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Topic: Martin Hill Wild Area, PA, Bedford County< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 03 2011, 10:35 am  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Did 2 hikes in this area over the weekend.

The first one (short time available) I tried to go up May Trail to Jackson. Ran into a local hunter who didn't know the name May Trail but pointed out an old old timber-sale-road-closure gate behind a cabin. The road started off unblazed, at the first steeper point going up dark green blazes started, but not as actively cleared as the Wildcat side of the ridge. The blazes ended at the SF boundary (just like the Public Use map says), I started following the boundary up which was actually once a well dug footpath or fire line, and recently re-marked. Strangely, the white boundary blobs appeared twice on the trees, so I was thinking that perhaps the boundary painter was obscuring the green blazes with white paint. Then I ran into some pretty thick laurel on the boundary, regained the dug trail then lost it again. I thought I saw a clear zone through the woods but it quickly turned out I was off the SF and it went right to a house/camp on private land. As I was wearing bright orange I hightailed it to the nearest boundary I saw which was just above the house/camp and soon with the aid of the GPS got onto Jackson Trail in the open huckleberry prairie. Jackson Trail here is much less distinct but became more so right at the "Holy Grail" junction. I did see the dark green blazes again but couldn't tell where if anywhere they might go off the SW side of the ridge.

Then I headed up Jackson to check out what I thought might be another trail leading down to Bear Gap. What I thought might be a trail on the bench petered out after a marked tree (probably someone's favorite stand site) into deer paths in the increasingly thick laurel.

By this time the sun was starting to hang low and I figured my fastest way out would be up Jackson to the towers and down Bear Gap Trail. BGT is fully brush-hogged and easily followed even in the gathering darkness, obviously a former skid trail, probably most used by horses. The top is a bit eroded between the branch junction and the crossing of Little Bear Gap Run (dry). A few rocks are hints of more scenery down in the parallel Bear Gap Run but it was getting too dark to reprise my earlier trip down that drainage.

The bottom of Bear Gap trail offers a couple of different ways to get to the end of the township road Bear Gap Trail, both involve crossing private gates. I marked a track through the one that was unposted and looked friendlier, although the faded old SF sign at the junction of Bear Gap and Pigeonroost Trails indicates the other way. It would also be possible to bushwhack through open woods along the SF boundary behind the short row of camps from the parking lot around to the bottoms of both May and Bear Gap trails, however that would involve a wet crossing of Bear Gap Run vs. the township road bridge by the parking area.

More to follow.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 03 2011, 10:46 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Conclusions about the first hike would be that the May Trail isn't really suitable for a group hike as a connection from the bottom of Bear Gap up to Jackson Trail. However I still haven't ruled out the existence of the other trail shown on the quad map that diagonals up a small side hollow. But since I've missed the bottom of it once and the top of it twice now, I'll have to transfer that track over to my GPSr before trying again.

Also Jackson Trail is very distinct but not blazed or brushhogged. With a fair bit of laurel to knee height, it might meet some definitions of "overgrown."

More to follow.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 03 2011, 11:12 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

On Saturday 1/1 tried a calorie reduction hike from Blankley Picnic Area - though that might not be the most convenient starting point for this loop, I wanted to force myself to learn some of the trails around there.

I started by climbing the Cabin Trail, new to me but one that had previously been asked about. It starts off drivable doubletrack through a broken gate, but after skirting the edge of a clearing (food plot?) the treadway narrows. Unlike what the quad shows, the path switchbacks up the steeper portion of the north flank of Martin Hill summit, through evidence of recent chain sawing to boot. The last push to the summit was an especial surprise, as the talus was fully excavated to footway width. I'm sure no one more recently than the CCC workers from the African-American camp at Blankley would have put out that much effort. Even more surprisingly, the path wasn't eroding. The top of Cabin Trail is the usual laurel thicket, with defined footway. I wonder why the DCNR brushhog doesn't come this way, maybe they don't want to open the trail for ATV's to try it.

Next I headed over Evitts Mountain Road, which is open for public vehicle travel during the high hunting seasons. Two grumpy looking old guys in an old pickup drove by me slowly, they didn't wave but at least they didn't start shooting. This spine trail of Martin Hill is obviously doubletrack but not graveled, or graded very often on its natural surface. In some spots it's actually sandy, like a few steps on a beach on top of the mountain. In the winter with leaves off one gets quite a sense of being on top of the world, as you should for having nothing higher between you and the ocean for more than half the compass, but it is a little frustrating that the views aren't better. Possibly the best lookoff would be some rocks near the junction of the Refuge Trail, the straight shot the ATV's use paralleling Cabin Trail.

Next I descended the north face of Martin Hill on Basin Trail, here also the Mid State's drop from its highest point. With some snow still clinging to the highest elevation of Martin Hill, negotiating the initial declivity was somewhat challenging as I side-stepped down, sometimes more quickly than intended. There wasn't enough snow for a true glissade, but at least I avoided a true butt plant in the snowy mud. Even though the trail is annually cleared, since the area next to it was logged most of what one might grab trailside to arrest one's descent was thorny, up to and including devil's club. The best way to describe the Basin Trail is Hobbesian: nasty, brutish, and short. There's been some talk of relocation but that's likely years away.

More to follow.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 03 2011, 1:52 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I continued on MST across Martin Hill Rd down through Sweet Root and Rainsburg Gaps. Sweet Root Run had a few interesting ice sculptures hung up on the rocks in the stream bed, like ice tracery made rounded off and transparent on the outside by the melting runoff. It's the kind of think that GaliWalker fellow would take great pictures of, but I didn't even have a camera phone with me. Down in these gaps all I heard was the wind rushing far above, or maybe an airplane. I didn't have time to head down east of MST into the old growth area of lower Sweet Root gap on this trip, unfortunately.

The trail register on the saddle between the gaps had a couple dozen entries for 2010, surprising for MST. A number of folks had come out from DC area, the shocker was the couple from BC (British Columbia) who signed late in the summer.

In Rainsburg Gap, Garlick Trail (the routed sign forgets the "k") has been rehabbed recently by KTA Trail Crew and has been much improved and stabilized in the gap. Coming north after crossing PA 326 is a much better worn in treadway than I remember from initial construction 10+ years ago. Most of the climb uses an old roadbed parallel and above 326, I tried to follow the roadbed the other way to see if it continued as far as Wright Trail, but unfortunately it pinches out against the PA 326 cut in the narrowest part of the gap.

Nearly at the top of Rainsburg Gap I left the MST behind on an unblazed brushhogged road over to the ATV trail parking area. I remembered this road as drivable, but apparently now the gate remains closed, making this a pleasant passage through pine scented laurel. The road heading the other way is drivable and the brief bit from the gate out to the ATV parking area was the only real mud treadway I encountered on the entire circuit.

Crossing PA 326 again at the top of the gap, I headed southwest on the ATV trail. DCNR maintains the drainage on this path aggressively, so it remains a nice walk in the non-motorized season. The map shows the path closely paralleling Blankley Road but actually it's out of view most of the way, though I did veer onto the road briefly when the ATV trail passes below a drive-up viewpoint.

On Shaffer Road (gated) the ATV trail leaves Blankley Road far behind, heading out a spur ridge to the apex of Friends Cove. Where the ATV trail turns sharp left I turned right onto a path I had been on years before in the summer. The path starts out distinct enough to warrant a DCNR sign "No ATV's" but quickly disappears amid deadfalls and striped maple saplings. It's easy not to be lost on the narrow point of the ridge, the path is barely discernible and not rocky except for two small interludes (the first of which at an add set of cairns), then ends at a mysterious pit that local legend holds to be the former grave of an Indian chief. The woods are now so thick here that there is nothing that can remotely be characterized as a viewpoint anymore, probably the quarter mile off the cleared trail to the pit is best left to local enthusiasts since a hiker from the metroplex likely won't be thanking the hike leader for such an interlude.

Heading south from the point, the ATV trail descends and rises again several times through a series of hollows. These tributaries of Cove Creek and eventually the Susquehanna are less deeply incised than the branches of Sweet Root and Rainsburg Gaps, the call of the Chesapeake Bay's sea level is much more remote via Harrisburg and Jack's Narrows here than on the other side of Martin Hill that falls more directly to the Potomac. Right beside a remote leased camp, the ATV trail forks and then the snowmobile trail forks onto the leased camp driveway away from the ATV trail. This brief interlude of mossy road (similar to the north branch of Sweet Root) was a pleasant change from the ATV ruts and a bit of a shortcut back to Blankley Road just east of the picnic area and the truck.

This Grand Tour of the northeast quadrant of Martin Hill would be a great group hike, adding the very short walk out MST from the top of Basin Trail to the nuclear-wind-resistant tower, definitely adding a view of the old growth remains in Sweet Root, and subtracting the old roadbed in Rainsburg Gap and the walk out to the end of the point above Friends Cove. The ATV trails offer a couple of good views, with the quiet hollows in the two large gaps as a counterpoint on the circuit. I'd like to check again to see if there is a different back way from the big ATV trail split up into Blankley Picnic Area, plus to nose around there a little more to see if there are any more Masten-like ruins of the former CCC camp hiding off the edge of the mowed lawn.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 07 2011, 10:02 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Is the Wright Trail the woods/access rd in the SGL that runs up the east side of Tussey Mountain from 326 and reaches the MST where it becomes a foot trail when heading north?

For trails near the Blankley Picnic Area, I recall that there is a gated road near the northwest-most curve of the picnic area access road that apparently reaches the ATV trails.  I didn't explore the picnic area that much when I was there, but don't recall any obvious trails leading directly from it.  I would think the best place to check (I did not) would be the drainage which heads east than north from the picnic area.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 07 2011, 11:02 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(AegisIII @ Jan. 07 2011, 10:02 pm)
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Is the Wright Trail the woods/access rd in the SGL that runs up the east side of Tussey Mountain from 326 and reaches the MST where it becomes a foot trail when heading north?

That's exactly Wright.  :D
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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 17 2011, 9:37 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Headed out to the south tract today. I was going to explore the remotest reaches of Gap Trail but got a late start and (a rare pleasure) my wife also wanted to come along - perhaps I mentioned before she is a native of Beans Cove, one of the very few.

We got dropped off at the bottom of an unlabeled gated road that is the southwestern-most public access to the tract. I'll call it Wigfield because that is the more unique of what it is variously or not called on several maps. It is actually the extension of the gated road that is the main entry from the north, from the top of Beans Cove Rd. However, south of the "plateau" this part of the gated doubletrack is steeper, curvier, and not mowed as widely. It's a nicer hike and a closer access to the deeper fastnesses of the plateau than coming in the main line on top, unfortunately there is no polite parking at all anywhere near where this comes out on a stray corner of Buchanan SF that reaches Flintstone Creek Road.

So we climbed, GPSing as we went. One flat spot looked a little suspicious, on further walking it became apparent that spot might have once been an end of Gap Trail. Renderings of the south end of this route off the east side of the "plateau" vary depending on the map.

We then reached the signed junction of Burnt Mill Trail, however the sign adds an "s". When you come to a fork off the road, take it. We fairly quickly came upon in order an established campsite, the rocky crossing of Laurel Branch, and the Mid State Trail at the signed junction of Dickens and Burnt Mill(s). At this point there is no evidence of what might once have been Dickens Trail other than the sign itself. Burnt Mill west of the MST is unblazed, fairly distinct but east of Laurel Branch had calf to knee high laurel witness to some passage of time since it was last cleared. Someone had put up a couple of flags as a visual cue to this short portion. The campsite near the ski trail, with water source from Laurel Branch (a bit too rocky except for hammockers right there though) is perhaps the nicest and best located in this tract, being right in the middle. The disadvantage is from MST one does need to traverse the little bit of unblazed Burnt Mills to reach it, which is overgrown by Ed's standards but not MR's (no jaggies here).

Upon reaching the Carnes Trail (here signed "Karns"), I decided to check out the plurality of maps that says this trail reaches the main doubletrack/ski trail. Unfortuately for the accuracy of one of these I put into print, it does nothing of the sort. What it does to is pass a tiny pond that drains down Laurel Branch and tees into a greenbrier-filled mess that might possibly have been the old top of Dickens Trail. There was a very old sign pointing in one direction only the "Kerns" Trail (third or fourth spelling here), and a sign in the other direction that had eroded beyond any legibility. The messy trail to the north quickly joins current MST west of Big Pond, so I surprised my wife coming from that direction although she might have heard me cursing at the greenbrier.

On reaching Big Pond there is a fully mowed doubletrack heading west. No signs or name, but an obvious circuit completer. Most likely anyone coming from the north following my directions would turn on this and quickly reach Big Pond and the MST, but if it's desired to continue east on Carnes one would need to do a right-hand jog on MST.

The next junction is with the purple-blazed Morris Trail, which begs further exploration, especially as its western segment allegedly reaches Flintstone Creek Road where its private land buffer is either very thin or nonexistent. East on some maps (not the quad or MST) it is said to go to Gap Trail.

Directly north from here we left MST on my third (and my wife's first) attempt to traverse the supposedly-in-progress Ponds View Trail. As in my previous TR's it continues to offer different scenery than the MST in Bedford County typically does, passing flowing springs of the headwaters of Pond Branch and passing along gurgling water ducking through laurel, following fading ribbons and evidence of past partial trail clearing. With my wife's help trying to spot ribbons I think we actually saw how the route comes back up out of the hollow heading in the direction of Little Pond. However, we still lost the route in the laurel, huckleberries, and blowdowns returning to the standard plateau. Resorting to the GPSr, we dead reckoned down deer trails nd eventually found the cut ends and very dim treadway of the Ponds View. It crosses directly at the head of Little Pond. My previous attempts had tried to head further down the pretty hollow, but a trail builder's schematic map shows Little Pond east of Ponds View, and so it is. Embarrassingly, within sight (had anyone been on it) of Johnston Trail, we lost Ponds View again and fumbled in the laurel looking for the brush-hogged Johnston. A sure sign the afternoon had droned on.

So we went up Johnston, north on MST, and after finding a soaked geocache, down west on Fetters to the waiting car at the log landing opposite the lower end of the "Holy Grail". I warned my wife at the geocache that the car was 1.1 km over and 200 m down (yes my GPSr reads in metric), and we continued on the flat for almost half that before actually descending that steep. She said her knees were fine on the entire trip until we got to the final half km.
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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 18 2011, 9:31 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

A few random thoughts.

I've seen that end of Wigfield Rd/Tr a few times off of Flintstone Creek Creek Rd.  I would think that'd you'd be able to park just south of there, either at the little church, or just north of it where there is a pull off area which does not look like park of the "official" parking lot.

On the Gap Trail, I've never heard of it meeting up with Wigfield anywhere.  The older Penn Pilot photos does not show it joining; instead it eventually heads southish, basically following what is shown on the Flintstone quad.

Burnt Mill Trail.  I only saw it at the (north) MST junction, and I did not take a photo of it, but I recall it was more overgrown than just knee-high growth.  Granted, I had already seen two rattlers that day, so I was not in the mood in taking a poorly defined trail at the time.  (And just afterward I hopped on the Gap Trail...).  I also did not notice the Dickens Trail there.  Based on the old photos, it appears to intersect Burnt Mill at a rather acute angle; it also may be slightly west of where the MST reaches Burnt Mill.  Dickens is clear on the old aerial photos, and should be detectable as some sort of old woods road there.  (Eventually, I'll likely do a Tussey Mtn Rd/Burnt Mill/MST (north)/Pond Branch/Johnson/Gap loop, but that may be a while as there are places in the greater Martin Hill area I'd not been at all yet. Plus I seem to have become a bit more accepting of high growth.)

Finally, feel free to email me a GPS of this trip.


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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 19 2011, 10:06 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

The worst part of Burnt Mill was right at the MST junction - just over the little rise it thins out considerably. Of course there's also not much of the trail left at that point before you hit the XC ski trail/road.

Regarding Wigfield, we did park at the church for a group hike once but that hike was organized by locals. That's actually part of a sort of retreat center, most weekends it's totally devoid of any sign of life, but sometimes has quite a number of cars about. If I am thinking of where you are thinking of as a pull-off area to the north on the west side of the road, it had a bunch of steel beams sitting in it last weekend. I've also seen a wagon train come out of Wigfield on a weekend - although on our hike we saw very little sign of multi-users.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 19 2011, 2:19 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I had the opportunity for 3 mini-hikes in the area over the last few days.

Sweet Root NA - With the Southampton Twp Historical Society, we walked up from the picnic area through the normally off-limits private land to the saltpeter cave. I finally have a waypoint for this feature which I could share with people who might be interested in coming down to it (it's public land and can be reached from higher up).

North end of Gap Trail - My wife had noticed what looked like an old roadbed paralleling part of Beans Cove Rd. I parked on Martin Hill Rd by the top of what appeared to be an old road and hiked down it. It's actually brushhogged for a time but below that, although a fully excavated jeep width track, is now filled with laurel and pines with a minimal hunter track. Despite this, it was once fully dug out and (unlike the quad) has a switchback (possibly old junctions) and can be followed to about 100 yds above the signed north end of Gap Trail where the old roadbed merges with the backslope of the Beans Cove Rd. embankment. This route is not blazed but should be easily followed from a GPS track. I returned on Gap, Gap Access (cleared since my last visit, also has several orange ribbons at the Gap/Gap Access junction now for those of you who missed it before), and Mid State across the road and up to the 1st rocky area which is about even with the top end of the old road and an easy 25 yd or so bushwhack through open pine woods.

Wright Trail and Rainsburg Gap - I parked at the SGL 97 parking area on PA 326 up (west) of the Black Valley Rd junction to explore the east side of Wright Trail on SGL. This parking area is actually on the W side of PA 326 and I was a bit surprised to find a trail heading southwesterly. I took it until I decided it was going to far uphill and turned right along a trace (not a road, maybe it was an old mill race) that came out on PA 326 almost opposite the Wright Trail gate. From that gate Wright Trail (no name given to it here) heads directly north slabbing on a near-constant grade up the east side of Tussey Mountain. This path clearly pre-dated the PGC's bulldozers, and surprising to me had nearly closed canopy, it must have been some time since the PGC brush-hogged most of this route. Partway up it intersected another management road that seems to be more actively maintained, I thought I saw a trace to the west on a bench but that petered out quickly in a talus slope - maybe the CCC thought better of it. Continuing on Wright Trail north, there were stone walls and perhaps traces of the old kind of macadam (i.e. progressively finer hand-crushed native stone mounded up), so maybe this was a pioneer road. Just before the Tussey crest there were a few prickers but a hike leader with hand snips could make short work of these before the rest of a future group would catch up. On the crest the MST does a right-hand jog, right at the crest it is brush-hogged but clearly the machine comes over from the west side (State Forest) not up through the SGL. I circled south on MST, detouring briefly to the east onto the boundary line trail between SF and SGL. áThat ends at the brow of Tussey on east side of the top of the ridge, it would make a great campsite with a filtered sunrise view over Black Valley if one stays to the SF side of the boundary blazes. I returned to MST and descended to and across PA 326. On an abortive hike previously on another old road that peters out, I thought maybe one could go down through the gap on the far side of the run. However, even though I could get fairly far bushwhacking, even through a cut blowdown (someone else must have had that idea before), after a little while there's just no room between stream, rocks, and rhododendron. Any circuit hike through here would just have to come on to and off of PA 326.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 19 2011, 9:23 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Couple of questions.

Heading up Sweet Root Gap, how obvious is the continuation of the trail/road one would use if they were heading from the MST to get to the cave?

And, the MST spur SGL/SF boundary trail.  I noticed that when I was there and did not take it.  So it sounds like there's not much of a real view from the top?

Finally, looking at Penn Pilot, it looks like much of what you described can be seen there; especially the old route of Beans Cove Road.  And a surprising amount of the now-ATV trails.  And the SF/SGL boundary trail looked like it once headed down to the start of the Wright Trail.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 19 2011, 9:48 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

That boundary trail to the brow of Tussey Ridge doesn't have a cleared vista but would be open to the sunrise and fairly open in winter. I didn't on this visit try to follow the boundary too far to see if there might be some treadway through the talus, but looking from either the brow or the gate didn't seem very promising.

Coming down from the MST, in Sweet Root the trail starts downhill as a brushhogged road but quickly disintegrates into a climb over deadfall (unless someone's happened to have cleared it). The path does stay on the south side of Sweet Root Run so to get to the cave you have to cross the run and climb up to it. Probably the most effective means would be to navigate with a GPS on the path to when you are even with it, then go across the run and straight uphill. If you pick the right vector from the marked SF boundary that is not too far off from downhill from the cave but far enough off of an angle to make things difficult. There is not really a herd path to the cave surprisingly enough.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 29 2011, 10:07 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Went revisiting a hike from the past a different way recently. Starting from the Bear Gap Trail parking area we went up Bear Gap Trail (up the easterly way past the last camp), only got as far as Little Bear Gap Run crossing when the GPSr died. I knew the junction with west side of Refuge Trail was a little obscure and we missed it. We cut east on the second cutover trail (the color MST map 301-306 shows this trail, the quad map doesn't), this trail is fully brushhogged. We came out on Evitts Mountain Road (drivable trail although there are rumors of stone surfacing to come), circling right passing the east Refuge Trail junction, the view rocks (actually stopped for a picture this time!), and then west on west half of Refuge Trail down into the hollow of Bear Gap Run.

We started bushwhacking down the hollow, after passing through a mercifully short typical PA mountain hollow of laurel and the occasional greenbriar we came to large rocks, mostly flat-lying. The stream disappeared, reappeared, and mostly disappeared again under the rocks as we descended, with a few opportunities to grab onto laurel and yellow birch, and watch cautiously to avoid stepping into holes between the rocks. We could hear the stream gurgling below us, sometimes it seemed far below. Every so often small streams would appear under a rock and disappear again into sand between rocks festooned with lichen, moss, Christmas ferns. After about 2/3 of the way down to the Little Bear Gap Run confluence we saw the occasional rhododendron but in the hollow it doesn't form a thicket. At one point we saw a large rock with scratches as if it were glacially striated, which we don't think is possible in extreme southern Bedford County. Finally the main stream came out again just above the Little Bear Gap Run confluence. Shortly the dim outline of an old trail emerged up from the right bank and we followed this for a while until we got sick of the blowdowns and spied a gap in the greenbried and rock rim of the valley and bushwhacked straight up to the Bear Gap Run trail.

Strangely for me I actually took some pictures, maybe I'll have to figure out how to post them.
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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 17 2012, 9:00 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(ki0eh @ Oct. 19 2011, 2:19 pm)
QUOTE
North end of Gap Trail - My wife had noticed what looked like an old roadbed paralleling part of Beans Cove Rd. I parked on Martin Hill Rd by the top of what appeared to be an old road and hiked down it. It's actually brushhogged for a time but below that, although a fully excavated jeep width track, is now filled with laurel and pines with a minimal hunter track. Despite this, it was once fully dug out and (unlike the quad) has a switchback (possibly old junctions) and can be followed to about 100 yds above the signed north end of Gap Trail where the old roadbed merges with the backslope of the Beans Cove Rd. embankment. This route is not blazed but should be easily followed from a GPS track.

I had a thought this weekend on hiking the now-open MST relocation on south side of Martin Hill. Is it at all possible there are old trails on the EAST side of Martin Hill Rd, heading down from the "possibly old junctions" northerly either to the bottom of Sweet Root Gap and/or circling back around westerly staying high up to the Verbal Trail area? If a circuit were possible here in what is either Wild or Natural Area, it might be more pleasant than dealing with the ATV route west of Martin Hill Rd and north of Martin Hill summit.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 10 2012, 10:39 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

On the short spur of the BSF/SGL 97 boundary north of 326:

I did an ATV/Sweet Root loop on Columbus day, and decided to add a little out-back up the steep MST slope and then onto the spur, even though it was raining by then.  Easy to follow, at the top there are a few young "blocking" pines, and then close blueberry growth.  I saw an opening to the north, and followed game/hunter paths to the top of a little opening with an eastern view.  I could only see Warrior Ridge since it had become foggy by that time, but there should be a more expansive view when clear.


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(Ed. S)
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 25 2012, 11:03 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Another holiday, another outing in 2 parts:

From a pull-off on E side of Martin Hill Rd N of Beans Cove Rd, 2032' elevation point according to the quad, I started off easterly to see if a possible old junction correlated with a tantalizing trace barely visible on a 1939 air photo. There indeed was an overgrown trace heading north a bit, but I lost it in a broad bench. I tried bushwhacking on contour in relatively open woods for a while, but not too far south of the Martin Hill tower power line (mutual boundary of Martin Hill WA and Sweet Root NA) the over head high laurel intermixed with rock oak combined to force me onto the power line cut westerly and back out. Need to prepare next time with a GPS track, better later in leaf-off season with matted leaves too.

Then I went to the public parking lot at bottom of Bear Gap, and armed with a fuzzy iPhone version of the quad attempted to trace the tantalizing diagonal trace NEerly from May Trail to Jackson Trail. The southernmost part of this trace is confirmed as a fully excavated trail leading from the lower valley of Bear Gap Run to a bench. After circling a large blowdown I'm not sure I was actually on the trail but kept going in the open woods. The quad alleges the trail goes up a narrow steep hollow. I oscillated back and forth going up the hollow alternating between talus and over head high laurel, back and forth over the quad's track without finding defined footway. Reaching the gentler slope of the ridge I decided to forget trying to catch the uppermost jog of the trail and just bushwhacked uphill, oddly reaching Jackson Trail just at the point where the green blazed trail leaves it. With a good bit of daylight remaining I walked up Jackson (encountering four hunters carrying in a tree stand near the top), out Evitts Mountain Road (which has been graveled with a different interlocking type of gravel, easier walking than the typical Forestry road), and down Pigeonroost Trail. I think at this point I can state with confidence there is no suitable trace for group hikes between Jackson Trail and bottom of Bear Gap hollow, neither trace on the quad proves out.

I had never actually been on Pigeonroost Tr from the top down to junction with Evitts Trail. The top was re-bulldozed and varies from some maps including location of junction point, it no longer crosses the mountaintop road directly but is an offset junction with southerly down-going portion leaving the top road to the SW of the northerly down-going portion. I enjoyed the lack of anthropogenic sound for a good ways descending Pigeonroost, stepping around deer, bear, and coyote scat on the semi-eroded doubletrack mixture of sand and rock, and maybe a bit disappointed at staying on the dividing ridge between two sub-hollows of upper Beans Cove without sight or even sound of either Pigeonroost Run or Little Pigeonroost Run. Those who laid out the trails in this unusually majestic corner of PA State Forest unfortunately tended to the utilitarian, though one does make good time on an obvious and brush-hogged trail way. About half way down there is a flat interlude in Pigeonroost Tr where a sandy seep in the trail might be a filter clogging campsite. A much better potential campsite would be at the bottom, between Evitts Trail junction (unsigned now) and the culvert crossing of clear and babbling Little Pigeonroost Run, a legal site on State Forest but only five minutes walk from sight of hunting camps on adjacent private land, and occasionally impacted by illegal ATV's. There is a new post sign at junction of Bear Gap Tr and Pigeonroost "Rd" as called on the sign, on this occasion walking right out on private land to the township road I didn't pass any closed gates.

By comparison with Bear Gap Trail, Pigeonroost Trail is similar (clear, serviceable doubletrack, not very well used, eroded but not terribly so, and not as scenic as it should be), although it does attack the Martin Hill massif more gradually, and passes 2 more potentially viable campsites.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 16 2013, 6:01 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE


(ki0eh @ Sep. 17 2011, 9:37 pm)
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We then reached the signed junction of Burnt Mill Trail, however the sign adds an "s". When you come to a fork off the road, take it. We fairly quickly came upon in order an established campsite, the rocky crossing of Laurel Branch, and the Mid State Trail at the signed junction of Dickens and Burnt Mill(s). At this point there is no evidence of what might once have been Dickens Trail other than the sign itself. Burnt Mill west of the MST is unblazed, fairly distinct but east of Laurel Branch had calf to knee high laurel witness to some passage of time since it was last cleared. Someone had put up a couple of flags as a visual cue to this short portion. The campsite near the ski trail, with water source from Laurel Branch (a bit too rocky except for hammockers right there though) is perhaps the nicest and best located in this tract, being right in the middle. The disadvantage is from MST one does need to traverse the little bit of unblazed Burnt Mills to reach it, which is overgrown by Ed's standards but not MR's (no jaggies here).

KTA Trail Crew last week cleared Burnt Mill Tr between the MST and the ski trail.

Also Dickens Tr has been recovered from the Burnt Mill junction northerly, and MST relocated on to it, for a shorter easier climb to the Big Pond area.
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