Trip Report: Tuscarora Trail/Sleepy Creek: Fun Times Despite Mud, Slush, and Rain!

It was another weekend where the forecast seemed non-pleasant initially, but improved as the trip approached. The trail conditions – that was a different story!

As we got close to the Tuscarora trailhead on Hampshire Grade Rd., the snow on the ground took us all by surprise. We lined our cars on the side of the road (no one was towed) and started hiking in the already wet snow. A quarter mile in, after facing a couple of patches where the snow was a foot deep, I started thinking whether this was a good idea or not. If we kept going NOBO on Tuscarora, we would be committed. We chose to explore further and the conditions got slightly better. We would still have a very slushy and muddy day. 

The wide Tuscarora trail path led us to the Long Ridge Trail. We had a couple of stream crossings here. The streams were flowing high as the day had warmed up. Most of us had wet feet already, so we forged ahead! At the next junction, we took the Speilman trail that took us to the ridge. On the ridge, more slush awaited us on the forest road trail as we made our way south. We took a nice lunch break and made good time to reach Hampshire Grade Rd again. Unfortunately, we had a couple of folks bail here due to muscle pull or the toll from the slushy hike and they took advantage of being close to the cars. The rest of the group marched on! 

At the Tuscarora trail, we looked for the spring marked on the map without success. As we descended on the trail next to Little Bush Creek, the slushy conditions gave way to muddy conditions. It didn’t matter since our feet were wet anyways! We opted to turn at the High Rock trail and tanked up water at the stream crossing. After a short and steep ascent, we reached the  Tuscarora trail and backtracked to enjoy the overlook at High Rock. 

The final miles flew by fast as the ridge opened up more offering views to the West. It turned out that our destination – Shockey’s Knob Shelter – was already occupied by a few folks who didn’t appear to be happy when our group showed up. Loud music was playing and a decent amount of booze was lying around. Logan recalled seeing flat spots only a little ways back and I was happy that he did. There were actually better camping spots here than near the shelter and we were able to enjoy a warm campfire that helped dry our feet and footwear. We also had a mini celebration for Dmitri’s birthday. 

As expected, we woke up to a rainy morning. With temps near freezing, everyone packed camp efficiently and we made our way NOBO on Tuscarora trail. While the rain eased some during our hike back, we decided to save Pee Wee point overlook for another time. Our only major challenge was the slippery slush which had iced up overnight in some patches. But the miles were few and everyone made it to the cars in good form!  

Overall, I was pleased as punch with the weather, the High Rock overlook, our campsite and the camaraderie, despite the sloshy conditions. Our splits were 15 and 5 miles. Congrats to Alex and Jonathan on joining the Member ranks! 

Our route on Caltopo: https://caltopo.com/m/NPMS

DCUL Google Photos Album: https://photos.app.goo.gl/j77xH7TvVF8JEbL29 

-B.A.

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