By: Pat Kobela, Guest Blogger
We are fortunate to have several parks and a huge network of trails in Luzerne County, Northeast Pennsylvania. Some of our trails have reputations as great leisure hikes, ideal to bring dogs, interesting flora or awesome views. Other trails, like the Mountain Loop at Nescopeck State Park, earn a very different reputation.
Considered “most difficult”, this short three-mile loop with an aggressive 1000’ elevation in the initial ascent seems like it never ends. The trailhead is approximately one mile past the main entrance (if coming from Route 437, Mountain Top) on Honey Hole Road on the right-hand side. A large parking lot can fit several cars, so bring lots of friends.
The path starts out looking easy enough with a great sign, perfect for photos which leads into the woods. Keep walking until you come to the “T” in the road. I typically turn left and a water crossing greets you almost immediately. Easy enough to cross over but the deceit ends here.
Continue on the trail and you will begin to notice an incline in addition to the rocks and typically very wet terrain making for a memorable mud experience. The elevation continues to increase with no leveling out in sight. The sweat starts to break, the jacket comes off, grab a swig of water, take a breather, say a few choice words and continue on. Still climbing for an overall elevation gain of 1,000 feet, maybe slightly more. Continue on until a turn in the trail and you are home free, down hill from that point forward. Hike on until the next intersection, turn right and back to the “T” you entered at the beginning.
Although difficult, it is great training ground, creating a baseline for your own strength, mental and physical. Not to mention a way to break in those new trekking poles. Time yourself the first time and each time thereafter or just take it for what it is worth- a great workout in a short distance. High energy dogs love this trail, they probably double the mileage with their back and forth runs on the trail.