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  1. #1
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    Default Raccoon Creek SP, PA dayhike

    I spent today in Raccoon Creek SP. PittHiker, who started the AT at the end of April, suggested it for shakedown hikes. I went out tody to recon the campsites.
    76 HawkMtn w/Rangers
    13 HF>CramptonsG
    14 LHHT
    15 Girard/Quebec/LostTurkey/Saylor/Tuscarora/BlackForest
    16 Kennerdell/Cranberry-Otter/DollyS/WRim-NCT
    17 BearR
    18 NOBO AT halfway

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    As I was trying to say before I was overcome by technology - the SP runs NW and SE of PA18, I hiked the northern portion, that's where the camp and tent sites are. I scaled the distance off the SP map and USGS topo as about 9 miles, timewise it seemed like 11+ miles. I went clockwise, up the Heritage Trail and back down the Forest Trail. I intend to get to the southern side soon.

    http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/statepar.../raccooncreek/

    http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/cs/group...cnr_003204.pdf

    The trail is mostly hiking only, except for the Appaloosa portion which is multiuse with horses.

    The hiking only trailway is narrow, only a foot or two, dirt not rocky and covered with leaf litter and pine needles. After yesterday's rain portions were very muddy, especially where it went straight downhill, the contour portions were drier. The hills were not bad. The trails are blazed but aren't confusing, not many side trails, etc. The Heritage trail was maybe overblazed, at times I could see four or more blazes.

    The two campsites, Pioneer and Sioux, both had five Adirondack type shelters and five tent sites. The shelters seemed well built and were clean, each had a broom and dustpan on a stick. No sign of mice. Each shelter had a fire ring and some had picnic tables. There was a bear pole at each site. The Pioneer site is laid out around the top of a valley and is nicer than Sioux, which is flatter. Water by pump, cinder block pit privies.

    My evolving plan would be to start Friday after work at the Park HQ and head north up the Forest trail to Pioneer Camp, reverse of what I did today. Saturday morning continue north up Forest and south down Heritage, cross PA18 and hike the southern loop. Camp Saturday night at Sioux Camp and return to the Park HQ Sunday by the internal trails. It may total to about 30 miles.

    You have to register for the campsites and can do it on line at the Park website.

    I had a great time today, it helped that the weather was good after the rain yesterday.
    76 HawkMtn w/Rangers
    13 HF>CramptonsG
    14 LHHT
    15 Girard/Quebec/LostTurkey/Saylor/Tuscarora/BlackForest
    16 Kennerdell/Cranberry-Otter/DollyS/WRim-NCT
    17 BearR
    18 NOBO AT halfway

  3. #3

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    The portion east of US30 was a pleasant walk for me. Schenley Park has nice trails, and some elevation change, although minor by AT standards. You could walk up and down some of the steeper sections repeatedly for training, if that is not too boring.

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    I do 13 miles in Frick Park, from the cemetary down to the river and up every hill. You are right, the hills are only about 400', not the climbs out of some of the gaps on the AT. I do a couple of loops to hit the hills, stay off the main trails and dodge the bikers on their trails. A nice plus is the concession stand for soda at the Blue Slide ballfield after climbing the Iron Grate Trail. I cook up lunch there too. I did most of it in the rain last Saturday. Raccoon was much nicer on Sunday.
    76 HawkMtn w/Rangers
    13 HF>CramptonsG
    14 LHHT
    15 Girard/Quebec/LostTurkey/Saylor/Tuscarora/BlackForest
    16 Kennerdell/Cranberry-Otter/DollyS/WRim-NCT
    17 BearR
    18 NOBO AT halfway

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    I did the SE portion of the park yesterday. A more careful scaling of the distances gives 10.6 miles to the NW and 8.4 miles to the SE, total about 19 miles for the whole loop. The trails are soft, not rocky, some covered with pine needles.The ups and downs aren't bad, there's only about 375' of relief in the whole park. There's a great section of tall pines that was reforested when the park was created. Saw the biggest snake of the year so far, a 4' black snake resting on a tree trunk - per our long standing agreement, I left him alone and he left me alone.

    East roadside has picnic tables, grills and bathrooms with city water. The trail bridge below the dam was out, believe the posted signs and take the road detour.

    It was a good day in the 70s with just a short period of light drizzle.

    I'm not saying that there was anything bad in the pump water last month, but I paid for it the week after I was out there. I think it was just the difference between the well water and city water. Just to be safe (and practice) I filtered the water at the east roadside yesterday.

    My plan continues to be what I have above - hike in to Pioneer Friday night, go counterclockwise around the Racoon Loop Saturday, Souix Camp Saturday night, and out Sunday. Saturday might be a 16.5 mile day, a little long, you could cut off maybe 3 miles by cutting across an internal trail on the NW loop.
    76 HawkMtn w/Rangers
    13 HF>CramptonsG
    14 LHHT
    15 Girard/Quebec/LostTurkey/Saylor/Tuscarora/BlackForest
    16 Kennerdell/Cranberry-Otter/DollyS/WRim-NCT
    17 BearR
    18 NOBO AT halfway

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    Back out to Racoon SP today, did the northwestern loop again to do something different from my usual local trails.

    Was going to do it yesterday but it rained all day. I took the chance today, it only drizzled for the first hour. Eventually got up into the 70s and humidity went up a bit, bottom line - I was wet all day.

    Trails were muddy, like before, some downhills were slick. Good day though, I didn't fall anywhere. Lunch again at Pioneer campsite, nobody else was around. All the tentsites were well drained, number 1 seems the best. Shelters 1 and 2 are on the trail throught the campsite, 3 and 4 a little away, and 5 the most separate.

    I rediscovered (again) that alcohol flames are invisible in daylight. I jerked when I was lighting my stove and splashed some burning fuel on my finger. It got hot real fast, beat it out against my leg, got a nice little blister forming.


    Some trail thoughts:

    Ferns look nice along a trail, but I think that they're tick condos.
    There may be something to gaiters for a wet muddy trail.
    Horses really tear up a mixed use trail when it's wet.
    If dog owners have to clean up after them, why don't horse owners?
    76 HawkMtn w/Rangers
    13 HF>CramptonsG
    14 LHHT
    15 Girard/Quebec/LostTurkey/Saylor/Tuscarora/BlackForest
    16 Kennerdell/Cranberry-Otter/DollyS/WRim-NCT
    17 BearR
    18 NOBO AT halfway

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    Quote Originally Posted by RangerZ View Post
    Back out to Racoon SP today, did the northwestern loop again to do something different from my usual local trails.

    Was going to do it yesterday but it rained all day. I took the chance today, it only drizzled for the first hour. Eventually got up into the 70s and humidity went up a bit, bottom line - I was wet all day.

    Trails were muddy, like before, some downhills were slick. Good day though, I didn't fall anywhere. Lunch again at Pioneer campsite, nobody else was around. All the tentsites were well drained, number 1 seems the best. Shelters 1 and 2 are on the trail throught the campsite, 3 and 4 a little away, and 5 the most separate.

    I rediscovered (again) that alcohol flames are invisible in daylight. I jerked when I was lighting my stove and splashed some burning fuel on my finger. It got hot real fast, beat it out against my leg, got a nice little blister forming.


    Some trail thoughts:

    Ferns look nice along a trail, but I think that they're tick condos.
    There may be something to gaiters for a wet muddy trail.
    Horses really tear up a mixed use trail when it's wet.
    If dog owners have to clean up after them, why don't horse owners?
    Other items:

    A whole bunch of spiders are PO'd with me for crashing through their webs on the trails, I was expecting their big brothers to come after me like a bad SyFy movie.
    I don't know which was more bothersome - swatting away the bugs or brushing off the spiderwebs.
    Thanks to whoever in PA DCNR for installing benches in the middle of nowhere.
    Somebody in PA DCNR likes to paint blazes.
    76 HawkMtn w/Rangers
    13 HF>CramptonsG
    14 LHHT
    15 Girard/Quebec/LostTurkey/Saylor/Tuscarora/BlackForest
    16 Kennerdell/Cranberry-Otter/DollyS/WRim-NCT
    17 BearR
    18 NOBO AT halfway

  8. #8
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    RangerZ, There are many other "training" opportunities within a few hours of Pittsburgh: Oil Creek SP, south of Oil City, where you can make some loops and reserve shelters; Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail (70 miles) if you can arrange a shuttle; the Quehanna Trail near Parker Dam SP has many options for weekend loops with lots of vertical on some to emulate GA on the AT. Further afield, there the Black Forest Trail (a 3 day loop) near Williamsport. In nearby WV, you can figure loop hikes in Monongahela NF at Dolly Sods or Otter Creek Wilderness areas. Not that there's anything wrong with Racoon Ck.
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    Quote Originally Posted by handlebar View Post
    RangerZ, There are many other "training" opportunities within a few hours of Pittsburgh: Oil Creek SP, south of Oil City, where you can make some loops and reserve shelters; Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail (70 miles) if you can arrange a shuttle; the Quehanna Trail near Parker Dam SP has many options for weekend loops with lots of vertical on some to emulate GA on the AT. Further afield, there the Black Forest Trail (a 3 day loop) near Williamsport. In nearby WV, you can figure loop hikes in Monongahela NF at Dolly Sods or Otter Creek Wilderness areas. Not that there's anything wrong with Racoon Ck.
    Roger, it's just that Racoon is close. I also wanted to see how the tentsites took the rain.

    I'm thinking about doing the Laurel Highlands Trail SOBO in Aug/Sep, get my wife to drop me off and pick me up, I'd rather finish at Ohiopyle.

    My nephew is getting married 1 Nov in lovely Minersville, PA (think 501 Shelter) and my inlaws are in Allentown (think lovely Palmerton, PA), about 55 miles apart. I may try that as an early winter walk depending on the weather.
    76 HawkMtn w/Rangers
    13 HF>CramptonsG
    14 LHHT
    15 Girard/Quebec/LostTurkey/Saylor/Tuscarora/BlackForest
    16 Kennerdell/Cranberry-Otter/DollyS/WRim-NCT
    17 BearR
    18 NOBO AT halfway

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    Keystone Trails Association (KTA) had done some of the work at Raccoon Creek through the Trail Care volunteer program http://www.kta-hike.org/index.php?op...d=19&Itemid=37 in past years - I remember helping to carry in some of the bench lumber. If you look at the schedule for next month (Aug 2014) there is a KTA Trail Care event at a state park in northern PA, along a non-rocky section of Mid State Trail.

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    Back out to Raccoon this weekend, mainly to try out a new Osprey Atmos 65 pack. I loaded it to about 35 pounds, more than I needed for just two nights. Everything I wanted fit into the pack and its pockets. I don't like the hip belt pockets, they're small and located back where the belt meets the pack. Same for the water bottle pockets, I couldn't reach them to get a bottle out; dirty water bag and filter fit in one side and tent poles/stakes in the other. I used my water reservoir instead, drained all 3 liters in the 90 degree heat. The big pocket on the lid held what I wanted close at hand.

    I liked the way it carried though, it felt good against my back and on my hips. Everything fit well.

    I fixed a hanging dirty water bag, Sawyer mini filter, hose to filter into my reservoir. Hung it from a tree and it worked well gravity filtering. I still don't trust the well water out there.

    Tent sites were fine but had to take down the tent in the rain this morning, that's in another thread. Got changed and everything packed in the bag before I got out to strike the tent, it's surprising what you can do in a small space.

    I got about 20' of reflectix for $3 at a recycle place and made new cozies for this trip. Better made and worked better than my old ones, kept the FBC and my morning tea hotter.

    Walked the road into the Souix area with my 35 pounds past the car campers with their loaded SUVs, that's camping at a different scale. Some kids walked down to see how the other half lived.
    76 HawkMtn w/Rangers
    13 HF>CramptonsG
    14 LHHT
    15 Girard/Quebec/LostTurkey/Saylor/Tuscarora/BlackForest
    16 Kennerdell/Cranberry-Otter/DollyS/WRim-NCT
    17 BearR
    18 NOBO AT halfway

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    A short report about a short trip ... I went back out to Raccoon on Monday/Tuesday for a fast overnight before the high temps dropped below freezing this week. I wanted cold but dry.

    I did the 11 mile NW portion of the Raccoon Loop from the Park HQ - up the Heritage Trail and down the Forest Trail to the Pioneer Campsite and back to HQ. On Monday the trails were wet leaf covered and muddy, after the temps dropped the leaves were freeze dried and the trails hardened up. My measure of success is that I only slipped and fell once on Monday.

    The temps on Monday were just above freezing. I was okay in my soft shell with gloves. I didn't put on a long base layer until bedtime.

    They've added individual fire rings at the tent sites at Pioneer. It's a nice touch but I couldn't get more than a small twig fire going, things were just too damp. I had envisioned reading by a fire with a hot drink but gave it up. I was in the tent and bag by 8 PM. Read until 10, first using my soft shell as a pillow but the temps fell and I had to put it on to keep my arms out of the bag to hold the book. Overnight low reported at the airport was 22, I was fine in my Sierra Designs Zissou23 bag.

    The inside of the fly on my CS1 was pretty well frosted over in the morning. A Sawyer water bag that I had leaning against the wall of the tent partially froze so it got pretty cold in the tent. It gets crowded in the sleeping bag with me, Sawyer mini filter, glucometer and insulin all keeping from freezing.

    I got up and out Tuesday morning, it was still below freezing when got back to the car.

    For me the trip was a success, another two days in the woods and passing a cold night in relative comfort.
    76 HawkMtn w/Rangers
    13 HF>CramptonsG
    14 LHHT
    15 Girard/Quebec/LostTurkey/Saylor/Tuscarora/BlackForest
    16 Kennerdell/Cranberry-Otter/DollyS/WRim-NCT
    17 BearR
    18 NOBO AT halfway

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    Enjoyed reading these reports. I love Raccoon Creek, I go there for a night or two all the time. I live just south of Cleveland.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marmaduke View Post
    Enjoyed reading these reports. I love Raccoon Creek, I go there for a night or two all the time. I live just south of Cleveland.
    Thanks, I haven’t been out to Raccoon since January, I’ve been farther afield in western PA – Oil Creek’s Gerard trail, the Quebec Run Wild Area , and the Lost Turkey and John Saylor Trails. I’m thinking of getting back out there because it’s easier to plan and pull off.

    The SWPA Backpackers are planning the Black Forest Trail for October. I’m trying to plan for the Tuscarora Trail in PA and MD for the week before Labor Day but I can’t seem to find anyone else interested, want to come 100 miles?


    76 HawkMtn w/Rangers
    13 HF>CramptonsG
    14 LHHT
    15 Girard/Quebec/LostTurkey/Saylor/Tuscarora/BlackForest
    16 Kennerdell/Cranberry-Otter/DollyS/WRim-NCT
    17 BearR
    18 NOBO AT halfway

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