Loyalsuck Trail - Worlds End State Park to Hillsgrove Ranger Station - June 22-23, 2006
Trip theme - How about a little trail maintenance (recurring)
This was a Wilmington Trail Club backpack June 22-23, 2005 doing a 19 mile section of the Loyalsock trail from Worlds End State Park to Hillsgrove Ranger Station. Tom, Glenn and myself camped at WESP the night before where we enjoyed a few cold ones. I had originally planned on bringing my telescope up for the dark skies in this area, but alas the forecast was for clouds and thunderstorms so the scope stayed at home. I'll warn you now, I'm going to whine about trail maintenance a lot.
We set out in the morning after looking at the ominous weather radar in the state park office. It'll probably just be a scattered shower I thought. We said good luck to a group of young girls heading out in the other direction (we should have gone the way they did) and set out up the trail. 15 minutes later it started to rain. We stopped to contemplate the rain gear situation and eventually succumbed. I went with tops and bottoms and the others just went with tops. Good thing we put something on because it flat out started to pour. And pour and pour and pour. It rained solid, quite hard at times, for a good 3 hours. The trail itself was perplexing. There were beautiful red tin can blazes all over the trail that marked the path excellently. However the trail itself was horrible. There were washed out sections, there were really muddy sections, and there were a lot of heavily over grown sections. Perfect for a rainy day. At one point Glenn stopped Tom to tell him that something was coming out of his boots. Turns out it was Tom's foot inserts that had somehow come out of each boot. There was so much water in his boots that they literally floated out of his boots with his feet in them. The rain stopped somewhere around lunch time, but it was hard to tell as we stayed wet from having to essentially bushwhack while on the trail. If it hadn't stopped raining we were going to head back on the Worlds End Trail and bag the trip, but since it wasn't raining we pushed on. We camped 11 miles south of WESP along a creek with a pretty water fall. I have never felt like I backpacked so slow in my life and it turns out that it took us over 7 hours to cover the distance. It wasn't that we were moving that slow, it just took forever due to the rain and the crummy trail maintenance. I commented that evening that I had never felt so tired after a lousy 11 miles. It threatened to rain all evening but never did. Glenn whipped out his trusty Whisperlite to cook dinner, and then subsequently whipped it away in frustration. Another Whisperlite bites the dust, but so does my amusement at watching Glenn operate it. We put the fuel to good use though by building a fire. We had it going pretty good with all the wet wood, but we got over anxious with the big logs and it died down. Losing interest, we let it go. My prediction for the next 24 hours was scattered showers through the night and partly cloudy skies for the next day.
It didn't rain all night long and we awoke to partly cloudy skies. Heading up the trail I considered that the LT seemed like the opposite of the AT. Whereas the AT would take the shortest route and go by all the scenic spots. The LT seemed to go out of its way to avoid the scenic spots and to take the most circuitous route. We got to the top of the first climb and the trail maintenance went from bad to worse. The weeds and berry bushes were so tall as to be neck high, though the berries were ripe and plentiful (YUM!). We got soaked again as there was still a substantial amount of water clinging to the plants. At least today the sun was out. Several times we had to stop and contemplate where the trail went as it was so overgrown we couldn't figure out where to go. The system was to either head off in several likely directions and look for a red marker, or alternately look for places where you weren't stepping on stalks (that meant it was trail). The penultimate moment for trail maintenance came when we crossed the road to High Knob overlook. This section of the LT was short and in between two sections of paved road, therefore it should have been well maintained. Unfortunately this section was heavily overgrown and very poor trail. Glenn slightly twisted his ankle by stepping in a hidden hole while climbing over a fallen tree. Finally we got off the LT and checked out the High Knob overlook where we enjoyed perfect weather and crystal clear views. Now this is what things should be like. The trail down was more of the same, less overgrowth but a lot more mud. It wasn't entirely clear which trail we were suppose to follow (we followed the red trail), but it appears like we followed the wrong trail most of the way back. The yellow marked High Knob trail was what we were suppose to be on. Oh well, at least we got back. We made better time today but the wear and tear of the Loyalsock trail took its toll. We ate afterwards at the High Knob Inn where we had wings in their special sauce (along with beer and burgers). They were some of the best wings I have ever had!
In case you hadn't guessed, my opinion of the Loyalsock trail is less than stellar. As most folks know, I am certainly one who loves a challenging trail and sometimes goes out of my way to do things the hard (fun) way. And I suppose outside of summer time this trail might be fun, however there is no excuse for a trail that is maintained by a club to be in this poor of condition. They have a lame statement on their website about needing to wear long pants, but they hadn't even made an attempt to beat back the bushes or fix any number of problem areas on the trail. I would be embarrassed if I was associated with maintaining that section of trail. I'm sure its fine during drier months, but I have a sour taste in my mouth and won't likely be back. Although I might have to swing by the area to get some more wings!
Final verdict: The trail sucks but Tom's and Glenn's company was great.
|Tom and Glenn at the WESP trailhead||Tom's inserts literally floated out of his boots while he was walking. Unbelievable....|
|Checking out a semi-view when it wasn't raining||Yea, we're having a "great" time....|
|Oh wait, we are having a great time. What a great day!||Glenn returns from reading about the blight. It's the timber companies fault!|
|Damnit, we've been on the wrong trail. Good thing the red trail met up with the actual trail||Uh Tom. I don't think you are suppose to bathe in the parking lot|
|We enjoy great weather at the terminus of the trip||These are some of the best wings I have ever had in my life!|
Back to the hiking page
Back to the home page