We hiked here on a warm day in late December. The trail was traversable but there were a few difficult icy spots. An adult could easily identify these areas but small children who are still grasping the how-tos of hiking may not. The scenery was quiet, quaint and beautiful. It would be an easier hike in seasons without snow or after a considerable warm period where the snow has time to melt more.
We came to hike right around Thanksgiving before the snow came. It's a very easy flat trail and is traversable with a jogging or all-terrain stroller. Perfect for budding hiking aficionados (toddlers/small children). The loop was well maintained and the markings were clear. The only negative was that the interpretive plaques/displays must be seasonal as the boards were all covered.
My GF and I hiked the Southern and Northern loop yesterday and had a great time, beautiful area. Be ready for some up and down walking littered with a lot of roots and downed trees. Our only complaint, like some on here, is the lack of markings. We went off trail numerous times as the diamonds simply weren't there. Most of the time you know you are on the trail but at a few tricky junctions you were left guessing as to which way to go. When you get deep in the woods you like a little reassurance you are going the right way. Based on the conditions it took us nearly 4 hrs. to finish, so make sure you leave yourself enough time when starting. Other than the markings I highly recommend this hike, it is gorgeous.
This trail starts out easy and grows more challenging where it combines with the North Country Trail along the Alleghany Resevoir. I didn't do the loop described but chose a variation that I hiked to Hopewell Campsite. Reaching the campsite added an additional 5 miles to hike. There were considerable hills, and the trail often narrows dangerously on steep terrain at points throughout. Bring your trekking poles. Views were pretty non existent throughout this hike, except when you make it the NCT and have views of the Resevoir. The trails were hard to determine at times because proper blazing for trail turns were not often used. Especially heading to Hopewell campsite, so be careful.
I hiked in mid October and was surprised to find little water sources which force me to fill my 2L Bladder, and 1L water bottle at a drizzling creek bed. I did this just in case there wasn't water at Hopewell Campsite. This added an additional 6.6lbs to my pack which was an additional challenge when climbing and descending hills. I found that I did well to top off the water because the only water source that I did have access to was the Resevoir itself. Believe me I wasn't a fan of drinking water from it even though I had a filter.
The Hopewell Campsites were great, clean, and well situated. They even had picnic tables. There is a $12 fee per site per night on the honor system. Be honorable ;o). There was a privy nearby as well which was an added bonus no matter how bad it smelled.
I left camp early because my return trip was primarily an 8 mile trek back to the trail head. The beginning of which was a 4 mile ascent which added additional challenges because I learned that I should have worn my trail runners instead of hiking boots the day before so my toes were angry at me.
My only gripes are 1) the blazes and signage need to be revisited and executed so that there is little chance of missing crucial directions while on trial. 2) The trail has a lot of over growth in areas so be prepared for that.
Overall it was a very good area to hike. I'd recommend heading to one of the campsites along the Tracy Ridge system via North Country Trail heading North To South for an added challenge!
Great sites, cool scenery, fantastic rock formations and an overall very enjoyable hike. Unfortunately, the trail is not very well maintained. The trail markings are poor and we ended up off trail on numerous occasions. Still had an amazing time and would recommend this hike in a heart beat.
We (spouse, 22 year old son and Teddy our dog) spent two full days on these trails in early October, 2016. gorgeous hiking, saw very few people even on the weekend.
We covered almost 30 miles. the trails are well marked and even have distances for each section showing. This made it easy to adjust our route to fit our time.
We were surprised by the lack of wildlife we saw. except for chipmunks and hearing some birds chirping, we did not see another type of animal.
There was very little available running water, so fill up when you can or at the well pumps at the campgrounds. Probably different in the Spring?
We did not camp at one of the campgrounds. We found a really nice camp site at the northern end of the trail section, near the little jut of the reservoir.
Overall, a great area to hike and backpack in. The trails are mostly well marked and
we felt we were truly out in the woods, all by ourselves. Well worth it!
The trail is great. I went there with a small group and my dog. Great weekend trip. We were there in late April. The streams were flowing very nicely. Lots of downed trees to navigate around. All and all a nice trail. I will definitely be back.
Note: The Tracy Ridge Hiking Trail System has been greatly expanded beyond the 8.9-mile loop described at the top of the page here. Check out a good map from the forest service here: http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5052731.pdf
My husband and I put together an approximately 20-mile loop which we hiked over three days, October 7-9. The trail is generally moderate in difficulty: some stretches up on the top of the plateau are quite flat and easy; there are some narrow sidehills; a few big climbs between the top of the plateau and the edge of the reservoir; many small stream crossings (pretty much all dry in October) and a few larger stream crossings that may be trickier when water is higher; occasional big swampy stretches, especially on the old forest road between junctions 5 and 7.
Like most hiking in the Allegheny National Forest, it's a nice walk in the woods. Occasional views of the reservoir in between the leaves; a few house-sized boulders here and there. Blazes are generally excellent; there are signposts showing one's location on the trail map at all the numbered trail junctions.
There are two developed campgrounds with vault toilets and hand-pump water: Hopewell, which is directly adjacent to the trail, and Handsome Lake, which has a longer connector trail going down to it -- we didn't go down to Handsome Lake at all, but I assume it resembles Hopewell. We did not camp at either of the developed campgrounds. On the first night we used an established backpackers' site near the outlet of Polly's Run -- water in the run was very low, so we went down to the reservoir for water. On the second night we used an established site on the north bank of the Tracy Run outlet. Tracy Run was clearly at a pretty low ebb but it still had plenty of water in it. Many other established sites dot the shores of the reservoir. Lakeside campsites are popular with boaters, so don't expect much privacy or solitude even if you stay out of the developed campgrounds.
We didn't see much in the way of wildlife -- squirrels, mice, and chipmunks in enormous abundance. Spotted a bear track near Nelse Run but no bear encounters. A number of songbirds, especially closer to the water.
My husband and I hiked the western Rimrock Loop portion of this trail as an overnight. (September 24-25.) Overall hiking was easy to moderate. A few narrow and sloping sidehill sections. A few extremely dense, nearly-impassable blackberry thickets and multiflora (wild) rose thickets when we were there in late September. Tasty windfall apples from old apple trees.
Trail was generally well-marked although the turnoff for the Morrison campground was totally unlabeled, as noted by most of the other reviewers there. There's a three-way trail junction with a sign telling you you're on the Rimrock Trail; absolutely no mention that the third trail, which heads distinctly downhill, is the access to the campground.
The Morrison campground no longer has piped water; due to bacterial contamination they've removed the faucets. Water must be gathered from the reservoir and purified. Vault toilets are still there. Because the Morrison campground is accessible to boaters and is very close to the put-in facilities at Kinzua Beach, Dewdrop, and Elijah (just a few easy miles for kayakers and even stand-up paddle boards, not to mention powered craft), the campground is popular and can be noisy. On a very chilly weekend in late September all but two campsites were occupied. Views over the lake and dark, starry skies were lovely. But if I crave more peace and quiet, next time I'll camp at an established backpacker's campsite at Campbell Run (there's a site visible slightly off-trail where the trail turns southwards away from the run, and it had very low but juuust-viable amounts of water in the stream there) or Morrison Run (good water even in late September and multiple established sites all along the stream).
A lovely walk in the woods, like most of the Allegheny National Forest. The trail is in a Wilderness Area and the blazes are being deliberately allowed to fade. The footpath is occasionally hard to spot, especially in areas without much undergrowth; there are also some spots where large new-fallen trees are blocking the footpath and picking it up on the other side can require a little bit of casting about. Aside from the occasional challenge in trail-finding, though, my husband and I found the hiking to be very easy, even speedy, without much in the way of elevation changes. Not much in the way of notable geographic features, but the trail does travel through several kinds of habitat, even passing a few small meadows.
In early September we found low water at Coon Run and Jack's Run, although both did have enough water to be viable water sources for camping. Good established campsites readily apparent from the trail at both of these streams. On the east side of the loop the trail approaches a small unnamed feeder branch of Hickory Creek that also appeared to have adequate water and some established campsites further off the trail, although we did not investigate these personally. Smaller side streams and springs were generally dry.
We visited during Labor Day weekend (September 3-4) and saw 5 or 6 other groups of backpackers (in addition to numerous dayhikers on the section closest to the trailhead). In the morning, birding was excellent although we did not see any larger wildlife. Because it's a wilderness area, human noise from ATVs, gunfire, motorboats, etc, was at a minimum. (Yay!)
An additional note: I think the trailhead and connector trail have been moved from the original description above. Parking is no longer at the picnic area; there's a separate trailhead parking lot directly off Hearts Content Road -- look for a sign.
Overall, beautiful trail. Good variety of vegetation, large rocks, and beautiful streams. We started on the right side of the north loop trail and ending on the side by the overlook. There are some really huge boulders you walk in between. There was one part of the trail where there weren't any white diamonds, but keep following the blue tree marks until you see another white diamond and proceed from there. We also came across quite a few trees down covering parts of the trail.