Upon our return from two weeks out West, Karan and I were looking for a relaxing re-introduction to the Mid-Atlantic and the Lost Turkey Trail fit the bill. On Friday at 5 PM, I met up with Dan, Brian, and Ben at Grosvenor. Karan was running late from work so we rendezvoused with him at Sheetz 161. After two more hours of driving, we left Ben’s car at the southern parking lot and drove the 30 mins to Blue Knob State Park family campground. Karan talked to the campground hosts and happily reported back to us that the white-haired woman had called him “a fine-looking young man.”
We found a site that could accommodate three tents and Brian’s hammock and settled in for a relatively peaceful night. The cool morning belied the near 90-degree high forecasted for the day. We decided to start our trip straight from the campground rather than drive back to do the first 1.5 miles. The trail was flat for a short stretch and then started to descend. We crossed a road there and came across the Lost Cox Children Memorial erected in the spot where two children were found after wandering away from their home in the 1850s. Dan recognized the memorial, despite thinking he had never hiked the Lost Turkey Trail. A Meetup search later confirmed that he had been on Brian’s 2017 trip.
After the memorial, the trail meandered through stinging nettles, climbed a little and then descended to the cable bridge. The water level was low enough that we could have rock-hopped but everyone decided to use the cable bridge for the novelty of it. Soon after the bridge, we started out biggest climb of the trip. At the top, the trail did a lot of side-hilling and we wondered how the marathoners ran on it. We also came across a massive spider in its web. After an impromptu photo shoot, Karan accidentally destroyed half of the web. Not a good day for the spider.
After the side-hilling and a brief flat section, we descended steeply to the Burnt House picnic area where we decided to have first lunch beside a little stream. Rain did not seem likely based on the forecast but it briefly sprinkled before the sun came back out.
We crossed the road and started up what has to be the most gentle, well-graded climb in Pennsylvania. At the top we stopped for second lunch and a leisurely nap. It was 1 PM and we had less than 6 miles until camp. Once we started again, we could feel that the sun was out in full force. At this point, the trail was more of an open forest road with no shade. Four of us missed the turn off the road so we continued along the forest road to the point that the trail intersected it again. Dan was behind us and we weren’t sure whether or not he had taken the trail. He showed up 10 or 15 mins later and reported to us that the trail had been nice and shady. Our loss.
We got back onto the trail, for a little while at least. The trail markings became pretty confusing as we entered state forest. The red blazes we’d been following led us back out to Buffalo Road while the Lost Turkey Trail had apparently changed to orange blazes without warning. Brian remembered getting confused in this spot during his last trip. Rather than backtrack to look for the right trail, we followed the road half a mile to the Buffalo Trail where we were able to meet up with the Lost Turkey Trail again. We passed the place where Brian’s group camped on their trip. This time of year there was not really water flowing in the nearby stream and the small clearing was overgrown so we continued on for another half a mile or so to the bottom of the hill after mile marker 19. The water was flowing slightly there and we found enough flat ground to camp on.
In the evening, Karan set up his tripod to take some time lapses while we made a fire and had dinner. Brian passed around his whiskey. The temperature finally started to cool off a little, although it was difficult to tell so close to the fire. After dinner, we started to hear some distant rumblings of thunder. They continued to grow closer but we remained in denial for a while. Eventually, Dan, who had planned to cowboy camp, set up his tent, and about half an hour later it poured. Luckily, the thunder and lightning subsided in time for us to still fall asleep at a decent hour.
We woke up in the dark on Sunday morning and got on trail at 7 AM. There was a little climbing but the trail was generally gentle. Some scenic fog filled the clearings and we spotted the start of nice fall colors in some places. The trail got a little rocky towards the end but we were back at Ben’s car by 9:30 AM. We reversed the shuttle and then enjoyed a good meal at Horn-O-Plenty.
The Lost Turkey Trail made for a very laid-back weekend. It was great to enjoy the mostly easy walking and the start of fall colors. I’m still waiting for the start of fall temperatures though!
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