Last Updated: 04/24/2014
Welcome to a web site full of information on hiking in the Mid-Atlantic Region (PA, MD, VA and WV) ... topo maps, 3-D maps, elevation profiles, GPS data, directions, trail notes, photos.... everything you need to prepare for an excursion into the wilderness. Information for 311 hikes and over 3,592 trail miles are now available. Venues such as, but not limited to, Shenandoah National Park/VA, George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, VA and WV, the Monongahela National Forest in WV, state forests throughout PA, Green Ridge State Forest in MD and regional, state, county and federal parks throughout the Mid-Atlantic region are represented.
"Yet in the walks I take through nature in quest of truth and demonstration, I recognize a poetry in earth and sea and sky, ruled in their cycles of harmonious actions, deeper and more sublime than ever muse un- taught in science could inspire." William B. Rogers: First State Geologist of VA, First president of M.I.T. and namesake of Mt. Rogers, Va.
Latest Published Hikes
02/03/2013: The second in the series of books I am writing - The Mid-Atlantic Hiker's Guide - Central Maryland - is now in the print shop. It includes 45 day hikes from the shores of the Chesapeake Bay to Catoctin Mountain and from the Potomac River to the Mason-Dixon Line. The one hundred and eighty-four page book uses the same format as the West Virginia book (below) and will be on sale in about three weeks. Orders are now being taken.
After two years of hard work my first book is finally finished - Orders are now being accepted: The Mid-Atlantic Hikers Guide: WV. I've teamed up with Scott Adams Enterprises to produce a two hundred and eighty-nine page manuscript complete with large topo maps, elevation profiles and waypoint tables, all keyed together to totally integrate the hiking experience. There are sixty-four hikes in all, ranging from a 2 mile flip-flop walk to visit the beautiful Sandstone Falls on the New River to 25+ mile, three day, strenuous forays into the wilderness areas of the Mountain State, and all other kinds of hikes in between.
M. R. Hyker's Latest Adventure(s)
04-19 to 20/14 – GWNF-Cedar Creek-Little Sluice Backpack: This was our 2014 inaugural backpack. I’ve hesitated doing this hike for quite some time mainly because of the number of old logging/fire roads involved and the very steep climb up the Tuscarora Trail. (At the steepest point you gain 1000 feet of elevation over 1.7 miles.) Then I realized that probably 70-80% of the trails on the Great North Mountain wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for these roads. This plus the idea of coupling together great views from White Rocks and the southern end of Little Sluice Mountain as well as some good camping caused me to rethink my philosophy. I thought if we could quickly get the majority of the elevation gain behind us this would be a nice overnight backpack. Hardcore, Wooly Bully, Christopher Robin (and the 100 acre wood), Gumby, Treebeard and myself meet Doc and Hank (Are you ready for some football?) at the Cedar Creek Trailhead. We laced up our boots, donned our packs and began our trek.
The first 0.5 miles was along a maintained gravel forest road. As we passed the junction with the orange blazed Bread Road Trail on the left the gravel surface stopped and little by little the woods road deteriorated into something no longer navigable by motor vehicles. In several places the drainage ditches that are supposed to aid in water removal (I think there is a technical name for them but it eludes me at the moment.) were either silted in or otherwise clogged causing the trail to become a shallow stream. It was never over our boot tops so proved to be just a minor annoyance. In another 0.8 miles we passed a small wildlife pond, an obvious breeding area for frogs. After awhile the trail veered uphill, farther away from Cedar Creek, which you really never get to see anyway, and became even more like a footpath. The tread was also dryer. In another mile or so the trail broke out onto an open and grassy campsite which apparently also serves as a turn around point for a woods road that is open to hunters in season. This is where Treebeard found what might be some kind of rare gem, a golf ball sized black glass nugget. A broken corner revealed a dark gray amorphous center. Since our resident geologist, Shortstack, was absent he decided to carry it in his pack until he could identify it. (Now you know how most ardent backpackers abhor carrying even one more additional ounce than what they have to? I’ll have more on this tidbit later.)
So after a break we continued on what is a well maintained woods road. It was really pretty nice since it was mostly dirt and surrounded by mature forest and not rutted in the least. After 1.7 easy miles we turned left onto the Tuscarora Trail and began what would be the hardest part of the outing. Initially the climb was gradual and appeared to be heading up a steep draw between Paddy and Little Sluice Mountains. (It’s the same ridge but for some reason it bears two different names. Go figure!) Just as the steepness was getting to become just a too little ridiculous the trail began switchbacking predominantly to the north and then back towards the draw. Some were steep, short and rocky while others were of a lesser gradient and longer passing through pleasant pine groves allowing the hiker to “recover” while still on the move. I caught up to the rest of the group in 1.7 miles after leaving the Cedar Creek Trail. They were taking a break at an oasis of sorts, a nice rock outcrop under a canopy of pine. I joined them for a bit grabbing a nice spot against a tree with the pine straw as a carpet. I studied the map and realized the serious climbing was all but done. We still had about 200 more feet to climb but it was spread out over a mile.
Continuing on we quickly passed the junctions of the Sulfur Spring Gap Trail and the Old Mail Path, both on the right, in quick order. It was shortly after this that I finally located the oft talked about but previously unobserved trailside spring that supposedly serves as the water source for the White Rocks campsite. It has become more obvious since some Civil Engineer-minded hikers used thin rock slabs to force it to flow through a channel making water collection easier. Just before we reached the crest of the ridge we arrived at the white blazed White Rocks Trail on the left and a fine looking campsite on the right. (I am convinced that it wasn’t here the last time I hiked in this area.) We followed the White Rocks Trail to its associated campsite and dropped our packs before scrambling up the rocks to enjoy the views. We shared it with a very nice family unit, Chris W. and his two lovely daughters. He became really excited when he realized who I was. He said that he felt guilty always using the info from my website and not being able to give anything back and asked if I would pose for a photo with him. I agreed only if he promised to file an Outing Critique. I gave his camera to Gumby and the girls joined us for the photo op. We said our adieus, recovered our packs and headed for a nice campsite at the junction with the Racer Camp Hollow and Little Sluice Trails. I had arranged the logistics such that we should arrive at camp no later than 6:00. To everyone’s surprise, I was the last one to saunter in at about 4:30.
Day 1 distance:8.8 miles
Day 1 E.G.:2100 feet
I conned Wooly Bully into hanging the bear bag line with Hardcore volunteering to help him and let Doc use my water filter in exchange for filling up my water bladder while I took one of my patented power naps. I got myself out of my tent in time to join the rest of the group for dinner and the usual fireside banter, talking about past shared and perhaps some unshared experiences. I held out until 7:45 before retiring to my tent, eager to once again get horizontal. I think everyone else did likewise by 9:00.
The cold night brought us all out of our tents early. The chill in the air caused us to break camp quickly, all eager to get warmed up through the anticipated physical exertion. We were on the trail by 8:15. The first 0.5 miles of the purple blazed Little Sluice Mountain Trail was heavily rutted and quite muddy in areas but the trail conditions greatly improved after we crossed Spruce Run. The crest of the mountain was several hundred feet above us. We encountered some gradual climbs along this section, enough to add another 500 feet of elevation gain to the hike, but we were generally walking on either almost flat or downhill grades. Maps indicated that there is a spring located about a mile from where we had camped but other hikers I’ve communicated with could not recall seeing one. Wooly Bully and I had the waypoint loaded in our Garmins and found the well established piped water source right where the USGS said it should be.
In another mile we arrived at the junction with the Bread Road Trail and another large campsite. I had been told that it frequently gets trashed but someone had done a bang up job of cleaning it up. We hid our packs behind some logs, grabbed our cameras and continued on the Little Sluice Mountain Trail, now more of a grassy lane than a woods road. We passed a few more campsites, some with nice views before arriving at a large grassy area with towering spruce trees. On the eastern edge was a large campsite with a ten foot fire ring. We continued to follow the blazes, climbing a rocky knob with an expansive view of Massanutten Mountain, the Shenandoah Valley and then the park itself. We could easily identify many of the prominent features of Massanutten Mountain including Signal Knob to the north, Kennedy Peak and Edinburg Gap nearly due east and New Market Gap to the south. We stopped at the base of Little Schloss staring up at it in awe. There is supposed to e a 90 foot rock scramble to its top with a nice view of Mill Mountain and Big Schloss to its west. Some of the gang looked for a way that would seem reasonable for a bunch of 50 and 60+ year olds and could find nothing that wouldn’t require at least ropes and rock climbing tools. An elevator would be even better. Not wanting to risk injury or exhaustion we all gave way to that wisdom only obtained after many years of life and retraced our steps back to our packs, grateful enough for the views we had observed. Most of us didn’t bring food or water with us on our little foray so we took a nice break before once again saddling up. It was here that I was inspired to give Chris (his real Christian name) his trail name so we had the usual brief “dubbing” ceremony.
The Bread Road Trail is really quite dull – a wide dirt road exposed to the sun, quickly plummeting through a series of switchbacks to the Cedar Creek Trail. I consider it more of a means to an end – a necessity to get back to the vehicles. Thankfully the drudgery ends in about a mile. We turn right onto the gravel portion of the Cedar Creek Trail and proceed to retrace our original 0.5 miles when I notice several of the crew including Treebeard picking up pieces of stone from the road, the same material as his now infamous Pet Rock. After studying the stuff more carefully I recollected a quasi-scientific article about recycling that I had read years ago. Government agencies collect glass bottles and other inorganic material, burn them to the point of melting (a process that strikes me as very energy inefficient), cools it and then mills it (another energy using process) before adding it to stone aggregate used for paving. So Treebeard’s potential gem turns out being a precursor to asphalt. I urged him to release his rock so it could reestablish itself in its natural environment (created by man) but he refuses insisting that he needed to keep it for proof … of something. I’m sorry to say I now have to file an Environmental Impact Statement with the EPA and maybe even the Sierra Club. Is there a PETA type non-profit organization for abuse of rocks?
Day 2 distance: 6.8 miles
Day 2 E.G.: 450 feet
Latest Outing Critiques
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:
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.
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.
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: 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