's Head to the Forks. Having been surprised by the really nice weather we expected the area to be crowded. Arriving around noon helped! We had the choice of any site! The south side at the fork is one of the better sites around although it only handles three tents! Hiking out the next morning we wanted to avoid the bogs of Dobbin Grade so we took the Raven Ridge Tr after the Beaver Dam (which has firmed up nicely!), then the Unofficial Dobbin Grade bypass which is marked by a small cairn which is easy to miss! Expecting not-so-good weather and lots of hikers, we had the opposite! Also, the Sunset Restaurant on the east side of Moorefield had some very good food and service (415 South Main St.). Only downside - they were out of their blackberry cobbler!
Name: Larry and Krysten Hike: Brown Mountain-Rockytop Loop
Dates: 07/09-11/13 Rating: 5
Critique: What a beautiful loop trail!! The grass, thorns and brush had been recently trimmed and there were no fallen trees to deal with. Even with the trees in full leaf, many of the vistas provided sweeping views. This is a perfect time of the year to "dine" on wild blueberries, black raspberries and blackberries. We saw grouse, a rabbit, and a small buck who decided to follow us for a while. We encountered a day hiker who had seen a black bear. Heed the warning about the lack of water and campsites on the slopes and tops of the two mountains. On a note of caution, be sure to apply tick repellant. I picked off 3 wood ticks and unfortunately ended up with 2 embedded deer ticks (yes, I am now taking antibiotics). This will be an unbelievable hike when the leaves are turning or when they have dropped. Crossing the “large talus rock formations” will be quite tricky if the rocks are wet or icy, and being on the top could be very “exciting” during a thunderstorm.
Name: Sam Hike: Old Loggers Path
Date: 07/05-07/13 Rating: 4
Critique: Hard Core, Wooly Bully, Ted E. Bear and Shortstack did the
OLP in the heat, thunder (but no rain during the day) weekend. We first
stopped at the Forest Ranger Station at Hillgrove, PA to get information
regarding parking at Masten Road, since the websites indicated the
bridge was out and possible road closures. We parked at the campsite
along Masten Road as directed by the Forest Service. There is parking
just past campsite E, where the Forest Service mowed a small field for
OLP backpackers/hikers’ parking. Although the Park Service directed us
to this parking area, we did not think to ask, and they did not advise
us, how to get to the trailhead since the bridge across Pleasant Stream
is gone and a new one is under construction (see photo). We planned to
do the loop clockwise and wanted to cross the river to get to the
trailhead using M.R.
Name: Tammy Hike: Billy Goat A
Date: 07/07/13 Rating: 4
Critique: I have hiked this trail many times for many years as well as every trail around. I am over 50 and I'm fairly active. It is fun however I do not hike alone because you never know what can happen. A twisted ankle, snake bite, bad cut, or as the case yesterday... not enough water. The older you get the more water you need. Please understand, the rocks are extremely hot in summer and you should bring gloves. Plus double your water. This trip in the fall can be done with 1-2 bottles of water for the over 50 group, in the summer you will need 2-4 bottles of water. Yesterday, my son forgot 2 bottles of water in the car and I began to dehydrate rapidly from heat. When you are older, once you dehydrate it is very difficult to regain control of staying hydrated. We managed because we have hiked so much. It was an easy oversight for my 16 year old boy and lesson learned. Bring water... lots of it. And a snack or 2. It is a fun hike, very family friendly but if you have knee issues, hip issues, back issues please work up to it first and do not go in mid summer because you won't like it and really.... it's the most wonderful place in the world. Fall is beautiful and cool... enjoy
Name: Ken Knott Hike: Big Beechy-Middle Fork Loop
Date: 07/06-07/13 Rating: 4
Critique: Another fantastic backpack through the West Virginia Monongahela Forest - this time in the Cranberry Wilderness. Beginning at the Big Beechy trailhead off WV150 we quickly summited following a brief 250ft climb to the enter the 'Hall of Kings', a spectacular stretch of virgin Spruce and moss covered boulders and forest floor. From here for the next 3 miles or so the hike is deceptively easy as hiking is swift on wide trail carpeted with thick spruce needles. Several sections are closely encroached by small spruces and fallen trees which gives a hint of the pain to come... Eventually the trail becomes a series of seemingly continual series of climbs, hops and ducks around, over and through fallen trees, encroaching greenery, thick rhododendron or laurel. Be prepared to take many a 'spruce to the face' as we came to call it. The trail can be difficult to follow at times but it often supplemented by well placed cairns. We lost the trail twice while dodging around fallen tree's and once needed to resort to the gps to backtrack to find the last sighting of real trail. The trail appears to have been rerouted at some point. A final steep hill side decent takes to to the confluence of Big Beechy Run and Middle Fork. The trail here is heavily surrounded by Stinging Nettles and pants are highly recommended in season of greenery. The campground is fantastic featuring many many sites and fire rings. The creeks itself features a beautiful waterfall and a terrific swimming hole. The return ascent up the Middle Fork Trail is a gentle grade of about 2000ft over the course of nearly nine miles. The trail is an old forest or logging road and is generally quite broad and easy to follow. The creek is crossed twice and is often marked by cairns at the rare difficult to follow sections. Again, warning that the trail is heavily surrounded by stinging nettles for at least the first third. Pants are highly recommended. Middle Creek is quite beautiful and features many more campsites, swimming holes, and places to relax. Near the end the trail merges with the North-South Trail for the find mile or so before closing the loop.
Name: Eric Hike: Rocky Knob-Quarry Gap
Date: 07/05-06/13 Rating: 4.5
Critique: Great beginner hike. Took my wife on her first time backpacking. We did this loop backward from the description. TONS of campsites along the way so you can tailor your trip to suit your needs. We ended up going all the way to the shelter, but wanting to cut down on the second day we pressed on. Just FYI the short side of Rocky Knob trail has almost NO good places to camp - it is very steep on both sides. There are campsites about .1 miles into the trail at both ends, but not on the trail so do not expect to camp there. We had hoped to and ended up pushing ourselves just a little too far to get to the good campsite just North of the reservoir. But pretty much everywhere else it seems like there are campsites every .25 miles. Definitely recommend this as a beginner hike for anyone you're trying to introduce to backpacking, and it can be done effectively either way (we would have camped on the north side of Rocky Knob trail if we had to do it again). Fantastic hike, thanks for the write up! PS. There's a fun little geocache just north of the reservoir right on this hike! I think there's another one on the AT too but we passed it...whoops!
Name: Tasha Hike: Roaring Plains Circuit
Date: 07/05-06/13 Rating: 5
Critique: These directions were great and guided myself and 2 adventurous girlfriends almost seamlessly for an overnight backpacking trip. The "unofficial" trails are pretty well trodden by now and currently marked with cairns often enough for experienced hikers to follow fairly easily. The rocky terrain and steepness hiking down Boar's Nest Trail were rough on the knees, feet, ankles; however the views from the canyon rim were worth every step! Our trip was over a holiday weekend and we didn't see anyone else on the trail over the 2 days....a great alternative to the traffic in the Dolly Sods. Thanks so much for sharing the info!
Name: Michael Mac Hike: Otter Creek - Condon Run to Dry Fork
Date: 06/17/13 Rating: 5
Critique: Hiked the entire length of the Otter Creek trail and, as noted already by Corey, there is approximately a mile and a half stretch near the middle of the trail that has yet to be cleared from the storms last year. Encountered only 4 people the entire hike: a couple hunkered down right in the middle of the aforementioned storm carnage, and 2 forest workers on their way to check out a significant landslide (on the Otter Creek trail, in the midst of the uncleared area). The workers informed me that this stretch of the Otter Creek trail, along with Green Mountain trail & Possession Camp trail are the only areas that remain to be cleared...and will be tackled in the fall most likely.
Name: Rebecca Hike: Big Mountain/Pine Tree Vista
Date: 07/05/13 Rating: 1
Critique: DO NOT go on this hike. I am an experienced hiker. I've hiked all the way up and down the east coast from Katahdin's Knife edge to Mt. LeConte in the smokies. This was the worst hike I've ever done. The first portion to the big mountain viewpoint is pleasant but it's not worth it because you can just drive there. The rest of the hike is extremely poorly maintained. I missed the sign for the Richmound trail because it's only visible coming up the mountain and not down the mountain. I hiked on the Tuscarora trail about a mile out of my way because I missed it. Then, I hiked up to try to find the viewpoint over allens valley and even with the warnings in the comments I could not find the vantage point. Most of the trail is tall grasses that are poorly maintained. I pulled several ticks off of me during the course of the outing. Finally, after failing to find the second viewpoint and after having pulled several ticks, I decided to give up on the rest of the trail and walked pack to my car up Augwick road. If you're into serious off trail hiking, this could be the right one for you. Might also be good on horse or bike. But it's completely unsuitable for a day hike, and I would recommend that they take it off the website.
Name: Bruce Hike: Gun Powder Falls-West
Date: 07/04/13 Rating: 4
Critique: I did the Gunpowder Falls west loop on the morning of the 4th of July. Overall the trail notes are fine. A couple of comments. Starting point, there is not a "no bikes" sign but the trail start is fairly obvious across bunker hill rd coming back up from the parking lot on the left as you come out the way you entered. The latrines in the archery range are not locked. It looks like someone broke into them. The trail leaving the area identified as the rock area is overgrown, but obvious if you stay along the river. I did not go up the dam because it was getting hot, so I stuck to the base route. When I got back to the bridge, I decided to crossed the bridge on Masemore Rd walked .5 miles to Bunker Hill Rd and took a right to head back to the parking lot about .75 miles. My mistake was forgetting that I would need to cross the river! The water is pretty cold for July, but it only came up to mid thigh and my dog had to swim, but it really cooled him off. I saw a couple of joggers, another group of 4 hikers and quite a few fly fisherman up in the rocky area. Overall a good hike.
Name: Bruce Hike: Susquehanna State Park
Date: 06/29/13 Rating: 4
Critique: I did the first 5+ or so miles of this hike, I cut through on the gray trail to the red and headed to Grist mill (eliminated the orange and yellow). The description is really good. On the first leg along the tracks, it is a little bit over grown. I was the first one to go on the tracks in the morning, so I was met with a large amount of spiders and their webs across my face, but it was worth it for the views of the river. The White Oak is worth the side trip. Overall the trail is well maintained. There were only a couple of other hikers, a horse rider, and 1 mountain biker. I took my dog with me and there were no issues for him. Beautiful weather and a very nice day trip. Thanks!
Name: Ben Hike: Laurel Fork Backpack
Date(s): 06/29-30/13 Rating: 4
Critique: Three of us did the hike as described the last weekend of June, 2013. The area was beautiful and like much of that area looked more like Canada or New England in places. For the most part the trails were in good shape. The two exceptions were the Bearwallow Trail and a few parts of the Laurel Fork trail itself. The upper portion of the Bearwallow was hard to follow. The blazes were faint and the path was almost non-existent in the beginning. The trail does improve once you get on the grade by Bearwallow Run but be prepared to spend some time in the beginning looking for blazes. The Laurel fork trail was for the most part in great shape as it was worked on a couple years ago by the student conservation association. It had nice fresh blazes and they cleared out the rhodos. The only bad part was a couple sections where the side hill had washed out forcing one to walk in Laurel fork a little ways. The campsite by the intersection of the Laurel fork and locust run trail was great though.
Name: Bob Handelsman Hike: Laurel Fork Backpack
Date(s): 06/19-22/13 Rating: 5
Critique: A few years ago, I did a post for this hike which I did in 1978 and again in 1979. I always wanted to go back and finally did -- after 34 years. It took us, a 54 year old, a 60 year old and a 65 year old, about 2 1/4 hours to hike down the Buck Run Trail and set up a base camp on the flat ground near the confluence of Locust Spring Run and the Laurel Fork. There are a number of very good campsites there. If you want to cross the Laurel Fork Trail and hike the trail there, it looked easier to cross by the campsite closest to the Laurel Fork and, if going north, easily bushwack over to the trail. The trail going north only goes to the Cold Spring Run trail which is a nice walk but no views on the top. Going south, there are 2 good campsites after crossing the Laurel Fork about 100 yards south of Locust Spring Run. We met a local guy who said he caught about 25 brook trout in the Laurel Fork in an afternoon, the biggest about 13 inches. To fish the Laurel Fork effectively, one needs wading boots for ankle support and a wading staff. CAUTION: IF GOING SOUTH (UPSTREAM) ON THE LAUREL FORK TRAIL, THERE IS A RATTLESNAKE DEN DIRECTLY ON THE TRAIL ABOUT 2/5 MILE SOUTH OF LOCUST SPRING RUN. AT THIS POINT, THE TRAIL GOES DOWN TO THE RIVER AND IS MARKED BY 2 ROCK CAIRNS. THE DEN IS BETWEEN THE 2 CAIRNS UNDER A LEDGE/STEP. When we were there, someone stuck a note on the first cairn warning of 2 "big" rattlesnakes and we saw a shed snake skin estimated at 3 feet in length. The note may not be there for the next hiker.
Name: Bruce Hike: Gunpowder Falls-East Circuit
Date: 06/22/13 Rating: 4
Critique: The description is good. I made it without the map, but used my gps a couple of times to make sure I was on the approximate right track. The trail was overgrown in spots, but for the most part not too difficult. I saw a total of 7 people on the hike. 4 runners, two other hikers and a guy standing by the water at one of the entry points. I took a dog with me and had no problems. The other two hikers had a dog as well.
Name: JNK556 Hike: Roaring Plains Base Camp and Day Hike
Date: 06/15/13 Rating: 4
Critique: Did this hike with ArfcomHkr, weather was nice, all be it still a lot of mud with all the rain we have had. South prong trail is nice, but rocky, good views off trail in the boulders. Hidden Passage is really nice, trail is pretty easy to follow, but could be confusing in some spots. Canyon rim trail is very rough, and in many places over grown, but still pretty easy to follow. We lost the trail near where you cross Roaring Creek, but picked it back up with a little searching and our GPS's. ArfcomHkr took a fall after "The Point" on some rocks, so we decided to cut the loop short and go through the TeePee trail. I wish we wouldn't have. TeePee trail is overgrown, hard to follow in alot of spots, we actually had to bushwack though a thicket to find the trail, and we ended up lost for 30min at the very end of TeePee about 25yds from the Roaring Plains intersection, as you have to pretty much fight your way though a thicket and a small seep to get out on to Roaring plains. All in all though it was a fun hike, and the views are great along the whole way, just don't try it unless you are very skilled with a GPS, compass map, and have a good sense of direction.
Name: Corey W. Hike: Otter Creek Backpack
Date(s): 06/14-16/13 Rating: 2
Critique: **WARNING** *SECTIONS OF OTTER CREEK TRAIL NEARLY IMPASSABLE SUE TO FALLEN TREES AND LANDSLIDES* Our group of six began at Mylius trail head at 5pm. We climbed the moderately steep but charming Mylius and Shavers Mountain trails until we arrived at a nice flat grassy campsite near the edge of a cliff on Shavers Mountain where we found a mostly obscured view of the valleys and mountains in the distance. In the morning we filled up our water bottles at the spring at the campsite on the other side of the trail opposite our own, and continued on to Green Mountain trail. This trail was thick with vegetation, wet, rocky and steep as it neared Otter Creek. Some time after the first crossing we were forced to struggle through OVER A MILE OF FALLEN TREES, BUSHES, AND SOIL DANGEROUSLY CLOSE TO THE CREEK BANK which delayed us for several hours. Luckily we brought a small axe and WERE FORCED TO CHOP OUR WAY THROUGH SEVERAL FALLEN TREES TO GET THROUGH. We went on at a extremely slow and tiresome pace until nearly dark when we camped in a site surrounded by fallen trees. We were very worried we were not going to be able to make it out the following day, or if we would miss our turn altogether due to the fallen trees, and that we may have to go about 10 miles back the way we came. Thankfully, we found the next morning that we only had to travel about a quarter of a mile more through the fallen trees before we reached where the trail had been cut clear. From that point on the hike was pleasant and beautiful, but we were all so stressed over the hard trek over the destroyed trail that we didn't get to enjoy it very much and were just happy to have gotten out without more than cuts, bruises and fatigue. This hike would have been very enjoyable (5 out of 5 rating) if the trail had been clear, but as there was no warning of this danger at the trail head, I am writing this review to alert others of the adverse conditions to be expected. I for one would love to hike Otter Creek again, but not until the trail is cleared. Hike at your own risk and take care!
Name: Jay Neale Hike: Morgan Run Loop
Date: 06/16/13 Rating: 3
Critique: I did the loop in reverse order today, (Clockwise). I cut out the loop in the center of the west side for a total hike of 6.8 miles. Recent high water has taken out several of the fire road culverts on the east side. Little Morgan Run had a lot of fresh washout, which made for a good place to sit and eat lunch. Afterwards I took my boots and pant legs off, got in the creek and scouted it out. because the first crossing was so muddy, I walked up the feeder creek to where the trail crosses. There I found sandy soil and a nice log to put my boots back on. Watch out for muddy patches and poison ivy in the low spots. Otherwise it was a very enjoyable outing!
Name: Jo Ellen Hike: Long Pond Backpack
Date: 06/08-09/13 Rating: 2.5
A group of us did this hike as our first one of the season. We actually did not do the whole hike, but camped at what we think was the "Oldsmobile" campsite. However, we couldn't figure out why you call it that. I tried to look at Don's photos, but they are not longer available on shutterfly. So, what gives? Why "Oldsmobile"? It was a good first outing as it had some elevation and some water crossings. Even with all this rain, the "slippery rock" waterfall had no water....but it did have a slippery rock. It was fun, but nothing that would draw me back.
M.R.Hyker Notes: Thanks for telling me about Don's photo links being broken. I removed them. As far as the Oldsmobile site ... there used to be an old Oldsmobile hubcap hanging on a tree there. I guess someone took it.
Name: Ed D. Hike: Loyalsock-Link Loop w/Haystacks
Date: 06/06-07/13 Rating: 5
Critique: By far the best backpacking we have done in Pennsylvania ever. The trail starts out at the visitor center with a large parking lot, and you need to register to hike. You can fill-out the paperwork if the office is not open. The people working in the office are so friendly and nice. The trail has everything from beautiful views and the scenery/vegetation changes. Oh do not get discourage if you are following the trail notes and the first 1.5 miles is nothing but straight up. You have fresh legs and a full backpack. Your legs will be screaming stop, but your eyes from the beauty will say continue. The trail markers are the best I have ever seen. Seems like every 15 feet the is a marker. The Loyalsock trail is 59 miles and you are hiking on part of it. The campsites are near water, and setup great. We had some rain and wet shoes and socks. We decided to do the haystacks and it was worth the hike. There are many streams for water sources. The trail notes are right on mark for where you are hiking. The people responsible for the trail maintenance, we would like to thank you. the campsites were clean, and had fire pits with rock chairs with flat tent areas. The second day with the overviews before the hike end was amazing. We love the workout with the 3500 feet elevation climb through the hike, which makes the views well worth it when you get to the top. I am kicking myself for not bringing a camera. Not that the camera could capture the views, which seem to limit the beauty. There were also numerous campsites that were not on the map, so do not be scared in getting to the campsite that is occupied. The first campsite on the trail seemed to be the best with the view and the rock chairs and a good distance from the trail. We stayed at the campsite at the intersection to the haystacks. It was nice and the trees provided shelter from the rain at night along with the tent. We are always looking for different places to backpack, but this one is one to come back. We did not see much traffic, but we also did go during the week in early June.
Name: Ed D. Hike: Ricketts Glen Falls Hike
Date: 06/09/13 Rating: 5
Critique: This is a great day hike. We camped a Red Mountain camp sight, and did the day hike with Ricketts Glen Falls. Oh, BBQ next to camp sight is the best. I am from Texas and know the good stuff. You will need to get out early if you do not like crowds if this is during the summer or weekends. We were on the trail at 8:30 and by 9:30 there was a lot of people. By the time we got back to our car at 11:30 the lot was full. This hike is busy with traffic. Since you are going down and hiking back up there are a lot of steps, and the stones are wet. Hiking shoes or shoes with traction is a must. We had hiking poles to help with stability. The views are amazing, and make sure to bring the camera. There are some other trails of the main loop, and nothing to see that I can remember. We did see a four foot long black snake. I was hoping to see some black bears, and we did see bear markings on the bear creek road trail.
Name: Ed D. Hike: Pinchot Trail
Date: 06/08/13 Rating: 1
Critique: We started this hiking on 6/8. The rain from the night before made the thick trail a water wonderland for your hiking boots and pants. Even with gaiters my shoes, socks and pants were socking wet. The sights were not impressive. We also just hiked "World End Park" the day before this hike. We had planned on backpacking for two to three days on this trail. We had ran into some other hikers that were not impressed by the views or trail. On some of the other hikes we have encountered we have different scenery and the vegetation changes as with trees. These trails all seem to have the same views. We had a few camp sights that we were going to stop at for lunch, but nothing was impressive. The viewing platform was nice, when we stopped for lunch. The trails were marked well. The beginning of the trail was so thick you could not see the trail path. We were planning on stopping to camp at the camp sight at Behler Swamp, but the dead dog carcass mostly decayed scared my wife. She started running back down the trail for the highway. I have never seen her run that fast with her full backpack. I wanted to look at the bright side and tell of the good thing of this trail, there was a babbling brook under the rocks. I guess maybe the south trail might be better. There is some many more hiking trails within an hour from this that are so much better. The trail was marked well, and had nice trailhead parking. Trail notes were right on target and help us find the viewing platform. The other funny thing was in the trail notes it mentioned twice about half way through if you want to bailout take this trail. Thank you for the trail notes, and we have much appreciate for the people that mark and maintain the trails. It is hard with miles of trails. I am sure we just hit the trail at a bad time.
Name: Linda Hike: Big Mountain/Pine Tree Vista
Date: 06/05/13 Rating: 2
Critique: A friend and, co-leaders of an all-women outdoors group, did this hike as a preview to see if it was suitable for the group. Between the 2 of us we probably have 30 years of hiking/outdoors experience, maybe more. I point that out to show that we are not inexperienced hikers by any means. Where to start....The trail notes on the site were just adequate. Even with them and the map, had we not had a GPS with us we would have been very lost more than once. As it was we made 3 wrong turns (following the notes) and had to backtrack each time. They could have used far more detail - i.e. Note total lack of signage and blazes at most turns; indicate that the marshy area is wide, long, deep, and that above-the-ankle waterproof boots are MUST, not just a recommendation. We were wearing boots like that and still nearly had them sucked right off of our feet a few times and had the water/muck come right to our boot tops. Note the rocks...this is PA and we're well aware of the long big-rock filled stretches of trails there. Those who aren't aware of it or who have a deep visceral fear of snakes (encountered 3 including a big fat rattler stretched across the trail) need to know it's coming, how long it is, how bad the rocks get, and to make sure they have hiking poles that can be banged on the rocks and rotted wood to try to force a retreat of any snakes. Poles, in fact, should be used on this entire trail. Not impressed by people who don't believe they ever need them. If and when we take a group on this hike we will turn away anyone that doesn't have a pair of hiking poles and the high-cut waterproof boots. Trail maintenance is pretty much non-existent. There are wide stretches of the Tuscarora Trail that appear to maybe get mowed/weed-whacked now and then but that's it. We encountered big blown down trees that had clearly been there for several months and in some cases several years. After emerging into a clearing, before hitting the road walk and turning right onto another trail, we turned around and could not see where we had just come from...no sign of a trail in there whatsoever. Anyone coming the other way would be at a loss as to where to go next. Due to the wrong turns and time taken to backtrack, and a schedule to keep, we had to decide to bypass the last big vista point. In any case, with a group, I'd bypass it and opt to drive up after the hike was over. If the notes and all had been better, had we not had to waste time backtracking, we would have enjoyed this trail a lot more. I don't know that I've even been on one that had such varied terrain. And besides the snakes we had close encounters with a huge wild turkey mom and her brood, and a mother grouse and her brood. Saw a doe and her fawn right after we arrived. There were big, definite bear prints in the muddier parts of the trail but no encounters.
Name: Joy Hike: Little Fork-Middle Fork Loop
Date: 5/25/13 Rating: 4
Critique: We took our time, camped at Big Beechy campsite night one after just 2.5 miles in. The next day, hiked down to the Laurelly campsite and enjoyed the solitude of the beautiful forest.The third day, we hiked (the North-South Tr to the Little Fork Tr) which is a pretty trail, lacking any campsites. We ended up hiking to where the car was parked, grabbed some leftover refreshments in the cooler and hiked appx .25 miles to a campsite that was on Middle Fork, where we began our loop. The campsite needed some attention after an obvious storm had made a little mess, but left us a lot of great firewood for the resurrected fire ring. A great, relaxing 3 nights out. The only problem was finding the trailhead. Google directions didn't help with the last 4 directions. Make sure to double check your directions. This trailhead was located at the campsites for the Three Forks. there is parking at the end of the gravel road.
Name: Kathy Hike: Dolly Sods Wilderness Backpack
Date(s): 05/19-20/13 Rating: 5
Critique: We followed the trail notes almost exactly. We saw far more bsckpackers than we were expecting on Sunday, but they were gone on Monday and we had the trails to ourselves. The campsite icons on the trail map were particularly helpful, and the campsites themselves were amazing. There are a couple of additional sites on the ridge near the Lion's Head that are spectacular. My favorite of the campsites was on Dunkenbarger trail between the two old hemlocks, but unfortunately the trail itself is in terrible shape with tons of blowdown. Next time I'll skip that trail. The variety in this 17-or-so mile loop is great and the terrain is not challenging. I found it to be a perfect, fairly easy two-day loop, and it would be ideal for first-time backpackers (especially kids) because of the relative ease, variety, abundance of water and nice backcountry campsites. I am looking forward to coming back and doing the north half of the Sods.
Name: Ben Hike: Red Creek/Dunkenbarger Loop
Date: 05/25/13 Rating: 5
Critique: I did most of this loop as part of a longer backpack trip over memorial day. The trails were beautiful and the view from the Lion's Head was great. One word of warning. As of the date that I did the hike there are still a lot of blowdowns, probably from hurricane Sandy. They were particularly bad on the Dunkenbarger trail where sometimes every 50 feet there would be a another tree down. Since most of the forest on the Dunkenbarger trail was Pine and rhododendron it make getting through or around the blowdowns a little trickier than if it was an open hardwood forest. That being said I was able to get through but it took about twice as long as it normally would so just plan on taking extra time until these get cleared.
Name: David Hike: Piney Ridge/Thornton River Loop
Date: 05/25-26/13 Rating: 3
Critique: The hike was nice with lots of canopy cover to keep you cool. Some interesting spots like the graveyard and the shelter at the beginning of the hike. Not too many camp spots but did find a good one on the Thornton River section. Once you make the first river crossing it is about 30 yards from the river to the left in the hollow. There are no overlooks on this hike thus the 3 ranking but it was definitely worth the trip.
Name: Mike Hike: Dolly Sods North BP
Date(s): 05/24-26/13Rating: 5+
Critique: This is my favorite trip yet, not that I am experienced much. But the scenery is so beautiful, the hiking so easy, water is so readily available, and the campsites are like something from a dream, it has to be a 5+! The trails were well marked, unlike some of the older reviewers have stated. The campsite about 1 mile into the hike had room for up to 5 tents, and a nice fire ring. The campsite further along on the left branch of Red Creek (where it says Camp Here on the map) is tremendously large. It was almost big enough to be a campground, and was perched right along the Creek. Be forewarned that the trail just crosses a beaver dam down near where the Upper Red Creek and Dobbins Grade Trail intersect. You will see the ponds from a distance and realize the trail goes right through them over the dam. The Dobbins Grade is very muddy and you will get muddy and wet without fail (maybe not true in drier times of year?). Overall, this is a beautiful trip with lots of vistas, varieties of terrain and plant life, and gentle climbs and descents. I would even say beginners could easily do this trip.
Name: Rob Hike: Dolly Sods Wilderness Backpack
Date: 05/25-27/13 Rating: 4
Critique: We did this hike Memorial Day weekend. The weather was absolutely perfect, which probably accounts for the (relatively) large numbers we saw on the trail, but still by no means as crowded as some of the more established parks and trails. The directions and descriptions were right on and very easy to follow. We camped the first night just after the Red Creek ford. There are a couple of sites on the right, and the second one before the trail gets steep was really nice, with a big fire ring and easy river access. However, the section of trail just after that site gets pretty messy. Lots of downed trees with some steep and tricky scrambles to get around. Nothing insanely hard, but it adds quite a bit of time and effort to the regular trail. We actually ended up skipping the Dunkenbarger and Little Stonecoal leg, because some guys out there warned us off, as well as the previous review on this site. Just to get onto the trail from the junction there is an immediate tree to duck, and it seems like it doesn't get much better. Other sections of trail have had a bit of work done, but still quite messy. Just be aware that there are no campsites or water spots on Big Stonecoal after the Dunkenbarger junction. So we continued down to Red Creek, and camped just after the ford. This made for a longer day than planned, but wasn't too bad. We'd even considered just hiking out that night, but I'm glad we stayed, even if the sites were pretty full and we had to ask to share a site with another group. Make sure you have solid boots, because as the description says, the trail is very rocky in parts. We didn't encounter any big muddy areas, but it has also been very dry. Any rain at all and you could easily be up to your shins. Highly recommended, just plan to spend some extra time fighting the lingering results of Sandy.
Name: Bob Hike: Copperhead Point
Date: 05/26/13 Rating: 3
Critique: Thanks for getting this on the map. The fire road, especially past the first left fork down to the reservoir, on May 26 2013 was overgrown with thigh-deep grass, and I wasn't prepared with DEET, so I took the left turn down to the reservoir instead to avoid collecting ticks, after a short exploratory walk down the fire road. To be fair, I have not yet found any ticks on my body or clothes after my shorter foray in 24 hours, but if you are preparing for this hike, prepare for ticks. I may revisit this hike again next winter when the grasses may be somewhat shorter.
Name: Sam Hike: Mud Hole Gap (modified)
Date: 05/25-26/13 Rating: 4
Critique: Cognac Jack
and Wooly Bully did a variation of this hike as an overnight
Saturday started out cool, clear,
and breezy, and stayed that way. Starting at around
9:30 at the Elizabeth Furnace
Recreational Area "inner parking lot", we followed the white blazed
Botts Trail, then west (right) on the Sherman Gap Trail to the
Passage Creek. No bridge here, definitely a boots-off crossing!
Thankfully the water was fairly low and not all that cold. The trail
then crosses Fort Valley Road, passes thru a gravel parking lot, and
proceeds to the Mudhole Gap Trail. The first part of the Mudhole
Trail is a gravel service road. The last part becomes more
interesting when it passes over a single track and then over an old
wagon road. The wagon road parallels Little Passage Creek, and fords
it at least 5 times, all rock-to-rock crossings. A pretty stream,
flowing fast and making lots of water noise. We had a pleasant lunch
at the 2nd ford. Beware of the third ford - we found out that hiking
poles float down the rapids quite nicely! The last part of the
Mudhole Gap Trail gets pretty busy, where it dead-ends at the
intersection of the Massanutten Trail (MT) and FR66. After taking a
right on the MT we passed several car campers on the right side of
the trail, and the Powells Fort Camp (closed) on the left. The MT
follows another gravel road for around 2 miles, and then follows a
nice trail around the west side of Strasburg Reservoir to some large
some large camp sites at the north end. We stopped here for the
night, at around
2:30, 9 miles from the starting
point. Set up camp, took a walk around the reservoir which is quite
pretty, and then settled down to dinner. With all of the young,
straight as an arrow tulip poplars we were not able to find a
suitable branch for hanging the bear bag, but Cognac Jack found a
horizontal section of a snapped off tree that worked nicely. It was
around 25 feet up, took me four tries to get the rope over and back
down. Despite being a holiday weekend, we were the only campers at
the reservoir. Clear cool night, nice background from the fast
flowing stream beside the campsite. A whippoorwill started up around
10pm, close by at first but then
moving farther away.
Sunday morning was clear and cold,
7:30 we were back on the MT which
shunts back onto the gravel service road just north of the
reservoir. The road become progressively steeper as it approaches
Signal Knob. Signal Knob was fantastic on this absolutely clear and
windless morning, with great views to the west and north. We
continued on the MT, first fairly level along the ridge top and then
descending with the trail becoming all rocks in places. This is a
very pretty trail, with occasional views to the left, and with the
laurel just starting to bloom. As we moved down the mountain we
passed the first hikers of the day, and the traffic got heavier at
the trail neared the Signal Knob parking lot. Another mile got us
back to the car, for a total of 8 miles for
Sunday. After stowing the gear and
cleaning up, we had a great lunch in Front Royal at the Jalisco
Mexican Restaurant. We had no trouble cleaning our plates and
downing several large glasses of sweet tea. By
2:00 we were back at the I-70 / Rt.
94 park and ride. This was a great backpack, and we figured out some
nice variations of the loop for future trips. Many thanks to Cognac
Jack for putting this together!
Photo as we descended Signal Knob
Name: Dar Hike: Conestoga Trail (modified)
Date: 05/25/13 Rating: 5
Critique: Lovely hike and deserving of the strenuous rating. We didn't want to take two cars for the shuttle hike so we decided on starting at the Pinnacle Rock Overlook parking lot and doing an out and back to the Wind Cave. We overshot the Wind Cave a bit on the way north (easy to hike right by northbound, hard to miss southbound) and went past it to the woods road before turning around. Total mileage was 9.1 with a total elevation change of 2500 feet each way according to our GPS tracker program for a total hike elevation change of 5000 feet. It's a death by a thousand small, steep hills kind of trail so be prepared to be tired. I realize that was doubly so for us because we chose the hilliest part for the out and back but I'd still highly recommend this hike. Really nice scenery and cool with lots of shade, breezes and waterways along the route. The Tuquan Creek stretch is particularly lovely and a great break from the harder bits to either side of it. We did the stream crossing and found a place about 10-15 feet past the actual marked crossing where we could rock hop without really getting our feet wet. The blazes are much improved from the previous years' comments. In fact this trail is now very well blazed. We had no trouble following the orange blazes - the turns were well marked as were the bits going over and through rock formations, and the orange Conestoga trail was easy to distinguish when it ran alongside other trails and then split off from them. At some points you may need to pause and look for the markings (ie- around the rock formations) but they are there and easy to make out. Note that 3 other trails run alongside on the Tuquan Creek stretch (blue-blazed Tuquan Glen on the south bank and white and yellow trails on the north side) so just watch for blazes marking the split offs for the Conestoga trail- they are slanted double slashed and well-marked.
Name: SlugMaster Garret Hike: Chuck Keiper trail-East and West
Date: 05/22-25/13 Rating: 4
Critique: We did the east loop from the Fish Dam Vista parking lot and heading clockwise towards the northeast. The trail was well blazed and easy to follow. Ticks were particularly numerous in Drake Hollow. There are a few downed trees across the trail between Hall Run and the top of Diamond Rock Hollow that require going off trail. A trail maintainer with a chainsaw would be useful in this area to clear the path. Other than these obstacles the trail was a pleasant walk. We started around 2:00pm on Day 1 and reached the Connector trail around 2:00 on Day 2. I agree with the previous poster that this trail can be done in 24 hours if you move at a decent pace and start the hike early in the day. My group decided to continue forward onto the West Loop at this point and continue rather than take the connector back to the car.
Name: Sam Hike: Pinchot Trail
Date: 05/11-13/13 Rating: 5
Critique: Ted E. Bear, Wooly Bully and Shortstack did this BP (26.8 mi) in three days, with mileage being 5.6, 12.4, and 8.8 respectively. The terrain is indeed moderate, but very diverse. We enjoyed the Balsam Swamp, hemlocks, rhododendron tunnels, lots of orange salamanders and frogs, plenty of pretty streams and a great 360-view from the tower. Wooly Bully downloaded the waypoints from the website on his GPS and we all had M.R. Hyker maps. All campsites indicated were easy to locate, mostly flat and water was no issue. The trails were well maintained with only a few blow-downs that we had to walk around. Beware, there is new construction near the pipeline intersection along the White Trail. We followed what may have been a snowmobile trail / new road construction which took us to Bear Creek Rd., east of where we should have been to connect to the White Trail. (For GPS users, we went off track shortly after waypoint #23). It was not too long of a road walk to get back to the connecting White Trail, but future hikers should beware of this area. There were orange diamond markers, then the new gravel/mud road which had yellow posts with orange on them, but we were not sure if they were for the trail, snowmobile trail or road construction. Other than that, trails are well marked and sections are indeed rocky, so good boots are a must.
Name: Geoff Hike: McKeldin Area
Date: 05/15/13 Rating: 5
Critique: I want to share the route I take when I go running on the trails in McKeldin. Start out at the parking lot just above the dam, not the one closest to the dam, the one at the top of the hill. Follow the rapids trail down to the beach, then when the trail forks go straight, don't keep following the rapids trail, those rocks aren't fun to run on. Follow Switchback across bridge, gain elevation, then you want to fork right take the trail that goes back down to the rapids trail. Follow the trail along the river ALL THE WAY, following the river until you past the first entrance to the plantation trail on the left. Don't take that one, well, you can, but the better hike is further up. Follow the switchback trail until you see the next entrance to the plantation trail. This one is much steeper. Follow the plantation up up AND UP to the highest point in the park, you'll know you're close after a very steep incline, you'll notice a fork to the right and if you follow it you'll come to a high summit with a pole with a white flag. Anyway, keep going on the plantation, this is my favorite part of the park. keep going until you come to the meadow. Keep going through the meadow, across the road, onto the tall poplar, go left at fork. Follow the tall poplar all the way back to your car, fork to to the left to get back to parking lot where you started. Love this park, so beautiful, and running on it is great. I think this circuit totals to a little over 3 miles, but I could be wrong. Watch your footing, hope to see some of you out there!
Name: Mountainstreamflood Hike: AT-Sunset Rocks Circuit
Date: 05/12/13 Rating: 4
Critique: Hike: Overall this is a pretty good hike. The views from Sunset Rock are outstanding and the two crossings of Tom's Run are gorgeous (would be even better in late June/early July when Rosebays are in bloom). We did the hike backwards to save my knees from the steep slope of Little Rocky Ridge but this has the disadvantage of getting the best of the hike (Sunset Rocks) out of the way in the first 3 miles, leaving nondescript but pleasant 5 mile return back to the car. Also, we used Old Shippensburg Road to avoid the out-and-back on the AT between Sunset Rocks Trail and Pine Grove Furnace. One note, it appears the AT has been rerouted at Halfway spring (just passed first crossing of Toms'Run.) Rather than following the logging road to Michaux Road at Camp Michaux, the trail now proceeds on a footpath to the north and directly across Michaux Road. As a result the trail bypasses the ruins of the old stone barn.
Name: Dick/Roger Hike: Black Forest Trail - North
05/11-13/13 Rating: 3-4
Critique: We delayed starting out by one day due to weather, but still passed through rain in Williamsport on the way! In total the Williamsport area received 1.80 " of rain from 5/09-12. View this as the lower limit for defining the trails as being "high water"! Checking the rainfall in the area, particularly in the Spring, is a must before going! This is critical because during Day 2 you have to ford Slate Run... there is no bridge left because it continually was washed out! If you can't ford it you have to backtrack up to the Old Quarry Road and go right down to an old steel bridge on Pine Creek, then up Rt44 for over a mile to the Black Forest circumnavigation parking area above Slate Run. We forded Slate Run in high water (mid-thigh running around 6mph). Neither of us will ever do that again...extremely dangerous and foolish! On the positive (and sane) side, it's a really nice hike! The ridges have oceans of mountain laurel. Next year we'll go back around the first week in June when it reported blooms up there! The lower elevations have very nice conifer groves. The vistas are pristine in terms of seeing no signs of civilization! The trails are well maintained with only a couple of rocky spots! The first night we camped at the furthest campsite up Morris Branch before the climb out of the valley! It would handle 3-4 tents, the second site was also nice, but smaller (2 tents). The first along the branch was not as good! (We didn't go down the initial path to see whether there's a good site there)! The second night we camped at Foster Hollow! Multiple level sites near the pond including off trail in the woods! The pond water was very clear and flowing through from and into a creek! Whether this continues thru the summer is a question, but it looks as if it would! Because of high water we chose to take the Sentiero Dishay ski trail (marked as the "high water alternative") back up north instead of going further west to the BFT on County Line Creek! It had some bogs and places where it was hard to follow. The Dishay is now clearly marked off of the Blackberry Trail! However, where it meets Meadow Rd. the road crosses and now continues west. When widening the road they apparently wiped out any visible blue blazes. Go right on Meadow Rd for about fifty yards to the other side of the creek where you'll see ample blazes on the left side of the road Also, there is a new road that you'll cross before coming to Gravel Rd. We're guessing that they're getting ready to "frack" in the area! Oh yes, by the way, it was snowing and sleeting while hiking (13th of May).. not detrimental to enjoying the hike though!! Bottom-line: With less rainfall immediately before it, and with the laurel in bloom, this would be a really outstanding hike! It was a very nice one as it was! Stopping at the Bullfrog Brewery in Williamsport on the return provided closure!
Name: Tony and Penny Hike: Kelly's Run - Pinnacle Overlook
Date: 5/11/13 Rating: 5
Critique: Took this hike yesterday. Weather was wet, rained night before, trails were in great shape but wet. Missed the turn after fording the creek at the bridge and took an unmarked trail to the Conestoga trail eventually to the Pinnacle. Ate lunch at the Pinnacle then took the Pine Tree Trail then continued with the rest of this trail. Trail was blazed very well in most places. Rained over lunch and about 2 miles of the hike. Overall it was a great hike, first one of the season for us, was long, I think we hiked about 9 miles with doing different trails etc. Thanks for the directions or never would have found our way around this! Look forward to doing it again in the future.
Name: Zach Hike: Plantation Tr/CLR 13 Loop
Date: 05/04/13 Rating: 3
Critique: First and foremost, this website is an invaluable resource for hikers throughout the region and I am incredibly appreciative of it. All directions and trail descriptions were accurate for the hike - finding Lindy off of CLR13 should be easy as long as you make sure you are looking for a small rock cairn just off the side of the road. As noted in the description, the USFS no longer maintains the Lindy Run Trail to the Plantation trail - this is easily noticeable as the trail is becoming impassable at points thanks to the sheer number of blowdowns on the trail. Unfortunately, this does not cease once you reach the Plantation Trail, as some sections may take several minutes to move a mere 10 feet. Estimating that there were at least 25 blowdowns severely blocking the trail would seem to be a conservative estimate after finishing the hike. The area was very scenic regardless, however the frequency of blowdowns made this a very stressful hike. Fortunately this ceases once you reach the Table Rock trail. The views at Table Rock are absolutely incredible and are worth the distressing hike down the Lindy and Plantation trails. The walk back on CLR13 is certainly long, but it is a very pleasant and easy walk. I don't believe any vehicles travel down the road anymore - it looks like it'd be a very difficult time even for a Humvee. All in all, a recommended hike if you've already hiked most of the other areas of WV or really want to get to Table Rock.
M.R.Hyker Note: Super Storm Sandy has really done a number on most of the hiking venues in the MNF. Forest Service personnel and volunteers are currently overwhelmed. It will take some time to get all of the trails open.
Name: Joe Hike: Dolly Sods Wilderness Backpack
Date(s): 4/27 to 29/13 Rating: 4
Critique: I did this hike with my girlfriend for my birthday around the end of April and overall it was a great hike. We hiked to the campgrounds near the breathed mtn trail/red creek trail junction on the first day and that seemed to be a good place to break it up. The first day there is a lot of pushing through overgrown rhododendrons and the trail is very hard to follow at places, especially between the trailhead and somewhere around the big stonecoal trail junction. After the first day there isn't a lot of green yet in the area and we saw very little wildlife aside from some birds and a deer. We also saw no other people after the first campground. The latter half of the Breathed mtn trail and especially the Dunkenbarger trail were full of downed trees. It became laughable after awhile and it felt like we were bushwhacking more than we were actually on the trail. The downed trees got very old after awhile but the area is beautiful and I highly recommend this hike. Be prepared for lots of gnats that show up if you stop near the river and very, very cold water crossings.
Name: K.C. Hike: Dolly Sods Wilderness Backpack
Date(s): 05-04 through 06-13 Rating: 4
Two friends and I did this hike on an early May weekend. We did about 8 miles the first day, and the remaining 5 miles the second day. We had beautiful weather: 70-75 highs with an overnight low in the 30s. The greenery schedule is a bit slower in this area than in D.C., so the deciduous trees were just starting to bud. Most of the greenery was in the form of rhododendron and spruce trees. Like others, we had a bit of trouble at the early part of the red creek trail because there are a lot of misleading cairns. On the way back we followed the trail, and I found the point that we lost it on the way in. Perhaps 300 yards in, the trail descends out of a wooded area and you get your first unobstructed view of the creek. The trail appears to veer off to the left towards the creek, but it actually goes up a short muddy hill. Standing at this point, it is very hard to tell that there is a trail ahead of you because at the top of the small muddy embankment, it curves slightly to the left behind some tree trunks. Even if you can’t find the actual trail, once you hit the Little Stonecoal Trail (you’ll see cairns on either side of the creek), you can easily head back away from the river and pick up the Red Creek Trail again. We had a lot of trouble with down trees on the latter half of the trip (beginning at about the junction of the Red Creek Trail and the Rocky Point Trail). The area must have had a particularly ice or snowstorm, because the trees most affected were medium size Red Spruce. This was worst on the Dunkenbarger trail; it was to the point where we were bushwhacking around or climbing under/over downed Red Spruce every 50 meters or so. Often it was difficult to find the trail again on the other side. Other than the downed trees, this was a fantastic trip! The second half (once you leave the Red Creek Trail) was very secluded, and we encountered few people. We also encountered almost no wildlife except for an occasional bird.
Name: Axel Jones Hike: Stone Tower
Date: 4/28/13 Rating: 4
Critique: Hike is fun and "The General" is a cool sight. If the water level is high there's a fallen tree with wire strung across for hand holding across Clark Creek. Rocky and occasionally steep in parts so bring tough boots.
Name: Andrew Hike: Red Creek/Dunkenbarger Loop
Date: 04/19-21/13 Rating: 2
Critique: Only rated so low because of the poor trail conditions. There was so much storm damage that I lost count of the downed trees after 100. The lower points of Red Creek were particularly undetectable - might as well just bushwack. The water level was also raging. We waded in waist deep, some opted to crawl over logs hands and knees. Once up on the plateau things got a little less hairy - snow must not have been as heavy up there. The nice group camp at Dunkenbarger and Big Stonecoal was still intact and beautiful as ever.
Name: Ed S. Hike: Old Rag
Date: 04/22/13 Rating: 5
Critique: I finally made it down to Old Rag, having wanting to go there for probably about 20 years now. It does not disappoint. From the open lot, the hike is about 9-9.5 miles. The beginning is a long switchbacked climb, sometimes near boulders, a couple of wet spots, some views of what's to come. Then is the rock scramble. I've done Billy Goat, Sunset Rocks, Potomac Heritage and other well known rock scramble trails. They have nothing on old rag. Drop into crevices, shimmy up another, jump and step over yet others. Take a short caving expedition. Numerous views in all directions during this time. It was a weekday, and so, while plenty of people were on the mountain, I got to do the scramble fully by myself. There were plenty of people at the summit, along with basically 360-degree views. The return by the Saddle Trail is all downhill, with some views left, one of a balanced rock on the southern part of Old Rag. Finally comes the long fire road walk, the least interesting section of the hike, but there were displays of white trillium along the way, plus views of cascading Brokenback Run and the Hughes River, the last a short side trip along the beginning of the Nicholson Hollow Trail.
Name: Bob H
Reddish Knob Summit
Ramsey's Draft West Loop
Long Mountain/Tibbet Knob Shuttle
Name: ryan booton
Rocky Knob-Quarry Gap Backpack
Name: Chris C
Tuckahoe State Park Circuit
Billy Goat Trial A
Rocky Knob Quarry gap
Name: Jordan Abbott
Black Forest Trail - North
Caledonia State Park - Quarry Gap Circuit
Neighbor Mountain-Jeremys Run
Roaring Creek Tract - Backpack
Name: Danny H
Hike: Pole Steeple
Name: Danny H
Name: Keith Robertson
Big Mountain-Pine Tree Vista Circuit
Bull Run Mountain
Name: Keith Robertson
AT-Sunset Rocks Circuit
Name: Brad Spagnola
Hike: Hemlock Gorge
Name: Ed. S
Gunpowder Falls East
Name: Jeremy K
Laurel Highlands Trail-South
FMF-Four Ponds-Rock City Loop
Name: Jeremy K
AT-Sunset Rocks Circuit
Name: Adventure Runner
AT-Old Horse-shoe Trail Loop
Name: Adventure Runner
Catoctin Mountain Loop
Name: graham jones
Billy Goat A
Name: Danny H.
Gifford Pinchot SP (East side)
Name: Adventure Runner
Greenbrier State Park
Name: Adventure Runner
Gambrill State Park
Name: Adventure Runner
Gunpowder Falls West (Hereford Area)
M.R. Hyker Note: While the PATC or Forest Service could post the proper signage it would probably just be used for fire wood.
Name: Adventure Runner
Piney Point / Middle Run
Name: Adventure Runner
Gunpowder Falls (Hereford) East
Name: Terry Reifsteck
Mau Har Loop
Fair Hill SP-1
Name: Adventure Runner
Name: Chris J
Billy Goat Trail A
Name: Big Mo
Old loggers path
Name: Adventure Runner
Big Mountain / Pine Tree Vista
Name: Travis Murphy
Name: Jon Lee
Ricketts Glen Falls Trail
Laurel Highlands Trail Thru Hike
BRMC - skipped Quarry Tr spur
Martin Hill Wild Area-Central Loop
Name: Sam A
Name: Tom O'Donnell
BRMC - skipped Quarry Tr spur
Martin Hill Wild Area-Central Loop
Name: Sam A
Name: Tom O'Donnell
Mountain-Big Run Loop
Name: Ed. S
Dolly Sods North Circuit Hike
Glade Creek Trail WV
Dolly Sods Circumnavigation-mod 1
Chimney Rocks (Michaux State Forest) Loop
Name: Mitch Hike:
Name: Matt Mc
Kelly's Run - Pinnacle Overlook
Red Creek / Dunkenbarger Loop
Hike: Dolly Sods Central
Name: Bob Ardner
Name: Ryan Richie Hike: Great Falls Maryland, Billy Goat Trail, Section A
Brown Mountain-Rockytop Loop
Name: Irene Burke
White Rock Gap - Torry Ridge Loop
Name: Greg Romano
Old Loggers Path
Name: Hard Corey
Name: Ed. S
Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship
Name: Ed Duguid
Jeff Mitchell's Waterfall Wonderland
Mason - Dixon Shuttle
Mason - Dixon Shuttle
Name: J. Parker
Dolly Sods Wilderness Backpack
FMF - Clifford Hollow Loop
Rockytop-Big Run Loop
Name: Ed. S
Circumnavigation of Trout Run Valley
Name: Bryan Smith
Rausch Gap Loop
Piney Ridge - Piney Branch Loop
Name: J. Pierce
Mt. Rogers Backpack
Name: Mark Skidmore
Dolly Sods North Circuit Hike
Kelly's Run - Pinnacle Overlook
Dolly Sods circum mod 1
Canaan valley loop/24 mile
Name: Hard Corey
Pole Steeple Circuit
Kelly's Run - Pinnacle Overlook
Susquehanna State Park
Cranberry Wilderness BP 1
Name: Ed Duguid
Old Loggers Path
Hike: Big Schloss
Name: Judith Hafner
Name: Hard Corey
Horse-Shoe Trail Loop
ritique: This is a very enjoyable hike. My friend 'Rock God' and I used this route to reach Devils Race Course. Look for the orange blazes approx. 1 mile from where you turn right onto the 'old' Horse Shoe Trail and start to climb out of the valley. We modified the hike slightly by taking a right on the Henry Knauber Trail (red blaze) near the top of Sharp Mtn. This will take you across a swamp and bring you back to the ridge on Stony Mtn. At the 30+ rock cairn you can follow a blue blazed trail approx. 1 mile or so up to the Stony Mtn. Lookout Tower. This variation will avoid the 'out & back' to the Lookout Tower. Total mileage was 10.25 miles for the whole loop.
Quehanna Trail-West Cross Connector
Black Forest Trail - South
Name: Jack B
Creek/Tea Creek Mt Loop
Name: Jack B
Frosty Gap - Pocahontas Loop
Name: Peter Fleszar
Hawksbill Summit/Rose River Falls Loop
Critique: This hike
gives you a little bit of everything with waterfalls on one side of the
drive and vista views on the other.
Name: Steve Appler
FMF-East Ridge Loop
Marshall Trail / AT loop
North circuit Tr 522-524 and back
Name: Andrea L
White Oak Canyon-Cedar Run
Name: Pascale & Loic
Chimney Rocks (Michaux State Forest) Loop
Name: Loic & Pascale
Bear Meadows-Indian Wells Loop
Name: Sara Bird
Otter Creek - SE Loop
Hike: Old Rag
Hike: LT + Link
Loop (starting @ eastern terminus of LT)
Loyalsock-Link Loop w/Haystacks
Name: Ed. S
Tough Creek SP
Name: Barb Rodekohr
Cranberry Wilderness BP 1
Name: R, B & J
Name: jenny s
Three Ridges loop
Name: Chris Hughes
Otter Creek Backpack - Lost Green Croc
Hike: Kellys Run /
Name: Ed Lyman
Creek w/ bushwhack
Brown Mountain - Rockytop Loop
Rocky top-Big Run
Difficult Run Loop
Name: TG & BZ
Hike: Dolly Sods
Otter Creek Backpack
Iron Horse Trail, PA
FMF--Clifford Hollow Loop
Name: Colin and Brian
Knob Mtn / Jeremy's Run
Reddish Knob Summit
Name: Andrea L.
Mount Rogers/Grayson Highlands-2 Backpack
Name: Greg Romano
Old Rag Mountain / White Oak Canyon
Name: XXXX Hike: Piney Ridge - Piney Branch Loop
Name: chris rockwell Hike: AT-Horse shoe Trail Loop
Gilford Pinchot SP
Tuscarora - Standing Stone Loop
Name: Paul Schwartz
Blackwater Falls/Canaan Loop
Name: j. a. b.
Stone Tower Loop
P.S. the yellow trail to the "view" was worth the extra few minutes. I missed it at first and kept following the yellow blazes into nowhere.
Billy Goat Trail A
Name: Colleen Palmer
Hike: Morgan Run Loop
Name: Greg S.
Morgan Run Loop
Critique: These are the Trail Notes I wish I had read BEFORE I did the hike. I took a few wrong trails down to the reservoir, had to bushwhack briefly, and the last stream-crossing required a boot-soaking wade. It is a lovely area, and I shall hike it again, using your fine Notes.
Stone Tower Loop
Hazel Mountain Loop
Pinnacle Picnic Area to Mary's Rock Out and Back
Name: Kingston Bowen
Little Devil's Staircase
Name: Paul Schwartz
Name: Eric Lengel
Name: Boost Boy
Cranberry Wilderness Loop
Name: Tom Tulenko
Old Loggers Path
Overall Run Falls
Name: Doug Metzler
Cowans Gap SP - Tuscarora Tr
Jones Run - Doyles River Loop
Mt. Rogers Backpack
St. Mary's Wilderness
Roaring Plains Circuit
Name: Keith Selbo
Hike: Brown Mountain - Rocky Top Loop
Name: Steve Appler
Hybrid - Roaring Plains Circuit-modified
Hike: Bull Run
Name: Donna Miller
Name: Tom O'Donnell
Tuscarora-Standing Stone Loop
Roaring Plains Base Camp and Day Hike
Roaring Plains Base Camp and Day Hike
Name: Mark T.
Susquehannock Loop (23miles)
Name: Joseph Dooley
Nicholson Hollow - Corbin Hollow Loop
Dolly Sods Circumnavigation
Chuck Keiper Trail - East Loop
Name: Joseph Dooley
Name: Sarah Alice
Greenbrier State Park
Quehanna Trail - Short Loop