2021 Allegheny Front Trail – Day One – Benner Run

Sunday, 18 July

Destination: Benner Run CampsiteToday’s Miles: 9.1
Start Location: Rattlesnake Road (PA 504) 9.1

In my never ending quest to find the perfect backpacking gear, I have updated several pieces of equipment and have been itching to try them out.

I purchased a new tent that can be set up freestanding or using stakes, with two doors for better ventilation. I was not too excited with a tent that used my trekking poles and a bunch of stakes that I tried. I like my Big Agnes Copper Spur but it only has one door and gets warm sleeping in the summer. So I will be trying out a Tarptent Moment DW on this hike.

I made a few other small changes. The other big change is a sleeping pad that weighs less than nine ounces, my other pad is a little over sixteen ounces. A new raincoat/poncho also saves another half pound. The little changes add up and make a difference when climbing in the heat.

Bob and I had some plans to hike again in the fall. I had picked out the Allegheny Front Trail for a solo trip to break in the new equipment. I let Bob know of my plans and he decided to come along. We had not really decided on a date, only narrowed it down to the last two weeks of either July or August. The recent weather has been really hot. Thursday, a text message from Bob asking if Sunday through Thursday would work. That fit my schedule as well and so we are off on short notice.

The Allegheny Front Trail is a 42 mile loop located in central Pennsylvania near State College, home of Penn State. The trail was completed in 2001. The trail provides a wide variety of forest environments, including views over valleys to the east, trout streams, and marshlands. The yellow-blazed trail surrounds Black Moshannon State Park and crosses PA 504 twice, though there is almost no road walking.

Scattered along the trail are six trout streams; an acid-polluted stream of interest to activists, known as “Red” Moshannon Creek; and various small brooks. The trail includes about 3 miles on the edge of the Allegheny Front, with six identified vistas and some areas of nearly continuous views; extensive portions of the Ridge and Valley Province to the southeast are visible. There are no shelters, only primitive campsites.

Left the house at six after telling Dolora goodbye for a four hour drive to meet Bob. The temperature was around seventy for most of the drive but dropped to fifty eight as I got closer. Overcast and misty at the parking lot when I met Bob. There were only a few cars parked in the lot. Shortly before arriving, I saw a doe with a fawn in the middle of the road. The fawn was nursing. I had never seen that before.

The best views on the trail were close by if we did the trail clockwise. With the poor visibility Bob and I decided we would hike counterclockwise. We got started about 10:30. Shortly met a day hiker out with his dog. Later we me another couple out day hiking. That was it for the day. The trail was relatively flat with only 790 feet off ascent over the nine miles. There were a few ripe blueberries which slowed us down a little.

The last mile or two were through laurel thickets along Benner Run. We finally came to a nice campsite next to the stream. It was nice to wash and relax. I copied an idea from Dolora’s cousin Tom who also backpacks. Bob and I carried in a can of Yeungling Raging Eagle beer which we chilled in the stream and had with the second half of our Wawa hoagies. The first half was for lunch.

The new tent was a breeze to set up and seems to be everything I was looking for. In early to relax. Update my journal even though there is no cell service tonight. Will try to post tomorrow. Read a little then sack out. Cooling off so sleeping should be perfect.

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