The Chuck Keiper trail is a 52 mile (83.6 km) track through Sproul State Forest in north-central PA. After some negotiating, two friends and I settled on doing the eastern loop (22.5 mi or 36.2 km) in one day and camping the same night. Though the official website recommends it as a two-day trek, we were confident that we could cover the ground in one day. And we did! With a brisk pace, we covered the full 22.5 miles in 9.7 hours (we started at 9:30 am). Just to give you an idea of what the trail looks like, here is the elevation profile:
Chuck Keiper east loop profile; it is not flat
The description of this group that hiked it makes it sound pretty dramatic, poor fellows. They did it over three days…we hit the place they camped on the second night at about 4 pm. Needless to say, we had a much easier time of it, but we were carrying lighter packs. Nonetheless, our nickname for the trail is the Chuck Norris trail.
Anyway, here are some photos from the hike if you want to tag along!
The overlook at the start of the hike is very beautiful
Our group consisted of a Brazilian (orange), a New Zealander (blue), and me, whatever I am
There is a lot of hay-scented fern (Dennstaedtia punctilobula), which is invasive, but beautiful
Streams criss-crossing throughout.
Looking for tadpoles
A nice mountain laurel, low bush blueberry understorey
And the overstorey was largely oak, hickory, maple, and birch, with some beech and tupelo
Impressive colonies of ferns
After a steep climb, we were on a relatively bald plateau, with a pine plantation to the right.
With all these blueberries, it must be nice to hike during late July or early August
A very interesting broken tree
I like these shady, soft paths
I didn’t really take any photos of our steep descents, but they were killer on the knees!
There were some good climbs too
I usually get ahead on the climbs, so I have more of a chance to take photos.
There were also a lot of old logging roads, which are actually quite nice to walk on after slippery slopes and rugged trails.
Pine forest…all same age stands
(I like this white balance better for hemlocks)
I love these old mossy bridges
We also crossed some gravel roads along the way
Ah, shady forest
Tons of moosewood, just changing colours
Toad #1 of approximately 5 million
These slopes are quite pretty with their open understoreys
The track follows the curve of the hill for a long time
Lots of beautiful streams
Nice, filtered afternoon light
We cross a major road…can you see the trail?
Starting to lose daylight
Last shot before dark
After camping in the pouring rain, I was up bright and early for dawn bootshots
Morning fog in the mountains
We didn’t have enough mugs, so we drank out of saucepans. Pinky up!
Greeting the morning with stretches
Thanks for coming! Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!