Lost Turkey Trail, PA Backpacking Trip

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This 26 mile moderate linear backpacking trip occurred the weekend of May 28-30, 2005. Participants included Paul Kaercher, Charlie Johnson, Chris and Bill Isham as well as myself.

Friday, May 28, 2005- It was a nice leisurely trip from Bristow, VA up to Blue Knob State Park Campground, PA. The weather was nice. I arrived early that afternoon, stopped at the ranger station and got a permit, chatted with the ranger for a bit, then went to the campsite.

It was about 3 hours before Bill and Chris I arrived. During that time, I set up the tent, walked a bit of the Lost Turkey Trail that circled the campground, studied the maps and guide and just chilled and enjoyed nature. The temperature would get cool as a dark cloud passed overhead and then get warm as the sun returned.

After Bill and Chris arrived, we kibitzed for awhile, started a fire and ate a good meal. It started raining around 8PM, then stopped around 8:30. This was an omen on how the weekend would turn out. We retired by 9PM.

Saturday, May 29, 2005- Got up at 6AM, ate, packed up and went to meet Paul K at the southern trailhead. This was Paul's first hike with us. He would prove to be a true Rag Tag Ranger. I drove Paul back to the campground and to Bill and Chris. We arrived at around 9ish and there met Charlie J. Paul and Charlie wanted to start the hike at the northern trailhead on top of Blue Mountain about a mile away. Bill, Chris and I wanted to start at the campground. Therefore, I drove Paul and Charlie to the northern trailhead and drove back to the campground. So we started the hike around 9:30AM.

The first few miles were a big down. The trail was red blazed. It started raining as we started this hike. The rain would continue all morning and into the afternoon, making this a 'not so fun' hike.

We crossed a road at around 3 miles and and Childrens Monument dedicated to the Cox Children around 4 miles. We then started a gradual up, which lasted about a mile. The up, as well as the rain, got worse. We got to the top of the mountain around the 5 mile mark, stayed on top for a few hundred feet, then started a very steep down to the Bob's Creek. We had to cross a wire bridge to get across the creek (see pictures). We then ate lunch at the rivers edge and waited for Paul and Charlie, who had not joined us yet. This was around the 6 mile mark.

Charlie and Paul showed up within 15 minutes. The rain looked like it was going to stop, then it got heavy again. We discussed our bailout options.

We had a short level stretch, then a long slippery up along the side of a mountain that contained uprooted trees, bad tread and dangerous conditions. This up lasted a mile. Then, at around the 7.5 mile mark, we got on an old logging road and were ridging for the next 1.5 miles. This was a welcome relief. The trail then went down hill, crossed a stream and then PA869. This was at the 9.5 mile mark.

The rain had finally stopped by mid afternoon. We discussed our options. We decided to camp at around the 10 mile mark. We got to a confluence of streams at around the 10 mile mark and decided to push on a little more to the next stream crossing. We then could not find the next stream crossing. So we decided to camp where the old railroad grade that we were hiking on switchbacked since we were very tired.

We were worried about water. But Paul found a nearby spring and saved the day. So this became an ideal campsite instantly. We set up our tents and ate. Then it started raining again around 7:30PM. So we retired for the night. We ended up doing about 10.5 miles the first day on some challenging trail along with some strong rain.

Sunday, May 30, 2005-We heard some animal noises during the night, but no one saw anything. We ate, got packed up and started out around 8:30AM. The big question was: do we hike the remaining 16 miles of this trail today or just 10 miles and camp. We decided that the trail would give us the answer.

We were again on old railroad grades the first few miles. Maximum 4 percent grade. It was a long up. We didn't get as high as the northern terminous at Blue Knob at 3014 feet, but at 2500 feet, we could see our starting point the day before.

We crested around 12 miles, had a level walk for about a mile, turned left, took a break, had some blips, had some real trail for awhile and then got on snow mobile trails at around the 17 mile mark. There were supposed to be kilometer markers every kilometer on this trail. However, only about half of them were still there. The DCNR did a great job at removing blowdowns on this trail, as we only encountered 3 or 4 the entire trip. The guide made mention of beaver dams around the 19 mile mark, but we did not see any.

The guide also said that we would be on snowmobile trails from this point on. However, the last mile or so was on typical trail, including Pennsylvania rocks. We decided at this point that, if we had good trail the rest of the way, that we would eat a meal around 5PM, then take it in. The trail did have some blips, but it was very good trail. We got a few sprinkles around this point. But they soon stopped and the rest of the day was clear.

We found a picnic table and shelter at around the 22 mile mark. We stopped there to eat. The shelter was not that great but would do in a pinch. After dinner, we felt rejuvinated. Charlie saw his first porcupine. We took pictures. So we did the last 4 miles and finished the trail around 7PM.

This was a great trail to hike on. It was mostly on well graded old roads, railroad beds and snowmobile trails. There were good maps and guides. We didn't see any other hikers on the trail that weekend. So I was glad that we were able to hike this trail in 2 days instead of 2.5. I guess we're not over the hill after all.

Mike C

More Pictures

Blue Knob Campground Campsite
  Blue Knob Campground Campsite.
  By Mike Calabrese
Chris I crossing Bobs Creek
  Chris I crossing Bobs Creek.
  By Mike Calabrese
Campsite around mile 10
  Campsite around mile 10.
  By Mike Calabrese
Mike C at campsite
  Mike C at campsite.
  By Paul Kaercher
Chris and Bill I at campsite
  Chris and Bill I at campsite.
  By Paul Kaercher
Wild Orchid
  Wild Orchid.
  By Paul Kaercher
Taking a break around mile 20
  Taking a break around mile 20.
  By Charlie Johnson
Shelter near mile 22
  Shelter near mile 22.
  By Charlie Johnson




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