January 12, 2014.
I decided to take a short hike the day before I left for my class in Nicaragua. We chose the Lindy Run Trail (not to be confused with the Lindy Point Trail), which the Monongahela National Forest Hiking Guide states is a Grade A Exceptional trail. It was around 25, with a windchill of 10, but we decided to keep heading on. We drove out Canaan Loop Road, which was surprisingly clear and not terribly icy. As we got out of the car, we realized that the Hiking Guide had led us very astray….
See that creek over there? Oh, no….that’s not the creek. That’s actually the trail. Hiking through 2in of water without waterproof shoes in January was not what I had intended to do. We were able to use rocks to get around the water for the most part. Almost the entire trail stayed within the creek bed. It was rough going, trying to pick our way to land instead of the thick ice on the creek. After fighting our way through the slosh, we came upon a sign that told us that the US Forest Service no longer maintains the trail past that point. Another trail went down to the left, so we chose to follow that and see where it led. That trail led to a junction with the Railroad Trail, Plantation Trail, and Lindy Trail. This section was cut with small streams all over and very, very poorly blazed. The RR Trail and Plantation trail seemed to merge at some point, but I’m not sure where they separated. We went down what we assumed was the Railroad Grade Trail. It was narrow and flat, for the most part. The sun was setting and it was getting colder, so we tried our best to hurry through this section. We all but jogged, with no idea where the trail was heading, until we could see the road below. Finally, the trail spit us out not far below the Table Rock Trail.
The hiking guide had promised “exceptional views” along this section of the Railroad Grade Trail….but we saw nothing, despite the fact that it was leaf-off. We ended up just hiking along Canaan Loop Road until we came to the car again. This proved to be a challenge, as this side of the mountain was still particularly frozen and icy. We slid several times as we tried to make our way through the uphill sections.
Finally, we made it back to the car just before sunset. We had the Mon Forest Hiking Guide with us, but it had made no mention of the two trails crossing, let alone being so poorly blazed where they do so. On one blaze, someone had scrawled “R.R.” and another “PT”- but these blazes were simply on opposite sides of the same tree and it was impossible to tell where either trail went.