Experience the Trails of Pennsylvania

Chuck Keiper Trail: Day Hike From Pete's Run to Fish Dam Run

In April of 2006 we had decided that our annual Spring Hike would be on the Chuck Keiper Trail. Not having enough time to do the entire trail we opted to hike the eastern loop of the CKT. There were five of us that started out on the hike, but only two of us finished. One of the people that didn't finish the hike was Dude. He vowed that he would finish the eastern loop of the CKT sometime. Recently I decided that I'd like to do a day hike on the CKT, but wasn't sure where. That's when I thought about Dude and the fact he didn't get to finish the eastern loop last year. One phone call and a couple days later, Dude and I were dropping his car off at the Fish Dam Run Overlook and driving my car back Pete's Run Road so that Dude could complete the last 6 miles of the eastern loop.

Trailhead: N 41° 17.12'
W 77° 45.25'
Total Elevation: 2922'
Trail Length: 6.5 miles
Hike Time: 4.5 hours
Hike Type: Shuttle
Difficulty Rating: 123
Near: Clinton County,
south of Renovo, PA

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I had just recently hiked 14 miles of the western loop and had an itch to hike more of the Chuck Keiper Trail. Not wanting to finish up the western loop until Mark (who did the first 14 miles of the hike with me) could get out and do the hike with me, I decided that I'd tackle a day hike. That's when I thought about Dude and the fact he didn't get to finish the eastern loop last year. One phone call and a couple days later, Dude and I were dropping his car off at the Fish Dam Run Overlook and driving my car back Pete's Run Road so that Dude could complete the last 6 miles of the eastern loop.

The end of our hike, and the point where we parked Dude's car, is located along route PA144, in the parking area of the Fish Dam Run Overlook. This parking area is the typical trailhead for hiking the Chuck Keiper Trail as it is located at the one end of the cross connector. To reach the trailhead from the south, east, or west, get on route I80 and exit at the Snow Shoe exit (Exit 147). From the exit, turn left onto route PA144. Follow PA144 for 3.9 miles to the town of Moshannon, hanging a right, and continuing on route PA144. Travel for another 21.5 miles and you will see the parking area on your left, directly across from Swamp Branch Road. Coming from the north, follow route PA144 south, or route PA120, to the town of Renovo. In Renovo, follow route PA144 south, across the West Branch of the Susquehanna river and drive for 10.2 miles. The parking area will be on your right directly across from Swamp Branch Road.

The trailhead proper for this hike is on Pete's Run Road. Once you make it to the Fish Dam Run Overlook, head east/north on route PA144. You will travel about 1.2 miles where you will turn right onto Pete's Run Road, just at the crest of the hill. Pete's Run Road is a dirt road, but well maintained, and can be driven on (at least when there isn't snow on the ground) with any type of vehicle; it doesn't need to have four wheel drive or a great suspension. Once on Pete's Run Road, continue straight for 3.4 miles. At this intersection you will want to make sure you bear left. Continue for 0.9 miles, logging a total of 4.3 miles from route PA144, and keep your eyes open for the orange blazes of the Chuck Keiper Trail as it crosses the road at this point. You'll find a parking area to the left of the road, enough room for at least 2 or 3 cars. This is the starting point for this hike.

If you are thinking of doing this hike, then details of the trail can be found in my narrative of our hike in April of 2006. The "Day 3" section describes in detail the trail that Dude and I were hiking on this trip.

The day was a nice day for a hike, with us getting a little damp as a small rain storm passed over head during our climb out of Drake Hollow. We were hot from the climb and the cool rain felt good.

The only creature that we saw on the entire hike was a small garter snake that I wasn't able to get a picture of before he slithered off under an old log. Dude had almost tramped on him, and he gave me quite a start when I realized that it wasn't a stick.

With recent rains the streams were quite full. This made for a very picturesque hike as we hiked through Diamond Rock Hollow and Drake Hollow. Of course the high waters made crossing Hall Run, the stream that runs alongside route PA144, a little difficult. After some searching for a good place to cross, both Dude and I made it over the stream without incident.

During the last section of our hike, the final mile on Barney's Ridge, we heard the sounds of thunder rumbling in the distance. When we got to a good advantage point on the trail, we could see very dark storm clouds in the distance. Luckily the storm was well to our south and we made it back to Dude's car without getting wet, with the exception of the cooling drizzle we experience in Drake Hollow.

I enjoyed the hike very much and Dude was happy to be able to say, finally, that he completed the entire east loop of the CKT. My only complaint were the ticks. I did pick one of them off of me after we made it back to the car. Mark and I encountered quite a few during our hike on the western loop 2 weeks earlier and it was apparent that the ticks were just as prevalent on the eastern loop as well.

We were able to hike the 6.5 miles in pretty good time. Including our stop time, which totaled 25 minutes, we complete the trek in 2 hours and 15 minutes. Of course, the fact that we just had hydration packs on our backs contributed to the almost 3 miles per hour hiking speed. I must admit that I am intrigued by ultra-light hiking and may have to give it a try some day. Without a heavy backpack slowing you down, I can see how it is quite feasible to put in 25 to 30 miles a day hiking. At that pace, Dude could hike either the entire west loop or the entire east loop all in one day.

At the trailhead just off Pete's Run Road. Dude's itching to go.

A view down the trail just as we completed the steepest section of our descent into Diamond Rock Hollow.

Some of the small waterfalls that we encountered on our hike.

Dude stands by a large hemlock tree. This tree is found just alongside the trail near the top of Drake Hollow.

Heading out Barney Ridge, the sky in the distance looks very threatening. Luckily we made it back to the car without getting wet.

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