Hiking the AT through PA, again
Since my dog, Faith, joined our family after we completed the Pennsylvania section of the Appalachian Trail, I have been spending my winter day hikes trying to catch her AT miles up to our other dog, Toro. I know that she feels a bit disappointed for “only” hiking 808 miles, compared to Toro’s 1034. 😂 The truth is that I really enjoyed hiking through our beautiful commonwealth and therefore I am repeating the miles but with a bit of a twist. Since I prefer point to point hiking rather than out and back, where possible, I will complete a hiking loop via other trails. My first AT loop of the year includes the Hosack Run and Locust Gap trails.
An AT trail loop from Caledonia State Park
I parked at the Caledonia State Park, Rocky Mountain Road, Fayetteville, PA, where there are plenty of parking spots and it is easily accessed off of Route 30. I walked across the campground and connected with the Appalachian Trail, heading north to Michaux State Forest.
After crossing the Conococheague Creek Bridge, the trail remained flat for .3 miles until I exited the campgrounds. The trail became rocky and steadily increased in elevation for .8 of a mile. For the next .7 mile, the trail was relatively level and then returned to a gradual uphill for 1.2 miles.
The rhododendrons created tunnels along the trail, the evergreen leaves a bright contrast to the white snow and the gray skies. The stone steps made the incline easy to climb.
The Hosack Run Trail
The Hosack Run Trail is 1.1 miles in length and is well marked with light blue blazes. The trail is more narrow than the AT and based upon the few footprints in the snow, it appeared to be less travelled. From its trailhead at the AT, the trail descended via a series of switchbacks approximately 543 feet in elevation.
The foliage free trees provided a view of the neighboring hill top, and rhododendron groves at the bottom of the trail looked lush and healthy.
The trail crossed Hosack Run a few times and I was grateful for the low water level and the many stepping stones.
Locust Gap Trail
At mile 5.6 of the loop, Hosack Run Trail intersects Locust Gap Trail, both marked with the same blue painted blazes. I turned right onto Locust Gap and continued 1.1 miles along the pathway, crossing the forest road and returning to the rocky trail path.
The trail became wider, the path surface crushed stone topped with pine needles. I saw narrow tire marks in the snow, so I assume that mountain bikes use this trail as well as hikers.
Appalachian Trail southbound
The Locust Gap Trail reconnected to the AT at the Christmas tree and Appalachian Trail sign. I followed the white blazes 1.5 miles downhill to return to the Conococheague Creek Bridge and walked an additional .4 miles to my vehicle. The total mileage of the loop was 7.5 miles. It was a great hike and I am happy to have found the Hosack Run Trail.
Trail maps and links
|Hike difficulty classifications (link)|
|Trail Difficulty ||Moderate|
|Location||South-central Pennsylvania, Michaux State Park|
|Parking||Caledonia State Park|
|Amenities||Bathrooms available at trailhead/campgroundd during camping season|
|Elevation - Trailhead||939'|
|Elevation - Peak||1831'|
|Water Sources||Water fountain at trailhead and small streams along the route|
|Highlights||Beautiful rhododendron groves|