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Topic: TR: SGL 76, PA< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 03 2012, 10:21 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Woops, hit the wrong button, didn't get all photos up yet...

Photos

For my next hike I decided to head up to Pennsylvania and return to State Game Lands #76.  I had taken a good hike there last year, even though the fog covered up the views.  This time, I headed to the southeast half of the SGL, to do a loop involving trails on Blue Mountain and the eastern half of Horse Valley.  The hike starts at a large parking area on PA-533/Three Mountain Road, on the west slope of Blue Mountain at a sharp switchback.

I start on a wide SGL access trail, lightly dipping and climbing.  Color is mostly yellow, plenty of leaves down.  I reach a deer fence and logging area.  There are views across Horse Valley to Kittatinny Mountain.  Colors are dominated by bright orange, with some yellow and reds.  And greens from the pine trees and fields, and gray from exposed rock and talus.  What is surprising is that The Narrows really cannot be seen, even though I am viewing it only slightly at an angle.



After the clearing ended, I passed the splitting of the trails, taking the high route.  This passes a green area, and begins a short ascent to a higher level, followed by a small clearing.  At the clearing another access trail joins it.  I turn around and take this second trail, beginning a long sharp ascent of Blue Mountain, looping around to head northeast again as I reach the summit.  There is some high grass while ascending the mountain.  Also, if you turn around, there are plenty of good views across the valley and towards Kittatinny again.  Locally, leaves are yellow, sometimes orange, when present.  Most were gone.



Along the top of the mountain, the access trail still has high grass, but in general patted down in clumps, hiding the underlying slightly rocky surface.  It is untrampled in places, and there are briars, but generally a path can be followed.  There were also a couple of ticks spotted here.  There are also hemlocks and mountain laurel.  The trail is well cut, especially nice when just above is wooded talus.  The trail ends at a powerline tower at the top of Blue Mountain.



At the powerline clearing, there are good views both to the west, familiar by now, and to the east, or the Cumberland Valley with the South Mountain plateau behind, all the way down into Maryland if not further into Virginia and West Virginia, but it got hazy by that distance.  To the south, on the east side of the mountain, you can look down to Broad Mountain, and into Maryland with the Bear Pond Mountains.  Colors to the west and locally on the mountain is dominated by orange, yellow, and green from the pines.  To the east in the valley is green and light brown in the fields, and dark orange or brown in the woods, as most of the leaves were gone down there.  The village of Upper Strasburg, and the Letterkenny Depot are clearly visible.  Some small lakes are to the north.  Chambersburg is further in the distance.  It was quite windy here on the summit out in the open, and I had to put on extra clothes while I took a snack break, and exploring the entirety of the cut for the best views.





After my snack, I get to decide what the best way back down to the "high" trail is, which is quite below.  I could turn around and take the very lightly tick infested access trail which is likely easier, or make my way down the powerline as best as possible which is shorter.  I choose the powerline, which in retrospect was clearly the wrong choice.  At first, it is easy.  There is a rough road down to a second tower about 100 feet vertically down. But it ends there.  Past there the clearing is a slightly weedy talus slope.  The north side of the clearing is an overgrown talus slope.  The south end is a lightly talused steep hemlock slope, with heavier talus just south.  I carefully negotiate down among the hemlocks, until the clearing talus and the wooded talus converge.  At that point I generally work my way down the open talus.  Most of the way down the steep part, I see what appears to be a woods road ahead.  I eventually reach it.  But it is not the "high road."  Instead, it may be an attempt to add some switchbacks into the steep sideslope.  I follow it down, but after three turns it ends, and I am still above the woods road.  I next bushwhack on the north side of the clearing, rather easy.  Then thru the brush of the clearing for the final 100 feet, where I finally reach the "high road."



I follow the trail north.  It is in good shape, grass is in general low, and wide.  Trees are at least half bare, but those that remain are generally colorful.  There are occasional window views back up Blue Mountain or towards Kittatinny Mountain.  The best view is near the end of the trail, at a sloping turnaround with a good view across the valley.  Past the turnaround is a small pine stand next to a dry artificial pond.



Back at the turnaround, I started my search for the woods road which would connect me to the "low road."  It turns out there was a recent logging operation here I was not aware of.  And, as seems to be often in SGL's, the tops and slashings were left scattered about.  I think I could spot what was left of the woods road, but no way was it traversable.  Instead I wandered around the slashings, trying to keep the way in view.  After what seemed like a while (with a few times having to turn around and try a different route) I was able to get past the slashings and was now on an obvious old woods road.  It looped around an old small quarry and down a small fern lined side hollow, and reached the "low road" at a long clearing.



I first decided to take a side trip, and headed north, soon turning west on a surprisingly well traveled trail which took me down to the banks of the Condogunspellable Creek.  The creek is slightly wide, very gently flowing, and lined with hemlocks.  If forded there is a trail up to a parking area on Horse Valley Road.  I found a social trail heading upstream and decided to follow it, above the bank and wandering through the dark hemlocks.  At a small clearing I decided to have a late lunch.

After lunch, I decided to continue on the rough trail upstream.  It soon ended, but I continued.  However, when I reached a side stream I decided that continuing to follow the Conodogunpronounceable was not a good idea.  Plus, I could see the "low road" just above me.  Or so I thought.  I bushwhacked through the open woods to the clearing around the woods road.  Of course, as I left the woods I found out that between me and the trail that had to be there was a wide, thick briar patch.  Looking both ways revealed no easy way around it.  So I found an apparent deer path and started hacking my way through, as the briars hacked their way through me.  About 2/3rds the way though, I realize there is no road in the clearing.  After hacking my way through the rest of the clearing, I head back into the tall open woods.  I easily bushwhack uphill, tending south, and in about 300 feet arrive at the "low road."



The hike now becomes easy again.  I take the woods road southwest, passing under the powerlines, then a small pit with water.  The trail is easy to follow, though with occasional high grass.  Next up is a boxed spring (with water), and then a short climb.  After the climb the "low road" merges with the "high road."  Back on familiar land, it is just an easy trek back to the parking area.



This was a good hike, though not spectacular.  Still it was worthy of a visit.  Good timing would be needed.  I wouldn't want to hike it in late spring or all summer.  Autumn was certainly good timing.  Winter would also work.  I would also make some changes.  First, I would do the loop clockwise instead of counterclockwise as I did.  Second, I would seriously consider taking only the trails up to the top of the powerline, rather than bushwhacking up.  Finally, if I were to head back and include a bushwhack/social trail/deer path along the Conodogunspellable Creek, I would start just north of the powerline from the "low road," after crossing a small stream.  Plus remember that once I made it to the creek, I have committed to that route as getting back to the low road will likely result in having to go through a briar patch.


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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 05 2012, 10:29 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

A high bump kept deliberately boring by the Game Commission, it seems. Guess the quad state view remains elusive?
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 07 2012, 9:45 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

No, I've found a few.  For whatever reason, Sleepy Creek seems to be the place for them; I guess because Virginia gets further north the further west you go until Cacapon Mountain.  I know there are four-state views at Shockey's Knob, Eagle's Nest, and Sleepy Creek Mtn powerline clearing.  After simulating in Google Earth, I think the SGL 76 powerline east view also is, barely.

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2 replies since Nov. 03 2012, 10:21 pm < Next Oldest | Next Newest >

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