On this three day hike, I hiked from the parking at PA325 (AT Mile 1167.3) to Rauch Gap Shelter, continued to the parking at PA443 (AT Mile 1183.3) on day 2, and then returned to PA325 on day 3.
Day 1 – It was a cold start at only 17 degrees (F) and as the day progressed the sun came out and made things a little more bearable. I had forgotten my balaclava, so I ended up putting my spare shirt on upside down over my face. The hike up to the ridge is a long 3.3 mile 1100’ ascent with no switchbacks. It is mostly an old logging road and not too difficult. Once up top, the trail becomes very straight and flat. There is a nice camp at Yellow Springs, the site of an old coal mining village. Be careful, in the middle of a narrow trail on the east side of the trail behind the camp is an abandon open well. To the west, a blue blaze trail ascends to the “Stone Tower” and old mining operation. More information can be found about it at its Geocache website here: https://www.geocaching.com/geocache/GC28B_stony-mt-stash
Many of the water sources are contaminated from mining runoff and are very acidic. I would not recommend drinking any of the orange water or major streams at the base of the ridge. The Rausch Gap Shelter is very cool and has a water source right at it. It’s well configured and a nice place to stay. I stayed in the shelter the 1st night, as I was the only person there.
On day 2, I got an early start and hiked out to Swatara Gap parking at PA443 and back. North from the shelter is the old town of Rausch Gap. There are several stone ruins there as well as an old cemetery plot. The stonework has been removed from the steel bridge where the Limestone Neutralization site is. There are many ruins all around this area.
The Beaver Dam is just north of the cemetery and would be problematic on a warm wet spring day. It was mostly frozen this trip and I was able to get across. The bypass is a bland road walk and then a fire road back up to the ridge. The hike from Swatara gap to Rausch is rather bland. The second night I stayed in my tent back by the privy at the Rausch Gap Shelter because the shelter already had people in it.
Day 3, on the way back, there was time to hike out to see “The General”, and old abandoned shovel. It’s approximately 0.4 miles off trail, a bit far for a through hiker making long miles in this relatively flat area. http://www.stonyvalley.com/general.html
AT Miles Hiked – 16.0
Trip Miles Hiked – 37.4