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View Full Version : NCT (PA): RT66 north to RT666 (Henry's Mills)



tlbj6142
06-17-2008, 17:22
Where: NCT in the Allegheny National Forest (ANF) from RT66 north to RT666 (Henryís Mills) ~48.5 miles

When: 12-June-2008 thru 15-June-2008

Shuttle:
Prior to leaving I had arranged a shuttle by contacting the ANF chapter of the NCT at [email protected] They put me in contact with the chapter president, Keith Klos, who agreed to pick us up on Thursday at 2:30pm at RT666 and drive us to the RT 66 trailhead. Keith didnít want money, but suggested I make a donation to his chapter, so I did.

Trail:
Thursday my father and I hiked ~9 miles until 8:30pm. We stayed at the camp along Little Salmon Creek. This first section is a bit overgrown (I told Keith), otherwise it is fairly easy. We lost the trail a few times, but not for longer than a few minutes. There is an AT-style shelter, in a beautiful setting, about 6 miles from the trailhead we started, but we didnít stay. We also passed a few non-operational (currently) oil/gas wells along the way.

Friday we left camp at 8am, the overgrowth continued until we were a couple miles south of Kellettville. Except for a few very short sections, the rest of the trail is clear from this point North. We stopped by Cougar Bobís Tavern in Kellettville for lunch and to sit out our first of three nasty thunderstorms for the weekend. We were back on the trail by 4pm and continued our hike until 9pm at the Beaver Run camp (~17miles).

Saturday at 12am, our 2nd nasty thunderstorm came thru. It continued to rain most of the night, but I stayed dry in my HH. Around 8am a light rain started up again, we hit the trail by 9am. And just to make sure everything was good and wet; we had a 3rd thunderstorm at 4pm. We had several long level sections which allowed us to reach Hunterís Station (a shelter) along Upper Sheriff Run by 6pm (~17miles).

Sunday we left camp by 8am, hiked past several operating gas/oil wells and reached our car by 11:20am (~5miles).

Comments:
If it werenít for the ugly weather and the overgrown trail the first ~12 miles (Keith told me he would make cleaning up this section a priority), Iíd say this was an easy hike as there are very few hills and most are short and not too steep. There are plenty of switchbacks on the two or three longer climbs. Water is readily available every 2-3 miles at high flowing creeks. This would be a great place for a fall and/or winter hike. 90% of the trail is wooded, but the canopy is high and thin allowing in quite a bit of sun (when available). The undergrowth is 80% ferns. We had very few problems with bugs on this trip. I never bothered to use DEET. The mosquitoes were bad at the Minister Creek camp we stopped at for a break Saturday afternoon.

We saw one day hiker on Thursday, no one (on the trail) Friday, 2 day hikers and 2 backpackers on Saturday. According to the several trail logs (at the shelters and some of the trailheads) we were a day or half-a-day behind a Scout troop doing a 50-miler. We used the NCT maps I purchased off their website (www.northcountrytrail.org (http://www.northcountrytrail.org/)). I wish the scale was a bit better, as at 1:100K some of the details are lost. But they worked. All but the first 3 miles are found on a single map, PA-01. Due to its format, the available trail guide is nearly useless for those, like us, hiking north.

Iíll post a link to a few pictures (didnít get the camera out much due to the rain) later.

tlbj6142
06-17-2008, 17:51
Photos...

http://picasaweb.google.com/yellowjacketlite/NorthCountryTrailANF

Lyle
06-17-2008, 23:16
Thanks for the report and the Photos. I haven't hiked that section, but have hiked some in the McConnell Mill area. Beautiful!

tlbj6142
06-17-2008, 23:53
Thanks for the report and the Photos. I haven't hiked that section, but have hiked some in the McConnell Mill area. Beautiful!It was really nice. I was thinking it would be just another eastern US boring long green tunnel type hike, but it was not. Sure it is in the woods, but they are so "open". Sort of like having views under the trees.

At first I thought it might be a bit busy when the weather is nice as it is readily accessible to those in Pittsburgh, Cleveland/Akron, Buffalo, etc. And it is a fairly easy trail with plenty of campsites/shelters, water and access points. Making it great for novice backpackers. Given all that, I didn't see as much overuse as I expected. Except for the camp with bugs I mentioned above as you can reach it from a short day hike type trail as well as the NCT. The other shelters/camps didn't look too bad. I've seen far, far worst.

There are snowmobile trails in the area, so I have to think they must get quite a bit of lake effect snow. Which means it might be good for snowshoeing.

I'll go back. It is easier to reach than my normal close-to-home backpacking grounds (dolly sods and cranberry wilderness, WV). Would be good for kids, if you could figure out the logistics of a shorter type hike. I wish there were more options for loop hikes. But I think the area is cut up quite a bit by the logging and/or gas/oil wells in the area. So, while the ANF is huge, the area available for hiking trails isn't.

Pootz
06-24-2008, 20:08
The last time I hikes this section a couple years ago there was a leaking gas well near Henry's Mills. It smelled up the whole area and oil was also leaching into the nearby stream. It was right by the new shelter that was put near the the old hunters shelter. I reported it. Is it still leaking?

tlbj6142
06-25-2008, 09:03
The last time I hikes this section a couple years ago there was a leaking gas well near Henry's Mills. It smelled up the whole area and oil was also leaching into the nearby stream. It was right by the new shelter that was put near the the old hunters shelter. I reported it. Is it still leaking?You smell gas (Natural Gas) on and off throughout the hike. Though we noticed it more in the first ~15 miles. I do recall some gas smell near the shelter, but I don't remember seeing oil anywhere on the trip. I had my hammock out by the stream so I didn't noticed the gas at all. My dad put his tent inside the shelter and didn't complain (as he often does), so it most not have been too bad.

Pootz
06-25-2008, 09:55
Sounds like they must have repaired the leak. It was really bad by the shelter when I was there. Would not have been a place to stay it was so bad. This is good news. I am glad you enjoyed your hike.

The NCT trail goes within .6 miles of my camp in clarion county. I would love for the NCT to get as popular as the AT so I could open up a hostle or provide trail magic in this section. Maybe some day.

tlbj6142
06-25-2008, 09:59
It was really bad by the shelter when I was there. Would not have been a place to stay it was so bad. It doesn't help that the shelter is located in the middle of a small ditch, so the gas can "pool" around the shelter. The old shelter was on top of one of the sides of the ditch so the gas would have pooled below the shelter. We had quite a bit of wind, so that might have helped as well.

partly cloudy
08-05-2008, 10:50
When I was building that shelter, a main gas line, 8 inch dia. pulled apart about 300 yards upstream. I could see a mist hanging in the valley. I notified the owner and he made a temporary repair. At the dedication, 2 weeks later, I had the ANF supervisor look at the repairs. She was not impressed. Shortly after that, the owner made good perminent repairs and the gas small was gone. But, with asll the OGM development in the area, it's hard not to smell a little gas.
The shelter was erected using recommendations from Whiteblaze members. It all worked fine guys, thanks.
The overgrown sections south of Kelletville are getting their due attention. The Forest Service has had a YCC group down there for a few days and I have run the DR mower over a bad section. Only one section yet to do, south side of Guiton Run.
Pootz ,,,,, I'm like you. I wish the trail was used more. But not as much as the AT. In the 5 years I have been involved with the trail, I have over 1000 volunteer hours, and I am only one of the few that do trail work.
Yellowjacket Come back anytime. I enjoyed your company for a short time. Your trail report is what I look for to do spot maintenance.

LT MAC
02-25-2009, 07:33
how complete is the section of the NCT between McConnell Mill state park and the allegheny river? My wife and I owned a house about 3 miles from a road crossing in a small (really small) town called Bruin. I loved being able to jump on that trail whenever i wanted. The sections east of the Allegheny river are very clear and well maintained, but they are segmented.

My cousin and I hiked from Mconnell's mill to the river one summer. We were able to piece together small chunks of trail and using a topo map and a compas, dead reakon to the next trail head. We had a great time, but it was a long process.

I was wondering if the small sections have been consolodated yet. I would love to spend more time on that trail.

I remember the most difficult part was near a highschool (Montrasori I think). it was actually used as part of their cross country course. once we saw the arrows for the runners, we lost the trail.

Oh, and the smell of natural gas is the most common thing your nose will find in that whole area. if the well is not leaking, it is probably dry.

partly cloudy
02-28-2009, 20:48
LT MAC
The best way to gain information about the NCT between McConnells Mill and the Allegheny River is to contact the chapters. This can be done thru the NCT website www.northcountrytrail.org (http://www.northcountrytrail.org) and go to chapters and partners.
I know of considerable problems with private landowners in this area. But the chapters are working hard to convince them the trail is a good idea and will not harm their property. There is a nice section thru Moraine State Parkl and the NCT hostel at Davis Hollow. ( open seasonally )

medicjimr
03-03-2009, 14:07
Does Pa maintain this trail. The reason I ask is it seems like a not so popular trails compared to others or is it one of those best kept secret trails. I am trying to find a few trails close to home I live north of pittsburgh Have hiked a little of the quehhanna trail will go back again but was looking for others. thanks

partly cloudy
03-20-2009, 20:45
Does Pa maintain this trail. The reason I ask is it seems like a not so popular trails compared to others or is it one of those best kept secret trails. I am trying to find a few trails close to home I live north of pittsburgh Have hiked a little of the quehhanna trail will go back again but was looking for others. thanks

The Allegheny National Forest chapter of the North Country Trail maintains the 100 miles of trail from Rt 66 to the N.Y. state line. We rely on hikers trip reports to do the immediate maintenance. Upgrading of the trail and re-routes are normal thru out the year. Presently, we are paint blazing the entire trail, doing away with the plastic blue diamonds.

I like to think it's well kept secret, but would like more hikers to enjoy the forest. You don't need a permit to camp anywhere in the forest. ( except close to the Kinzua Reservoir) But please practice LNT.

medicjimr
03-22-2009, 15:14
thanks for info parly cloudy