At the last meeting an idea was hatched to make a 2-day weekend trip focussing on the Purple trails at Rausch Creek and similar trails in Anthracite. Despite the high initial interest from a group of people at the meeting, as well as interest on the listserv, in the end only 2 vehicles could make the trip.
Upon driving out onto the rock Kevin said over the CB “Welcome to the moon!”
- Andrew Taylor (member) and Jon Hopkins (guest) – Silver Xterra
- Kevin Barnes and family (members) – Black Discovery
We set out early Saturday morning, meeting in Frederick before heading for Rausch Creek. We arrived around 10am to find a full parking lot and strings of vehicles heading into the park via its numerous trail entrances. We went inside the office and registered, aired down, strapped everything down, and were on the trails in no time.
While headed down Pole Line we saw a license plate laying on the ground that appeared freshly dropped. A quick scan of the area revealed the vehicle that it had come from but it was driving away. We quickly caught up to the Jeep and returned the missing and muddy license plate to a very thankful driver! We continued on our way toward our first trail, Topless for Tata’s, which is always a fun Blue to start the day with. It has lots of twists and turns, medium sized rocks, and several hills with steep climbs and descents. We took a break at the end of the trail for an early lunch.
After lunch we headed to the Quarry, walked up Shoot the Moon to check it out, and then drove up a rocky climb back out of the Quarry. We went around Lake Christy and did trail 21 which is a blue green probably due to its mild rock gardens in the mid-point of the trail. After that we headed to trail J-1 which is a fun mix of washouts, large rocks, and off camber descents, mixed into a ridgeline drive with some nice views across the valley. The fall foliage visible at this time of year made the views especially nice.
We finished the day with trails 15, 12C, 14, 13B, 19B, 11, and H. Rausch Creek has a large assortment of different trail types for all levels of driver and vehicle. We enjoyed everything from dirt roads to rock gardens, mud holes, 3 wheel action, washouts that flex your suspension back and forth and everything in between. At the end of the day we returned to the parking lot, aired up, and headed to O’Neals Pub in Pine Grove (the colossal crab and fried cheesecake were table favorites) before heading to our hotel for the evening. Although exhausted, and full, we all went to bed with smiles on our faces.
Sunday morning we ate breakfast at the hotel and headed out around 8:30am. After gassing up we headed straight to Anthracite. Again we registered, aired down and strapped down, and were off! Having done several exploratory runs of the park earlier in the year Kevin and I were both relatively familiar with what Anthracite had to offer. We headed down the mainline road and turned north at marker 567. There we found several mud holes that were freshly full due to recent rain in the area. There were 2 deep mud holes (one that we both bypassed) which got the vehicles thoroughly muddy. Then we headed east toward some steep hills with loose medium sized rocks that we had tackled in the spring. Before Kevin was driving his Range Rover and needed a winch to make it up, but in his newly outfitted Disco he made it up these climbs with no problem.
We decided to head south to a place we knew was good for stopping to eat lunch. To get there we crossed to the south side of the park and took familiar trails to a spot just southwest of marker 742 where there are some remnants of the mining activity from this area’s past. There we enjoyed lunch in the shade of the trees. Following lunch we continued on to an area just east of marker 738 that we had briefly explored before. It’s a small playground of sorts that splits into several trails. We dropped down into the playground this time from the trail we had gone up in the spring, and after scouting the other trails in the area on foot we decided which direction we would go.
After trying these new trails and heading out on a path new to us again we found ourselves at another area we had not seen before. It appears to be the dumping area for all the excess rock excavated during the mining days of this area. Upon driving out onto the rock Kevin said over the CB “Welcome to the moon!” which is basically what it looked like! It’s a several acre pile with several hills which is basically a large sandbox of sorts. After seeing what there was to see we continued on.
Nearing the end of our day we came across one more gem that Anthracite had to offer. It was a purple trail in every sense just east of marker 755. It began with a steep rocky hill down to the mouth of a dry rocky streambed. The streambed was narrow and full of large rocks or small boulders depending on your definition. After surveying the area by foot we decided this would be a good trail to end the day on. Thanks to teamwork between spotter and driver both vehicles made it up the trail unscathed.
After returning to the parking lot (and purchasing a few souvenir shirts) we aired up and headed to Ashland Pizzeria, our favorite local Pizza spot after a day on the trails of Anthracite. Following some excellent food we said our goodbyes and headed home. It was a fun trip to two great parks. We can’t wait to do it again!
Trail report written by Andrew Taylor. Pictures courtesy of Jon Hopkins and Kevin Barnes.