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Old 02-17-2019, 12:41 PM   #1
DSettahr
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Nice campsites on the Chuck Keiper West Loop in PA?

Calling Jeff Mitchell!

Last year, a few friends and I hiked the Chuck Keiper East Loop (trip report available here). This year, we are looking at returning to hike the Chuck Keiper West Loop to finish hiking the full Chuck Keiper Trail.

I was wondering if anyone had done this trail and had any recommendations for campsites especially. Based on the info on the MidAtlanticHikes page, it sounds like the sites in the Burns Run drainage and at the lower end of the Eddy Lick Run section are the nicest along this loop but I figured I'd check with folks here to see if anyone has any other recommendations. We'd probably be doing the trail in 3 full days/2 nights, and it's sounding like our group size will be a bit on the larger size- possibly 6-8 people, so any info on sites that can accommodate a group of this size would be good.

Also, are there any "must see" spots along this trail? It sounds like there's some nice cascades and waterfalls along the Yost Run section of the trail. Anything else of note?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 02-18-2019, 10:40 PM   #2
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It has been a while since I've done the west loop. I recall nice sites on Fish Dam, Burns, Yost, and Eddy Lick Runs. The falls on Yost are nice, but are not big. I've seen pics of a falls on Panther Hollow, a trib to Yost; it is off trail and will require a bit of rain. Eddy Lick has the remains of a splash dam, which is cool. I really enjoyed the section along Eddy Lick.

I thought the west loop was nice, and challenging. Be ready for narrow, worn out sidehill. Nice clear streams in deep gorges and glens. Small cascades abound. Rhodos and laurel are common. Some meadow-like areas on the southern part. Not much in the way of views. Nettle is an issue in summer.

Have fun.
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Old 02-19-2019, 11:34 AM   #3
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Awesome- that is super helpful.

I also made a similar post on Reddit and someone there chimed in with basically the same info. Based on that information, I'm thinking that we'll probably hike the loop clockwise, and aim for Eddy Lick Run for night #1, and Burns Run for night #2. If we fall short of Burns Run or end up there super early, it's nice to know that the options on Yost Run and Fish Dam Run are solid. We only need to average 10.5 miles per day to finish the 31.5 mile loop, which isn't too bad- but we might also push on further on Saturday if possible so that we can end earlier on Sunday.

We're planning this trip for early April, so nettles shouldn't be an issue. Of course, that also means cold and wet weather might be. :-)

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Old 02-23-2019, 06:36 PM   #4
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https://www.instagram.com/p/Bfo6jQqH...d=y6ql6oa2gkg8

Photo of falls in Panther Hollow.
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Old 02-24-2019, 04:48 PM   #5
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Nice. Maybe I'll try to carry a UV filter for my camera to get a couple of long exposure shots.
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Old 05-17-2019, 11:59 PM   #6
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Just a quick update on this. We ended doing the West CKT Loop in early April over 4 days/3 nights. We hiked the loop clockwise from the East Branch trailhead on PA 144. We camped at one of the East Branch sites on Night #1, the site furthest downstream on West Branch on Night #2 (where the trail makes a sharp turn to the west and climbs up and out of the drainage), and the site where Packer Fork empties into Burns Run on Night #3.

The East Branch site we remembered from our previous trip last year to hike the East Loop- we used it for Night #1 on that trip also. It is spacious and flat, although it still has one particularly nasty widow maker that I'm surprised hasn't fallen in the year since we first camped there.

The West Branch site was also nice, although it does require fording West Branch to get to it. Depending on the conditions, this can either be an easy rock hop or a knee deep ford. (There is another nice site about a quarter mile or so upstream on the West Fork tributary that the CKT follows; this site can be accessed via a bridge across the stream.)

The campsite at Packer Fork in the Burns Run Wild Area is one of the nicest backcountry campsites I've had the pleasure of staying at in the PA Wilds. Ample room (good for our group of 5 guys with a tent apiece), plenty of camp "furniture" (log benches, stone tables, etc.), stacked firewood (we replaced as much of what we used as we could) and just an all around nice setting. Someone clearly put a lot of work into that campsite- it definitely has the appearance of a classic fall hunting camp (a few of my companions were rather dubious that anyone would hike a canvas wall tent into the site but I honestly wouldn't be surprised to see one if I were ever to wander back there during hunting season).

Apart from those three that we used, we passed a few other nice sites. Eddy Lick Run had a couple of nice sites but these were all on the smaller side. Yost Run had OK sites- I've read trip reports indicating that if one continues downstream of where the trail turns east to climb up and away from Yost Run, better spots can found. I didn't get a chance to wander down this way but it did look like the valley starts to open up a bit further north of where the CKT departs the stream. The height of land between Yost and Burns Runs also had some phenomenal campsites in a pine plantation, but these were also dry sites without any nearby water sources (although there is a spring near the lease camp on the west side of this ridge, so one wouldn't necessarily need to descend all the way into the valley to get water).

Fish Dam Run also had some nice sites but again these were on the smaller side. Unfortunately, Fish Dam Run also had a substantial infestation of Japanese barberry, an incredibly invasive, non-native plant that has been linked to the spread of ticks and lyme disease. It was disappointing to see such a well-established infestation of an invasive plant in the backcountry.

You were also right about the "narrow, worn out sidehill." The Yost Run stretch especially was pretty bad in this regard. We also had the misfortune of apparently being the first group through that area since the trees had lost their leaves in the Autumn- so what little sidehill existed was also covered in a deep layer of slippery oak leaves (which at times was nearly knee deep). So not only were were tripping and twisting our ankles on narrow sidehill, we were slipping on the leaves and stubbing our toes on unseen rocks.

Anyways, just wanted to chime in again and say thanks for the info- we definitely put it to good use. At some point maybe I'll get a proper trip report posted.
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