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  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Hummelstown & Tioga, PA

    Default Some thoughts from a Mid State Trail End to End journal

    Some recent quotations from experienced hiker Michael “U-Turn” Martin, of VA, MST End-to-End hiker #9:

    “This ridgeline [of MST Section 2, south of I-70/76 and Everett] is, indeed, very striking, and it amazes me that more hikers don’t know it. The MST manual—written by the recently deceased Tom Thwaites, who created the trail—compares it to North Fork Mountain, West Virginia. Indeed, I think it is better. There are spells where the ridgeline is quite articulated and far more knife’s edge-like than you would believe. There are a few points where you really are scrambling (a little) with drop offs to either side, and you certainly enjoy fine views to both sides. Of course, the slush made it a bit more difficult, but I didn’t find it too hard. Certainly it was rewarding and satisfying hiking. Consider that we did not see a single hiker the entire weekend!

    We started off along the rocky ridgeline [of Section 7, north of Little Juniata River]. It soon became apparent that this would become the tale of two trails. The ridgeline was flat enough, yes, but it was wicked rocky footing, as bad as the worst of the Massanutten, and tougher than anything we'd seen on the MST. I'd still say there were worse sections of the Standing Stone Trail and the Tuscarora Trail, but make no mistake, this was tough footing. The rockfields gave us occasional views; we passed a fat black snake sunning itself; we admired the elaborate cairns.

    We had all tanked up before the climb, but we were all dripping in sweat and guzzling the water. One of our number wasn't worried. The springs were just a few hundred feet below the ridgeline. I pointed out that the contour lines were in metric. A few hundred meters is not a few hundred feet. His face contorted in a curious mix of agony, dismay, and pain.

    After our first climb on Friday [section 17, north of Blackwell], we traversed the plateau near Pine Creek Gorge (the MST here is very near more commonly hiked trails like the Black Forest Trail and the West Rim Trail), and then descended along Stony Fork Creek, which may very well have some of the best swimming holes in the region. A local told me that one was 12 meters deep! It amazes me these gems are not better known.

    We passed Wimbrough Campsite [section 18] then crossed PA-660 and US-6. Some weather rolled in. We crossed more fields, including a cow pasture [section 19]. I joked that it was like the Dolomites. “Really?” someone asked. “There were cow pastures there too,” I explained. But the descent down to Hills Creek State Park was nice, and boy was I eager to finish up for the day.

    At last, [section 20] I realized that the place with the party was where we were headed. The campsite was no field, but a rollicking joint. Hot showers, food, cold drinks. And people who were happy to see us, and delighted to discover they were on a backpacking route! Although I joked about the Dolomites earlier, the view from Scenic View really is good, and the place had a great back country vibe. It was a Keystone State refugio!”

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    On the trail


    I have the MST slotted for a few hikes this spring. I have done several hikes near Blackwell and really love that area.
    enemy of unnecessary but innovative trail invention gadgetry

  3. #3
    Virginia Tortoise
    Join Date
    Manassas, VA


    I did the southernmost and the northernmost sections of the MST years ago. It was a challenging but beautiful trail to hike.

  4. #4


    Mike - the northernmost sections are probably farther north now than they were then. The trail has grown.

  5. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    North Central PA


    I am planning to hike the MST this summer starting sometime shortly after the school year ends. If anyone is interested in partnering or would like me to forward some of the planning information that I have gathered please get in touch with me.

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