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Rocky Knob / Camps / Lollipop Trails

Michaux State Forest, PA (April 4, 2016)


10.9 miles, 2 loops

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The Flat Rock Trail system provides over 40 miles of hiking opportunities within the boundaries of Michaux State Forest. These trails are well maintained, and offer some of the most pleasant hiking and scenery in the South-Central Pennsylvania area.

We covered just under 11 miles of trail today, beginning with a counterclockwise tour of the Rocky Knob Trail. This loop hike also has with it some interesting history. From the Pennsylvania DCNR website:

"The rocky Knob trail is a loop trail approximately four miles in length. The road portion of this trail was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corp in 1937. They attempted to build a road connecting the Ridge Road with Birch Run Road, but were thwarted in their attempt by the rugged geology of the area.

"In 1976, the Youth Conservation Corp (Y.C.C.) constructed a trail which begins along the northern portion of this road. It traverses a variety of scenic areas including Rocky Knob and connects back to the road at the southern end. During the summer of 1977, the Y.C.C. developed numbered stations showing various points of interest for the hikers of this trail."

These "stations" were wooden posts numbered 1-11. It wasn't always evident what they were highlighting at any given spot, although one of them was posted at a good overlook of Long Pine Run Reservoir.

After following the aforementioned road portion of the trail, we took the south spur of the trail which led to Birch Run and the trailhead at the reservoir's northeast corner. One of our purposes for today's hike was to scout out an accessible camping spot for an upcoming family trip. The original camping spot we had picked, a roomy flat at the junction of the Rocky Knob and Camps Trails, was quickly trumped by a much more scenic, accessible and water-front camping area amidst the rhododendrons above Birch Run. It is actually two camping areas, on either side of the trail, with plenty of room for tents, along with two fire rings and logs to sit on.

Once we were done exploring the camping areas, we hiked back up the spur trail to the loop and continued our counterclockwise tour. We got into a good hiking pace as we climbed to the saddle next to Rocky Knob. From there the trail turned left and continued climbing, up over Ster Hill, then north and west until finally closing the loop.

Back at the original camping area, we turned left onto the red-blazed Camps Trail. At this point, both the weather and the scenery changed dramatically. It had been sunny and warm during our loop, now a cold breeze and clouds brought with them rain drops. Fortunately, we were heading right into a forest of giant pines, which kept us dry for the most part. The cold drizzle continued as we exited the shelter of the pines, but we had all come prepared with rain gear.

The Camps Trail ended at another camping spot just out from Ridge Road. Here, we turned onto the Lower Lollipop Trail and followed it south until it eventually terminated at the road.

We turned right here and walked along Ridge Road until we came to the Upper Lollipop Trail, which we followed back up to the Lollipop-Camps Trail junction. The rain continued as we re-traced our steps back through the pines of the Camps Trail and the open forest of the Rocky Knob Trail to Ridge Road.