Snow covered trail and pine trees on a grey winter day
Winter Wonderland

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.

A dog wearing a pink and navy coat, looks over her shoulder on the snow covered trail
“Hey, Mom, are you coming?” – Faith

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.

A snow covered bridge atop a creek of rushing water
This bridge connects the campground to the Appalachian Trail

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.

Beside the Appalachian Trail sign, a small snow covered pine tree is decorated with Christmas ornaments
Christmas Trail Magic at the intersection of the Appalachian Trail and Locust Gap Trail
A snow covered rocky trail bordered by trees dripping with snow
The snow and rocks made the trail a bit slippery

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.

Rhondodendrons stretch across a snow covered trail of stone steps
Beautiful rhododendrons serve as a canopy over the stone steps

The Hosack Run Trail

A snow covered trail bordered by trees bearing blue blaze and a sign
The entrance of the Hosack Run Trail off the Appalachian 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.

Stark trees stand out against the white snowy trail and the snow covered neighboring mountain
Along the Hosack Run Trail

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.

Huge Rhododendron trees create a tunnel for a snow covered rocky trail
Rhododendron grove at the bottom of Hosack Run Trail

The trail crossed Hosack Run a few times and I was grateful for the low water level and the many stepping stones.

Two hiking dogs in winter coats cross the rocks and logs in a stream
On the cold day, the pups tried to cross the water by staying on the rocks
Blue blazes mark a tree in the foreground and several in the distance, marking the trail across and along a stream
The Trail crossed Hosack Run several times along the path

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.

Snow covered forest road, with tire tracks in the snow
The Locust Gap trail, marked by blue blazes, crosses a forest road that leads to a support building.

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.

Snow covered flat trail that looks like a road lines with large pine trees
The Locust Gap Trail has wide sections of easy walking

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.

The east branch of the Conococheague Creek
A snow covered path passes picnic tables, charcoal grills and support buildings
The Caledonia Campground

Trail maps and links

Map of the Hosack, Locust Gap and Appalachian Trail Loop

Map of Michaux State Forest

Map of Caledonia State Park

Boulders peek out of the snow on the forest hillside
Hike difficulty classifications (link)
Trail Difficulty
LocationSouth-central Pennsylvania, Michaux State Park
Parking Caledonia State Park
AmenitiesBathrooms available at trailhead/campgroundd during camping season
Elevation - Trailhead939'
Elevation - Peak1831'
Elevation Gain1247'
Mileage7.5 miles
Water SourcesWater fountain at trailhead and small streams along the route
HighlightsBeautiful rhododendron groves

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God-loving, healthy lifestyle enthusiast, mother, grandmother, animal obsessed and married to my best friend. Life is good!

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