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  1. #1

    Default Abandoned Section of the PA Turnpike: Anyone here hiked/camped it?

    A week ago I learned that after the PA Turnpike was partially rerouted in the 60s, a 13 mile section (containing 2 tunnels) was abandoned and can now be used for hiking/biking. I tried doing more research but can't find much about it besides wiki and a couple broad articles on the subject (and said articles we're from 5+ years ago). I am considering doing a one night, two day outing on the Turnpike and was wondering if anyone here has been on it.

    - Who owns the property?
    - What are the rules for accessing it (all I can find is "use at your own risk")?
    - Is it day use only?
    - Is there anything else I need to know?

    Any info you guys can possibly give would be helpful.

  2. #2
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    There's an "abandoned" tunnel in the smokies near Bryson City. A road-building project was abandoned, and the tunnel sits at the end of it. It's incorporated in the trail system, including the Benton McKaye Trail.

    Having been in the tunnel a couple of times, I can definitely say that it's spooky. It's seriously dark in there, and even though you can see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, it takes a long time to get there. That's a tunnel that's fairly close to civilization and traversed regularly by hikers.

    If these PA tunnels are truly abandoned, and haven't been visited by humans in recent years, ain't no telling what kind of varmints might be living in them. Or maybe there's been some structural issues....? Sounds exciting and scary and fun. But of course, you don't have much information yet. Please don't go alone, and give us a report when you're back.

  3. #3

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    Yes you can ride/hike the abandon parts. I think it's still own by the state. There is a lot of stuff on the net about the route. Who knows, you could be the first to Thru-hike it. LOL

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    Quote Originally Posted by illabelle View Post
    There's an "abandoned" tunnel in the smokies near Bryson City. A road-building project was abandoned, and the tunnel sits at the end of it. It's incorporated in the trail system, including the Benton McKaye Trail.

    Having been in the tunnel a couple of times, I can definitely say that it's spooky. It's seriously dark in there, and even though you can see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, it takes a long time to get there. That's a tunnel that's fairly close to civilization and traversed regularly by hikers.

    If these PA tunnels are truly abandoned, and haven't been visited by humans in recent years, ain't no telling what kind of varmints might be living in them. Or maybe there's been some structural issues....? Sounds exciting and scary and fun. But of course, you don't have much information yet. Please don't go alone, and give us a report when you're back.

    One need not take the tunnel on the BMT. There is a bypass trail. Interestingly, sound is multiplied at the western end which enables one to hear a conversation at the tunnel TH where vehicles park. I slept in the tunnel one night. It's usually wet.

  5. #5

  6. #6

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    I don't know if camping is allowed on the old Turnpike itself, but the road between the tunnels is surrounded by Buchanan State Forest, where camping is allowed in most places. For the tunnels, you are allowed on the road surface, but not any other rooms or areas of them.

    I've done a couple of loop hikes using various state forest trails, short road walks, and short bushwhacking segments for the Sideling Hill Tunnel, which could be more interesting than a mere out-back. It would add distance of course, and should probably only be done CCW, as the trail system on the east side of the tunnel may be difficult to scout out.

    One final note, in summer the tunnels can get extremely humid.
    --
    EJS
    (Ed. S)

  7. #7
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    These are both good(unusual) tunnel hikes.

    http://great-hikes.com/blog/tunnel-hike-to-the-hanalei-river/


    https://www.thehikinghi.com/single-post/2017/08/19/Waimano-Tunnels-and-Loop-Trail


    There's another one I will not mention that you have to swim.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by illabelle View Post
    There's an "abandoned" tunnel in the smokies near Bryson City. A road-building project was abandoned, and the tunnel sits at the end of it. It's incorporated in the trail system, including the Benton McKaye Trail.

    Having been in the tunnel a couple of times, I can definitely say that it's spooky. It's seriously dark in there, and even though you can see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, it takes a long time to get there. That's a tunnel that's fairly close to civilization and traversed regularly by hikers.

    If these PA tunnels are truly abandoned, and haven't been visited by humans in recent years, ain't no telling what kind of varmints might be living in them. Or maybe there's been some structural issues....? Sounds exciting and scary and fun. But of course, you don't have much information yet. Please don't go alone, and give us a report when you're back.
    988297_10151472393338977_2013918239_n.jpg


    Saw my first rattler on the trip I went thru that tunnel. I just knew that tunnel was full of them lol
    Trail Miles: 4,317.5 - AT Trips: 72
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    Pinhoti Trail Map: 31.5

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    Quote Originally Posted by gambit mccrae View Post
    988297_10151472393338977_2013918239_n.jpg


    saw my first rattler on the trip i went thru that tunnel. I just knew that tunnel was full of them lol
    eeeeeeeeeek!!

  10. #10
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    I think the PA Turnpike stretch makes a better bike ride than walk, as you'll be walking on pavement the whole way. When I was there years ago a state park ranger was patrolling it.
    Be Prepared

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackCloud View Post
    I think the PA Turnpike stretch makes a better bike ride than walk, as you'll be walking on pavement the whole way. When I was there years ago a state park ranger was patrolling it.
    Meh, I've always felt that biking kinda defeats the purpose of enjoying the scenery since you speed past everything without the chance to let it sink in.

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    I'm not quite sure 12mph constitutes speeding past much...
    Be Prepared

  13. #13

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    I biked/walked it for the first just a few weeks ago. We parked near Fort Littleton and biked towards Breezewood. About 3 miles in I got a flat tire. We could not finish the trip to the other end and had to walk back.

    Just over a mile into it we were in the first tunnel. Very dark. A little creepy. You cannot see the light at the other end (from end to end) as the road is pitched slightly higher in the middle of the tunnel. Once we were halfway through we could see the other end of the tunnel. Both my wife and I had very bright Zebralight H600's on our heads. We got about a mile past the tunnel (tunnel was about 1 mile in length) when I noticed I had a flat. Walking back through the tunnel was not creepy as I knew what to expect, but my wife was terrified! We did pass 2 or 3 other riders.

    There is a lot of graffiti and debris in the tunnel. If biking it, I recommend taking a spare tube and a way to inflate the tire.

    I believe the land is owned by the Southern Alleghenies Conservancy. You hike/bike it at your own risk.

    http://www.pike2bike.com/

    20190520_113740.jpg20190520_123347.jpg20190520_123354.jpg20190520_130207.jpg20190520_130612.jpg

    I parked here:
    40.048779, -78.095877

    I'd like to go back and do this stretch either alone or with some guys. Next time I'll be sure I'm prepared to repair a flat.

  14. #14

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    Oh, and while it was 85 degrees that day, it was probably mid 50's in the tunnel. Quite cold, and humid as another post mentioned.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by illabelle View Post
    There's an "abandoned" tunnel in the smokies near Bryson City. A road-building project was abandoned, and the tunnel sits at the end of it. It's incorporated in the trail system, including the Benton McKaye Trail.

    Having been in the tunnel a couple of times, I can definitely say that it's spooky. It's seriously dark in there, and even though you can see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, it takes a long time to get there. That's a tunnel that's fairly close to civilization and traversed regularly by hikers.

    If these PA tunnels are truly abandoned, and haven't been visited by humans in recent years, ain't no telling what kind of varmints might be living in them. Or maybe there's been some structural issues....? Sounds exciting and scary and fun. But of course, you don't have much information yet. Please don't go alone, and give us a report when you're back.
    A.K.A. The tunnel at the end of the Road to Nowhere.


    That tunnel is unusually long compared to similar tunnels in the area along New Found Gap Road and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

    The Road to Nowhere tunnel is about 1/4 mile long (well over 1,000').
    The two tunnels along New Found Gap are about 325' and 225'.
    The tunnels along the Blue Ridge Parkway (between New Found Gap and the turnoff to Balsam Mountain Campground) range in length from about 225' to 625', with the average begin something close to 400'.

    Even that long tunnel on the north bound side of the road between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge is only about 825'.

    (Measurements based on the 'Ruler' tool in Google Earth)

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    More current website: http://www.theoldpapike.com/

    I remember the second time I was there, I had just come out of the Sideling Hill tunnel, and heard an increasing roar, then a beam of light, then suddenly a group of ATV's in wedge formation came out at full speed like it was freakin' Mad Max. I am told due to numerous citations folks don't do that anymore.

    It should be noted that some of the land between the tunnels (most emphatically not the odd Borough of Valley-Hi) bordering TOPP is State Forest, which offers legal camping, one night only per site, out of sight of roads. On this State Forest tract close to and south of TOPP there is an interesting bit of stonework intended to be one of the culverts for South Pennsylvania Railroad, but not completed (like the tunnels, originally)- this is a couple of hundred yards southeast of where the TOPP crosses over gravel Oregon Road.

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