Located in Centre and Clinton counties, the Chuck Keiper Trail is a great trail for those hikers looking for a challenge and solitude. The trail is over 50 miles in length, but thanks to a cross-connector trail, it is split into two, shorter loops. Not only are their options for shorter backpacking trips, there are plenty of opportunities of day hikes. The Yost Run Loop is a very popular hike on a portion of the Chuck Keiper Trail. Another option that I discovered this weekend is a circuit hike that follows Eddy Lick Run.
|Trailhead:||N 41° 10.61'
W 77° 52.93'
|Trail Length:||8.9 miles|
|Hike Time:||5 hours|
|Near:||On PA144 north of
Snow Shoe, near the
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Temperatures for this last weekend in April topped 80 degrees. I had yet been out for a real hike this season and decided I would take advantage of the great weather. I had hiked the Chuck Keiper Trail a number of times before, doing the entire east loop on a backpacking trip in 2006 and half of the western loop back in 2007. I wanted to add the CKT to my list of PA trails that I've hiked in its entirety, but I still needed to hike the southern half of the west loop to accomplish this goal. This hike allowed me to get even closer to reaching my goal.
You will find the trailhead for this hike on route PA144. This can be accessed going north on PA144 from the I-80 interchange. From this interchange you continue through Snow Shoe, staying on PA144, for a total of 18.2 miles. You can also reach the trailhead from the north on PA120 and turning onto PA144 in the town of Renovo. From the intersection of PA120 and PA144 in Renovo, continue south for 17.7 miles. Heading south, the trailhead is on your right, just past the Centre/Clinton county line. If heading north and you cross the county line, you've gone too far.
After parking my car I embarked on my adventure on the CKT. I crossed route PA144 and continued on the trail for about 0.2 miles when it emerged on a dirt forest road. The trail merges with the road and turns sharply to the left. There is a short descent here and another forest road merges from the left at 0.4 miles with the trail turning to the right.
After another right at 0.5 miles on a camp road, the trail leaves the forest roads behind, turning sharply to the left off the road at 0.6 miles and then jogging to the right where it follows the western bank of Eddy Lick Run down stream.
For the next 2.1 miles the trail stays on the western bank of Eddy Lick Run. Originally the trail had crossed the stream a number of times. Now with trail relocations, the hiker is spared wet feet. However, as is common with most trail relocations along streams, the trail does become somewhat more difficult as you have to hike up and away from the stream, and to be followed shortly after by another descent back down to the stream bank.
At 2.7 miles the trail turns sharply to the left, just prior to a stream crossing. This stream is flowing in from the right and a make-shift bridge composed of four logs allows you to cross this smaller stream just prior to the point where it joins with Eddy Lick Run. At this point the trail is now following an old logging railroad grade.
At approximately 2.9 miles into the hike you will come across the remains of an old splash dam. Splash dams were used to float logs down stream by damming up the stream, filling the resulting pond with many logs, and then releasing the water to allow the logs to ride a tidal wave of water down to deeper waters. This splash dam was constructed of rocks and is an impressive site.
The trail continues to follow the old railroad grade and at 3.3 miles you come across the foot bridge over Eddy Lick Run. This foot bridge is erected near the site of the old railroad bridge and you can see the remains of the bridge abutments on both sides of the stream.
Shortly after crossing Eddy Lick Run, the trail turns up-and-away from the stream. At 3.5 miles into the hike you leave picturesque Eddy Lick Run behind, turning sharply to your left, and beginning the first real climb of the hike. After a little over a tenth of a mile, the trail merges with an old dirt forest road and follows it to the left, continuing the ascent.
After another quarter miles of hiking, the dirt road turns to the right but the trail continues straight, following another old railroad grade. At 4.3 miles into the hike the trail crosses a natural gas well access road. At 4.9 miles the trail turns to the right, leaving the old railroad grade behind. There is a trail register located at this point. I stopped for a bit to sign the register and to refresh myself with a snack and water. Just past the register, the trail comes upon a dirt road, turns to the right, passes a gate and meets up with De Haas road.
The Chuck Keiper Trail crosses the De Haas road at around 5 miles into the hike. At this point I left the CKT and started to make my way back to my car and the trailhead. I turned left onto De Haas road and followed it for another 1.9 miles. At 6.9 miles, just a fee hundred yards before the intersection of De Haas road and route PA144, there is a grassy road to the left, turn here and proceed for another 0.4 miles.
The grassy road emerges from out of the woods along route PA144. You will see a grassy trail to your left that parallels route PA144. Follow this for about 0.2 miles where you merge and turn left on a dirt forest road.
I followed this dirt road through a pine plantation and across some clearings. This is where I saw a large number of turkeys and was lucky enough to snap a picture of one as it ran away from me. At 8 miles into the hike, the dirt road begins to descend towards the head waters of Eddy Lick Run. At 8.4 miles I crossed a very small Eddy Lick Run and at 8.5 miles I was back on the Chuck Keiper Trail. A short hike back up the dirt road and then a sharp right on the orange blazed trail and I found myself back at PA144 and my car.
This was a nice hike for my first real outing of the season. At almost 9 miles, the distance was just about right, and the fact that there was minimal climbing involved, I was very happy with choosing this trail for my hike. I still need to hike a small section of the Chuck Keiper Trail, from DeHaas road to the cross-connector, in order to meet my goal of hiking the entire trail. Maybe in a month or two I can make it back out to the CKT so that I can accomplish this feat.