Favorite weekend trails in Pennsylvania?
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Christopher Taggart
(ctaggart) - F

Locale: The cut
Favorite weekend trails in Pennsylvania? on 02/18/2009 20:44:33 MST Print View

Just as the title says, what are your favorite weekend trails in PA? I'm getting back into backpacking after a 7 year hiatus and would like some suggestions on PA trails. I'm also bringing along my girlfriend for the ride! Last trail I did was the 50 miles of the Laurel Highlands trail in January of 2002.

So, what are your favorite PA trails!?

Kevin Babione
(KBabione) - MLife

Locale: Pennsylvania
Favorite Weekend Trails in PA on 02/18/2009 21:31:37 MST Print View

I have a couple of trails that I really like for weekend hikes:

The West Rim Trail (27-30 miles) is a point-to-point hike along the west rim of the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon. Pine Creek Outfitters in Ansonia near the northern trailhead offers a shuttle service to move either you or your car from one end to the other. I prefer to hike North to South as there are campsites with great vistas at 12 and 24 miles.

The Old Loggers Path (27 miles) is a loop hike that starts and ends in the old "ghost" logging town of Masten. It has some great vistas and, if you hike in a clockwise direction, you have great campsites near trout streams at about 10 and 21 miles. There is one stream crossing on this loop that will require you to get your feet wet - keep that in mind.

The Allegheny Front Trail (27 - 40 miles) is another loop that allows you to hike the length you want to do. Basically the hike circumnavigates Black Moshannon State Park, taking in pretty varied topography with nice vistas and streams. The entire trail is 40 miles long but there are connector trails through the middle of the loop that break it down into an East and West loop, each about 27 miles in length. I've only done the East loop and, by adjusting your starting point, you can spend a night in the Black Moshannon State Park campground (with hot showers). This also allows you to have a campfire when fires are not permitted in the State forests.

The John P Saylor Trail is a 15-19 mile loop hike near Windber. The main loop is 15 miles but you can add the additional southern loop (which begins on the other side of a cable bridge over the one good water source near the campsite) for some extra hiking. This is a great one-nighter to have in your repertoire. I live near Lancaster and did this loop with some friends this past September. We left early Friday morning and were back home by noon on Saturday - including the roughly three hour drive each way.

I hope this helps you and anyone else looking for good PA hikes.

Christopher Taggart
(ctaggart) - F

Locale: The cut
Excellent suggestions on 02/18/2009 23:26:56 MST Print View

Excellent suggestions! I would really like to hike the Pennsylvania grand canyon with my GF. The fact that I can have an outfitter shuttle me to my car is awesome! I think I'm going to have to purchase a good book about Pennsylvania hikes.

Kevin Babione
(KBabione) - MLife

Locale: Pennsylvania
Favorite Weekend Trails in PA on 02/19/2009 07:56:48 MST Print View

My pleasure - I haven't found a book with all of these hikes in them but have a lot more information on all of them if you'd like - just let me know.

Also - I'm not sure where in the state you're located, but I have seen some of your other posts. You really should consider the John P Saylor trail as a one-night first trip with your girlfriend. Hiking the loop counter-clockwise will put you at the campsite after about 10 miles. The next day you can either continue on the loop and you're back at your car in 3 miles or do the southern loop and have a 7 mile day. It might be a nice "initiation" for your GF because you're not too far from the car. Have you been car camping with her yet? Just wondering...

Joe Geib
(joegeib) - F

Locale: Delaware & Lehigh Valleys
Re: Excellent suggestions on 02/19/2009 09:38:07 MST Print View

I think I have a copy of "Backpacking Pennsylvania", which may highlight these trails. I'll look at it tonight. I'm willing to part with it.

I also have the trail guide/map for the West Rim Trail that I am willing to part with.

PM me if interested.

Edited by joegeib on 04/29/2009 05:25:59 MDT.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Favorite trails on 02/19/2009 09:59:43 MST Print View

Be careful about going to far, if the GF hasn't backpacked. I totally ruined a GF for backpacking with one trip in Guadelupe National Park years ago.

Joe Geib
(joegeib) - F

Locale: Delaware & Lehigh Valleys
Re: Favorite trails on 02/19/2009 10:02:28 MST Print View

Joe, Good advice. Maybe a partial redux of the Laurel Highlands Trail would be good, since it has a good amount of traveled road crossings, prefect for a bailout. Not to mention that they have reserved shelters everywhere.

Christopher Taggart
(ctaggart) - F

Locale: The cut
pa hikes on 02/19/2009 15:23:49 MST Print View

I think the GF should be O.K. with pretty much any weekend hike. She's in great physical condition and shouldn't have a problem with that. Anything around 10 mi a day should be fine. Our pack weights will be pretty darn light. The GF has been car camping with her family on vacation but hasn't ever been truly backpacking. We'll see. It will be a couple months before we go anywhere, so I have plenty of time to pick out a hike with her.

Jason Shaffer
(PA_Jay) - F

Locale: on the move....
Re: pa hikes on 02/19/2009 16:14:29 MST Print View

Christopher, feel free to PM me if you ever feel like it. I could suggest many excellent hikes depending on what you're looking for. Here's a few ideas:

The Quehanna Wild Area / Elk State Forest is my all-time PA favorite - challenging and ridiculously beautiful. It's a big region, remote by eastern standards, but some weekenders are possible. Elk and black bear sightings are common in spring and fall. There are off-trail options if you really want an adventure, but the trails alone kept me interested for over a decade. Just don't count on a lot of bailout options. The DNRC prints the best map.

The Elk Trail, north of Benezette / Medix Run, is an easier 19-mile section to see elk and get a feel for the region. A good drive on Rt 555 through that area is pretty fun too.

MST through Rothrock SF, including the Greenwood Spur, Jackson Trail, Alan Seeger & Detweiler Run. Many great loops are possible, and they're not nearly as isolated as the Quehanna (easy bailouts). Purplelizard.com prints a good basic map. The MST / Seven Mountains guidebook has better maps, and those include the Rim Trail around Pine Creek Gorge.

I'll second the Allegheny Front Trail, Black Moshannon, and Old Loggers.

Carol Crooker wrote a nice SUL article about an easy loop in Allegheny National Forest (not the footwear podcast). A search here turned up too much stuff to wade through unfortunately.

Half of the Chuck Keiper Trail in Sproul State Forest would be good for a weekend (the full trail makes a figure-eight).

Okay, I'll take a breath now. Have fun...

Open Space
(OpenSpace) - F

Locale: Upstate New York
Keystone Trail Association & PA DCNR on 02/19/2009 16:19:15 MST Print View

The KTA has some great information on their website with a map & description of the longer hikes in PA. Here is the link:

http://www.kta-hike.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=92&Itemid=65

Also, the PA state park and forest system is excellent in terms of providing information both on their website and at the ranger stations. Here is a link:
http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/

Based on my experience, they are also glad to send maps through the mail.

Joshua Gilbert
(joshcgil2) - F

Locale: Seattle
Black forest trail on 02/19/2009 19:29:47 MST Print View

It's been like 15 years since I was there, but I remember this as being a great hike. I think the full loop is 30 miles, so you might want a long weekend to do it properly, there are a couple of bailout points. Lots of creek crossings and hills, but beautiful

Out by Williamsport as I recall.

James Bahner
(JMBahner) - F

Locale: Philly suburbs
Weekend trail on 02/20/2009 16:07:14 MST Print View

The Pinchot Trail outside of Wilkes Barre is an easy 20 loop trail that can be broken into a north and south loop, 10 miles each, but very easy, but good for a first time overnighter for your gf. it was actually the first hike my gf and i did together, she and i are both pretty new to backpacking and we both had fun doing it.

Edited by JMBahner on 02/20/2009 16:11:01 MST.