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Topic: Martin Hill Wild Area, PA, Bedford County< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 07 2010, 9:53 am  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'm starting a new thread because a Reeds Gap thread got taken over by discussion of Martin Hill.

Link to thread that got taken over
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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 07 2010, 10:12 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I don't think I would call it hijacking. More like redirecting me from a bad idea toward something that might be more promising.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 07 2010, 9:57 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I was able to get out there today.  I'll post something tomorrow; report, trail conditions.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 08 2010, 10:09 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

As mentioned I just went to Martin Hill Wild Area.  Getting there was easy; just take I-70 & 68 out to Flintstone, take a right at the end of the exit, and a quick left onto Flintstone Creek Rd.  This takes you into PA and then into Beans Cove, and ends at Beans Cove Rd, where you go right and head up the mountain.  A gravel parking lot is at the top of the mountain on the left; there is space for over 20 vehicles.  This route is entirely on paved roads.

I started the hike on Tussey Mtn Rd/Tr (MST), starting as a wide grassy access road (closed to vehicles).  It is also a ski trail, and the first two miles are marked .  You quickly pass the upside-down exclamation mark blue-blaze Gap Trail Access, and after the 1-Mile marker the Fetters Trail (unblazed).  At least just off the MST these trails look well-maintained.  Before the 2-Mile marker the grass road you are on is in very good shape, the grass is short with some medium patches.  After 2 miles the trail seems to be less-traveled and the grass becomes medium to high in height; I did spot a woods tick on my sock here.  You then pass the Johnston (eastbound) and Summer Lot Trs (westbound; each unblazed) at the same location.  Again, both of these trails look well-maintained heading off the MST.  Further on the MST, you pass through a zone of dead trees to the east.

Continuing on, about 3.5 miles from the trailhead (there is no 3-Mile marker), the Mid State Trail turns off the grassy road and heads east into the woods onto the Morris Trail (orange & purple blazed foottrail).  Shortly you turn south off the Morris Trail and onto now solely the MST.  At least half a dozen vernal ponds are passed, including Big Pond.  I did not spot any wildlife at these ponds unfortunately.  The junction of the old and new MSTs is obvious; the old route is blockaded.  Leaving the pond area the trail alternates between open woods and areas with large amounts of mountain laurels and blueberries.  The trail is quite well blazed and easy to follow, usually unrocky (with some exceptions), though the treadway is not always clear, whether due to traffic levels or the desire to keep the trail rustic.  It is clearly a few steps up from bushwhacking; this should not be viewed as a complaint.  

While photographing the still-in-bloom mountain laurel, I was startled by some movement on the trail about three feet in front of me, and saw a yellow-with diamond pattern snake slither off the trail, the first rattlesnake I've seen of the year.  About a quarter mile further I saw the second rattlesnake, coiled up just off the trail.  Both were yellow-phase and medium sized.  I also seemed to slow my pace down for a while after this.

Eventually, the MST turns east onto the Burnt Mills Trail, at a junction with the Dickens Trail.  At this point the MST heads north (good trail), the MST/Burnt Mills Trails heads east (good trail though minor undergrowth in the treadway), the Burnt Mills Trail heads west (detectable but fully overgrown by assorted undergrowth; I had originally wanted to briefly head this way to view Laurel Branch cascade down the mountain; I decided against it when seeing the trail), and the Dickens Trail heads south (undetected at all).  After a short downhill section and a break for lunch, you reach the sign for the Gap Trail.

At this point, you first say "there's the trail" followed by "where's the trail?"  The Gap Trail should head both north and south.  It is undetectable to the south.  To the north it is a wide woods road (actually logging road width) and thus followable, but unblazed and much of it was fully overgrown with blueberry bushes.  Only a narrow path (animal trail) went through this area.  There were also numerous blowdowns to negotiate or detour around.  Oddly, after a while, while still overgrown in places, someone had selectively cut though some of the blowdowns, and eventually the trail become splotchy white-blazed (not a state lands boundary marker).  There are a few places along this trail segment where one must follow the trail carefully or even guess correctly which way it goes.

Thankfully, after 1.5 miles you reach the old MST/Karns Trail (orange blazed) at a five-way intersection; the fifth trail is a blue blazed side trail down to a spring.  North of this point the Gap Trail is now a foot trail with occasional white blazes and minimal evidence of use.  However, after about an eighth of a mile a place is arrived where the trail becomes fully indistinct, and the five possible ways one could continue on in the general direction did not quickly lead to the trail reappearing.  Since I did not want to get lost, I decided to turn around and take the old MST back.  

The Karns Trail portion heads sharply uphill back up Tussey Mountain, though with blueberries and yound maples invading the trailway.  Once off the Karns trail the treadway clearly improves.  I then reached back to the new MST, and made it back to the access road.  I was startled by a garter snake I had to quickly jump over to keep from stepping on it.

When I reached back to the MST/Johnston/Summer Lot Trs junction, I decided to try to head back to the Gap Trail for the rest of the way north.  The Johnston Trail starts off nice, but while the trail is easy to follow, undergrowth (mainly mountain laurel, and blueberries) invaded the trailway quickly.  The grass also quickly became high.  When I reached the point where the slope became steeper, the trail ahead, while clear, was now overgrown by 2-3 foot tall young maple trees and the trail ground became difficult to see. I stopped here, and, since I couldn't see the Gap Trail from the vantage point, decided it'd just be better to turn around and take the MST back.  In retrospect, I was probably only about a tenth of a mile from the Gap Tr, but I still feel I made the right choice.  While driving down the east slope of Tussey Mountain on Beans Cove Rd, I passed the Gap Trail again, there is apparently fine shape and with new blue blazes.

So, I had a good hike, and while the MST was in good shape, a lot of the side trails were not, and while I'm sure someone braver than me would be willing to negotiate them, I decided to stay on trails which could be more easily followed.  This also meant my 12 mile loop hike became a 14.5 mile lollipop hike.  The highlight of the hike were the vernal ponds and snake sightings.  A grouse was also spotted, along with numerous squirrels, chipmunks, and assorted birds.

Photos to come.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 09 2010, 7:47 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Doesn't sound like a good hike to take a group on.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 09 2010, 10:00 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Still better than Reeds Gap. :D The Forestry folks brush-hog the flat parts of the trails leading off the XC ski trail once a year which makes quite a difference in keeping them open vs. the average in Rothrock and Bald Eagle.

The other day I was out on the Fetters Trail west of MST/XC ski trail - the west/lower part of Fetters was relocated north to a log landing on Beans Cove Rd and does not go off State Forest land like the topo shows. This relocation and one blaze up onto the old trail is red blazed but it would be very difficult to follow coming up from the log landing (through uncharacteristic open woods for a small bit, no distinct footway) and there is no sign. Coming down from the top I don't think anyone would go astray but after the brush-hog can go no farther laurel etc. encroaches to knee height. There was only one blowdown on the narrow part and it was easily negotiated.

I had heard that the Gap Trail south of new MST had vanished but surprised about Johnston Trail. I skied that down to Little Pond in January this year but the last time I hiked it up from Gap my daughter was in her carrier so that would have been 5 years ago. Gap Access Trail had been cleared but not blazed at that point. It sounds like the volunteer has been concentrating on MST vs. the other trails which is probably a good thing.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 09 2010, 9:15 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Photos are up.

MrHyker: yeah, probably a good idea.  I suspect the Gap Trail is followable at least south to the Fetters Trail (I found a GPS online of someone doing such) and perhaps further.  I'm not sure where the blue blazing ends.  An MST shuttle may still work.

ki0eh: My issue with the Johnston Trail was that young maple growth once I got to a "steep" section was tall enough that I'd not be able to see my feet while hiking.  It may also have something to do with seeing two rattlesnakes, already hiking 11 miles, and not knowing what the Gap Trail would look like there.  The Johnston Trail was still noticeable at this point, however, and I was probably within a tenth of a mile from the Gap Tr junction.  I also didn't see Little Pond, and I think I made it down to its level.  (It is somewhat off the trail, right?)

Also, has anyone used either the Cabin Trail (near Blankley Picnic Area) or the Tarkiln Trail (Sweet Root Natural Area) recently, or can at least comment on what conditions I can expect in late summer or autumn?


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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 10 2010, 8:52 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Little Pond is a bit off the Johnston Trail. In January there was a flag at the curve in Johnston Tr at its nearest approach to Little Pond. Although the other volunteer pretty much works by himself I believe this would be the junction of the next MST relocation with Johnston. I don't know if you saw any evidence of rumored clearing from the south end heading this way in the upper reaches of Pond Branch above the pond. In Jan I didn't see it from the Little Pond end so I didn't try to ski out that way. :)

In Sweet Root: Tarkiln Trail above MST is another in the series of brushhogged roads. On MST should be maintained. Below MST there usually are massive blowdowns of large hemlock. Actually that's part of the attraction of that area - the other is the saltpeter cave but the cave is off trail on the other side of Sweet Root Run and I have personal experience going there with a seventh generation local who couldn't find it again. Find good coordinates somewhere (I know not where) and bring a newer GPS unit that might hold under hemlock cover if you want to find it.

The area between Sweet Root NA and Sweet Root Picnic Area is posted private land. Although I have actually hiked it at a local event hosted by that family there are a couple of indistinct turns on logging roads in that area so for those two reasons is not recommended to the unescorted.

Cabin Trail from Blankley Picnic Area actually is one route in that area I haven't been on. You'll have to tell us about it!
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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 26 2010, 10:14 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I went out on a beautiful Saturday to hit the southern section of Martin Hill as a shuttle hike with a brief encore Sunday just north of Beans Cove Rd to check out water conditions.

Burnt Mill Tr is well blazed with no problem following where it is MST, but the up-to knee-high lowbush blueberry is annoying. (I met up with the local MST volunteer coordinator after my hike, who said that there's not supposed to be an "s" in Burnt Mill Tr despite all the signs, and who said that she has permission to brush-hog it in the spring.) There is a possible campsite about 150 meters inside the southern State Forest boundary but the stream there (a sub-branch of Amorine Branch of Town Creek) was totally dry. There were only about six signatures in the register placed June 2010 between the campsite and the private land boundary.

The relocated Dickens Trail where it is MST doesn't yet have a definite footway through the recent clearing. It was cleared recently enough (2009) that there probably hasn't been much traffic since this area is well away from any road.

North of Carnes Trail (at this point the sign does say "Carnes" not "Karns" as it does some other places) there is a definite footway especially north of Big Pond where the 2009 relocation meets the 1994-date MST. Big Pond itself was only a 2 meter diameter mud puddle, probably helped out at this location by a Bureau of Forestry backhoe some time ago. The rest of the pond area was grass growing in sand.

Reaching the Morris Trail junction I went straight on what I believe the aforementioned volunteer intended to be the Pond View trail, a future MST relocation, following orange flagging tape not blazes. At first the route had been fully cleared similar to Dickens Trail, then the brushwhacker stopped but chain saw continued, then (now a bit along the top of Pond Branch) the chain saw stopped but still had sparse flagging and maybe a deer trail. There were a few wet bits in Pond Branch, pretty much the only water I saw on the mountain. The path went by a couple of totally dry springs, and nearby relatively flat spots without evident sphagnum indicated to me that campsites could be cleared. Then I passed a couple of interesting rock formations as the Pond Branch defile got steeper sides.

Finally at the curve in Pond Branch I couldn't find any flagging, so wound up fully bushwhacking through laurel with a few hints of greenbrier to a waypoint I had earlier entered for Little Pond. I hit the unblazed and recently brushhogged Johnston Trail before the site of Little Pond and went uphill/west slightly to my waypoint - similar to Big Pond, it was grass in sand, this time without benefit of a backhoe digging out a deep spot so there was no water at all to be had here.

Heading east on Johnston Trail, I saw where the brush hog stopped then immediately ran into a solid oak that had fully fallen into the trail. While detouring on the north side and looking to regain Johnston Trail, I looked up to see a blue blaze and realized I was already on Gap Trail. So I headed north, through waist high maple brush and over at least three old climb-over blowdowns. Some of the blazes were peeling off the trees, possibly old latex paint. Fortunately there was a fully excavated footway, possibly dating from CCC days, so my ankles told me when I was off the trail even when a bit too obscure otherwise.

At the Fetters Trail sign conditions changed dramatically - except for the same peeling blazes, Gap Trail there obviously has much more traffic, with bare dirt in the footway and clearing width and height superior to an Appalachian Trail section in Massachusetts I had been on earlier in the month. At one point north of Fetters Trail, Gap Trail is just inside the State Forest border of a finger of private land - this private land had been clear-cut, possibly only two years ago so views were opened towards Warrior Ridge, Black Valley Gap (where MST used to go, towards Hewitt), with a few peeks of other ridges over Warrior (most likely Ragged and Polish mountains) - it's worth noting at this point that Gap Trail follows a bench of sorts and is well short of the top of Tussey Ridge. Hunters (most likely) had constructed a couple of sit spots out of rocks along part of this opened-up section. Of the six varying-depth hollows traversed on Gap Trail from Johnston to Gap Access, not one had any hint of water.

I walked just past the junction of Gap Access Trail before realizing it, as there is no sign at the junction of Gap Trail proper and Gap Access Trail. But there are lower-case "i" blazes, uncommon for PA (I usually see that style in the GWNF), and a definite footway. The blazes were blue, and a bit faded but not peeling - probably oil paint. I did have to detour around one recent large blowdown on the steeper eastern part of Gap Access Trail, but otherwise it was perfectly clear. There was a campsite on the eastern edge of the flatter top part, just as the trail became less steep. A couple hundred meters further on there was a whole bunch of flagging tape around an unremarkable-seeming spot in the trail, then I came onto the XC trail/MST and quickly through the gate and across the road to the parking lot.

Then Sunday morning I went back to the parking lot and north on Carl Cessna Tr/an off-road 2009 relocation of MST. This section has more definite footway than Dickens Trail, perhaps because it's much closer to the road, or because after a while the laurel is so much thicker where not cleared that the deer and bear use the trail too. The spring at the head of Wildcat Run was totally dry, and I turned around since that was all the time I had. The cleared campsite on the ravine rim just east of Wildcat Run was still clear, but didn't seem to have been used.

As dry as it's been I figured I'd check out Tussey Spring, just off Beans Cove Rd about 150 m SW of the parking lot. A tiny trickle was faintly gurgling under the springhouse, nothing at all was flowing out of the pipe. So instead of holding a water bottle by the pipe emanating from the well-constructed but signed as untested springhouse, to actually get any water you'd have to filter it out of a mucky sulfurous puddle next to the springhouse. I guess it shouldn't be surprising that this high in Tiltrock Country at the end of a long hot dry summer, there won't be much water.
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 30 2010, 10:08 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I just discovered possibly the "Holy Grail" of Martin Hill over the weekend. It's been hard to think of how to connect the loopy western and northern areas to the southern with the trails that are on any map I've seen. But I found that there actually is a trail, about where I wanted one to be in the lower valley of Wildcat Run connecting to the ridge.

There is a green blazed trail from Beans Cove Rd opposite the log landing at the bottom of (new) Fetters Trail, up to the spine of the ridge on Jackson Trail. It roughly parallels the State Forest boundary.

It's difficult to see from the road, especially as it takes off in a direction perpendicular to an old grade and a fire road I've tried to follow before from this neighborhood, but it's very distinct from the crossing of Wildcat Run (a newer log fell on top of an older rotten log the route was blazed over) up through a side hollow and to the unblazed Jackson. In fact for about a mile it's lined with logs on both sides. Whoever did this has been very active with a handsaw, there were even cuts made this year on it. Above the side hollow to Wildcat Run it's better used than, say, the Gap Trail south of Fetters. In fact it's been there long enough that fairly numerous green spray paint blazes have been supplemented by rectangular green painted blazes.

I took a GPS track of it. Although I seem to have trouble translating geodata from what I use to what at least a couple of you use, I could try again if there is interest.
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 30 2010, 12:42 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'm still interested in that area. I need to get out there and check out the lay of the land.

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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 30 2010, 1:47 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I may have found a KMZ to GPX file converter here.

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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 30 2010, 9:48 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

The converters I typically use are GPS Babel (right now I'm using an older version), though there are some bugs still to be worked out.  I generally use this to convert .gpx and .tpo files to .kml for Google Earth.

I also use the file conversion features in TopoFusion, a fully functional demo is available for download.  I've been using it for converting .kml files to .gpx, and for converting shapefiles into more easily worked with formats.


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 02 2010, 9:06 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


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I'm still interested in that area. I need to get out there and check out the lay of the land.

E-mail sent with some geodata digested a little differently in hopes it will work for you.

Also got a PM but not sure how to respond, no return e-mail address came up in it.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 09 2010, 2:38 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

MRHyker,

What were you thinking of for your schedule?
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 09 2010, 2:51 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

The basic MST-Gap Trail that AegisIII was trying to do. The latter shows up in my TOPO! software. We'll see if we can push through to a more established trail. If not we'll backtrack and call it a day. If you got GPX data for the loop you did that will make me more confident.

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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 09 2010, 8:51 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

That's probably not the one I'd do if I knew what I know now.  I suppose the Gap Trail may be more visible in March than June, but I suspect it'll still be mostly a bushwhack south of the Johnston Trail.

I would think Pete's HGT would make a good MST loop with both the Martin Hill and Sweet Root areas. The distances should be similar, but there'd likely be more climbing.  It also will use a fair amount of the ATV trails.  I'm fairly certain I'll do such a loop next year sometime.

Another idea would be to go to the Sideling Hill tract of Buchanan State Forest.  I did a nice loop on the Bald Hill and Roaring Run Trails this spring, with an out-and-back on the Cliff Trail to a nice overlook along Bark Rd.


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 10 2010, 12:10 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

March would be a good time for the ATV trails on top, because it's not ATV season, and most of those are fairly rocky so you wouldn't be expecting to be wallowing through mud. The point overlooking Friends Cove north of the point where the Shaffer Rd/ATV trail makes a sharp turn has a good view if you go off the ATV trail a bit on a sort of herd path.

Gap Trail between Johnston and Fetters isn't in terribly good shape either, the newly discovered green trail is actually clearer, but harder to see right at the Beans Cove Rd end.

Similarly the bottom of west side Fetters right at the road end is a bit hard to make out but becomes more obvious as the laurel encroaches. I do have a track for this end of Fetters too. Also the newly relocated MST north of BC Rd but that's very obvious and clear now with signs too.

I was thinking of a north end loop and if I get a chance to do it over winter/spring will try to carry the GPS.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 10 2010, 12:38 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks for all of the input guys. I don't have my maps and software here so it's a bit hard visualizing your recommendations. I'll check them out over the weekend. We got some time to resolve this.

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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 10 2010, 8:55 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

The two Martin Hill/MST hikes I'm planning on doing are:

Start at Beans Cove Rd/MST, take MST south to Fetters, west to Beans Cove Rd/HGT, HGT & Jackson north to summit, Evitts Mtn Rd/Refuge/ATV trs north to Blankley Rd, Blankley Rd east to Martin Hill Rd/Tarkiln Tr, Tarklin east to MST, and MST back to parking area.  That would be about 10.5 miles.

Start at top of PA-326, take ATV/Schaeffer Trs first west than south to Blankley Rd, Blankley Rd east to Martin Hill Rd/Tarkiln Tr, Tarklin east to MST, MST east and then north, crossing 326, to woods rd, woods rd north back to parking area.  This would be about 8.5 miles, plus additional milage depending on how much exploring of Sweet Root Gap I'd want to do.  There's a chance I'll be doing this loop next weekend.

There's at least one more Martin Hill Wild Area loop I want to do (Pigeonroost/Bear Gap Trs), but I've not worked that one out in detail yet.  I also want to make it to Little Pond and the Pond Branch stream from the Gap Trail, but that's way down on my list.


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 11 2010, 6:41 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(AegisIII @ Dec. 10 2010, 8:55 pm)
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Start at Beans Cove Rd/MST, take MST south to Fetters, west to Beans Cove Rd/HGT, HGT & Jackson north to summit, Evitts Mtn Rd/Refuge/ATV trs north to Blankley Rd, Blankley Rd east to Martin Hill Rd/Tarkiln Tr, Tarklin east to MST, and MST back to parking area.  That would be about 10.5 miles.

Start at top of PA-326, take ATV/Schaeffer Trs first west than south to Blankley Rd, Blankley Rd east to Martin Hill Rd/Tarkiln Tr, Tarklin east to MST, MST east and then north, crossing 326, to woods rd, woods rd north back to parking area.  This would be about 8.5 miles, plus additional milage depending on how much exploring of Sweet Root Gap I'd want to do.  There's a chance I'll be doing this loop next weekend.

There's at least one more Martin Hill Wild Area loop I want to do (Pigeonroost/Bear Gap Trs), but I've not worked that one out in detail yet.  I also want to make it to Little Pond and the Pond Branch stream from the Gap Trail, but that's way down on my list.

To make the first one more interesting, but adds another mile or so and climbing too, take Gap Access to Gap to Fetters instead of MST south to Fetters - that part of MST is a doubletrack woods road. Good to limber up on its gentle climb though. What's not a gentle climb is coming back up to the tower complex on MST from Tarkiln Tr, that final push on the north face of Martin Hill is universally regarded as the steepest section of the entire 517.4 km MST.

The second one has good poke-around possibilities - just wish I had GPS tracks from when I did. The first poke would be the point of the mountain north of the bend in Shaffer Tr, both good view (winter) and mysterious holes at the view, and sort of a path out to it. The second would be Sweet Root Gap as you mention, and up the north side near the mouth of the gap to the saltpeter cave. I think it would be tough to find without coordinates, I've never found them posted but you seem to be a pretty good net digger.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 11 2010, 9:04 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

How far is the view from the Schaeffer Trail?  I can see it being anywhere from very close to nearly a third of a mile away.

With regards to the cave, the best I could find was this.  Sounds like it's best starting at the Picnic Area.  It sounds like it's closer to the top of the mountain than I was expecting (I wonder if its more deep sandstone fissures than a typical limestone cave?).  Perhaps a level bushwhack from the MST/Wasson Trail junction from the north can get you in the approximate place.  I might see if the blogger's email address still works.  If this is where I go next week, I doubt I'll find the cave on this trip.  

(Of course, if I instead go to Pine Ridge Natural Area, that hike will be shorter and isn't too far away to approach Sweet Root Gap from the east.)

(Of course, I may instead go to Tuscarora State Forest anyway.  Or Green Ridge.)

What do you know about property issues?  I know from the east you go through private property, but have heard different things about permission/being allowed (this basically saying go ahead.)


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 12 2010, 6:29 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I would say the viewpoint area as defined by the north side of the mysterious pits probably is 1/4 to 1/3 mile off the ATV trail.

Looks like the Southampton Twp history pages have been updated since I last looked. That about sums up where the cave is except I wouldn't call it "near the top", it is outside of the valley but still somewhat far from what I would call "the top." It is a fair scramble from the bottom of the gap especially for those unused to such things.

Periodically some locals do get a group together to go to the cave from the east. Those groups usually do have a representative of the landowning family, actually the website you found is a relative (of course most locals are interrelated...). It is visibly posted and you do have to make a turn on woods roads on the private land too. I suppose it wouldn't hurt to contact Ms. Williams, after all if she didn't want people to know about the area presumably she wouldn't be posting on the web about it.

I would also not recommend trying to stay on contour from the north side to get to the cave, that area's pretty brushy and whatever dim trace there is leading to it comes from the bottom of the gap.

The cave is definitely not a solution feature. I guess it would be tectonic, perhaps someone who knows geology better than I can tell from the pictures. I believe I was able to stand full height in the first room, beyond that exceeded my own curiosity.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 13 2010, 10:16 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I didn't get a chance this weekend to study all of this info. My efforts were focused on the 1,000 Steps hike. I should have that out of the way soon. I think TOPO! shoes many of these old trails. I don't know how accurate it is. I'll see if I can past the info you sent in the GPX files with what I already have.

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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 16 2010, 10:03 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(ki0eh @ Dec. 10 2010, 12:10 pm)
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Similarly the bottom of west side Fetters right at the road end is a bit hard to make out but becomes more obvious as the laurel encroaches. I do have a track for this end of Fetters too. Also the newly relocated MST north of BC Rd but that's very obvious and clear now with signs too.

I could use those tracks in GPX format to better construct my map.

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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 16 2010, 2:23 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

In further researching this area I found that the ATV trails are also open to snowmobiles.

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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 16 2010, 9:10 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(MRHyker @ Dec. 16 2010, 10:03 am)
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I could use those tracks in GPX format to better construct my map.

If you wish, I could send you the system map I've made up.  Unlike the watershed file, this one would be mostly drawn in, but I think is fairly accurate (I based it on all the maps I could find of the area).  I probably should see what Pete or someone else familiar with the Martin Hill area says about it.

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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 16 2010, 10:37 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(MRHyker @ Dec. 16 2010, 2:23 pm)
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In further researching this area I found that the ATV trails are also open to snowmobiles.

Only some of them, and additionally some of the roads are supposedly joint use. However snowmobilable snow is a rarity in these parts, last year was the first year I had ever actually skied the "XC ski" trail heading south from Beans Cove Rd.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 17 2010, 7:47 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(AegisIII @ Dec. 16 2010, 9:10 pm)
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(MRHyker @ Dec. 16 2010, 10:03 am)
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I could use those tracks in GPX format to better construct my map.

If you wish, I could send you the system map I've made up.  Unlike the watershed file, this one would be mostly drawn in, but I think is fairly accurate (I based it on all the maps I could find of the area).  I probably should see what Pete or someone else familiar with the Martin Hill area says about it.

Thanks Ed. Fortunately most of the trails are on the quads in TOPO! except for the relocations. I was surprised to see that.

I'm developing interest in a loop using the MST, Elvis Mt. Road and either the Bear Gap Trail or Pigeon Roost Trail (further west and not shown in its entirity on the MST map) if they exist. Anybody have info on it?


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 17 2010, 6:39 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Bear Gap and Pigeonroost trails both exist, Bear Gap is pretty much like the quad, I think Pigeonroost is a little different on the bottom but I don't have a GPS track for it. I'm not totally certain about the area between Bear Gap trail and the "Holy Grail", there should be something but not sure how closely it resembles the quad map track, as I've never quite done that
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