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Topic: Some brief and belated TRs< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 13 2011, 9:44 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

#1: Three Mile/Blueberry Circuit
(Michaux State Forest)

This was a pleasant eight mile hike on a hot day, chosen because there were not any major climbs, and in the hope that there'd still be some ripe blueberries (no luck there).  The hike starts near the junction of Ridge Road and gated Dead Woman Hollow Road; there is a parking lot just east at the Appalachian Trail crossing.  The hike first starts by heading back west to Ridge Road, south briefly on that to Big Pond Road, and then west on that about 500 feet to the trailhead for the Three Mile Trail.

This is a somewhat widened singletrack trail, and apparently has been around for quite a while.  It's relatively level though with plenty of undulations.  I saw my first two Michaux horseback riders, and a spicebush swallowtail caterpillar.  The trail ends at the junction of Ridge and Woodrow Roads.  Heading east of Woodrow (uphill, in the open, unfortunate for a hot day) and in about a quarter mile I'm at the Appalachian Trail.  

I take it south, past the Tumbling Run Game Preserve access road, and soon make it to the junction to the Michner Cabin.  I take its blue-blazed access trail.  The cabin is also the trailhead for the Blueberry Trail and the Dead Woman Hollow Trail (both blue blazed).  It take the Blueberry trail further east, passing the headwaters of Tumbling Run, some charcoal flats, some outcroppings at the top of a low ridge, and acres and acres of blueberry bushes.  I have lunch at the overlook, where the trail starts its steep descent.  (The Blueberry Trail's other end is at the "Tumbling Run" trailhead on PA-233.)  After appreciating the view, I turn around back to the cabin.  I see two hikers on the way out and back.  They must have gone up the steep section in the heat.  

At the Cabin I take the Dead Woman Hollow Trail to head south.  It passes more of the Tumbling Run headwaters, a couple of charcoal flats, and more acres of blueberries.  It ends at Dead Woman Hollow Road (gated, dirt, no traffic).  Here I just needed to make a short ascent to get back to the Appalachian Trail and the parking area.  A pleasant and non-strenuous hike for a hot day.  It'd be especially good when the blueberries are ripe.

The best map I found was here (pdf).  Look near the southwest corner for Big Pond and Ridge Roads; he trailhead is just northeast at the junction of the next dashed road along Ridge.  The Three Mile Trail extends between Big Pond Road and Woodrow Road, just northwest of Ridge Rd (brown dashes; in the DMAP area).  Oddly, the AT is not shown on this map.  The Michner Cabin is just west of the Tumbling Run Game preserve; look for a junction with a dashed road heading north, and two brown dashed trails heading east and south.  The trail heading east is the Blueberry Trail; its overlook is about at the east end of the old logged area showed in red outline.  South from the cabinis the Dead Woman Hollow Trail.  Dead Woman Hollow Road is where it ends.

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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 14 2011, 7:48 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

LOve the C-pillar.

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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 14 2011, 8:45 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(MRHyker @ Sep. 14 2011, 7:48 am)
QUOTE
LOve the C-pillar.

Agreed, that's an excellent photo.

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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 14 2011, 9:27 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

#2 White Rocks
(Gathland State Park)

On another warm day, and one where I didn't feel like driving far, I did a White Rocks dumbbell hike from Gathland State Park.  First, I must say, MD-67 is a most boring road.

The hike starts at Gathland State Park, and starts by going north on the Appalachian Trail.  A moderate climb out of Crampton Gap starts the hike, and then the trail levels out after passing the Crampton Gap Shelter Trail.  The trail is wide, which is good as a couple of miles seem to be lined by poison ivy to some extent.  The trail gets slightly rocky once it leaves a bench next to the ridge top to follow the top itself.  It then passes the Bear Springs Trail, to begin to circle up to Lambs Knoll.  Some parts get even more rocky, but others are rock free.

The highlight of the hike is the view from White Rocks, near the summit of Lambs Knoll.  The view is south.  Since Lambs Knoll is a local high point along South Mountain (and higher than all points south along it), you get to look down the ridge, plus also parts of Middletown Valley to the east, Pleasant Valley to the west, and the Blue Ridge also to the west. I also found some 19th century graffiti on the rocks; they even used serifs for their lettering!  

After my lunch and photography stop, I started to head back, now using the White Rock Trail.  This trail goes downhill, steeply.  I would not take it in rain, or snow, ice, or snowmelt.  The forest continually changes in character on the way down; there are also some interesting outcrops.  The trail ends at the Bear Springs Trail.  To the east (further downhill) it leads to a springs and a cabin.  Instead I went west, up a woods road on a gentle ascent back to the AT.

I then took the AT back south a couple of miles.  Upon reaching the shelter trail, I followed it down east off the mountain.  It passes some campsite areas, and eventually reaches the Crampton Gap Shelter, one of the older AT shelters.  After a brief rest (it would have been longer, but a smoking backpacker was there), I then took a well-used woods road by the side/behind of a shelter, which heads directly back to the state park, without having to climb back to the top of the mountain.

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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 15 2011, 9:36 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Very nice.  I thought the cat-piller was fake!

Amazing to see for sure.


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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 15 2011, 9:34 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

#3: Sleepy Creek Lake Circumnavigation
(Sleepy Creek Lake WMA, WV)

Finally the TR's catch up to better weather, and with it I was able to do a 10+ mile hike.  Sleepy Creek Lake is located in the mountains between Martinsburg and Berkeley Springs, and thus easy to get to save for the last couple of miles.  (I find the direct route to be a bit too rough for my liking and thus circle around from the south to get to the lake.)  The Tuscarora Trail runs through the area.  This hike combined the TT (mainly the dirt road portion) with other trails to make a 10.5 mile loop to head around the lake and climb Sleepy Creek Mountain.

From where I parked on the dirt road/TT (merely first good space by the side of the road), I headed south on the road/TT, passing some of the campgrounds (fee & registration), a spring and small stream, the road gate, and reached a small clearing at the end of the road.  Here the TT turns away from the lake to head into a horribly overgrown and damp area.  I did not, but took an obvious shortcut trail, crossed a flowing stream, and quickly rejoined the TT, now a grassy woods road.  I passed dry Roaring Run.  

Soon after I left the TT and turned onto the Long Ridge Trail.  I crossed Meadow Branch (nearly dry), and was thus now on the opposite side of the valley.  I passed the Speilman Trail, and now on the west side of the lake.  The trail is also a nice woods road, soon going through a fern meadow with a clear path, back into the woods, and then reaching a grassy meadow.  No clear path through this time, just have to follow the disturbed route in the tall grass.  On the other side the woods road is clear but a bit more arrow. One unmarked trail junction thankfully has a log arrow on the ground to show the needed turn.  The trail ends at the junction of the Martinsburg Grade Trail, by the lake shore.  

The Martinsburg Grade Trail, being an old road, to the east disappears into the lake, and photos can be gotten here.  Heading west away from the lake, it first forms a nice trail among the flats.  It passes by a couple of old exploratory coal pits.  Thankfully coal mining never started here in earnest, and only a few small pits with coal dumps nearby remain.  After the coal pits the trail starts to climb up Sleepy Creek Mountain in earnest, by switchbacks.  The trail here has clearly not been maintained in a while, and there are many, many blowdowns along the otherwise easy to follow trail.

At the top is a trail post which marks the junction with the Sleepy Creek Mountain Trail.  If a sign was here it is long gone. This trail is also a good woods road, with only a few blowdowns.  It passes by a small artificial but spring fed pond.  After a metal gate is passed the trail becomes wider, as this section is now used an an 4WD access route in hunting season.  A meadow/marked campsite is passed.  I soon reached a powerline clearing.

There are views to the east and west, better to the west.  Cacapon Mountain and the lowlands in front spread out before you. To the northwest is the Berkeley Springs area, with the Silica/sandstone quarry just north.  In the distance is the Sideling Hill road cut.  To the east is the Sleepy Creek Lake valley (the lake itself is not visible), Third Hill Mountain, and the Shenandoah Valley in the distance.  Hagerstown, MD is visible in the distance through a gap in the mountain.  I follow the powerline road east downhill.  I pass a dry streambed, and soon reach the old routing of the Tuscarora Trail.  It has been debalzed, and so I find the way south, back in the woods on a narrow woods road, following light lime green "blazes".  I reach Meadow Branch at Rocky Ford (the stream is rocky here).  Of course, it is nearly dry and making my way across is easy.  The trail, however, is not at all obvious here.  It took a while to find the continuation.  Look for a "black blaze" directly across from where you entered the ford clearing.  Back on the old TT, I crossed a dry stream, and soon reached the junction with the current Tuscarora Trail.  I headed south on it, and soon reached the road system at the Lower Campground.  Stopped at the lake for some more pictures, and then took the 1.75 mile roadwalk back to my car.

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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 16 2011, 9:32 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

#4: Southern Gas circuit
(Michaux State Forest, PA)

With better weather I was able to continue longer hikes.  This was about 10.5 miles in the southern part of Michaux State Forest, following a combination of snowmobile, bike, horse, and hiking trails.  I don't know of any map which readily shows all the trails used.

The hike started at the Old Forge Picnic Area.  I started by heading south on the Appalachian Trail, past the Antietam Shelter, crossing Antietam Creek, and soon reaching the Chickadee Horse/Snowmobile Trail.  I took this trail back north, a wide woods road, soon joining with an old logging road.  I past the return trail, and this trail ended at Rattlesnake Run Road.  (Don't let the name scare you, it's merely named after a nearby stream.)

Here across the road I found an access road to continue north, ending at a small retention pond.  A bridge crossed the stream, and I was at a trail junction I was not expecting.  After checking my map, I decide to take the obvious trail; a woods road following a water line.  After a few hundred feet it is clear this trail is not doing on the ground what the trail on my map did.  I turn around and take the other trail.  This was the right choice.  I follow the narrow bike trail, mainly through a dark hemlock forest, and past an uncountable number of charcoal flats.  Eventually the trail reaches Antietam Creek, joins a woods road, and soon joins up with the horse trail system.  I use the horse trail to get up the mountain, nearly missing the unmarked turn from one woods road to another, pass a large boulder field (plus another I didn't bother bushwhacking to), and at the top of the mountain I reached gravel High Rock Road.  I head north a couple hundred feet before finding the continuation of the horse trails.  I head east, soon finding a recently logged area; the horse trail follows some old logging road through the cleared area.  The trail soon becomes quite narrow, heading through annoying large thorny growth.  Eventually the trail reaches the end of this, finds some more mature forest, and follows an old logging road, which I take to rejoin High Rock Road.

Directly across the road is the trail called Southern Gas.  (The photos will make the naming obvious.  Oddly, it is in the middle of the forest.  Though they may be a very faint old woods road by it.)  The trail twists and turns its way, mainly lightly downhill or level, and mainly south.  It passes ferns, blueberries, some mountain laurel, some bouldered slopes and fields, an assortment of old woods and charcoaling roads, and, in the spirit of the day, many more charcoal flats.  The later half also passes through some hemlock groves, and some of the headwaters to Rattlesnake Run. My only complaint is that the twists and turn make the trail long, and even with an assortment of local scenery, can get monotonous for a while.  There are also no major trail junctions to divide the trail up.  At the south end of Southern Gas, I come out at, yep, High Rock Road.

I take the road southwest, soon reaching Rattlesnake Run Road.  I continue straight ahead on an old logging road.  I soon reach the narrow bike path to get me back.  Apparently, a short part of it uses a woods road which was a very old routing of the AT.  But when the old AT goes downhill, the bike trail continues to follow the top of the mountain.  But only briefly, as it soon starts to switchback downhill, surprisingly gently.  It of courses passes a couple of charcoal flats and one charcoal pit.  (Query: what's the difference between a charcoal flat and a "charcoal pit"?)  The trail, at the bottom, reaches the Chickadee Horse/Snowmobile Trail.

Thus, I only need to take the trail back south to the AT, and the AT back north to finish my hike.

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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 17 2011, 8:55 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Believe me, the name "Southern Gas" trail is scarier than "Rattlesnake Run." :D

Your TR's are always appreciated, wondering why you don't start new threads for each venue anymore - probably easier to locate in future that way.
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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 17 2011, 9:30 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Well, normally I will, but I just got behind on editing and uploading photos for a bit.  There'll probably be one more report in this thread.  

I went to Pine Ridge Natural Area today, and that'll get a thread of its own.


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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 20 2011, 3:55 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Very nice pics and reports
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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 30 2011, 9:29 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

#5 and last: Northern Technical Loop
(Frederick Watershed)

Final belated trail report.  A few weeks ago I decided to head over to the watershed.  My goal was to re-visit many of the nice trails on the north side I've not done in a while, hike a few new ones, and get back in time for a football game.

I started at the Sand Flats parking area on Gambrill Park road; two other vehicles were also there.  (One must have been a hiker, she has a brief trip report posted at HU.  I didn't see her on the trails though.)  I took the access lane in to the trail system to the two ponds.  Briefly south, and then a quick turn east on a wide clearing with trail.  This narrows, passes through some mountain laurel, and starts to descend.  At the bottom I make the short side trip to a boulder field.

Back on the trail, I hop north onto an old woods road which is not part of the trail system.  I take it to Left Hand Fork Road.  Here I headed east on the gated trail, which apparently was an old quarry, perhaps more recently also a logging, road.  It passes by a clearing, some close-by mountain laurel, while slowly ascending to the large old quarry.  From the looks this was probably from charcoaling days.  The road/trail ends here.  However, if you climb up the quarry banks you come to the Iceberg Trail, and the better views down to the quarry level.

I headed south along Iceberg, first along the rocky ridgeline, then dropping down to hike among the blueberry and tall mountain laurel.  Some more rocks and I reach the junction with the Newberg Trail.  I take this trail back north, and pass a rocky area on the ridgeline, with views of the talus below.  It leaves the ridge, and is only rocky in stretches.  It twists and turns, is well constructed, and eventually, after passing by some charcoal flats and a wooded Devil's Raceway boulder field, reaches its other end at a charcoal flat meeting up with the Viper Trail.  (A short distance away is the Pit Trail, but I didn't use that trail this time.)  

I take the Viper trail north, along its rocks, next to a nearly dry stream, to a pond.  I wander around some woods roads to see how they join up, then take the pond access lane north to a gate on Right Hand Fork Road.  I continue north past another gate and pond on an old woods road.  This ends at a junction with the Salamander Trail.  I head west, past some outcrops and rocks, counting the trail junctions.  At junction #3.5, I leave Salamander and head out to the junction of Gambrill Park, Left Hand Fork, and Right Hand Fork Roads.  Just down 50-100 feet on Left Hand Fork, I head southwest on the Skink Trail.  This is another of the nice narrow singletrack trails, some rocks, some charcoal flats and pits, good rock work.  Some interesting mushrooms and fungi.  It passes two ponds, and then ends at a third.  Here, I head south next to the pond on its access lane, reach another access lane, and continue on a singletrack trail.  This passes by a test(?) logging area, a thankfully dry stream, and then some of the nicest blueberry fields in the Watershed.  It then reconnects up to the ponds at Sand Flats, and thus I only need to take its access lane out to the parking area.

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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 30 2011, 10:12 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Nice golf ball fungus. When we were out at Martin Hill last time we saw those and wondered if they only come out after 10" of rain in a week or something, they didn't look that familiar.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 01 2011, 8:24 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(ki0eh @ Sep. 30 2011, 10:12 pm)
QUOTE
Nice golf ball fungus. When we were out at Martin Hill last time we saw those and wondered if they only come out after 10" of rain in a week or something, they didn't look that familiar.

The "gulfball fungus" is actually a mushroom being incased by another parasitic species. There are 2 kinds. One attacks Bpletes (spores /no gills) while the othe attacks gilled mushrooms.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 01 2011, 10:16 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Are you able to identify any of them?  I don't think I see any of them on your site.  I'll have some more up on my next TR, but I think those you already have listed.

On the caterpillar at the top of the page, I hear it mimics a snake, thus the big "eyes" and "mouth."  I didn't notice it at the time, because I saw him from behind first (and of course, from above) and saw the whole caterpillar.  When I knelt down to take the pictures, I said (yeah, out loud) "what in the world are you?"  I was jokingly hoping he was not some alien species which was able to enlarge his mouth and swallow me whole.


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 17 2013, 10:50 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

#6 Southern Michaux Rocky Ridge

A loop in the southern third of Michaux State Forest, about eight miles, snow from a dusting to maybe an inch, sometimes clear.  Started at the Old Forge Picnic Area, headed south on the Appalachian Trail, uphill till nearly the top.  Then onto a narrow bike trail south, to a shared use trail/logging road, crossing the AT and then Rattlesnake Run Rd.  Onto some logging roads and skids, past an evil looking thorny plant, to the top of Rocky Ridge.  Into a deer exclosure on the Deer Ponds Trail (should have taken the bypass), than back out as it became a pleasant snow hike on the logging road, then the pipeline.  Then headed north on the winding and well named Rocky Ridge Trail, a couple of good western views near the southern end, numerous outcrops along the rest of the trail.  It heads through two exclosures, so I got used to lifting gates.  There are also some large stands of devil's walking stick; thankfully the trail is well groomed.  Through a large clearing and out on High Rock Road.  The west and downhill on a woods road.  First half in good shape, than not so much as I basically bushwhack next to the sunken road most of the rest of the way.  

Connect with a trail paralleling above Antietam Creek.  Decide to head north to make a small loop.  Leave the woods road, reconnect with it at the bank of the creek.  Take the woods road downstream to a well-constructed bridge along the horse trail system.  While there I realized I had misinterpreted my map of the area, and there is no trail continuing on the creek bank.  Bushwhacked with moderate difficulty along the bank, until the floodplain ended at a steep bluff.  Had to crawl-climb my way up, and a bit later past there found the woods road I had taken to descend to the creek.  Headed back up slightly, then onto a narrow trail which follows above the creek as it winds through an area containing numerous charcoal flats.  Reached the retention pond at Rattlesnake Run, then RR Road, talked with a mountain biker there (who turns out lives a just a few blocks from me), and I then took the old "High Water Detour" of the AT along Antietam Creek, back to the AT, its bridges, the Antietam Shelter, and the picnic area.  A nice hike, only issue was the numerous deer fences.

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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 20 2013, 9:45 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

#7 Knobsville Tract

I took this hike because I had not yet been to this new-ish area of Buchanan State Forest, which is across Cove Mountain from Cowans Gap.  I also wanted to get done a couple more trails in Allens Valley.  Because of unexpected compacted snow I had to shorten this hike.

I started at the large main parking area for the tract, and headed north on the Forney Trail, an old logging road from when this was Glatfelter land.  Some good views from fields, even with the heavy flurries.  Further up were the Nagle Road and Trail, as I passed small streams, expansive woodlands, a spruce stand, and clearing looking up the mountain.  Onto the Gray Birch Trail (which I first read as "Gravy Birch"), a narrow trail through young growth and pine, before heading onto a couple of logging skids and reaching the Tailgate logging road.  I used this to continue up Cove Mountain, soon arriving at elevations still covered by old crusty snow.  I then take the steep Knobsville Trail the rest of the way up the mountain.  It was during this climb that I realized there is no way I could make it down one of these steep trails in the slick snow (and my original plan had me going down two of them) and that I'd have to change my route.  Unbelievably, a group had negotiated it downhill, though it looks like one member attempted a controlled (hopefully) slide rather than trying to stay on his feet.

At the top I reach the Knobsville Road and Standing Stone Trails, which I take down to the Lake overlook, where I have my lunch and ponder how to change the hike.  I decide to head back up, and down the west side, of the Knobsville Road Trail, past the overlook, and the switchback at the junction with Tailgate Road and the Horseshoe Trail.  This area was recently logged, and so there are now expansive views of the Knobsville area and beyond to Sideling Hill, the Meadow Grounds Mountains, and even further.  I then continued downhill, now on Tailgate Road, past the Knobsville Trail, past the snow line, past the Gray Bird Trail.  As the trail was getting ready to turn west, I took a grassy logging road further south to a small clearing.  Past the clearing I picked up a rough skid, and then a deer path.  My original plan was to have taken the Creek Crossing Trail to get back to the west side of Cove Mountain, and bushwhack back to where I was.  So, to see how that would be, I decided to bushwhack to the CC Trail.  The northern part is tough, as its through regenerating young growth.  It gets easier past there as the woods open up, and you cross numerous shallow, dry ravines.  In what felt much longer than the half mile it should be, I found the red blazed trail.  Satisfied, I turned around.

Back on Tailgate Road, I soon enter a logged area with wide views to the west.  Past there I enter older woods, sometimes next to a small stream, as I make my way downhill, soon crossing a gate and back to the parking area.  Being right around the freezing mark, the parking area and gravel road out to 522 was a muckfest.

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EJS
(Ed. S)
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 27 2013, 9:35 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

#8 Michaux (partial) Snow Hike

For my daylight savings hike, I decided to stay in the Cumberland Valley, and so I headed up to SGL #169, north of Shippensburg.  Because of the time change, repeated snooze, and an unexpected pit stop, I got up there fairly late.  And then I started to interpret the assorted signs the PGC had up.  Confused, I checked some nearby ones, which had me wondering.  Getting back in the car and driving to one of the trail crossings I'd be using, the signage was clear and the area I was planning to hike was closed.

Needing a new plan, I thought about where I could hike that'd be approximately on my way back home.  I figured Michaux State Forest would work.  Then came the map issue. I needed a hike I could do without any useful maps of the area.  I started my drive from the SGL to Michaux, not quite sure of where I was going.  I could think of two hikes approximately along the way, a Haunted Hollow circuit, and an exploration of the Hosack Run area which would include finding a trail I wasn't sure existed.  Oh, and there was still snow in many areas of Michaux.  I decided that these two options were not good, as there were places that I would want to have a useful map to consult. Then I remembered that there was a snow hike I wanted to do on the north side of Long Pine Reservoir, and what do you know, when that thought came up I was at the corner of Milesburn and Birch Run Rd, right nearby!  Most of the trails were ones I had hiked, and those that I hadn't could either be bypassed or would be an easy bushwhack if I lost them.

So, I finally started my alternate hike around noon, parking messily at Birch Run Road by the Birch Run bridge.  I took a woods road east though a pine plantation, and then off towards the shoreline in heavily trodden light snow.  Up next was a trail on the north shore of the partially frozen reservoir (which did not stop kayakers and fishers).  Some parts of the trail had snow, others did not.  I made it to the dam, and continued onto the shared use trail, high above Long Pine Run.  This section was clear and dry, and rocky.  A short distance later I take a narrow side trail which makes a couple of long switchbacks to reach the banks of Long Pine Run, where I found a good rock for lunch.



After lunch, I continue following Long Pine Run downstream, as the clear stream cascades beneath hemlocks and rhododendrons, the ground still snow covered, the trail showing good usage by hikers and bikers.  This is one of my favorite stretches in Michaux.  I take the trail out to PA-233, and then head north on a fifty foot long road walk to a logging road, where I head back into the woods.  





The safe route here would be to stay on the wide, traveled, snow covered logging road. Instead, slightly west of its gate, I find a rough trail heading north through the Conococheague Creek lowlands, covered with untrampled snow.  I decide to take it, even though it appeared only lightly traveled pre-snow, and with snow it would test my trail finding abilities.  The trail wanders through the pine and hemlock flats, past a slushy vernal pond and later a wet one (which may be only a water-filled depression rather than a pond), and a what I call (likely incorrectly) a charcoal pit.  The trail then climbs out of the lowlands, and reaches a spur of the logging road.  I take the spur north to its end, through the deepest snow of the day (four inches maybe), and at the end find a surprisingly good trail continuing north along the pine and hemlock slope.  This trail eventually turns and ascends through a laurel/scrub area and then meeting up with the well traveled main logging road.





I take the logging road north, and, at a clearing, turn onto a well used snow covered connector trail, which takes me to the shared use system at the southern end of East Big Flat Ridge.  Where I join it is flat and mucky, but as I ascend it becomes dry, as its winds its way up through the pine and leafless trees, and laurel, passing many outcrops.  Along the top of the ridge, as the trail heads to the northwest side, the snow reappears along with foot and bike tracks.  The trail wanders along the outcrops and pine tree, slowly working its way up to a junction with a woods road.



I take the well used snow covered woods road west, down the west slope of East Big Flat Ridge.  It soon enters a large clearing of an old logging area, and the snow ends.  There are views towards Rocky Knob and the ridges behind the reservoir, but I think the trees are just starting to close up the views.  Further down the woods road, I reach a trail junction, as I leave the shared use system onto an old logging skid I like to call "Tick Alley," with plenty of tall yellow grass running along.  I reach a slightly boggy clearing and leave the alley (no ticks today) and continue south on a logging road.  This takes me to the gravel and plowed dam access road.  I take this a short distance damward, and make a sharp right onto a snow covered woods road, which takes me quickly back to the parking area next to the junction of Birch and Knob Runs.





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(And, I promise my next two TRs will each get their own threads.)


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EJS
(Ed. S)
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