Trip Report: As Good as It Gets In Seneca Creek

When summer in D.C. comes around, we like to seek out cooler temperatures and Seneca Creek is the perfect spot to escape the heat. It was in the high 50s and windy as Karan, Aileen, and I stopped just before the Spruce Knob parking lot to take some pictures of the sunset. We met Joe (aka Joe #1) at the lot and we decided to take a quick jaunt up to Spruce Knob itself. There, Karan discovered that he had forgotten his memory card!

Back at the parking lot, Karan ran over Joe’s hiking poles “just a little bit” and we saddled up for the short hike in. We grabbed one of the first campsites we saw. Despite seeing a good number of cars in the parking lot, there was plenty of space. 

A short time after the four of us finished setting up, Joe P. arrived. We had about 4 years of catching up to do but decided to save some for the rest of the weekend and hit the hay. Overnight, the wind raged above us but we were well protected under the pines.

The next morning, Reza arrived shortly before our start time of 7:30am after spending the night in his car. It was absolutely beautiful as we started hiking- blue skies and not yet hot. As we walked along the Huckleberry Trail, Karan reminded us that we would feel this slight downhill on the return. We carried on down to Judy Springs where we took a nice break. 

After the break, we started to see lots of other hikers and backpackers as we walked along the Seneca Creek Trail. Luckily this area is replete with beautiful campsites. We took another nice break at the intersection with the Tom Lick Run Trail. We had a goal of not getting to camp before 2pm after all! Here we had a lengthy discussion of Joe’s family property in West Virginia and brainstormed ways to get its old farmhouse on a home makeover show. 

After our second generous break of the day, it was time to climb. I was actually surprised at how gentle the climb up to the Allegheny Mountain Trail was. Along the ridge we passed a large group of horseback riders taking a break. We descended the Bear Hunter Trail and stopped for a late lunch over a discussion of Kosher and Halal food just before arriving back at Judy Springs.  

From there, we headed up the Seneca Creek Trail once again passing lots of occupied campsites and recrossing paths with the horseback riders as well as numerous piles of horse poo. We claimed our usual campsite a little ways past the falls just after 2:15pm. We had accomplished our goal of not getting to camp before 2pm!

Our next challenge was finding enough wood to keep a fire going until bedtime. This turned out to be easier than expected and we had a nice woodpile and fire in no time. Aileen spent the afternoon exploring the falls and creek. Reza opted for a nap. The Joes, Karan, and I sat around the fire. We managed to wait until a reasonable time to eat dinner and stayed up a little later than expected swapping “dumb boy” stories. 

We woke early the next morning and hit the trail at 6:30am. We gamely set out to regain the elevation that we had lost the day before. After a long climb, we took a short break at the top of the climb to take advantage of the breeze. By the time we made it back to the cars between 10 and 10:30am, the temperature read about 70 degrees. However, by the time we made it down to Yokum’s for our post-hike meal it was in the high 80s so we opted to dine in the relative coolness inside to celebrate a great trip!

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