Bear Run Trip Report

Posted by Michael Martin on

So a quick trip report for Bear Run, as I’m sure everyone is eager to hear of our Sasquatch sighting.

Friday night, seven of us (Carrie, Shelby, Dan, Jim, Andrew, MikeVW, and I) met up at Grosvenor Metro and were soon rolling towards Ohiopyle. We got to the trailhead at about 9:40pm, and Max was there waiting for us. Sharon was driving up independently with her dog Sophie, and would arrive later.

We were quickly off on the trail, and it emerged that Mr. Ide was quite correct about the difficulty of navigating through the tangled web of trails in the SE quadrant of the Bear Run Nature Reserve. There are a ton of trails, the blazes can be faint, and at night, well, it was an adventure. Nevertheless, we walked in about 0.6 miles—thinking we were on the Tree Trail (more on that later)—pitched our shelters, strung a bear line, shot the breeze for a bit, and settled in for the night at about 11pm. It was going to be chilly—the thermometer the next morning read about 25 degrees.

At about 11:30pm, Sharon texted me. I got out of my bag and we and spent the next 90 minutes or so trying to get her to our campsite. In the middle of the night, that proved much harder than it should be, especially since, as we realized, Sharon had actually made it to where I had planned to camp (the lower campsite on Snowbunny), whereas I had mistakenly turned onto Aspen. In my defense, both Tree and Aspen trails are blazed yellow. I followed the yellow paint. Eventually, she and I concluded over the phone that we’d just rendezvous the next morning. Back to my Trailstar, a few more sips of whisky, and I was asleep by 1:30am.

(I sure was lucky I didn’t encounter Sasquatch when I was by myself.)

Saturday we were up early at 6am and walking by 7:15am (before dawn). We met Sharon at the parking lot and then were quickly off on a big circumnavigation of the park, walking the following trails, in order: Arbutus, Wintergreen, Warbler, Hemlock, Bear Run (very pretty), Rhododendron, Snowbunny, Laurel Run, Peninsula (good views of the river in one place), Tissue, Tree, Rhododendron, and back to the group campsite on Snowbunny. After walking all the way around the park, we knew this would be the best campsite for nine people.

As a rarity, we actually pulled into this campsite well before sunset, so we had lots of time to gather firewood for a nice bonfire. We were all enjoying the fire and working on our flasks of whisky, and it was then that it happened.

We were discussing how seriously people in Pittsburgh take the Steelers, when Max said, “Everyone but me!” Just at that moment, a Sasquatch hiding in the woods behind us, and obviously a rabid Steelers fan, tossed a rock at us (probably he was aiming for Max). We turned our headlamps his way, and heard him thrashing his way through the bushes. Carrie asserted that he was actually wearing a Ben Roethlisberger jersey, but I find that difficult to believe. I suggested that we should do a combined meet up with the Finding Bigfoot TV show people—an idea that has some serious merit.

After all this excitement (and some more of Shelby’s maple whisky), we started to fade. Most struggled to stay awake till 9pm! I was actually one of the last to retire, and I was in bed by 9:30pm. It rained a bit on us that night, but the temperature did not dip below freezing.

Sunday, by DC UL standards, we slept in. A wake up call at 7:30am and on the trail by 9am. I admit that my primary concern was slowing us down so that we’d reach the pub when it opened—noon. We hiked the remaining trails in the park (Rhododendron to Ridge to Wagon to the cars). Max and Andrew did a little more; I also went and scoped out the campsite on Hemlock, which seemed very nice, though it would have been small for a group our size.

We reached the cars by 11am, made it to the pub in Ohiopyle by noon, knocked back a few pints of Mad Elf, and ate some unhealthy food. Shelby won the award on that last category—she had a salad … with French fries on top. From there, it was an easy drive home.

All in all, we had a brilliant group of people. Our three new backpackers (Carrie, Jim, and Shelby) were terrific, and I really hope we’ll see them on lots of future trips!

Bear Run was a pretty easy outing for us, but we essentially thru-hiked the little park, walking almost all the trails. I recorded splits of 0.6-16.75-3.75, for a total of 21.4 miles, with elevation gain of 3,875ft gain and 4,005ft of loss. I’ll share my map data with the people who attended later in the week.

Thanks, everyone, for making it happen! It was great to be out there covering new ground for the club!


Michael Martin posted on

OK, seriously, the people who manage the Bear Run Nature Preserve just sent this request to my cartographer:

"Note that the land managers for Bear Run have requested “Please omit any trail names on the map, b/c we are currently going through a renaming process.” I’ve included the existing trail names for reference."

I ask you, fellow backpackers, how can I publish a trail description or a map for a trip without using trail names?!

Suggestions are welcome! ;)

Evan Mc posted on

Cheekily make up your own trail names and make a joke out of Bear Run's request!

Michael Martin posted on

It may come down to that.