Last Updated: 07/23/2014
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 315 hikes and over 3,625 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
.Bark Camp Lake Loop, VA
05/03/2014: "The Mid-Atlantic Hiker's Guide: Central Maryland" is now finished. It includes 45 day hikes from the shores of the Chesapeake Bay to Catoctin Mountain and from the Potomac River to the Mason-Dixon Line. The one hundred and eighty-four page book uses the same format as the West Virginia book (below). Orders are being taken.
After two years of hard work my first book is finally finished - Orders are now being accepted: The Mid-Atlantic Hikers Guide: WV. I've teamed up with Scott Adams Enterprises to produce a two hundred and eighty-nine page manuscript complete with large topo maps, elevation profiles and waypoint tables, all keyed together to totally integrate the hiking experience. There are sixty-four hikes in all, ranging from a 2 mile flip-flop walk to visit the beautiful Sandstone Falls on the New River to 25+ mile, three day, strenuous forays into the wilderness areas of the Mountain State, and all other kinds of hikes in between.
M. R. Hyker's Latest Adventure(s)
7/20/14: Glatfelter Area of Michaux S.F., Three Pond Loop: First Iíd like to thank Aegis III for providing the GPX file upon which I based this hike. It was invaluable.
Last week I suffered a pretty embarrassing ďForrest Gump momentĒ while backpacking on the AT in central VA, having to leave the group after a mere 6.5 miles. Undaunted I immediately began training up for my next backpacking trip to be done in the Quebec Wild Area of Forbes State Forest in PA. Abbey and I started doing 3.5 mile power walks at the local park with an average speed of 4.0 mph. By Sunday I felt ready for a nice day hike Ė something not too demanding but something I could control by hiking at my maximum speed and limiting the amount of breaks I took. This little gem fit the bill. It took me a couple of minutes to realize that the parking area I needed to use was right at the stop sign between Gum Springs Road and Mt. Hope Road. I parked and explored the trailhead without my dog. I confirmed the location of the trail with my GPS. It was there alright but overgrown with blackberry, raspberry, stinging nettles and other assorted brush. I was ill equipped for an extended foray with these trail conditions, wearing only a tee shirt and short hiking pants.
I briefly considered driving north on Mt. Hope Road to search for a more accessible entry point but decided to give this route the old college try. If the trail conditions didnít improve quickly I could always abort the trek and save it for a winter hike after the brush had died back. We briefly searched for the old copper mine that Aegis had told be about and I think we got close to it Ė a large grassy area surrounded by forest and an impenetrable mass of all those stinging things. Dressed as I was we quickly retreated to the spur trail that paralleled Tomís Creek and continued on to the main loop.
Immediately the trail conditions improved greatly with the exception of a few blowdowns that were easy to negotiate. The next 1.5 miles or so I had hiked over the winter but it looked totally different with a thick canopy overhead and a dense, calf high carpet of Japanese stilt grass (an invasive alien) engulfing much of the trail, especially in shady placesÖ. A great place for our tiny eight legged friends to hide. Add to this the raspberry bushes full of ripe berries lining the trail it made the hiker feel like he is walking in a large green tube of sorts. In 0.7 miles from the start point we descended down a gas pipeline right of way a short distance until I spotted another familiar woods road to the left. We followed it, negotiating a large blowdown that was present during our winter hike and then crossed Copper Run twice in a matter of a few yards. The trail closely paralleled the stream for 0.8 miles, crossing it on a culvert one time before passing a trail on the right which we used on our last hike to climb to Culpís Ridge. It was in this vicinity that I found a nice specimen of Soft St. Johnswort. In another 0.3 miles we were greeted by even more wildflowers as another road coming down from the ridge merged with the one we were on. This created a large area exposed to the sun and perfect for wildflower observation. As I stood in one spot I could see yarrow, Queen Annís Lace, Black-eyed Susan, Ox-eye Daisy and an assortment of clovers. After a quick camera op we pushed on for another 0.1 miles to pond #1. To the right we could barely see the old barn hidden in the vegetation. It was so much more obvious in the winter. At first I was disappointed because we could not see the pond for all the waist high weeds but then we encountered a mowed swath that took us down to the banks of the pond. After taking in the view we retraced our steps back to the main loop, passing nice specimens of the very poisonous Water Hemlock, Butterfly Weed (a milkweed), Depford Pink and cobalt blue chicory. We climbed a slight rise, passing a hunterís cabin on the left, and arrived at Mt. Hope Road.
We turned left onto the road but in less than twenty steps turned right at a forest sign onto another Japanese Stilt Grass choked lane. In a mere 0.1 miles the trail forked. We took the left fork. It made the hike longer by about 0.2 miles, passed through a nice pine plantation and the trail had the appearance of recently being mowed Ö and to my surprise was loaded with ripe raspberries. I think Iíll call it Raspberry Alley. In 0.3 miles the road ended at a ďTĒ intersection. I knew I was supposed to turn right but to the left there was a patch of spruce trees. I think there is something mystical about traipsing through a spruce forest. Both my map and GPS told me the woods road would end just short of a road. Thinking a short bushwhack might be possible we made the left turn. The hike through the evergreens was pleasant but short-lived.
In case it hasnít been mentioned before the Gladfelter company specialized in paper. They not only harvested native species but planted tracks of different species and tested them to see which would make the best pulp. Such being the case a hiker might be walking through an oak forest one moment, then a pine plantation and then a small grove of splendid red spruce. In between he might encounter open harvested areas left to recover anyway nature saw fit. When new technology made the typical pulp produced paper obsolete Gladfelter sold the land to some conservation groups who eventually turned it over to the forest.
Enough on the history of the area! We continued to follow the road for 0.4 miles and, as my tools warned me the trail ended Ö in a houseís backyard. I could see the road from where I stood but decided it was best to turn around. We took a water break when we got back to the trail junction where we left the planned route and then continued on. The next 0.7 miles were either flat or gradually sloping downhill. At some point the mowing had stopped and we were once again in calf high grass. We were making good time so much so that I walked right past the turn-off for pond # 2. Almost immediately I could see the clearing where the pond should be so backtracked to the proper turn. When we reached the pond I could see the house we mistakenly visited earlier on the opposite shore. There were more wildflowers here. Of special note was a not so common purple variant of Boneset which is usually white. I didnít realize what I had seen until we got back to the main trail and I had not taken a picture of it.
In 0.3 miles we turned to the right at a triangle intersection joining what Iím pretty sure is Kepner Knob Road, a double track gravel road, but in 0.1 miles turned left onto another grassy lane. At first we were under deep canopy but then it opened up as we began passing through one of the spoiled areas I mentioned earlier. This openness produced nice views of Pine Mountain to the South and Culpís Ridge to the east. Added to the mix of wildflowers were now bouquets of Brown-eyed Susan, a more compact version of the Black-eyed Susan with many more petals. Haphazardly growing here and there were small patches of conifers that I am not familiar with. I think some were Larch. I took photos of the needles to identify later. We descended for 0.6 miles, still grazing on raspberries and an occasional blackberry or two. Near the bottom the trail made two hairpin turns before depositing us into a large open field, also full of wildflowers. We followed faint tire tracks through the tall grass until they suddenly stopped near a line of woods. It was as if someone had simply picked up the vehicle and moved it. I thought we might be having an ďuh-ohĒ moment until I spotted the tell-tale green carpet of the continuation of the trail to our right. We soon arrived at a nice view of pond # 3, surrounded by pines on our side. As I stopped to take a photo and looked around for an easy route to the shore Abbey flopped down in the tall grass. I think, although she was more than willing, she really had enough for the day. I gave in to her, wanting to get her to a nice place to relax, and continued on. The trail really became overgrown over the next 0.2 miles. At one point we passed through some sort of grass that sent sheaths of burning pain through all of my left leg and the calf of my right. It was much more intense than stinging nettles. I looked back but could not discern anything obviously different. For sure I wasnít going to walk back through it. Shortly afterward we reached Tomís Creek. Someone had laid a log across it but I wasnít in the mood for testing my balance beam skills. We climbed down the bank where I let my girl wallow in the stream for a bit as I washed the cold water over my stinging wounds. As we climbed the opposite bank I saw the green carpet guiding us to Gum Springs Road. Once there we turned left onto it and in 0.3 miles were back at the car. Except for the burning sensation in my legs I felt pretty good and despite the presence of all that stilt grass, I really enjoyed all of the flowers and the forest types even if some of them were contrived by humans. Itís definitely a hike worth repeating although I think that if I were to do it in the summer again I would wear light weight nylon hiking pants sprayed with copious amounts of tick repellent. (I pulled four of the little suckers off of me!)
Latest Outing Critiques
Name: Mike G. Hike: Trout Run Valley Circumnavigation
Date(s): 07/18-20/14 Rating: 4
Critique: We did this hike in the direction laid out in the narrative. Our first day, we left Wolf Gap at 9 am, and headed north. Be forewarned that the well pump at Wolf Gap is broken, and has been since last fall. After a steady, but not too grueling climb, we reached the side trail where the vista was awesome from Big Schloss overlook. Back on the main trail, we reached the Sand Spring area, which was the first water we spotted that day. The water was flowing well, but had an odd chalky taste despite being filtered. We then reached the Tuscarora trail intersection, where there was no sign pointing out the TT, but it was obvious to go straight since the blue blazes were easily spotted. There was a confusing intersection where a steep jeep trail comes down from the left. Do not go that way. Just a little ways past that jeep trail (perhaps a half mile tops), we arrived at Day 1 camping at the intersection of Half Moon and TT. Good campsite, and as noted below in another critique, plentiful water flowing just before the bridge you cross before getting to the camp. Day 2, we went on down the Half Moon Trail and a couple of us hung up our packs on nails in the tree at the intersection and went off on the Half Moon overlook trail, which was an easy mile each way...there was some sort of small outlook structure up there built of stone, and the view was nice, although not as good as the Big Schloss view. Continuing on, generally downhill, we reached a really nice campsite with a creek..this was the intersection of the Bucktail Connector Trail. I think this would be a great alternative Day 1 campsite if you wanted to push on a little further than where we camped. We followed the directions given, and reached the end of the Bucktail Connector. The left onto the orange blazed Bucktail trail is more like a merge, and that trail is a very wide grassy fire road. Go down just a quarter mile or so, and reach a nice set of benches and take a break! Once we got across Trout Run Road, we began a big ascent up Long Mountain Trail. Much of this trail is an old fire road, and there are lots of grassy clearings, as described...the rock field is pretty daunting, yet lots of fun. Eventually you will reach a creek (I believe the one MR Hyker says is the last creek .64 miles before the Ben's Ridge site). There is a really nice site on the right just after that creek, back in the woods a ways, with a big fire ring. It would be a great Day 2 site if you are too weary to make it to his Day 2 site at Ben's Ridge. We went on to Ben's Ridge, which was pretty decent. A big clearing, but definitely slanted slightly, with a fire ring to the right. No sign of a spring anywhere, but a nicely flowing creek is just south of the clearing. Not obvious, but as you walk south, you will see the creek getting a little closer to the trail (it never crosses the trail). Day 3...from the Ben's Ridge site, it's a pretty steady and long climb, but eventually we came to a forest road and turned left...there is a nice campsite at this junction, but no water. Hike about 2 miles on this gravel road, and you will come to a very unceremonious trail head for the Tibbet's Knob trail on your left. A trash filled fire ring, and space for tent are there. The trail is pretty rocky and gets sketchy, but it is well blazed...eventually you reach the Knob, and it is one of the best views I can remember. You then descend, very steeply for a while, then the trail becomes more gradual. Just when you think you are about to reach Wolf Gap, you have to make one more pretty steep climb up a hillock, with great views as your reward. Then a short downhill hike afterwards puts you back at Wolf Gap. A great hike overall, and I think going in the Fall for color, or in the early winter or late winter before the trees leaf out would make it even better as you would have great views from the ridges.
Name: MSF Hike: Volkswagen Circuit
Date: 07/20/14 Rating: 4
Critique: Overall a very enjoyable hike. The highlight has to be the cascading stream in Clifford hollow, whose trail crossing make for good lunch spots. The abundant mountain laurel suggest late May/early June would be the best time to hike. Although the weather was beautiful for late July, we only saw 3 mountain bikers the whole hike. One note, the sunken jeep road is severely washed out and a few bad blowdowns significantly impeded the path. Mountain bikers have cut a parallel path to the south and west of the road that would be advisable to follow instead (can be picked up by following single track path to left of Catoctin Trail on the south bank of the sunken road crossing).
Name: Diane and Dave Hike: Hammersely Wild Area
Day(s): 07/04-05/14 Rating: 4+
Critique: My wife and I did this backpack and dayhike over the July 4th weekend. We followed Mikeís directions completely. I even downloaded his GPX route onto my GPS. It made finding the start of the bushwack real easy. Being the holiday weekend we did encounter 7 other backpackers, 2 dayhikers, and a trail maintenance volunteer. The pool was beautiful, deep, and cold. The gas pipeline was rather steep at times. The views from the wild fire meadow were great. The ferns in the meadow were hip high. The blazes along the Twin Sister trail were a mixture of rectangles and circles, either orange or yellow or both (one on top of the other). Finding the start of the bushwack was made easy as the 3 rock cairn is now a 5 rock cairn and itís right in the middle of the trail. The bushwack down the Dry Run was trying at times since the valley was chock full of Stinging Nettles. We tried hiking along the side of the run and at times down the middle of the creek. Whichever route had less nettles. There were also a lot of blowdowns which made the going more difficult. After the backpack we enjoyed the bubba burger at Debís Cross Fork Inn and ice cream at the general store across the street. Iíve attached photos of the parking area in front of the DCNR garage, the start of the trail along Rte 144, the start of the gas pipeline, the end of the pipeline at the gravel road, the 5 rock cairn signifying the start of the bushwack, the bushwack down Dry Run, and the humongous bubba burger.
Name: Michael Hike: Mid State Trail-Old Tram Trail Loop
Date: 07/05/14 Rating: 3
Critique: This is a fairly nice hike, exhibiting typical central Pennsylvania terrain (ridge and valley, mountain laurel). Probably best done in early June when the mountain laurel is in bloom. We did the loop as a quick backpacking trip to try out some new gear and found that the trails (other than MST) are somewhat poorly maintained, though all trails described here were easily passable as of hike date. One MAJOR inaccuracy of this hike description is the absence of the described campsite at the junction of Old Tram and Cracker Bridge trails. We had planned on camping there, but when we reached the trail junction (no sign), we found that it was impossible to turn right onto the trail, as described. I took off my pack and bushwhacked in a ways finding a bridge, as though there had once been a path there, but it has truly and utterly disappeared. Continuing on along Old Tram trail, we did find a small campsite on the left after a short distance, as described. This site was basically "carved out" of the laurel and offered space for maybe one tent, but was a bit claustrophobic feeling with little available wood for a campfire (you'll need one to deter mosquitoes if nothing else). We passed up this site and found the grassy clearing on the right a little further along. You'll have to keep your eye out and walk off of the trail a few steps to the right before it opens up, but this is the largest laurel free and relatively rock-free space you will find on the hike. It is actually a beautiful grassy area with some tall trees, downed trees, and scattered rocks. There is a good space for one two person tent near the fire ring, which we rebuilt from an old one. There is probably space for one to two more tents, as well. Best of all, there is actually a bit of decent firewood in this clearing (otherwise hard to find in this hardwood/laurel/wet terrain). We left a few pieces stacked so as to stay dry near the fire ring ;) It is a decent, quick, overnight with an ok campsite (grassy area) if you want the trail to yourself... Plus, you can swim when you get back to the park!
Name: Richard Hike: Canaan Mountain Loop
Date: 07/04/14 Rating: 3
Critique: 4 stars for solitude minus a star for trail conditions and less interesting stretches on the road. In mid summer the seeps and mud holes might be fun for the mountain bikers but can lead to blistered feet. Many overgrown spots on these trails, but overall not hard to follow despite minimal markings. One clarification - the campsite near the fork of Lindy Run on Plantation trail is only about 80-100 yards from the stream still at the base of the hill. The directions to climb up a short hill confused us and we passed the site multiple times. The ferns had grown over most of the meadow and obscured the fire ring and rock furniture so it was hardly recognizable as a camp site. Very nice site once there. Would be interested to see if conditions are more favorable in fall and winter.
Name: Chris Hike: Roaring Creek Tract - Backpack
Date(s): 07/04-05/14 Rating: 5
Critique: My wife and I wanted to go for an overnight hike with the dog, and this one looked to be close enough to home to be a last minute decision. We started around 8:45 in the morning on July 4th expecting to hit lots of crowds. WRONG!!! Absolutely peaceful. The only people we saw were on the main trail. The trail itself was marked fairly well, with a few questionable intersections at the beginning. We thought the campsite would be crowded out because of the awesome weather on the holiday weekend, WRONG AGAIN!!! We were the only ones there for the night, we arrived at the campsite at 2:15, and had peace and quiet the whole night. This was our first time camping without a group, and I must say, in an unfamiliar place, I was quite paranoid, but didn't let on to my wife, about the possibility of a bear encounter. But, with our 85 pound black lab with us, I knew we had a good warning system in place. The night was uneventful with nothing but the sound of owls and bullfrogs. The next morning we were up, packed, and ready to go at 9:15, we continued on the well marked trail around the reservoir and back to the gravel road, where we finally encountered people. We made it back to the car by 11:45. Overall great hike that could be done in one day if you planned on it. Very easy overnight that leaves you with plenty of time for R and R. Bring cards or a book, you'll have plenty of daylight. Thanks for the great trail directions and map MRHyker! I'll continue to follow your backpacking trips!
Name: Dan Hike: Black Forest Trail-Total
Date(s): 06/28-29/14 Rating: 5
Critique: Did the entire loop over 2 days. Absolutely beautiful and I saw no over night backpackers anywhere. Be prepared for a lot of ups and downs but they are well worth it. The vistas, creeks, waterfalls are just outstanding and I'll definitely be back to hike some of the sections I really liked with my son. I had planned on a three day hike but since I did 19 miles the first day and there were possible storms Sunday night I figured I could do the last 24 miles Sunday. I paid for the 24 mile Sunday hike with sore quads and hips that night. My recommendations for anyone doing this is to go light and enjoy. No need for heavy boots and packs that weigh 40+ lbs. I cowboy camped Saturday night under the stars and listened to the bubbling brook for music. I would not do this hike clockwise do to some of the ascents. Counter clockwise is the way to go. Be alert for the wildlife. I almost got it from a rattle snake by not paying attention to what I was doing. Go out and do this hike. Its a true gem of Pa and take Pictures!
Name: Eaglescout/Outdoorsman Hike: Brown Mountain-Big Run Loop
Date: 06/28-29/14 Rating: 5
Critique: I do a lot of backpacking in the Shenandoah National park. I decided to do a loop on Brown Mountain trail this past weekend, with the return being on Rocky Mountain Run Trail back towards the parking on skyline drive. I have done other hikes in the Big Run area but I had never done Brown Mountain trail before. The area is one of the most wild areas in the park. The trails are usually narrow, and can be overgrown at times. However, while the rocky and rugged terrain is hard to navigate at times (especially with backpacks) it will reward you with several nice views of the Big Run Wilderness area. Definitely bring a camera. You will come to multiple places with rock outcroppings where the outcrops will reach above the trees. You can climb several of these to see stunning views of the valley, Rockytop, and Big Run trails. MOST DEFINITELY Bring bug spray that will deter ticks. I remembered from my experiences with Rockytop trail that the ticks were really bad in this area so I opted to bring "Deep woods Off" repellent for both mosquitoes and ticks. I must say, I have NEVER, seen that many ticks. And what really surprised me, I didn't have a single one on my body. I found them inside my tent the next morning, in my backpack, on my clothes and even on my sleeping bag, but even after a thorough check I discovered no embedded ticks or bite marks. (Thank you bug spray) There were lots of Dog ticks and Lone star ticks, so again, I would highly recommend some form of bug spray. We camped on Big run portal trail which gave us two leisurely days worth of hiking. The valley surrounding Big Run as well as the canyons of Big Run are well worth exploring, providing great views and unspoiled wilderness. Overall one of my favorite trips in the SNP
Name: Paul Fofonoff Hike: Big Blue-Vance's Cove
Date: 6/14/14 Ranking: 4
Critique: I scouted this trail, day-hiking on 5/31/14, and then led a group backpacking on June 14-15, for the DC Chapter of the Appalachian Mtn Club. On my scouting trip, there was a spectacular display of Fringe-Tree in the open meadows on the ridge- I'd give that one a 5. By mid-June, the blossoms were gone, but there was still lots of Mountain Laurel. The group included beginners and rusty backpackers, and this hike was a good fit, with moderate grades, good views, and a chance to see a mountain sunset. The consensus for the group was 4 out of 5, The one major change in the trail is that the Gerhardt Shelter trail has been recently altered to add switchbacks. The upper sections are a rough bulldozer trail, and it's now about a mile from the shelter to the spring. so if you're backpacking, top off your water at Terrapin Spring. One more warning- the shelter was swarming with ticks, so we all used our tents, and had to check frequently. Over all, this is a great hike, I've posted a report and photos at http://www.amc-dc.org/tripReports/2014/GreatNorth0614.pdf Happy Trails, Paul