View Full Version : PA Weekend Loops?

01-09-2007, 20:02
First post!

Ok, some friends and I (5 of us) are looking to do a three day weekend loop. I think we can probablly do 10-15 miles of level hiking, about 8-11 varied, and maybe 7 or so up/down stuff a day. We've probablly spend a total of 3-4 weeks total out in the woods, but never anything longer then 3 days on the trail. Most of the time we are limited to 2-3 days of hiking.

So I'd say we are knowalgable backpackers, we have the right equipment, are fairly light, fairly in shape (all in our early 20's) and not afraid to push ourselves.

Problem is, normally we spend too much time driving, and not enough out on the trail.

From Lancaster PA, it takes us about 2.5-3hrs drive time to the Black Forest Trail. And about 3 or so to the West Rim. However there is alot of AT within an hour of us.

What my question is, seeing as we have just enough space for 5 people, not really enough stuff to warrant two cars and some of my buddies absolutely hate backtracking:

What are some of the "best" loops in PA for 2-3 days of backpacking?

We normally just do sections of the Black Forest Trail, but haven't ventured to the AT simply because in order to really enjoy it, you need to shuttle, correct?

I hear that South of the Susquehana it is not as enjoyable as North, so that kind of ruined my plans for doing Rt30 - Rt94 this weekend.

If I posted this in the wrong area, would a moderator direct me to where it should be posted?

Spirit Walker
01-09-2007, 21:01
The Chuck Keiper is a loop trail. Using the cross connector you have a 24 mile loop and a 30 mile loop. The entire trail is a 49 mile loop. You can also use Penrose Road to make two 25 or so mile loops. It's a challenging trail with some very steep climbs, but quite nice.

My favorite PA trail is the Donut Hole - but it's linear.

The Allegheny Front Trail has two loops - about 20-25 miles each. Loggers Path is a good two or three day loop.

Quehanna Trail is a very nice 60 mile trail that can be cut into smaller loops using ski trails and cross-connectors.

The Pinchot is a two day 23 mile very easy loop.

I didn't much care for the Thunderswamp, but it is a loop trail too.

Another interesting three day loop is actually south of you in Maryland - combine the Greenridge Trail (18 miles) with the C&O Canal. There is good camping and lots of water.

01-10-2007, 08:12
Hey, thanks for the info, though its hard to know which one to research first because I dont know which are closer?

so...which ones are closer to me?

The Donut Hole looks cool, but its a bit far away, even more so the BFT, and The Chuck Keiper looks interesting...but the dang DCNR maps are so had to read on the computer.

Thanks though, never even heard of these trails before.

Spirit Walker
01-10-2007, 12:31
I live in Maryland and have hiked all the trails I mentioned. They are all within reasonable distance, if you choose. Closest to you would be the CKT or Quehanna or Allegheny Front or the Greenridge loop. There is a map of PA trails on the Keystone Trails Association website. There is information on each trail. http://www.kta-hike.org/Trails/MapsGuides.shtml You can get free maps from the DCNR of the CKT and Quehanna Trails as well as the Forest Maps. The Allegheny Front Trail has its own website. http://alleghenyfronttrail.info/ It's not on the KTA map since it is a relatively new trail (actually about 10 years old now).

There are other trails closer to you, but they are all linear (i.e. Midstate, Link, Tuscarora, AT, Laurel Highlands).

01-10-2007, 18:26
The Allegheny Front looks really cool, have you done it Spirit Walker and what are your opinions of it? Decently remote or not so much?

My one buddy is very critical about the amount of roadways he sees while backpacking...i think we should start going for week long trips out west or something...because around here...your going to see a roadway or two.

01-10-2007, 18:31
Oh and I assume that most of the trails listed are camping allowed?

I mean...we are backpacking afterall...

Spirit Walker
01-10-2007, 20:45
All are backpacking trails, so you can camp. They are all pretty remote trails. We've hiked the CKT on July 4th weekend a couple of times - each time we saw only one other person. There were more people out there, judging by cars at the parking lots, but they spread out. Black Forest and West Rim trails are really the only ones that get a lot of use. The others feel very remote. You do pass hunting camps - but you rarely see anyone home, except on holiday weekends. You cross highways - that's what makes it so easy to do loops - but it isn't like hiking the Horseshoe Trail or the Conestoga -- you feel like you are out in the middle of nowhere. Makes for some spectacular star displays.

I've hiked the AFT - helped to build it too. Parts of it were really nice. I like that part of the state because it has lots of trees and meadows. The AFT is easier than most because you are up on the plateau - there isn't a lot of steep up and down. I seem to remember that you can hear the freeway on the northern part - your friend may have a problem with that. On the DHT there is an area where you can hear a pumping station abotu 5 miles away - it's wierd to hear that thump thump thump when you are in the middle of nowhere.

01-10-2007, 21:16
I also found the Old Loggers Path up near Williamsport. About the same drive time as the rest, but a slightly shorter loop, with camping pretty close to the park area.

I'm trying to find someplace where we can hike maybe...a mile or so the first night (Friday) then camp, then hike 10-12 Saturday, 10-12 Sunday, and finish up with 3-6 miles on Monday (we'd like to be home by 5 Monday night.)

01-11-2007, 00:02
The Old Loggers Path is a great 3-4 day trip. Me and 2 friends did this last may and it was really nice. You can camp right at the parking area the first night if you want. That's what we did since we got in so late at night friday night.

We are going to head back out someday because I blew my knee out about half way around the trail. Lucky for us some locals had been fishing and gave me a ride back to my truck after talking to them for about 45 minutes.

I have a picture that I just put out here (http://mysite.verizon.net/vze24vv5/brucesmith/). Click on it for the LARGE version. (It was 8 pictures I merged together)

01-11-2007, 00:30
Thanks alot for the help guys, I think we are going to end up trying the Chuck Keiper Trail due to the rain we're supposed to get, and the fact that we would rather be on the short side this weekend then the long.

We'll go up Friday night, setup camp somewhere close, and due a leisurely pace, hopefully either finishing Sunday night or Monday morning.

Thanks alot for the info, it will deffenantly help other weekend adventures this spring.