Backpacking the Old Loggers Path

Wow, it’s hard to believe it’s been almost a year since I published anything on my journal. I’m sure that’s what everyone with a blog says these days. But a lot has happened in the time since my last post about backpacking on the Appalachian Trail in Michaux State Forest. I’ve continued to backpack and hike, as well as get more into trail running. I’ve also started to dabble with making videos of my adventures. My partner Becky and I backpacked the Old Loggers Path (OLP) in the Loyalsock State Forest in early April, and here’s how it went.

A video I put together from the trip!

A quick intro: The OLP is a ~27 mile loop with quite a lot going for it—scenic views, varied terrain, some challenging climbs, and beautiful waterfalls and runs. We started at night on the first day and were finished before noon on the third.

We left Lancaster after work on Friday, and it took us about three-and-a-half hours to get to Masten, the ghost town where the Old Loggers Path starts. We figured better to get the drive out of the way and get some miles behind us so that we can start early on Saturday. I’ve come to like this way of traveling for weekend adventures. Having a full day on Saturday is quite nice, as opposed to having to drive Saturday morning and then back the next day on Sunday.

Anyway, it was still light out when we got there, and the weather was quite nice. Cool, but not cold. The sun set about an hour in, and we kept on going for about another hour with our headlamps on. The trail started with some gentle switchbacks and there were luckily no difficult climbs.

Photo of a tree with a bright orange rectangular blaze on it
The trail is marked by bright orange blazes, clearly labeled throughout

We got to the Sprout Point Vista shelter, which has a primitive campsite nearby. We set up our tent and called it a night. Strangely enough, my tongue swelled up that night and got worse while in the tent. I could barely talk, and I’ve never had anything like that happen before. We think it’s something I ate, but I didn’t eat anything unusual that may have caused it, so who knows. I took some allergy medicine and went to sleep, and it was, thankfully, much better in the morning.

Photo of a primitive fire ring and tent surrounded by fog
Our campsite from Friday night at Sprout Point Vista, too foggy to see appreciate the view
Selfie photo of Brett and Becky in the tent with the door open showing the fog
Foggy view from the tent on Saturday morning

We woke up around 6 AM, and it was quite foggy out. So foggy that it obscured the view from the vista where we camped, as well as the next vista along the trail. It eventually cleared in the afternoon, but the fog certainly had an eerily quality to it that I enjoyed. While we may have lost out on some views, the atmosphere the fog created more than made up for it.

Photo of Brett and Becky at the Sprout Point Shelter surrounded by backpacks
Photo of us at the Sprout Point Shelter after breakfast

After coffee and some breakfast, we hit the trail for what would be about sixteen miles that day. We saw a few other groups of backpackers, but most of the trip was spent alone. It was still early in the season. I could certainly see the OLP getting crowded in the warmer weather, especially with the various water crossings, streams, and swimming holes in the runs.

The day honestly went so smoothly. The major water crossing was fine—the water wasn’t particularly high or rapid. There were some challenging climbs, but none that were utterly defeating. Views were peppered throughout. It honestly feels like the kind of perfect backpacking trail where every hour-or-so there’s something significant—a vista, a water crossing, some tough climbs, cool rocks, etc. The terrain and flora are varied too, which is an added bonus.

Photo of Brett standing in the stream filtering water into a bottle
Me filtering water in the river

We ate lunch on some large outcroppings, and it was a bit cold at that time. The wind combined with our damp clothes made for a cold lunch. But we layered up beforehand and made out all right.

Photo of a vista with barren trees and some mountains in the distance
View from one of the vistas

From there, we descended down to the confluence of Yellow Dog and Rock Run, where there’s an excellent campsite. It’s a beautiful setting with the rushing water nearby. There are plenty of swimming holes for warmer times of year. A nice campfire ring is surrounded by chairs fashioned from large rocks. It’s an ideal spot, and I’d imagine it’s difficult to get in the warmer months. We set up camp, ate dinner, and then took it easy. We were pretty tired from the day, and it was nice to arrive before the sun had set.

Photo of a setup tent with the door open placed in front of running water
Our campsite on Saturday night, right by the water

We knew it was supposed to rain the next day, and with only about six miles left, we decided that we’d wake up pretty early and get it done. We were up around 5 AM. Becky made coffee while I took down the food bag that we hung in trees away from the campsite. We ate some bars, drank our coffee, broke down camp, and were on the trail by 6 AM. The rain had started coming down at that point, but with only six miles to the car, it didn’t much matter if we or the tent got and stayed wet. The sun rose, and we kept on making our along the trail. We were determined to get it done, but we had fun along the way. The day started with a climb out of where we camped, and then it was pretty much downhill from there.

It was around 10 AM when we made it to the car, soaked to the bone. But we had fresh clothes in the car, as well as a celebratory root beer and snacks. We enjoyed those on our drive to Becky’s Mom’s, who doesn’t live too far from the OLP. After a visit, we made our way back to Lancaster. All was going well until at around 8:30, forty-five-minutes from home, Becky heard a clunk under the car and some smoke start pouring out. She pulled over on the side of the highway, and we thought her Subaru Forester was done for. We took everything out of the car, thinking it was destined for the scrapyard. At about 221k miles, it wouldn’t have been too surprising. So we called a tow truck, who brought it to a shop not far from where we were, and we called a friend who picked us up (thanks, Jason!). A bit defeated and extremely tired, we got home around 10 PM, the fate of Becky’s car uncertain.

Well, Becky called the shop the next day and her car was totally fine. The oil plug on the bottom fell out, it must not have been screwed in all the way when she last had her oil changed, and it all they had to do was replace that and put in new oil. Less than $100. We picked her car up that day. Phew! It wasn’t catastrophic at all.

Photo of map and guide book on a sleeping bag

We used Dave Gantz’s guidebook and the Loyalsock Purple Lizard map during the trip, both of which are excellent and highly recommended.

View my activity on Strava with the route we did.

The Old Loggers Path was an excellent start to our backpacking season. We aren’t geared up enough for winter camping, so we were eager to get out there at the first signs of spring. While the fog and rain could have put a damper on our spirits, I think it added to the adventure and made it memorable. If you’re in the region and looking for a weekend or few day backpacking trip, I don’t think you can go wrong with the Old Loggers Path.

Author: Brett Chalupa

day: software developer, night: adventurer, video maker, writer

2 thoughts on “Backpacking the Old Loggers Path”

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