Lost Turkey Trail is a 15.8 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Windber, Pennsylvania that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.
Playfully named by its original trailblazers, the Youth Conservation Corps in 1976, the Lost Turkey Trail is an interesting passageway through the forest west of the Allegheny Front.
Could not find the turkey
Unsure what to expect and after receiving some terrain tips from Blue Knob maintenance workers, the Cuz and I decided our trail head would be the Babcock picnic area. As a result of this decision, we were able to acquire a map at an outbuilding, of which, became a necessity as did a compass during our trek due to the lack of and/or hidden/confusing blaze marks (e.g., from orange, to red and orange, to yellow, then red etc. Be advised to NOT follow the diamond shaped orange reflectors). In addition, the continuing blaze markings after mile fifteen (backwards from Babcock) along an access road were not visible. Preferring assents over descents, especially steep, our decision to begin at Babcock paid off as the terrain consisted primarily of assents. Stream access for filtering potable water is available, but be sure to pre-map prior to your trek. Camp sites/fire rings are non-existent for over half the trail, thus responsibly constructing your own is necessary. Short wearers beware of nettles, especially in the lower regions near water. In addition to steepness, the trail consisted of numerous quagmire type conditions. Although lush with plant life, this trail receives only one star, due to the lack/non-existence of vistas and/or visual stimulation. In all fairness however, this trek may be better suited for fall/early winter conditions, as there is potential for visual beauty. Note: Although reaching our terminus in three days, this trail in entirety, in my opinion, is NOT for the average beginner backpacker.
Most people apparently park at the lot near the cross of 56 (Clear Shade Dr.) and Babcock Creek Rd.) but we parked in a pull-off just steps from where the trail crosses Hollow Rd. and highly recommend this if you want a more difficult hike, as it is between two ridges where the trail dips down to meet the road. However the slope to the northwest from the road was too difficult for us to safely traverse back down. So we took the snowmobile trail north to Old Bedford Pike, (which turns into Skyline Drive as it crosses Hollow Rd.). We walked back to the car on the road once we hit Old Bedford.
The trail itself is very well maintained and has changing scenery every mile or so. It's mostly easy, as you can see from the terrain maps. But do be careful as there are some slightly muddy areas (without recent rain) and steep inclines near Hollow Rd. and the improved dirt road that extends from Buffalo Rd. across Skyline.
For a Saturday afternoon at the end of September on such an easily-accessible, beautiful trail, I was surprised to only run into two other hikers - older ladies who said they were locals and regularly hike 8-12 miles in a day. Pretty cool, huh!
Things you should know:
*The trail is not a loop.
*The free maps available at the parking areas do not show the entire trail, which continues north-east.
*You can find alternate parking areas near where the trail crosses the roads.
*All roads but 56 are well-maintained logging roads made from asphalt or dirt.
going from babcock picinic area to blue knob state park...trail is pretty easy until you hit game lands near the state park. from there on it has challenging terrain and blow downs.
I was not overly impressed with this trail. My dad and I hiked the entire trail in early June, 2011. There were no vistas or good views. We started at Blue Knob State Park and hiked to the southern terminus at The Babcock picnic area. The first 14 miles of the trail is either up or down and not many places to set up camp. I would give yourself three days to complete the trail, otherwise you are going to put in some miles going up and down the mountains. I would also definitely get a map from the DCNR website as there are a few places that are not well marked. However, most of the trail is easy to follow. Hike your own hike.............