Home > Tuscarora Trail: Big Mountain and Detour to Hell's Hill Trail

Tuscarora Trail: Big Mountain and Detour to Hell's Hill Trail

(April 25, 2016)



13.6 miles, point-to-point

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We began today's hike at the summit of Big Mountain and the head of the Hogback Mountain Trail. We started with a strenuous 2 1/2 mile detour down onto the steep slopes as practice for Rocky Mountain climbs this summer. After our adventure hiking was completed, our hike was just beginning. We rejoined the Tuscarora Trail and continued south.

One section we had missed in previous hikes is where the Tuscarora Trail crosses Augwick Road and heads down the Fulton County slopes to cross Route 30 via two wooden staircases. Turns out we weren't missing much. This section of trail was rocky and un-maintained, and involved a lot of downhill only to turn right back up again and follow the loud highway for a while. I figured this was done this way to keep the trail on state ground as much as possible.

We regained the mountaintop at a grassy powerline just behind the Mountain House. Here is apparently where we had lost the trail last time.

Here we stopped to enjoy the springtime view from the hang-glider launch site. The cherry trees were in full white blossom, atop the whitish boulders and green pine trees, with McConnellsburg and the valley of Fulton County stretching south into Maryland below.

The next several miles of trail consisted of pleasant, mostly level and open ridge-top hiking, across Rt. 16 and onward along the Tuscarora Ridge.

We were surprised to meet an A. T. through-hiker "Fashionplate Dan" who was following the Tuscarora Trail as an alternative. Once he finishes the Appalachian Trail, he will have completed the triple crown!

After talking a while, we continued past the hunters' road and eventually the head of the Alice Trail. We arrived at the mailbox register at the top of the Reese Hollow Trail, where we took our last long break and signed the register.

It was another 3.8 miles from there to where we had a jeep parked at Ward Drive, and these would be the toughest miles of the day. We had all run out of water, and though we had done this section of trail before we forgot how many ups and downs and rocky outcroppings there were to overcome. Thankfully, unlike last time we did this hike, the plentiful briers were contained. The trail is much better maintained these days, and although there were briers to both sides of the trail, it had obviously been weed-whacked this spring.

Finally, we arrived at the top of the orange-blazed "Hell's Hill Trail." We followed the steep switchbacks down into the ravine and eventually onto the gravel logging road which led us to the parking lot. In the ravine we saw a very little snake (though not sure what kind). We had seen some glimpses of other wildlife today, including several grouse, a turkey and a couple of deer. I was a little off my game today; didn't get pics of any of them.