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Friday May 31st: Plan to arrive at Willow Bay Campground between 4-6. Shuttle car(s) to Red bridge Campground - drive back and set up camp. Saturday June 1st: Hit the trail Saturday morning. It is about a mile to the North Country Trail Head. Stop for a brief lunch around noon. We will hike to the campsite between PA Route 321 and PA Route 59 at Hammond Run (approximately 13-14 miles). Sunday June 2nd: Eat breakfast, pack up equipment in the morning hit the trail. Stop for a brief lunch. Hike to Red Bridge Campground Parking Lot to cars. (approximately 13-14 miles). Approximately 28 miles total. It's $18.00 for a campsite at Willow Bay. Depending on how many people sign up there may be a fee - but we can worry about that later. If you have any questions about this please ask. This trail is described as moderate in its difficulty. If you are not used to doing back to back 13-14 mile days, this may be difficult. I will make a point to have copies of any release forms that need to be signed for this site when we show up. You will be required to sign before we leave Saturday morning.
This will be a 3 day, 32 mile hike from just north of GSMNP to Hot Springs, NC. The 2017 AT Thru-Hikers Companion describes the area as having plentiful 360 degree views and ever-changing scenery flowing from rich mountain coves, boreal forests, and heath balds. The highlight of this hike will be the Max Patch summit at 4629 feet. I'm rating this hike as strenuous because of the elevation changes. 6/4 5pm - Meet at Hot Springs, NC. There is public parking available in Hot Springs, so we'll leave a car there and either use a second car or shuttle to get to Standing Bear Hostel to spend the night. A shuttle runs between $75 for two and $100 for 4. Overnight at Standing Bear Hostel is $15 for a tent, $20 for the rustic bunk house and there are other options also. http://www.standingbearfarmhostel.com/lodging.html 6/5 - Day 1 of hiking. Standing Bear Hostel is located just off the AT so we'll start our hike from there. We'll hike about 13 miles to Max Patch which offers 360 degree views. Mount Mitchell is visible to the east and the Great Smoky Mountains are visible to the west. We'll camp nearby and hopefully catch a great sunset and sunrise. Today will be 4537' up, 2048' down. 6/6 - Day 2 of hiking. Today we'll hike 12 miles to another campsite by a small brook. There'a also the option of hiking to the Deer Park Mountain shelter about 5 miles further if you want to have the luxury of a privy and water. Today is 1871' up, 3520' down based on staying at the campsite. 6/7 - Day 3 of hiking. Today we'll finish the hike back to Hot Springs. We'll have about 7 miles left from the campsite or 3 miles left from the shelter. Today will be 720' up and 1929' down based on leaving from the campsite. Once in Hot Springs we can get something to eat and leave or feel free to spend another night and enjoy Saturday in Hot Springs before returning home. Public parking is located very near[masked], [masked] which is the intersection of Bridge Street and Andrews Avenue in Hot Springs. Here's a link to the hike plan I published on RightOnTrek.com if you want to view the route, stops, mileage and elevation changes. https://static.rightontrek.com/09bba23d-5e2d-49f3-a097-1b6f00515a98.html
PLEASE READ THE FINE PRINT FOR TUESDAY NIGHT ARRIVAL OPTION Wednesday, June 5, 2019 Meet at either: • Benezette Store at 8:30 AM for breakfast – you will find it here: https://www.benezettstore.com/ • The Elk Trail eastern trailhead for the 10:00 AM start of hike – see below for map link At 10:00 we will step off on the hike. Arrive at our camp site mid- to late-afternoon and set up. The hike is 9.4 miles. TUESDAY NIGHT ARRIVAL OPTION: If you want to arrive in the area on Tuesday night, you can camp for free at the Hicks Run Camping Area by contacting the Elk State Forest District Office at [masked] or by calling them at (814)[masked]. Hicks Run Camping Area is located along West Branch Hicks Run (about 2.2 miles northwest of Route 555) In the more traditional Oct/Nov time frame for this classic trip, we have to watch for Elk on the trail and on the roads during the rut. I don't know how it will be in June, but be extra careful when driving at dusk/night for both elk and deer crossing the roads. Wednesday Plan: • 10:00 – start the hike from the eastern trailhead - Dents Run Road Trailhead (see the longer of the two yellow trails on the map - http://www.docs.dcnr.pa.gov/cs/groups/public/documents/document/dcnr_003251.pdf) • Hike approximately 9.4 miles to a ‘secret’ campsite with a reliable spring • Meals: o Breakfast on your own or with the group at the Benezette Store o Lunch on the trail o Dinner in camp Thursday Plan • 7:00 – 9:00 get up, eat breakfast • 9:00 leave on day hike on the remainder of the Elk Trail arriving in Benezette for lunch – about 6.6 miles • 12:00 – 1:00 eat lunch at the Benezette Hotel (http://www.benezettehotel.com/ - not the Benezette Store) • 1:00 hike back to campsite – return trip, same length – about 6.6 miles (total mileage for day about 13.2) • Meals o Breakfast in camp o Lunch at a restaurant o Dinner in camp Friday Plan • 7:00 – 9:00 get up, eat breakfast • 9:00ish leave for hike back to Dents Run and our vehicles parked there – 9.4 miles • Meals o Breakfast in camp o Snack/lunch on the trail Other important, relevant information: • If you smoke, do not do so in proximity or upwind from others. • No firearms • Adult beverages are acceptable in moderation • The Elk Trail is not too rugged and therefore is suitable for even inexperienced backpackers, however you must be physically fit - it has yellow blazes and just a few ‘tricky’ areas where these blazes are more difficult to follow • If you are inexperienced, contact me and we will try to assess together if you should sign up • It is likely that some or all may hike on their own, this is not a hike where I will keep all people together • Depending upon the experience and comfort level of the hikers going, I may ‘sweep’ to insure everyone gets into camp safely • The campsite is large and has two separate fire rings, it will hold many tents and tarps. • Carpooling is encouraged • If you have a tarp, it would be prudent to bring it in case of rain • We will have to cross Dents Run twice (into camp on Saturday, leaving camp on Monday) and it may be a wet foot crossing – be prepared for this • Dogs – if you want to bring your canine, discuss the appropriateness with me first • In prior years traveling to this area, cell phones do not work well at all. Do not expect to be able to use yours for phone calls/texts/web surfing while in the area • For a map of the trail, see http://www.docs.dcnr.pa.gov/cs/groups/public/documents/document/dcnr_003251.pdf
This is Dave's and I favorite weekend hike, please meet at NCT on route 66 between Vowinckle village and Gilfoyle village at 6.30pm co-ordinates[masked] and [masked]. We will need to do a shuttle to end of route. Hiking through cook forest on NCT and will end the trail just past the highland shelter. Mileage is approx 20 mile total. The hike is contingent upon someone else turning up so we can do a shuttle. If not we will do an in and out hike camping at first site by the river. Bring water, food and tent, everything you need for backpacking. Shelter could be full. Beautiful hike along Clarion river with vistas from fire tower.