It’s been a tough week. Personally, professionally nothing seemed to be going right. It felt like every day I was dragging myself out of bed. Ever have those kind of weeks? I was really looking forward to Friday, who doesn’t, right? I needed to clear my head. Needed to get away. What did I do? I went for a hike. There is nothing better to help clear my mind then a good ol’ hike. I decided to check out Gallitzin State Forest. It’s not that far of a drive out, maybe an hour and a half from my house. After researching the trails, I decided on Clarks Run in the Charles Lewis Natural Area. I left my house around 5:30am. Turned on the GPS, which actually got me close to where I wanted to be. It turned out to be a happy accident. I stumbled up Rager Mountain (Didn’t realize it at the time) I knew I was in the forest. Signs stating “State Forest road, open to public. Use at your own risk” Hmmm, well the parking area should be around here somewhere, I thought. I came across a huge power line area, and natural gas pipes. That’s weird, this is a state forest. Nonetheless, the sun was rising, I wanted to be sure to capture it. This is Conemaugh River Gorge. The sky was brilliantly orange and blue. I pulled the car over, and setup my gear. It was cold and the wind was blowing so hard through the trees, I thought I was hearing voices. But it was one of the most stunning views I’d ever seen. I was truly in awe, but questioning why power line alley was smack dab on the top of this mountain. Either way, I still wanted to find the trail. Jumped back in my car, followed the loop back around to the main road. This time I didn’t listen to where the GPS wanted me to turn. Good thing. Don’t you know, I ran right into where I wanted to be. There was no way had I found this the first time, I would have gotten to take in the breathe taking view. Now it’s time to hike.
The trail checks in at 1.8 miles officially. This was one of the more challenging hikes i’ve done. The climb was around 540ft over an elevation of 2400ft. That’s quite the climb. This is a primitive trail that features two cascading waterfalls visible from the trail, and a beautiful hemlock forest on the south face. The first half of the hike doesn’t level out until you reach the access road. You have two choices. Go left to continue on Clarks Run Trail or continue right up the access road to connect to the “Rager Mountain Trail” I chose to stay on Clarks Run. The next obstacle was the foot bridge. It was destroyed by a fallen tree, and was pretty icy. The safer route was actually crossing the stream over the small rocks. This area is the flattest of the hike and doesn’t last long. Enjoy it. Because next you have to traverse through an impressive sandstone rock feature. I called it boulder city, and sometimes I didn’t even think it was part of the trail. This actually leads to an overlook half way down the mountain from where I was in the morning. The overlook is actually where the power lines are. They cross over the Conemaugh River Gorge. Conemaugh is the deepest Gorge in Pennsylvania. From the overlook continue down through the sandstone rock feature. This will lead back down to the waterfalls and across to the parking area. All and all it was a successful hike. More importantly, I enjoyed stunning views, fresh air, and ended up with a clear head…which was the point to begin with.