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                              Last Updated: 08/14/2015

                             

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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 318 hikes and over 3,657 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.

 

Please read the Terms of Use before using this website then click on the desired state on the map to the left to continue.

 

 

"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.

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Latest Published Hikes

Quebec Run Backpack, PA

Three Ponds Loop, PA

Upper North River-Bald Mountain Backpack

Wild Oak National Recreation Trail-South, VA

Wild Oak National Recreation Trail-Grooms Ridge Trail, VA

 

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Bulletin Board

 

07/30/15: Two years ago I had surgery on my hip as a result of a backpacking accident. I’ve recently discovered that the repair has degenerated. I find it difficult now to walk on a flat paved surface for a mile without prolonged pain and discomfort afterwards. Such being the case I have to cancel the rest of my schedule. I’m sorry if this inconveniences any of you.

Although I have yet to throw in the towel it doesn’t look good for future seasons. I’ll see what the doctor says first before I make a final decision. I really don’t want to have anymore surgeries. I still hope to get back to the point where I can at least lead short day hikes. I love being outdoors but I’ll have to limit myself to what my body can do without pain.

Contact my fellow outing leader, Sam Savage and sign up for his trips.

I still plan to maintain this website and forum. It gives me great joy to be able to share my knowledge and that of others with my fellow hikers. Posting Outing Critiques on the hike pages of the website is even more important now, especially making comments as to changes in the trail notes, maps, GPS data, etc or even just stating that they are still accurate. This is truly your website. It's up to you to keep it relevant.

 

 

05/03/2014:  "The Mid-Atlantic Hiker's Guide: Central Maryland" is now finished. It includes 45 day hikes from the shores of the Chesapeake Bay to Catoctin Mountain and from the Potomac River to the Mason-Dixon Line. The one hundred and eighty-four page book uses the same format as the West Virginia book (below). Orders are  being taken.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After two years of hard work my first book is finally finished - Orders are now being accepted: The Mid-Atlantic Hikers Guide: WV. I've teamed  up with Scott Adams Enterprises to produce a two hundred and eighty-nine page manuscript complete with large topo maps, elevation profiles and waypoint tables, all keyed together to totally integrate the hiking experience. There are sixty-four hikes in all, ranging from a 2 mile flip-flop walk to visit the beautiful Sandstone Falls on the New River to 25+ mile, three day, strenuous forays into the wilderness areas of the Mountain State, and all other kinds of hikes in between.

 

 

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M. R. Hyker's Latest Adventure(s)

 

 

04/04/15 – Michaux SF, AT/Blueberry Trail/Dead Woman’s Hollow Road Circuit: This was the first “new” hike that I’ve done since last July. Up front I want to thank Aegiss III for the gpx file he sent me and his tips. I was joined by Hardcore, The Mad Hatter, Wooly Bully and Christopher Robbins.  

The AT parking lot on Shipensburg road is a large gravel affair enclosed by a corral and small pine trees. We began our hike NOBO on the AT, first through a pine forest on a wide grassy, woods road and then the more typical rocky footpath through mixed hardwood forest over rolling terrain.  In 1,1 miles we reached the junction of the Dead Woman Hollow Road (our return route). Lore has it that a local woman whose name has long been forgotten was bitten by a snake in the hollow and died there. There is a nice parking area here should a hiker prefer to shorten this 8 mile circuit by 2 miles. Shortly after passing this intersection the AT joins the access road for the Michner cabin (a PATC rental). Once again we were walking on mostly flat, smooth trail covered with pine straw. In ¾ miles the AT makes a 90 degree left turn while the access road becomes the Blueberry Trail. We reach the occupied Michner cabin in ¼ mile.  

After a short conversation we continue on the Blueberry Trail, now a nice footpath weaving through mountain laurel thickets. (To further shorten the hike one can alternately take the Dead Woman Hollow “Trail”.) We stop at a small rock pile in 0.7 miles near the edge of the eastern flank of South Mountain incorrectly thinking that we were at a vista created by recent logging activity but another couple hundred yards brings us to a rocky ledge, a much better view point. I think Christopher Robins got better shots than I as he was able to maneuver around on the rocks. 

Hardcore scouted out the continuation of the trail which was hard to pickup at this point. Over the next ½ mile the trail descended rather steeply to the point that I was reaching out to grab trees to prevent myself from falling. There were a couple of switchbacks but they did little to help. As the steepness relented we arrive at an obvious trail junction. My GPS and the Hatter’s old PATC map told us we should turn right here. But Wooly’s newer PATC map did not show the trail at all. There was a blaze but it had been blackened out – usually a sign that the trail has been abandoned. We continued following the blue blazes thinking that perhaps there had been a trail relocation but I continued to monitor my GPS. When I saw we were quickly approaching Rt 233 my original assumption proved correct. Not wanting to do a road walk on that dangerous road we retreated to the abandoned trail. After a few steps it became a woods road, an obvious extension of Dead Woman Hollow Road. It was wide and mostly grassy. After an easy 0.7 mile walk we reached the road itself. We looked for and found an unofficial trail that was on the gpx file I was using but it seemed to peter out after a 100 yards or so. At this point we didn’t feel an “adventure” was warranted, and on second thought realizing that what looked like an apparent stream crossing on the map might be a bit more than merely technical, we opted to just follow the road back up to the AT. It was a long 1.9 mile climb gaining 800 feet over that distance but there was only one or two parts that might be considered remotely steep. Otherwise it was just a long, continuous slog. We did manage to find the upper end of the stream trail a bit more than halfway up. It was just before the southern terminus of the Dead Woman Hollow “Trail”. Once we reached the AT we took a short break and then retraced our initial 1.1 miles back to the truck. At 8 miles and 1400 feet of E.G. it was the ideal hike for a sunny but blustery spring day.

Read More Adventures Here!

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Latest Outing Critiques

Name: Tom
Date(s) of Hike: 07/31/15
Hike Name: SNP-Rockytop-Big Run Loop
Ranking: 5

Outing Critique:Beautiful area of SNP, among the best in the park.  Relatively underused trails; during the three day weekend I saw seven people.

Hiked down the Big Run Loop Trail and the Big Run Portal Trail, past the intersections with Big Run Loop, Patterson Ridge, and Rocky Mountain Run Trail; set up camp approximately a quarter mile upstream from the Brown Mountain Trail.  Day hiking from base camp on Saturday; returned on Sunday.

Many of the campsites near the trail intersections are closed for overuse.  Still there are at least 15 established campsites open on Big Run Portal Trail  between Brown Mountain Trail and Big Run Loop Trail.  Some are well hidden, so keep your eyes open.  You should be able to find the seclusion you want.  Also, there are campsites of varying sizes, and if you are hiking alone you have a choice of a number of nice places.

You should be able to find an established campsite within 50 yards of every place the trail crosses the stream.  The four campsites at the intersection of Brown Mountain Trail and Big Run Portal Trail, near the bridge, are very nice, but overused.  Some of the campsites upstream are more secluded and less used.

Water is down a little but there is plenty for cooling off after a day hike.

Beware the hike back up to Skyline Drive on Big Run Loop Trail.  One of the more challenging short hikes in SNP on established trails, similar to Big Devil Stairs.  The
1.2 miles on Big Run Loop between the Portal Trail and Rockytop Trail is simply three long switchbacks.  On a warm day start early.  I maintained a steady pace, but it took three hours to get from Brown Mountain Trail to Skyline Drive via Big Run Loop Trail.

Name:   Fmatt
Date(s) of Hike: 08/08/2015
Hike Name: Seneca Creek/Spruce Knob
Ranking: 4.5

Outing Critique: Great hike with diverse scenery! The only strenuous part was the descent starting at High Meadows - it's the last leg of the first day and was difficult.  The directions, as stated in other comments, are a bit off, though it's pretty straightforward.. Once you hit High Meadows Trail (which was our favorite part), you'll keep going through three large meadows. After the third meadow, you'll come to a creek crossing - it's a small waterfall with water running over smooth rocks and then falls down some small levels. Be careful crossing - it's an easy one to slip on and seriously hurt yourself.  After this crossing, the trail winds for a half mile down hill, with campsites on your right as you defend. There's no clear signs, but once you get to the bottom and the creek is right in front of you, you have two options. Go left, you'll immediately come to a creek crossing that's at least 20 feet long. Go right, and you'll follow the creek and pass by the falls and a lot of camp sites. If you camp, you'll need to cross the stream (this is the start of the Seneca Creek trail). There's also a few campsites on this side of the stream.  We came out on the Seneca creek trail as we didn't want to do all the uphill and re-hike the huckleberry (but also had a car parked there...you wouldn't be able to walk back to your car at Huckleberry trailhead from Seneca trailhead without a ride). There are at least 4 creek crossings on the full Seneca Trail which vary, but you should be ready to take off your boots at least once or twice.

Name:   Christopher Robin
Date(s) of Hike: 8/1-3/15
Hike Name: Spruce Knob-Seneca Creek
Ranking: 4

Outing Critique: We did most of this hike last weekend, just did it a bit differently. We started out at Spruce Knob on Saturday morning in beautiful clear weather with temps in the 70's. Hiked down Huckleberry Trail and took Horton Trail after the 4-way with Lumberjack Trail. Huckleberry is a very nice trail, mostly in spruce, but with a few clearings that probably had great views 10-15 years ago. Took a quick left off Horton onto Judy Springs Trail, which opens up to some awesome meadow views. Soon you are back in the woods and cross the bridge at the intersection with Seneca Creek Trail. Seneca Creek is a very nice trail along the creek, with many great campsites. We found one we liked and spent our first night there. Sunday we headed to the falls and then up Horton to High Meadows trail. I would suggest watering up at the creek at the start of High Meadows, its the best on that trail and for the rest of the day the way we went. High Meadows is a nice trail through the meadows up to the top of the ridge, it does get steeper as you go though. We found Lost Meadows at the top of High Meadows, then took Lumberjack Trail back to Huckleberry Trail. Our last push was Huckleberry to the closest nice campsite near Spruce Knob. There we set up our camp, got water for dinner that we had stashed in the car and relaxed and watched the beautiful sunset. Since we had no walk out on Monday,we had time to visit Seneca Rocks! This is a great hike!

Name:   Peter Gebhard
Date(s) of Hike:11/10/14
Hike Name: Hall of the Hemlocks-Cherry Run Circuit
Ranking: 4


Outing Critique: We really enjoyed this hike, especially the "secret" part. The scenery was so beautiful after having just snowed a light dusting. Everything looked just a bit more enchanting. We saw a good number of people heading to the falls, but once we left that area near the parking lot, we saw nobody else.

The "secret" part was especially fun, though the markings were very hard to see. We luckily spotted some spray paint marking the entrance off the main trail, but it was so hard to spot the hatchet marks on the trees, and the trail was lost in the light snow. We somehow managed to not get too lost, though. We camped overnight in this section.

On our return the next day to the car, we hiked by the falls and enjoyed greatly.

Our big mistake was that we assumed we could backcountry camp overnight, and we returned to an upset ranger who let us know that the park closed at sunset and that overnight camping was only allowed in the designated campground (which was closed at that time of the year - winter). We ended up getting off with just having to pay for the equivalent of a night's stay at the campground.

 

 

Name:   Jeremy
Date(s) of Hike: 06/26/15
Hike Name:  Little Devil's Stairs
Ranking: 4
Photo


Outing Critique: Hike of Little Devil Stairs in Shenandoah National Park.  I extended the hike and also did the Piney Branch Trail to make it an ~9 mile loop.  Only saw one other person in the 6 hours that I was hiking and that was within 0.25 miles of returning to the parking lot on the fire road.

The initial 2 miles of Little Devil Stairs was rough but I would not consider it to be scrambling. The stream was ever present with cascades the length of the hike.  Nice waterfall at the very end but no vistas.

I had planned to do take the fire road back to the parking lot but felt like adding a few miles so took the longer Piney Branch Trail.  The trail was nice but lacked any major features.  From about the midpoint the trail begins to follow a stream but stay maining above and a couple hundred yards away from it.  I found the trail posts confusing with some indicating Piney Branch Trail in all directions.  Since I had not planned to do this as part of the hike I had not brought directions and was off the edge of the map I had brought.  Ultimately you just keep turning left and will end up back on the fire road at the cemetery.

Watch a video of the hike.

Name:   Elizabeth
Date(s) of Hike: 7/24/2015
Hike Name: Billy Goat Trail - Section A
Ranking: 3

Outing Critique:  For the past year or so I have been coming to this trail and running it a couple times a week, all 4 seasons.  It is great exercise and makes trail running more interesting/fun with the intermittent rock scrambles.  During the summer remember your Camelbak, etc.  Also, the trail is nearly always busy (unless you're running it at 7AM in January!!), but folks are pretty relaxed when you politely say "excuse me" and pass them.  One thing I will say is that the trail is not nearly as "difficult" as the NPS warning, so even if you're nervous about going or haven't done any hiking, don't let it stop you.  Just go for it!  It is really beautiful and fun, whether you're taking it slowly as a beginner or running it regularly.  Wear trail shoes or athletic shoes with good grip and you will be totally fine!

 

 

Name:   Donna
Date(s) of Hike: 07/17/15-07/22/15
Hike Name: Otter Creek Backpack
Ranking: 2


Outing Critique: Did this loop, intended to make it a bit longer (with day hikes on McGowan, Possession Camp, and Moore's Run), but after Green Mountain Trail and the piece of Otter Creek Trail in between Moore Run and the Green Mountain trail, we ....gave up.   Mylius Trail is fine.  So is Shavers Mountain.  Green Mountain Trail is horrible and miserable, or as another backpacker we ran into said: "Abysmal".  It's one big seemingly never-ending mucky bog.  Couple that with being constantly smacked by or crawling through rhododendron and briars, add in the inevitable blow-downs (though nothing like others encountered two years ago), and a slippery rocky trail down Green Mountain (with water flowing on the trail at multiple portions)---err.  No fun.   The piece of Otter Creek Trail from Green Mountain to Moore's Run is no fun, either.  In several areas the very narrow poorly constructed trail clings to the side of a steep mountain, with an occasional portion of the trail washed out and dangerously muddy/slippery.  In two areas along Otter Creek Trail from Green Mountain Trail heading south there are re-routes around blow-downs--make sure that you take the re-routes (which go UP); don't try to plow through and go straight ahead.  While Otter Creek was very pretty when we could see it (most of the time it is hidden in rhododendron and blow-downs), the effort put into the hike made it not worth it.  Nicest campsite was by Moore Run.  Sitting there on the rocks in the middle of Otter Creek looking at a small but beautiful waterfall was very, very sweet.  But again...not worth it, given the horrible shape of Green Mountain Trail and the piece of Otter Creek Trail from Green Mountain Trail down to Moore's Run.  And yes, I get that it's wilderness.
(M.R.Hyker Note: All who are contemplating exploring wilderness areas should read this government link and any other links found within before going on the trip. The wilderness may not be for you!)  But one would think that there'd be at least some *minimum standards* for trails in wilderness areas.   We didn't see it.  Don't expect to make normal hiking time and don't expect even minimally maintained trails--they're *a mess*.  Perhaps then you won't be as disappointed as we were.

 

 

Name:   Chuck
Date(s) of Hike: 7/18/15
Hike Name: Kelly's Run/Pinnacle
Ranking: 4


Outing Critique:  Great hike! Two buddies from church and I, ages range from 30s to late 40s, did the loop in about five hours, going the "reverse" direction, first through the cornfield and woods to the maintenance road, then to the Pinnacle and coming back up Kelly's Run. Directions were pretty good, though it did take some interpretation and guesstimating to make sure we were on the right track. The hike starts out on what looks like a fire or forest road next to the baseball field, versus a trail. There aren't any signs or clear markings for where to start, so that made us a little nervous at the outset, but it all worked out. Enjoyed the bit of steep climbing, just enough to make us feel like we were being adventurous, and the view from the Pinnacle was terrific--we ate lunch on the rock outcrop just down the Conestoga Trail from the picnic area and had the place all to ourselves, watching kayakers on Lake Aldred. We missed the turn off to the base of Kelly's Run on the way back, ended up going to the intersection with the Conestoga and Kelly's Run trails and then working our way down the run, then backtracking and coming back up. Saw a dad with two kids, around ages 9-11, playing in the stream so it's a good trip for those with young legs (unlike us!).

 

 

Name:   Donna
Date(s) of Hike:07/19/15
Hike Name: Oregon Ridge
Ranking: 4
Outing Critique: We were pleased nearly all of this hike was wooded (except for the pipeline swaths) since the temperature was in the 90s. The heat may have been the reason there weren't more people out. The 'pond' wasn't much, but still a nice place for lunch with plenty of flat seating. The path is wide enough for several friends to walk and talk together. But interesting enough with rocks, roots, stream crossings and elevation changes. I think this would probably be awesome for trail running.

There is one point I would like to clarify that the person from '07 wrote about, but I missed reading. You do walk a short distance to find the Orange blazed trail, but you find the Red one first. The red one puts you on the wrong side of the lake. Interesting, but we had to back track to catch the orange trail.

Including our backtracking we did 5 miles in 2.5 hours. This is a very nice hike!

 

 

Name:   Troop 115, Schoeneck PA
Date(s) of Hike:07/18/2015-07/19/2015
Hike Name: Pinchot Trail - South Loop
Ranking: 4
Photo

 

Outing Critique:  We brought our youngest group of Boy Scouts for a one-night introduction to backpacking.  Properly fitting packs are difficult to find for 60-70 pound 11-12 year olds!  I know good ones in youth sizes are out there, but it is difficult to justify the expense for a pack that could be 6 months and a good growth spurt away from being too small.  Nevertheless, the trails are easy and ideal for youth.

We started our hike at 11:30 taking the South Loop in reverse, or counterclockwise.  Within a mile or so, before the Rock Lookout, we hit the most amazing patch of blueberries.  After everyone stocked up on blueberries for the evening snack and morning breakfast, we continued down the yellow shortcut trail because of gear issues and inexperience.  This yellow blazed path south of Tannery Road basically is a jeep trail for half its length.  The path diverts back into the forest about a mile before rejoining the orange blaze Pinchot Trail.

Most of the southern campsites were taken by the time we arrived around 5:00.  We found the one on the "island" adjacent to two other campsites that was still open.  It was perfect for us and we were able to set up and eat before a thunderstorm hit.  Nice rock chairs for the adults!

The next morning hiking out was a little sloppy, and moderately challenging for 11-12 year olds.  The trails are well marked and with very little elevation change, so no big deal.  Started out at 8:00 and made it to the parking area, hiking partway on Tannery Road, by 12:00 on a very hot and muggy day.  Again, ideal hike for youth.

They already planned to come back next year for the North Loop.

Jeff

 

 

Name:   Meghan
Date(s) of Hike: 7/18/15-7/19/15
Hike Name: Torry Ridge-Mills Creek Loop
Ranking: 5


Outing Critique:  What a great hike! In mid-July, there were lots of blueberries and a few blackberries along the side of the trail above 2500 feet or so-- and they were delicious. Based on the bear scat we saw in the trail, the bears think the berries are delicious, too. We didn't see any bears in the flesh, but did encounter a timber rattlesnake on the second day (we gave her and her rattles wide berth).

The first campsite, near Orebank Creek, seemed fine to us (no obvious beer cans or anything) but it is well worth pressing on to the second site, which was lovely and quiet with soft mossy ground to sleep on.

We barely encountered any other people during two days on the trail. Highly recommend!

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