The Allegheny Front Trail encircles the Black Moshannon State Park. Connecting the southern section of the AFT loop and the central section of the park is the Moss Hanne Trail. I had never hiked on this trail so I thought it was about time to check it out. I contacted Tim and we met at the park to do a shuttle hike on the Moss Hanne Trail.
|Trailhead:||N 40° 53.28'
W 78° 2.35'
|Trail Length:||8.8 miles|
|Hike Time:||5 hours|
|Near:||Black Moshannon State Park|
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This was a shuttle hike so we parked Tim's car at the end of our hike, at the intersection of Julian Pike and route PA504. After dropping off Tim's car we headed back down Julian Pike until we reached the intersection with the Strawband Beaver Road. There is a parking area at this intersection and this is where we parked my car and started our hike.
The hike starts with a bit of road walking as we left the parking area and headed towards the start of the Moss Hanne Trail. After hiking a quarter mile along Julian Pike we turned left on to the Allegheny Front Trail and the start of the Moss Hanne Trail. Soon we were walking across our first of many boardwalks that are found on this trail.
At about 0.7 miles into the hike we reached the highest point of the hike at about 1980 feet. The nice thing about this hike is that elevation changes are very minimal. With the only real "climb" behind us, we continue on the yellow blazed trail.
At about 1 mile into the hike the trail makes a very sharp right. We were walking through some pines along this section of the trail. The trail was wet here as we would soon discover it was wet pretty much everywhere. With all of the rain we had in the fall and early winter the trails were soaked and muddy in places.
Around 1.8 miles the trail curved out towards the meadows of Black Moshannon. As Tim and I hiked this section of the trail we caught glimpses of the lake and bog off to our right. For the most part we stayed within the woods and that was pretty much all we saw.
The trail turned right at 2.6 miles onto what seemed to be an old forest road. Around two tenths of a mile past this point we came to the intersection of the Moss Hanne Trail and the Allegheny Front Trail. Up to this point, even though the trail was blazed yellow, both the Moss Hanne Trail and the Allegheny Front Trail followed the same track. At this junction the AFT went off to our left, blazed in orange as the Moss Hanne Trail continued straight, blazed in yellow.
The trail skirted around a small rise in the ground as it headed down towards the bog at 3.2 miles. Just when I thought we were going to emerge into the clearing of the bog, the trail made a sharp left to parallel the bog. In a tenth of a mile the trail turns to the right and descends to the bog and the clearing. Here we encountered another boardwalk and a bridge that crossed a deep stream running through the center of the bog. We took a minute to enjoy the view from this elevated position prior to continuing on our hike.
We crossed the bog and climbed a small hill at about 3.6 miles into the hike. Here the trail turns to the right as it goes around the Mid State Airport.
For the next 1.8 miles the trail winds in and out of the trees as it skirts along the bog. The trail is very wet at many places along this stretch. Tim and I spent as much time hiking along the edges of the trail to avoid the wet areas as we did hiking on the trail proper.
At 5.4 miles the trail turns left and becomes much drier as it hikes through the forest, and leads away from the wet bog. There is a slight rise here and at 5.7 miles we begin a slow descent once again to the lowlands and the wetter areas of the trail.
At 6.8 miles we crossed a small feeder stream on a wooden bridge. Just a short distance past this were some parallel planks placed to cross a very wet section of the trail. There were many other places on the trail that really could have used these planks as well.
Finally, at 7.5 miles we arrived at the end of the Moss Hanne Trail. However our hike was not over as we still had almost a mile and a half to hike. We followed the West Side Road as it passed along the many private camps on the shores of the lake. The walk wasn't too bad as we made our way back to Tim's car. After 8.8 miles of hiking we were back at his car and at the end of the hike.
If you are considering doing this hike, I would recommend late summer as a good time to try it. The trails should be much drier in late summer. I spied a bunch of blueberry bushes on our hike and in late summer, they would be full of berries. A nice treat on any summertime hike.