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    Senior Member Gris's Avatar
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    Aug 2010
    York, Pa
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    Allegheny Front Trail

    My backpacking co-enabler from church and I hiked the 40 mile loop AFT in mid state Pa. over two and a half days 6/4-6/6. Two years ago we made our first trip up to the AFT to use the trail to do some trout fishing. The trail has changed some since our last trip. I would estimate that only 40% of the trail has seen any maintenance this season and at least half of the remaining 60% is very overgrown. At times the trail appears nonexistent. Blazes are very hard to find due to fading or peeling, the brush at times is over five feet tall and the path seems to disappear under your feet, and in an area where rattlesnakes are known to frequent it can be a little disconcerting to say in the least. All that being said I still enjoyed our trip. Just, if you go, be prepared to pay close attention to trail junctions, have your compass at the ready, and know how to use it. I also recommend not using the park supplied map that we used, instead use the trail notes provided by Mid Atlantic hikes at Mike breaks the loop into to two 30 mile section hikes but it isn’t hard to piece them together. I printed the notes and left them on the kitchen table, a move I would regret for most of the trip. Scott Adams has a good map at his site . On our first day we started at the parking area at rt 504 where it crosses Six Mile Run and hiked 16 miles to the north east side of the loop and camped at the Rock Run trail connector. As we hiked up out of the Red Moshannon valley a thunder storm started to move in. We were picking up the pace when a grouse hissed at my buddy and circled in front of us about ten yards. We looked down to see her peeps literally under our feet. Then about a quarter of a mile up the trail we had two bear cubs run up a tree about 20-30 yards off the trail. They were cool to see, but the problem was we couldn’t see mama because the brush was 4-5 feet tall. We just backed away slowly and tried to out run the storm. Then by God’s grace as the storm really started to open up we found a hunting cabin where the owners let us wait the storm out. After the storm had passed we made it to camp (flushing two roosting turkeys) for the evening with about 45 minutes of day light left-- just enough time to pitch hammocks and get in out of the rain. Sunday we made good time to the south east corner of the loop and started our trip across the vistas. This section of the trail is very rocky, and doesn’t look hard on the elevation profile but, up-close and personal , it is a challenge. Traveling east to west the third from last vista has a beautiful dry camp site. We took an hour long lunch and let our gear dry out in the afternoon sun. From there we made our way down to Black Moshannon SP and the Moss Hanne trail across the marsh sections of the AFT. Your feet will get wet here there is no avoiding it over the next 4-6 miles. We ended up camping .75 south of Wolf Rocks after a 17.5 mile day. The camp site was a welcome sight with good water and trees to hang from. Monday morning we headed south, back to the car. Wolf Rocks were interesting to see, but I would recommend skipping the next 3 miles of the trail by road walking north on Six Mile Run Rd. The trail is very overgrown in this section , the blazes (when visible)are faded at best , and the trail leads right through about a mile heavily logged (almost clear cut) stretches. Aside from all the overgrowth it just seemed like uninteresting terrain. The last three miles of the loop was a beautiful walk through a mature pine forest. After more than 39 miles on the AFT we finally missed a trail junction and got off the path. An old blue blazed trail took us up by the airport, where with the map and compass we found a pipeline and followed it out to rt 504 where we hiked west back to the car at the 504 bridge over Six Mile Run. No one wants to find themselves off the trail, but if I’m being honest, it showed me that with a map and compass we were able to get to where we needed to go. In spite of the last part of the trip I enjoyed our time on the AFT it was the most wildlife I have ever seen on a trip, the views were good, and I enjoyed the challenge of navigating with the map.
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