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Eagleton Mine Camp Trail: Exploring the Eastern Half of the EMCT

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From the mid 1840s to around 1870 there existed a mining town by the name of Eagleton. Eagleton was situated on top of the Allegheny Plateau where the mining for coal and iron ore was done. The town was connected to the towns located along the West Branch of the Susquehanna by a railroad that traversed seven switchbacks until it reached the top. A portion of this old railroad grade along with many more additional miles of trails are what make up the Eagleton Mine Camp Trail. On June 10, 2006 DCNR celebrated the grand opening of the Eagleton Mine Camp Trail. The trail is an approximate 20-mile loop, with a number of smaller loops available by using a variety of cross connecting trails. This is a multi-use trail that can be used for biking, horse back riding, and of course hiking.

Trailhead: N 41° 11.18'
W 77° 35.05'
Total Elevation: 2128'
Trail Length: 9.1 miles
Hike Time: 5 hours
Hike Type: Loop
Difficulty Rating: 134
Near: North of Lock
Haven, off of
route PA120 .

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On June 10, 2006 DCNR celebrated the grand opening of the Eagleton Mine Camp Trail. The trail is an approximate 20-mile loop, with a number of smaller loops available by using a variety of cross connecting trails. This is a multi-use trail that can be used for biking, horse back riding, and of course hiking.

I had read an article in a local newspaper about the upcoming grand opening of the Eagleton Mine Camp Trail. The trail sounded interesting and I decided to put it on my "to do" list of hikes. Three weeks passed and I finally had an opportunity to venture out and give the trail a try.

There are two trailheads for the Eagleton Mine Camp Trail; and east and a west. Both provide ample parking and are found along Eagleton Road. For this hike I started at the eastern trailhead. To reach this trailhead you will need to find your way to route US220. You will want to head towards Lock Haven. Once you reach the Lock Haven exit you will be on route PA120. Continue on PA120 for 9 miles. Once you pass a "Welcome To Sproul State Forest" on your right you will need to pay close attention for Eagleton Road, which will be on your left. Turn onto Eagleton Road and continue for another 2.3 miles. The trailhead is at the intersection of Eagleton Road and a set of power lines.

Originally I was not sure how I wanted to hike this trail. I didn't have the time to do the entire loop so I knew that I would have to either do an out-and-back hike or a smaller loop. I had entertained the thought of placing a bike at the western trailhead that I could use to travel back Eagleton Road to the eastern trailhead and where I would have my car parked. I finally decided on using one of the cross connecting trails, specifically the one that descends along Boiler Run, which would make for a hike of a little over 9 miles.

The trailhead isn't located on the main loop of the trail and you have to hike about a third of a mile in until you meet up with it. The first 4.5 miles of hiking was actually quite easy. This section of the trail is something that you could do with younger children if you had another car parked on down Eagleton Road. I was disappointed as there weren't any vistas along this section of the trail, but the trail itself was free of obstacles, wasn't rocky at all, and the gradual ascent wasn't even noticeable.

After meeting up with the main trail loop at 0.3 miles I continued to hike for almost another mile before the trail crossed over Eagleton Road. Along this stretch I did get an opportunity to have a close encounter with a white tailed deer. Most of my encounters in the woods with deer are typically of me watching their tail get smaller and smaller as they bound away from me. In this case the deer actually ran towards me, to the right of the trail, and stopped about 100 feet directly to my right. I was able to to snap a quick picture of it before it continued on it's way down the mountainside.

Once I crossed Eagleton Road the trail meets up with a power line and follows the clearing for about a tenth of a mile before it bears to the left and back into the woods. Once in the woods again the trail meanders on for another 1.5 miles before you once again cross Eagleton Road. One thing that I particularly like about this trail is that it often meandered. One thing that I don't like is when a trail is blazed through the woods in a straight line. I like when the trail will weave in and around the trees as it makes it way through the forest. This is exactly what this trail did and it made the hiking experience even more enjoyable for me. I saw another deer while hiking this 1.5 mile section, but it was quite a ways away from me and I didn't have the opportunity to get a clear picture of it.

Once I crossed the Eagleton Road for the second time I saw more deer. There were two deer that I startled as I hiked along the trail and both were gone before I could even get my camera out of it's bag. This was the most deer that I've seen on all the hikes that I've done and thought to myself that if I hunted I'd probably considering coming up here to hunt this winter.

I crossed Eagleton Road for the third time at 4.5 miles into the hike. At about 4.4 miles the trail turned to the right to avoid a piece of privately owned land. At this turn in the trail was the juncture with the Boiler Run Connector. I followed the Boiler Run connector across Eagleton Road and met up with a dirt forest road at 4.7 miles.

For the next 1.7 miles I had an easy hike on this forest road as it paralleled Boiler Run. Boiler Run was quite picturesque and I took many opportunities to stop and take photos. Finally at 6.4 miles into the hike Boiler Run met up with the Left Branch Boiler Run. There was a camp at this intersection and this was where the connector trail met back up with the Eagleton Mine Camp Trail. I turned left onto the main trail and started my first real ascent of the day.

Over the next 0.6 miles I climbed 400 feet to a ridge top. This section of the trail is also known as the Bootlegger Trail and there was a supposed still that operated on top of this ridge. The still was operated by a Prince Farrington, a legendary prohibition-era bootlegger. After hiking for about 0.2 miles across the top of the ridge I began a descent into Buckhorn Hollow.

There is a small stream that runs down Buckhorn Hollow and the trail crossed it on a newly built bridge before beginning another ascent. Even though this ascent was rather steep for the first tenth of a mile, it soon began to traverse across the face of the ridge, for which I was happy because it was getting quite hot and humid at this point of the hike. It was along this section of the trail that I was treated to the only vista of the entire hike. It wasn't much of a vista, but it did allow you to look down on Buckhorn Hollow and across to the ridge top beyond.

At 8 miles into the hike the trail began to follow the remains of an old railroad grade. This was the railroad grade that connected the mines at Eagleton with Lock Haven. The railroad grade made for nice hiking even when the trail left the grade to go across the top of spoil piles located along the grade.

After changing direction three times on the railroad grade switchbacks the trail left the railroad grade and followed an abandoned forest road back towards Eagleton Road. This was the fourth and last time that I would cross this road. At 8.8 mile I turned right off the main trail, completing the loop, and headed back to my car parked at the trailhead.

The entire hike was a little over 9.1 miles and I was satisfied with my respectable hiking time of 3 hours and 20 minutes. I still have 13 miles of the main trail to hike. I may consider doing this as an overnighter later on in the year. I had not seen any established campsites but seeing as how the trail has only officially been open for less than a month, my guess is that there aren't any campsites.

My experience with this section of the Eagleton Mine Camp Trail was quite favorable. I would definitely recommend hiking this trail if you have a chance. With the entire trail being a 20 mile loop it could quite easily be done as a weekend hiking trip. Rumor has it that the trail will be expanding in the future. Additional side trails, expansion of the loop, and connectors will probably be announced in the upcoming years. It looks like the Eagleton Camp Mine Trail has the making of being another Pennsylvania must-hike trail destination.

There are two parking areas for the Eagleton Mine Camp Trail. This is the east trailhead, with ample parking, located at the first intersection of Eagleton Road and the power lines.

They grow some strange, pink-colored rocks in this neck of the woods. There was apparently a mountain biking event recently as they had highlighted some of the hazards along the trail with fluorescent pink paint.

Slightly blurring picture of one of the deer that I saw on this hike. I encountered four of them within the first three miles of the hike.

At this point the trail walks along the power line clearing. You are only out in the open for less than a quarter mile and there are plenty of blueberry bushes for providing a quick snack.

The trail makes its way through one of the forest clearings.

Couldn't help myself on this one. Nothing too spectacular about daisies, but I thought the picture was nicely composed.

At this point I got off of the Eagleton Mine Camp Trail proper and used the Boiler Run cross connector.

The hike down along Boiler Run was an easy stroll on an old forest road. Boiler Run parallels the road for this 2 mile section of the hike and at times it was quite humid.

There were many mushrooms out since we had just had an extended period of rain and now the temperatures were well into the 80s.

A small waterfall located just off the trail as I descended into Buckhorn Hollow.

The last mile or so of hiking is done along an old railroad grade. I was amazed to see the amount of earth that was moved to build this railroad grade.

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