WOW! What a gem Pinchot is!!! I made the trek to trailhead solo to meet my hiking partners, Osiris, and Yossi. Both are new to DCUL, so I felt some pressure to give them a great trip;) While gearing up, I asked them if they would be willing to shoot for a near 16 mile day, vs the 13 mile day 1 I listed. Both obliged the challenge. By 10am-ish we were trail bound in a CCW fashion. I made exclamations about the beauty of this trail about once every 800',...I was really diggin' it! At the northern most part of the trail we were faced with the most challenging climb of the loop. It was a whopper...NOT! Its refreshing to hike a lazy, pleasant scenic loop, rather than the norm many of us DCUL'ers find ourselves pushing through. Near the top I spotted a turkey wandering around. I saw MORE wildlife on this loop per mile than any other trek I've done,...I think. Well, there was a lot, believe me. Eventually we made it to the end of the northern section, and had wrapped our way back to the main road that bisects this awesome loop. I DID however miss the turn as I was busy flapping my gums to Osiris and Yossi about packs. No worries, at the road we back-tracked a half mile or so. Shortly into the lower section we stopped for a water, and "egg" break. Yossi and Osiris enjoy hardboiled eggs on their treks. As I recall, Osiris prefers mustard with the egg and Yossi, mayo. We were back at it forging our ways through tunnels of rhododendron. When we met Choke Creek I heard voices, and we saw a gang of backpackers looking to setup camp. In another half mile we found MORE backpackers. WOW, this is a popular place to bed down. I was concerned as my neighbor instructed me to wait for the last site, as it was the BEST site. Additionally, Jeff Mitchell's book- http://www.amazon.com/Backpacking-Pennsylvania-37-Great-Hikes/dp/0811731804
Suggested this righteous spot as well. Osiris' feet were really bothering her, I really wanted to safely get us to a great spot to bed down. This was going to be the biggest mileage day yet for Yossi and Osiris backpacking. We passed site after site, none of them seemed to fit the description. FINALLY! We made it. Totally worth it. What a spectacular site. We set up camp, Yossi and I gathered wood so he could make his "upside down fire"...google it;) We hung out at a great fire, ate our meals, told stories, and enjoyed the excellent weather. Eventually I retired to my hammock. I was quite excited for this experiment. I DID bring a mattress and tarp should I have to seek refuge from rain, OR, the hammock was uncomfortable. We didn't have rain, but I was horribly uncomfortable. I ended up jus' dealin' with it that night. I believe my hang was terrible, which was the main reason for discomfort. Sunday we broke trail a little after 8 as we only had 8ish miles to hike. The lower half of this loop is quite different from the northern, its denser in its forest and vegetation. At one point I was hiking but looking at my phone to find a restaurant that better suited out respective drives home. With my eyes looking down I wasn't paying attention to the trail. However, from over top of my glasses I did spot a black blob on the trail. I stopped dead in my tracks, and looked up. Hello mr porcupine! 5 feet from me. I believe the two of us were startled. He waddled off the trail. When we got close to Bear Lake we meandered through some beautifully blossoming brush. That was the highlight of the trek for me, loved it! To complete the loop we had to road walk .7 mile. At the parking lot we rejoiced in hike done well!! From the trail head Yossi and Osiris followed me to Jubilee in Pocono Pines, PA for the post hike meal and beers. An excellent suggestion from an unnamed couple I happened upon Sunday morning.
Pinchot Trail is a gorgeous loop, that is well marked and relatively easy to backpack. After this trip I believe I will plan a snow-shoe trip for Pinchot this next winter. Its really not that far from DC either. 3.5-4 hour drive. I would HIGHLY recommend backpacking Pinchot to anyone new to backpacking, or some of who would like a respite from the norm;)
Ben, you are correct. Osiris likes Mustard and I like my Mayo :)
Great write up.
Great report. Pinchot is a diverse trail. Next time, check out the Choke Creek falls, view on Big Pine Hill, and you can extend the north loop by hiking the Watres Trail, which features, meadows, streams, a cool pond with rocks, and a couple streams with cascades. I've stayed at the same campsite, it is a great spot.