Detweiler Run Natural Area — 3 miles (map!)

Our most successful day so far!

We decided to spend the day on an aggressive attempt to figure out what’s going on? in the vicinity of the “Grand Junction” [our name] of McKinney Trail, Thickhead Mountain Rd and Detweiler Run Rd. We left a vehicle at the gate where Detweiler Run Rd leaves Bear Meadows Rd. We then drove to Penn Roosevelt and hiked uphill from the gate on Thickhead Mtn Rd. Although it was a climb, it’s a fairly nice road and it went quickly.

At Grand Junction, we went around the curve onto Detweiler Run Rd and to the RoW (shown on Purple Lizard map) descending the SE face of Thickhead mountain. We proceeded a short way up the RoW and out the road, looking for a curving “road crossing” we thought we had seen on satellite and Penn Pilot images. Turns out we were probably seeing nothing but a wash of bare stones… Drat.

From the junction of the RoW and DRR, we descended straight downhill into the Detweiler Run valley, which is pretty shallow at this point. Starting up the other (SE) side, Vince spotted some curious rock piles. Before long we had discovered TWO parallel RoWs a short distance apart on the hillside! The lower one appeared to end rather abruptly down-grade not far from us, while the upper one appeared to continue down the valley. We decided to each follow one up-grade, both headed back towards Grand Junction.

Just NW of Grand Junction, both RoWs crossed DRR. Shortly after the road, a RoW came in from the left (this apparently being the grade with the nice trestle remains we found previously) and merges with the RoW nearer Thickhead Mtn Rd. The grade I was following sort of fades out into the middle of the junction of the other two tracks. It appears it may be an abandoned fragment. Hmmm.

With all this stuff surveyed, we set out downgrade (SW) on Vince’s new mainline. The rockwork we had stumbled on earlier is quite impressive, and then the grade just starts dropping dropping dropping. Very impressive! As we went, it became evident the parallel grade goes nowhere, despite considerable rock work. Perhaps an earlier attempt which turned out to be too steep?

Down we went, and all of a sudden a trailing point switch going off downhill! Vince found the track ahead to be merely a tail track, so we reverse course and head down the switchback. Why aren’t these switchbacks shown on the Kline map???

Further down, we saw the next switchback approaching from down the valley. The end of our present direction held a surprise, however. There isn’t quite room for a tail track, so they actually dug a cut into the hillside to fit the tail track! These guys were determined. We examined and found a rough log road, or maybe even a log slide, coming down on the NW side of the tail track cut. It seems possible the cut might also have served as a log loading dock.

We continued down the valley on the bottom track. These are some of the nicest switchbacks we have seen, and it’s hard to fathom how they escaped the Kline map.

[other items seen]

A bit further we encountered a sign post for Shingle Path and the Mid State Trail. The MST is now on the RoW going SW. Articles by the Purple Lizard dude told us this was the case, we just didn’t know where it happened!

The RoW continued nicely right to the Huntingdon/Centre county line and edge of Detweiler Run Natural Area, then stopped. Could this explain why the DRNA is still natural? It appears so, as the NA is some seriously rugged and wild terrain, with plenty of virgin timber.

We continued through the NA to discover that RoW resumes on the other side. Obviously this is a separate route, coming in from Alan Seeger. We theorized that the distance in from the top was reaching the limits of practicality, and that logging this portion had to await construction of the AS route.

We cut uphill to Detweiler Run Rd and hoofed it back to the truck at the gate. It was an exhausting trek , but we were elated to have resolved some mysteries and discovered a bunch of track and switchbacks not on the Kline map. What a day!

We later determined we had mapped 3 miles of new RoW (making our most productive day so far) and hiked about 8 miles in some pretty rugged terrain.

Detweiler Upper