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Allegheny Trail from Durbin to Cass, WV Backpacking Trip

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The Allegheny Trail backpacking trip was held from May 23-24, 1998. Only 3 participants this trip: Bill Isham, his wife Chris and me. We met on Friday night, May 22, at one of the restored cottages at Cass Scenic Railroad State Park in Cass, WV. These cottages are from the turn of the century and
The Allegheny Trail above Greenbank, WV

At right, the Allegheny Trail above Greenbank, WV.
By Mike Calabrese

were used as company houses for the local saw mill workers. They retain their original appearance on the outside, but have been gutted and restored to a modern cottage on the inside. We cooked hamburgers and hot dogs, walked down to the Greenbriar River and discovered a new friend for the weekend. A very nice yellow lab dog wandered into the yard and, me being the softy that I am,

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gave him some of our hot dogs. Well, he was our friend for the weekend. He slept right at our door at night and was always there for another hot dog. We called him Buddy.

It started raining early Saturday morning, the 23rd. It continued raining very hard all morning. We decided to go to the National Radio Astronomy Telescopes
at Greenbank, WV for a tour. We saw a slide show and took a bus tour in the rain. It was quite informative. From there, we visited some local shops, then went back to the cottage. It was starting to clear up. The weather forecast on the local radio station wasn't promising, but we decided to go for it.

So we drove my car to the northern trailhead at Durbin, WV and started off down a country road and up into the woods around 12 noon on Saturday. This was going to be a character builder. Right away, we went up 480 feet the first mile. Then it was constantly up, then down, then up, then down for the next 18.8 miles. The elevation changes throughout the trail ranged from 2700 to 3500 feet. However, I counted about 2,000 up steps and 2,350 down steps along this trail. Like I said, it was a character builder.

The first day was not as scenic as the second. The Rhododendron had already bloomed, however, we walked through Rhodo tunnels, which were neat. We crossed some streams, saw some remains of deer and broke for camp beside Laurel Run at around the 8.6-mile mark.

The camp site was perfect. We pitched our tents over beds of moss, which were very soft to sleep on. We did not see another hiker either day even though it was Memorial Day weekend.
Our basecamp for the weekend

At left, our basecamp for the weekend.
By Mike Calabrese

Talk about solitude. The weather was overcast and remained fairly dry until about 7am Sunday morning. I got up early and got my water. I was about to eat breakfast when it started raining cats and dogs again. It again came down hard for about an hour. We ate in our tents. When it started letting up, we packed up and were back on the trail around 9:30 am.

The second day was more scenic. We hiked along Laurel Run for awhile, then climbed Little Mountain and were then hiking along old logging roads. We walked above the satellite dishes of the NRAO that we had seen close up by bus the previous day. We also followed the old blue blazed Little Mountain Trail for a short stint. Again there were a lot of ups, and a lot of downs. Did I say this hike was a character builder?

Around 2pm we encountered another torrential downpour, which lasted about 20 minutes. We also encountered a Copperhead snake coiled up right on the trail. He must have just had lunch, as he was very lethargic. We walked off the trail and around him just to be on the safe side. We then walked along an old railroad grade, which became a road, which brought us back to Cass Scenic Railroad Park, where we started. Ironically, the trail continued down an old railroad track and right past our cottage. But that was it for us.

We took it easy the rest of the day, had a country pizza that night at a local store, and then retired early. Monday morning, May 25, we took the 2-hour train ride on the Cass Scenic railroad, which was very interesting and worth the fare, said our good-byes, then went home.
Our friend for the weekend 'Buddy'

At right, our friend for the weekend 'Buddy'.
By Mike Calabrese

This trail was in good shape. The blazes were fairly consistent and there were not that many blowdowns across the trail. What I found interesting was that, on some parts of this trail, there wasn't really a trail there. You just walked in a forest among the blazes. This would be a great trail for someone

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who wants to escape the crowds found along the AT. These are big mountains so you definitely get a workout. However, I would recommend this trail only to the experienced backpacker because of its rugged and remote nature. I would also recommend hiking this trail from Cass to Durbin as there seemed to be more uphill walking the direction that we were going (Durbin to Cass). Also, it would make a great long weekend to hike the trail and see the sites around Pocahontas County, WV.

The Allegheny Trail is a character builder. It also is a beautiful area and deserves to be explored. I know that I will return to this area again some day soon!

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Mike C

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