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Old 04-13-2020, 11:09 AM   #1
jmitch
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Vistas of Fish Dam Run Gorge-Sproul State Forest

https://endlessmountains.wordpress.c...-state-forest/


A hike to two superb vistas over the 1,200 foot deep Fish Dam Run Gorge. There are more in the area. Beautiful place.


https://www.instagram.com/p/B-nlKGXj..._web_copy_link


https://www.instagram.com/p/B-pKXXxj..._web_copy_link
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Old 04-13-2020, 11:31 AM   #2
DSettahr
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Nice photos. The Russell P. Letterman Wild Area is a place I wouldn't mind exploring more fully. I did think that it was odd that the Chuck Keiper Trail only briefly forayed into the upper reaches of the Fish Dam Run drainage, when it appears that a possible alternate route (on existing trails, or at least the public use map claims they exist) would allow hikers to descend down Fish Dam Run past Proctor Hollow, then ascend along Dennison Fork to rejoin the traditional CKT route near the overlook on PA 144.

Although maybe those "supposedly existing trails" don't actually exist (or at least, are not in great shape). Even the CKT is lacking in needed maintenance in a few spots.

There is also a nasty infestation of Japanese barberry in the upper reaches of the Fish Dam Run drainage that I fear is going to be allowed to continue spreading unchecked...
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Old 04-13-2020, 01:11 PM   #3
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I believe the CKT may have used to go further down Fish Dam, but I think a tornado resulted in the current route. Lots of those trails on the state forest maps do not exist, not sure where they got them from. It's surprising how many scenic features surround the CKT that the trail misses. While I like the CKT, a few tweaks to the route would make it a much more scenic trail.
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Old 04-13-2020, 02:00 PM   #4
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Yeah, that would make sense.

And also, yes: I learned pretty quickly on during my early forays into hiking and backpacking in PA that the existence of many trails shown on the official "public use maps" published by DCNR needs to be taken with a grain of salt. For the most part, any of the officially-designated "State Forest Trails" are easy to follow (although even the CKT gets moderately brushy in spots and forced us into navigating by trial and error a couple of times). Any side trails, however, are pretty hit or miss. I suspect that many of them probably existed at one point but they've largely faced into herd paths (or even well into oblivion) as a result of decades of non-maintenance.

Out of curiosity- how else would you re-route the CKT if given the opportunity to do so?
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Old 04-13-2020, 07:41 PM   #5
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Yup, the old route along Dennison Fork is still visible in a few spots, and is really excellent if you don't mind a bushwhack. The trail to access it is completely gone though. I love these old routes on maps; they give you an excuse to explore otherwise unraveled areas.
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Old 04-13-2020, 09:43 PM   #6
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Trailnotfound, what's it like down along Dennison Fork and fish Dam? Anything worth checking out?
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Old 04-13-2020, 09:43 PM   #7
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Trailnotfound, What's it like down there, anything worth checking out?
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Old 04-13-2020, 11:20 PM   #8
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When I hiked the Chuck Keiper West Loop last year with friends, we stopped for a brief packs off break on Fish Dam Run, where the CKT arrives at that stream after climbing up and over the ridge separating the Burns Run drainage to the west. There was an obvious trail that continued downstream along Fish Dam Run but I didn't follow it more than maybe 100 feet, so it very well could have petered out pretty quickly.

All of those drainages on the north end of the CKT- Yost Run, Burns Run, Fish Dam Run, Boggs Run- are places that I wouldn't mind exploring more fully.

Somewhat related: Our night #2 campsite on that trip was on the downstream end of the CKT stretch in the West Branch drainage. I took a bit of a night hike after dark, and ended up hiking some distance up along West Branch (away from the CKT, which follows the Panther Branch tributary). That seemed like a neat stretch of trail along a cascading stream, but I did not have an opportunity to check it out in daylight.
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Old 04-13-2020, 11:21 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by jmitch View Post
Trailnotfound, what's it like down along Dennison Fork and fish Dam? Anything worth checking out?
I really enjoyed it. We accessed it from where the CKT crosses 144 west of the Fish Dam lot. The trail down is completely gone, and it's a steep descent covered with tornado debris. The upper stream has a few nice small cascades but nothing spectacular, and the valley floor eventually becomes relatively wide and flat bottomed. Probably beautiful in the spring, and a nettle hell in the summer. The washed out faint remnants of an old grade that follows (and frequently crosses) the stream made walking somewhat easy. The west slope has some massive hardwoods growing in a wide open forest, which isn't something you run into much, and I thought was the highlight. While there was some tattered flagging, the area feels very rarely visited.

I know you're more of a vistas explorer, but if you get a chance check out Water Trough Trail, Benjamin Run, and Gravel Lick in the center of the east loop. They all barely/don't exist, but are very nice walks along remote streams. If reblazed they'd give some much needed options for smaller loops.
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Old 04-14-2020, 10:25 AM   #10
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Trailnotfound, sorry for the double post. Thanks, I'll need to check that out. I like hiking along creeks as well. If you haven't done so, Clendenin Branch is really beautiful and has a trail as well.
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Old 04-14-2020, 10:33 AM   #11
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DSettahr-

Like you mentioned, I'd take it down Fish Dam, up Proctor, and then along the plateau to three superb vistas. I'd cross the plateau including the meadows, pine and spruce forests. For burns run, I'd stay higher up in the watershed, taking advantage of some meadows, views, and large rocks. There's an open meadow ridgewalk that would be beautiful. On the east loop, I'd include Clendenin and Benjamin Runs. Clendenin is really beautiful and already has a trail. I'd try to include Boggs Run Vista, maybe by a side trail. The area has a lot of potential.
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Old 04-14-2020, 03:47 PM   #12
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If you haven't done so, Clendenin Branch is really beautiful and has a trail as well.
I think it was a post of yours that clued me in, but that's been on my list for years. I just hadn't been able to convince my main hiking partner to go. Now that we've both moved from the area, it may be a bit before I make it.

Good luck getting the CKT moved; it sorely needs more traffic, and maybe a few vistas would be just what does it.
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