Wednesday, May 29, 2019

North Fork Mountain Trail, Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia

North Fork Mountain Trail is one of the more unique trails in West Virginia.  It starts at the bottom of the ridge, near the confluence of the South Branch of the Potomac River and the North Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac River, and runs south for about 23 miles along the ridge top.

Access points are limited to the north end, south end, two trail access from the east, and a little known dead end road.

IMBA North Fork Mountain Trail info

West Virginia Trail Inventory

This trip was a short out and back from the south end of the trail.  Access is off of state route 33 between Judy Gap & Franklin.  There is a radio tower at the very top of the ridge on route 33, with enough room to park a few cars on either side of the tower access.  The North Fork Mountain Trail is directly behind the tower, and is blazed.

The trail runs very close to the ridge line for much of the distance, so amazing views over the North Fork are available whenever you feel like breaking through the trees, or following the side trails to the nearest overlook.  There is no water on the ridge, and it handles rain very well.

Typical dry and slightly overgrown trail.

Don't be surprised to find a couple of trees down.

Trail is well blazed, but would be hard to lose anyway.

Wildflowers near the ridge line.

A more open section of trail.

Lady Slipper orchid near the ridge.

View to the west from the trail near it's south end.

View looking northwest.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Buzzard Swamp spring ride, Allegheny National Forest, Pennsylvania

Buzzard Swamp is a natural area in the Allegheny National Forest, south east of Marienville, Pennsylvania.  It has a network of trails and gravel roads that are open to hikers and bicyclists.  There are also several ponds for fishing.

Buzzard Swamp Information

The loop around ponds 1,2,3,4, & 6 is an easy ride on well maintained gravel road, with water, meadow, and forest areas.  The loop is about 3.8 miles.

The out and back ride on road 157 from the Buzzard Swamp parking area to the parking area on forest road 130 is a bit hillier, and has some roads that are less maintained.  The route is about 4 miles each direction.

The Sojourn Songbird Trail, and the trail to the parking area on the end of forest service road 377 are both singletrack, with varying conditions.  During wet seasons these trails are likely to be very difficult to impassable for bicycles.

Map at kiosk.

Road leading off around ponds 2 & 3.

Salamander in a roadside pond.

Looking across pond 1.

Around the east end of pond 6.

Pond 6.
Google Earth view of the timber swath to the southeast of pond 6, knocked over by high winds.  This area is visible from the road after crossing the pond 6 dam.

Forested road around pond 6.

Less travelled road back to pond 7.

Overgrown road to ponds 14 & 15.

Pond 7.

Osprey nest at pond 8.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Beaver Meadows Lake, Allegheny National Forest, Pennsylvania

Beaver Meadows Lake is a day use area that used to be a campground, located just north of Marienville, Pennsylvania.  The camping area has been eliminated, but the trail system and lake access remain.

Beaver Meadows Lake ANF information

Trail map.

Entry to Seldom Seen Trail, between two huge white pines.

Large areas of ripe partridgeberries.

Spruce needles in a puddle after a rain storm.


Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Loleta - Lamonaville Road, Allegheny National Forest, Pennsylvania - Part 2

The road between Loleta campground and FS road 228, known as FS road 131, has been closed to motor vehicle traffic for over a year now.  The dispersed campsites that were along the road, and the beauty of the hemlock valley of E. Branch Millstone Creek make this a great place to hike, backpack, or bikepack.

To get there follow E. Spruce Street out of Marienville.  It becomes Lamonaville Road at some point, and continues to a four way stop signed intersection with FS road 131 about 5 miles east of town.  Turn right at this intersection, and follow the road about 4 miles until FS road 228 comes in from the left, and the ROAD CLOSED gate blocks the road.

If you park there, the 'road' up to site 13 is only about 1/4 mile.

See this Getting Out There entry about conditions and access from the Loleta end of the road.

Parking near intersection with FS 228.

Road to old dispersed campsites 12 & 13.

Campsite 12 meadow.

One of several downed trees on the way up to campsite 13.

Campsite 13.

Red cap soldier moss on the old picnic table.

Downed white pine, cut from across FS 131.

Lots of pine sap.  I harvested as much as I could.  Yes, I got very sticky.

E. Br. Millstone Creek alongside the road.

One of the sections of sunken road passing through hemlock groves.

Another old dispersed campsite along the road.

Campsite 8.

Muddy Fork, from Buzzard Swamp, runs alongside campsite 8.

My favorite, campsite 6.

View of the creek from campsite 6.

AMD tainted spring, right in the middle of the road.

AMD tainted spring.