The Red X side trail system was revised in 2004-05. The Red X
trails described on this page are still blazed, but the numbering in
the latest LT guide may differ.)
was the second of three consecutive weekends in fall, 1996 that we
did an LT hike. Having about 12 miles left to complete the trail, we
were hoping for good weather to allow us to finish most of it that
fall. We drove
about a mile beyond the LT trailhead on PA Route 87, from which we had
our Sock Rock hike the previous weekend, then turned right onto Little
Bear Creek Road and traveled about another mile to park at the ranger
at mile 4.81.
The LT started by doubling back along the road for a few hundred feet,
then turned right and began a sharp ascent of about 200 ft in about 0.1
mile, moderating into a continuous climb of an additional 600 ft until
we reached a junction with White Trail W-1 at mile 5.54. The scenery
must have been of some interest, as Mike snapped the shutter on the
camera about seven or eight times. By this point, we had reached Laurel
Ridge. This ascent was equal in elevation to climbing Sock Rock, but it
was spread over a longer distance.
The ridge top meant flat hiking for the next 2/3 mile. At mile
6.16, the LT turned right on a woods road as Blue Trail B-1 intersected
from the left. At mile 6.24, the LT turned left and steeply uphill to
begin climbing Smiths Knob as Red X Trail RX-2 continued along the
road. The summit
of Smiths Knob was at 1912 ft, near mile 6.60, and the Smiths Knob
at mile 6.65 gave a view of Loyalsock Creek to the north and east.
It took us a minute or so to find the trail markers for the descent
immediately following the vista. The trail dropped so suddenly that we
almost thought we were heading over a cliff instead of following it. We
descended 250 ft in 0.29 mile to DER View at mile 6.94, but the first
to 150 ft of descent must have come in no more than 300 to 400 ft. Mike
thought this was the most difficult descent in terms of steepness along
entire LT. It wasn't as long as the descent from Sock Rock, for
but it was extremely steep. We don't know how we would have gotten back
up this segment if we had needed to double back. (Fortunately, RX-2
us to bypass Smiths Knob on the return.)
We had relatively flat, slightly downhill hiking from DER View, past
the RX-2 junction at mile 7.28, down to a crossing of Painter Run at
mile 7.92, past intersections with White Trail W-2 and Red X Trail
RX-3, then a recrossing of Painter Run at mile 8.15, elevation 1480 ft.
The trail began to climb again, reintersected the other end of W-2 at
mile 8.19, and followed an old woods road that moderately ascended
along the headwaters of Painter Creek for most of the remaining
distance to mile 9.10, where we stopped for lunch at the RX-3 junction.
The return trip followed the same route, but substituted a flat 0.73
miles along RX-2 for the 1.04 mile segment up and down Smiths Knob.
Considering that we'd hiked up 1140 ft, down 480 ft, then up again 570
ft to get to our turnaround point, we needed a break!
their 2002 fall break vacation in Pennsylvania, Mike and Maria hiked a
portion of this segment, as far as the RX-2 junction after the descent
from Smith's Knob vista. The total distance for the roundtrip
circling back via
RX-2 was about 4 1/2 miles. Combined with the nearly 6 1/2 mile
the previous day near World's End, Maria completed about eleven miles
her own two feet in two days. That's a pretty good effort by a
2006, Mike and Maria again hiked this segment. This time they did
it in the east to west direction at the end of a 10.3 mile hike which
began at mile 15.45 at Mountain Road. The cause for celebration
occurred when they reached mile 7.28, the junction of RX-2, which was
as far as they had gotten on the 2002 hike. At this point, Maria
had finished the last segment she needed to complete the entire LT on
her own two feet -- a pretty good accomplishment for an
11-year-old. She did it on a series of nine day hikes between
2001 and 2006, beginning with a 6 1/2 mile hike from Double Run Road to
World's End State Park when she was only six.
a beautiful sunny fall day of hiking close to six hours on the trail,
surprisingly we encountered only three other hikers -- a solo hiker
near mile 8 and a couple near mile 5.
thing we did notice on this trip was that the segment between mile 8.1
and mile 7.3 was quite affected by an ongoing logging operation.
The trail meandered on and off a logging road that Mike did not recall
from the prior hike.
On the 1996 trip, Aimee commented that the camera sounded
Mike and Maria posed for a photo at mile marker 5. Shortly after that,
Mike concluded that we had been pressing the shutter but there was no
in the camera. We were in no position to return to the car to get any,
since we had already climbed several hundred feet. Mike did get his
to return to take the missing photos on the 2002 hike with Maria.
got her wish as well; she stayed in Williamsport.
with the trail register we encountered just after beginning our ascent
Little Bear Creek Road, near mile 4.85. We had just begun our
7, 2002 hike at the Little Bear Creek Ranger station a few minutes
right: The last line of Mike's entry in the register concludes, "Maria
is 7 years old and hiked 6.4 miles at World's End yesterday."
Following this is Maria's own signature in the D'Nealian style she'd
been learning in 2nd grade.
Right: Maria poses at mile marker 5, which we
way up the approximately 800 ft elevation gain between Little Bear
Creek at mile 4.85 and Laurel Ridge at mile 5.60.
Below: This vista at mile 5.54 faces nearly due north and
overlooks the beginning of a bend in Loyalsock Creek below. The
W-1 descends steeply down from the LT in the direction of the vista.
The LT continues to the east along the top of Laurel Ridge.
|Left: Here, Maria stands a few feet from the
edge of the overlook
at Smith's Knob vista, mile 6.65. The creek and road in the
valley below lie about 1100 ft down from this point.
Maria gave Mike a real scare just before posing for these photos.
She was so excited about posing by the vista that she started
running toward the edge. Mike literally had to tackle her to stop
Right: A closeup of Maria with the dropoff just behind her.
Right: Mike even managed to get into the
photography action at the vista. Maria was unwilling to take the
picture; fortunately, Mike succeeded in getting the automatic timer to
work. Of course, the exposure and focus are left to chance, and
as you can see, he crouched down to make absolutely sure he stayed in
the field of view.
Below left: The descent from Smith's Knob vista is one of the most
on the LT due to its steepness. By this point it was already
beginning to moderate -- from almost impossibly steep to just very
steep. We had just picked our way down the rock formation in the
|Maria continues to make
progress en route to completing a 10.3 mile hike on October 8, 2006 --
first passing mile marker 9 (photo on left) and then mile marker 8
(photo on right). She's looking pretty good for an 11-year-old
who has covered over seven miles with about three more miles to go.
uses stepping stones to cross Painter Run at mile 7.92, less than 2/3
mile from her goal of completing the LT.
Here's the moment we've been anticipating for the last five
years! When we reached the junction of RX-2 and the LT in the
westbound direction at mile 7.28, Maria had completed hiking the entire
LT. We had previously reached this point on a 2002 hike from
Little Bear Creek ranger station up to Smiths Knob Vista. Like
that hike, and the 1996 hike made by all three of us, we chose not to
try to climb to the vista in the east to west direction, but continued
On previous hikes when we finished the LT and the Black Forest Trail,
Mike and Aimee had celebrated with champagne. This time, he and
Maria shared a chocolate bar.
|Don't say we never show
any nature photos! Here's a closeup of witch hazel (hamamelis)
flowers blooming on a branch. We saw this while hiking the RX-2
segment that bypasses Smiths Knob Vista, but it's relatively common
along the LT and easy to spot in the fall.
old is new again!" Maria returns to the mile 5.54 vista
overlooking Loyalsock Creek, four years after her first visit made here
on her own two feet, and ten years after Mike carried her up here at
the ripe old age of not quite 15 months.
Maria looks to be in pretty good shape and also pretty happy --
considering she's been hiking about 5 1/2 hours and has covered just
over ten miles at this point where she poses next to mile marker
5. This was already a good distance down the hill from the ridge
heading toward Little Bear Creek where our car was waiting near the
ranger station at mile 4.81.