Green Ridge
near Marsh Creek Hollow 

First Hill - Click to Enlarge

7/6/02

4X4 ICON 2000 - 2008 The DVD! - Click here for details!

4X4 ICON 2000 - 2008 The DVD!

Waypoints

Prologue

I had such a good time on this trail a week prior that I wanted to go back again.  So I rounded up the usual suspects and we planned to go out on Saturday.  As luck would have it, the weather was outstanding - sunshine and mild, with low humidity.  Just what the doctor ordered.  I put my top down and removed the doors for the first time.  We made plans to meet at the McDonald's just off of Route 15 in Thurmont.

I packed up the kids and hit the road early, with a stop at the cash machine to get some money.  Then we hooked up with Carl and Kelsey, and drove up to Thurmont.  Along the way, I realized that I had left my ATM card at the machine, but chalked it up to experience.  I knew that I had done a "Fast Cash" transaction which meant that my account was logged off.  And the machine sucks the card back up if it is left there for more than a few seconds.  So I decided not to let it ruin my day and put it out of my mind.  I would later learn that soon after I left it behind, a woman had found my card, looked us up in the phone book and returned the card to my home!  I could not have had a better outcome to that!

Muster

Group at Second Muster

Muster - JimsRoscoe at Muster

At the appointed time, we converged in the parking lot at McDonalds in Thurmont.  We were a variety of TJ's and Jim's neighbor's full-sized pick-up truck.  We went in to get something to eat.  The kids made for the play area while I ordered.  I had to struggle to get them to come eat - they barely did, with Teddy saving his sandwich "for later".  Roscoe rolled in precisely at 8:30; the rest of us finished eating and then went across the way for some gas.  Then we hit the road for points north.

The drive was pretty easy.  We discussed best routes through to the trail just north and west of Gettysburg.  I opted to take the Route 30 and soon found that was not the best route - it was the Fourth of July weekend and Gettysburg was rife with tourists and re-enactors of the famed battle.  It took us a few minutes extra to make it through the center of town, but we were soon back on our way to the trail head.  My handy GPS track from the last trip provided the cue to turn off Route 30 and wind our way up to the trail entrance.

Air Down/Disconnect

I hope this area stays the way it is.  There are thousands of acres of beautiful farmland, orchards and woods.  It would be a shame to see this "developed".  We stopped in a turn out near the trail and disconnected sway bars and let air out of tires.  Once we were ready, we formed up and drove down the road a few hundred yards and turned on to the trail.

Trail

Right away, we encountered a man who was doing some grounds keeping with a weed-whacker along the side of the road.  I stopped and greeted him.  He wanted to know where we were going.  So I told him.  He warned me that the "D.E.R." (Department of Environmental Resources) was chasing down people going out there and fining them $300.  Based on my research and prior visits, I was under the impression that the area was legal for off-highway travel.   I talked with the man for a few minutes and told him that we were not going to be doing anything illegal and would leave the area as we found it.  Then we drove up the short road and into the woods.  I did some research later and found that the DER is now the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and is loosely coupled with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR).  Both of these organizations have jurisdiction over the area, with DCNR managing Michaux, and DEP conducting more generalized supervision of wooded areas.  It seems that the DEP is probably concerned about illegal dumping in the forests and in fact, charges a $300 fine for such activities.  I read their web site thoroughly and could not find any info about patrols to enforce illegal use of areas with motorized vehicles.  Just to be sure, I wrote to DCNR and asked, providing a map, map coordinates, and a general description of the area.  What more can I do?

With legal issues put aside, we made our way up the trail that is described on the map as a "pipeline".  It is straight and in some places, rocky.  It seems more off-camber going in than it did coming out on the last trip.  There isn't really anything difficult to the point where anyone has trouble.  Eventually we reach the spot where the dirt road crosses the pipeline.  Just past that, we encounter the first of two hills that are interesting.

First Hill - Click to View Full-size

First HillFirst HillFirst HillFirst HillFirst Hill

JimJimJim

Jim very nicely walks up the hill and takes some pictures of our ascent.  The kids are in the back but hidden from view.  The photos flatten the scene and make it hard to see that this is a hill going UP!

RoscoeRoscoeRoscoe

Each person in the group took their turn climbing the rocky hill.  From there we ambled down the other side through the rock garden until we reached the second hill. 

CarlCarl

JimJim

Jim|

RoscoeRoscoeRoscoeRoscoe

 

Somewhere along the way, I finally made good on my prediction that I would knock off the petcock valve of my air tank, mounted under my floor next to the frame.  Fortunately, just the "ears" were removed. leaving my tank intact and leak-free.  I shall have to replace the valve ASAP, perhaps with a less-convenient, 1/4 square plug.  At the hill, I made my way up and then took pictures of everyone else as they came along.  On my way down the other side, Carl came on the CB and told me that I had run over a turtle! 

Tortoise

My heart sunk but we soon learned that the turtle was safe between my wheels and was unharmed.  After his photo session, we turned him loose and continued to the bottom.

Creek

Past the spot where Jandy and Steve had gotten hung up, we stopped to look at the creatures in a little stream.  There were frogs and a salamander.  There were two neat rows of rocks providing a nice crossing.  So after we scouted ahead, we went up the trail and found a few branches that went off in various directions.  The trail continues straight to the road where a gate blocks entry and exit.  The area in general looks to be new growth following some sort of clearing operation.  We explored some of the side paths and stopped on one for lunch.  There were various fresh smells in the air.  Lunch was pleasant in the warm, dry sun, in the midst of this fresh spot.

Lunch Break
Lunch BreakLunch BreakLunch BreakLunch Break
Lunch Break

Once we had eaten, we backtracked until we reached the dirt road.  Before we got there, we were interrupted by someone (not in our party) who repeated the warnings given earlier by the man at the entrance.  This time, the story was a little more threatening and the fine a little higher.  I stopped the group and we decided to maintain radio silence on the way out.  This further hardened my resolve to investigate the rules about this area.  We turned onto the dirt road and made our way slowly out.  Along the way, we encountered the mud puddles.  Many had bypasses but only one bypass was really necessary.   I managed to mistake an ATV bypass for something that would work for me and ended up in the woods with no path in front of me...  The kids were out cold.  I managed to get out without damaging my vehicle or the woods but I felt a little dumb.  Everyone else went through the mud puddle without incident.

Bypass

We reached the main dirt road in short order after crawling along for a few minutes.  Following my GPS track out, we got back to a familiar area.  We noted a sign that laid out the rules and regulations and clearly, to people entering from this section, the trail we used was legal.  The road is clearly marked for Registered Vehicle use.  Driving on the way out, a sign referred us to Route 30.  Thinking it was a shorter way than the route I followed last time, I took the turn.  Bad move.  This path ran parallel to Route 30, all the way to Route 233.  It was dry, dusty and dirty.  Still, it passed a reservoir and provided some scenery that we might have missed otherwise.  Notwithstanding, everyone was happy to get back to pavement.

Having researched the Northern section of Michaux, I suggested we go explore that area for a time.  This turned out to be more dusty, dry and dirty improved dirt roads with all side trails gated or protected by rocks and berms.  We finally surrendered to the fact that there were no open trails available.  We stopped, aired up and reconnected, then drove back to pavement.

 

Epilogue

Once we reached Route 30, we made a stop for air, gas and snacks.  Then I suggested a little side trip to Tractor Supply Company that was just down the road a little way.  There, the kids played on the go-carts, I drooled on the WARN winches in the store, and Carl and I bought some clevis pins for our disconnects.  Why can't we have a Tractor Supply Company near OUR house???

Once we were finished playing "farmer", we got back on Route 30 and headed back towards Gettysburg.  We took a cut-off suggested by Jim that retraced part of our route to the trail and brought us to Route 15 below Gettysburg.  Along the way we stopped so Carl could look at some old trucks.  When we got to Thurmont, we jumped off Route 15 and had some Chinese food for supper.  After that, we headed our separate ways, with my kids showing signs of being very tired.  It was a great day.  I will update this report with the results of my research into the legality of this trail.  If it should turn out to be illegal, I will post that information and discontinue our activities there.

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South Mountain/Green Ridge, PA
 near Marsh Creek Hollow GPS Data

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Last Updated 02/09/2008 10:15:11 AM -0500