Typically, when you get a little brochure that asks kids to fill in the blanks about what they saw on their "hike", you figure on a little walk in the woods. After my hike of the 1000 Steps Trail a few days earlier, I was looking for a little walk in the woods.
Good thing I'm a chronic over-packer! The trail started off on a nice, gradual decline, moving across a meadow with an 'interpretive plaque' telling me how wonderful grouse are. At a signpost, the trail turned deeper into the woods, following a small run that had carved out a good size canyon. The path was an old Jeep trail, from the looks of it.
After a long climb down, what seemed like a mile or more, the trail forked. One way led to Seven Points Marina to the South and West, and the other took me back in a loop of the trail. M guide said a total of 4.5 miles for the loop, so I figured I'd see what was on the way to Seven Points.
After crossing the run and walking a bit around the lake, a small lagoon presented itself, which seemed like a very nice place to fish, and the hike of the side trail to Seven Points began.
While I expected a bit of a walk, I didn't think it would be over a mile uphill, at a pretty steep incline, to get to Seven Points. The map gave absolutely no indication of scale, and I'm not even sure it's to scale with itself. In any case, I was not to be deterred. I packed plenty of water and my standard day's gear in my 3-day assault pack.
Heading up the hill took about three times longer than I thought, and I was ready to get back to camp by the time I got down. Still, I thought proud that I had accomplished an actual hike today, as opposed to a nature trail.
I got back to the intersection where I took the side trail and headed up the loop, back to my car via the "steep incline". OK, what's a steep incline to these people?
Well, I can tell you that they don't exaggerate...the trail led pretty much straight up a 30% grade with about a 600' climb. I was not so full of energy when I started up, and it took me a good half-hour to get to the top of the hill. A nice vista did present itself, about 90% of the way up, but it was certainly not worth the effort.
I ate an apple and picked some raspberries to get some strength back in my legs, and then finished the hill past a lot of blow down. Some of the fallen trees forced me to bushwhack quite a bit.
After a half mile or so, the trail turned decidedly downhill, and the only thing I had to worry about then were snakes and bears. I saw neither.
By the time I got back to my car and realized that I never locked it, I was pretty much ready for a cold beer and a shower.
To compare this hike to others I've taken, it's easily as difficult as a full loop on the blue trail of Mount Nittany, and almost as tough as the 1000 Steps, overall, but it's much longer. The thing about this trail, like the waterfall trails of Shenandoah National Park, is that you start the hike going downhill, which tires you out for the more grueling return trip, uphill.