Hiking >> Tracy Ridge, Dec 2013
January 6, 2014
My most recent backpacking trip was a hike along the Allegheny Reservoir in the Tracy Ridge Recreation Area. It is a beautiful section of the North Country Trail with plenty of connected side trails in the Tracy Ridge Hiking System. Here’s a direct link to a map of the trail system. I have hiked here many times and it is definitely one my favorite places in the Allegheny National Forest.
I met Bryan and Neil at the southern trailhead near Sugar Bay on the morning of December 28. We left a car there and shuttled up to the northern trailhead near Willow Bay. Our plan was a three day, two night hike.
Day one was a beautiful hike along the North Country Trail to the primitive campground at Handsome Lake. We arrived in camp fairly early, so we had plenty of time to gather firewood, explore the area, and lounge around. We spent some time on the opposite shore, across the creek inlet, to bask in the sun and eat.
My sleep setup consisted of a Grand Trunk Nano 7 hammock pitched under a Warbonnet Spinnaker Edge tarp. For insulation, I had a Mountain Hardwear Phantom 15 sleeping bag and an Arrowhead Equipment Kick Ass Quilt Potomac underquilt. The overnight temperatures only dropped to around 30 degrees, so I slept quite comfortably.
Day two started with rain. 35 degrees and rain, all day. Yuck! The worst. Bryan donned a blue tarp as his rain gear and lived the life a hobo for the day. We continued south and hiked the southern loop through Hopewell campground, down to Sugar Bay, and back north along Polly’s Run. This is the first time I had ever hit that particular section of Tracy Ridge, and it was beautiful with no foliage to obscure the view of the reservoir.
By the time we got back to the North Country Trail, we were soaking wet from the day of steady rain and decided we would rather go get dry and warm than spend a miserable night in the cold rain. We bailed out on the North Country Trail to the Sugar Bay trailhead and got some early burgers and beer at a local bar.