Allegheny Front Trail - Eastern Loop - Labor Day Weekend 2005

Trip theme - You call that a view? or What do you think of this campsite?

This was a Wilmington Trail Club backpack September 3-5, 2005 doing a 25 mile eastern loop section of the Allegheny Front Trail near State College, PA. Despite the incredibly perfect weather and the holiday weekend, it was only Brad, Beth and myself on the trip. Oh well, everyone else's loss.

Friday night we camped out in Black Moshannon State Park. The campground was surprisingly full given the seeming remoteness of this park. The main feature of the campground appeared to be the yellow jackets. They were everywhere. It was one of those places where you set up the empty can as bait at the far end of the table and always checked your drink before taking a swig. After dark we took a drive out to the lake for some naked eye stargazing. It is very dark in this area and we had a good look at the Milky Way. As an added bonus we saw the International Space Station fly by along the northern horizon.

Saturday morning we set up a small car shuttle to avoid a road walk and then set off from the south end of the park towards the Allegheny Front Trail. One of the reasons that I wanted to do this trail was that I had read very favorable write up's in magazines and the Internet about how wonderful the trail was and the excellent view points that it encompassed. As we moved along I was full of anticipation waiting for the first spectacular view that was marked on the excellent map we received at the park office. Soon enough we arrived at Ralph's Majestic Vista. The name conjures up images of a 270 degree view of a glorious landscape as opposed to the 20 degree view that Ralph's presented to us. Well maybe the next one will be better. That would be Ralph's Pretty Good View, an auspicious name to be sure. At best this was a 5 degree view. If there wasn't a sign declaring the view point we would have walked right past it. Surely the next one will be better. I declared the next one to be Ralph's @*$%#! view point since there was absolutely no view. Amazingly there was a bench installed to enjoy the utter lack of a view. The fourth view point? It's marked on the map but we never even saw it. Leaving the view points behind us we cruised long the AFT. There is a water shortage on the south eastern part of the loop so we had to go a little father than we had intended. We ended up camping amongst the short brush at a semi established site along Rock Run. The wine and cheese hour was as good as ever and with an added bonus this time, a bottle of Vodka.

Next day we added a loop through Rock Run off the AFT to add some miles on to our day. The topo made it look like it was a steep climb out but it turned out to be a very gentle grade on a wide trail. Not much to see on the north eastern part of the loop, just your typical trail. Although I might add that the trail was very soft with very few rocks, a delight for Pennsylvania. We debated camping at numerous campsites. The best by far was a spot along a wide part of a creek complete with a swimming hole and a rope swing. Unfortunately it was also by a dirt road. We speculated that this might be a popular spot with the local population and decided to keep on going towards the "numerous good sites" advertised to be near the next intersection. We passed a few good sites but decided to keep going towards the intersection where, whoops, there were no sites to be found. Back the way we came and we settled on a nice spot under some pine trees along Black Moshannon Creek. The wine and cheese hour was excellent once again. The Vodka getting passed around until empty.

Monday morning and we had a short day back out to the car and the post trip snack fest. We had a very nice weekend out on the AFT. The weather was great and we hardly saw anyone out on the trail. I'm still confused about the lack of WTC people and the lack of other people on the trail, but all the better for those of us out there. Overall my impressions of the trail didn't live up to my expectations. I'm big into scenic views and the AFT just doesn't deliver. However as a backpacking loop the AFT is plenty fine. The trail is easy on the feet, well marked, and seems to offer enough water and camping. That being said I don't think I will be back to finish the western loop.

Beth, Brad and Mark at the trailhead Beth is chomping at the bit to get that heavy pack on
A nice swampy area Ralph's "majestic" vista. Can you sense the dripping sarcasm here?
Ralph's "pretty good view". Pretty bad maybe Ralph's @*$%#! view point. Are you kidding me?
We're BOTH going to sleep in that tiny little tent? Campsite #1 area a little down stream from the beaver pond along Rock Run
Brad relaxes along the way Campsite #2 along the Shingle Mill Trail
Black Moshannon Creek Mark, Beth and Brad after enjoying the past trail feast


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