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Anything is good, in moderation. I cook because I love to and because I can share with those around me. I crochet for the same reason.

Do what you want to do, enjoy what you do and use it to touch those around you.

Nov 25, 2012

Cold Springs/AT/Stony Valley Rail-Trail Loop

Today found us traveling through Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania.  To get to the starting point, 943 until you come to Asher Miner road.  Turn left, if you are traveling north, and follow Asher Miner Road until it becomes 443.  Turn left onto McClean Road.  Turn right onto Cold Springs Road.  NOTE:  WHEN YOU TURN RIGHT, YOU WILL SEE A SIGN INDICATING THAT YOU WILL BE PASSING THROUGH LIVE FIRING RANGES.  IF THERE IS A RED FLAG OR A BLINKING RED LIGHT, THERE IS ACTIVE FIRE.

Follow Cold Springs Road up the mountain.  You will leave paved road and start on a dirt road just as you start to climb.  This road is not maintained in the winter and, if no snow is on the ground, this section can be done, slowly, in a standard vehicle.  Hubby's Altima did it nicely.  When you get to the top of the mountain, you have the option of turning right (I would not advise that, as it is marked private for Indiantown Gap), turning left and parking or continuing straight down Cold Springs Road.  If you do not have four wheel drive and, I would advise, a high clearance, I would advise parking.  This does add about two miles to the hike.

Park the car and walk down the road.  When you get to the bottom, you will see a stone wall on your right just before a wooden bridge.  Cross the bridge and start climbing - you will come to the other parking area just around the bend.  Continue following the road past the metal gate.  Just as you enter, you will see two blue marks on a tree to your left.  Continue straight on the road until you see the same color blue on a tree to your left - follow this path.

This will start your climb up the mountain.  At one point, you will break through onto a flat rail trail.  Resist the urge to follow this path now, you will see it again later.  Continue across the road to where you see a sign for the Appalachian Trail and continue to follow the blue blazed UP the mountain.  Did I mention UP?

This is definitely a case of slow and steady wins the race or, in this case, finishes the mountain.  When you get to the top and see the junction with the Appalachian Trail, you will feel like singing.  Once you catch your breath, if you are like me.

The logs you can see in the picture make a nice place to sit and catch your breath, have a drink and a snack.  Once you are ready to move on, you can come back and look at what you just climbed.  You may even be tempted to just walk back down the mountain the way you came up.

I pondered that, but then I realized that my car was parked at the TOP of the ridge line you can see in the picture.....that encouraged me to take a more circuitous, less steep trail back down the mountain.  Having made that decision, I turned right onto the AT from the Cold Springs Trail and started following its gentle path back down the mountain.  This was an extremely peaceful walk.  No road traffic, cell phone was good for nothing except taking pictures.  When we stopped, there was no noise at all excepts some birds and the occasional squirrel - or plane flying over.  When you get toward the end of the AT, you will begin to see remnants of the coal mining that happened in the area.

Not long after, you begin to hear running water.  This section of the trail parallels a stream.  Not long after this coal pile, we came upon a campsite.  Continuing to follow the trail, you will come to a T intersection.  To the right is a trail to the Rausch Gap Shelter.  To the left is a sign marking State Game Lands.  Continue to follow the AT straight down the mountain.  Be careful here, there is quite a bit of loose rock.  Once past the rock, you get into an area of heavy pines.  There was a layer of pine needles about an inch thick, so Abby decided to do her border collie stance and plow them.  She ended up with a three inch pile of pine needles touching the bottom of her chin.  She looked so happy with herself.  Shortly after this, the AT meets up with the nice, flat rail-trail.

Turn right and follow this rail trail back to where you started.  At this point, you can climb back down through the trees, but I suggest walking straight until you come to an old road to your left - two tenths of a mile or less.  Turn left onto this road and follow it through the remains of Cold Springs Resort.  This road will take you back to the gate at the four wheel drive parking area.  Follow the road back up the other mountain to your car.

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