The skies were clear on Summit Mountain when I awoke early Saturday morning on my recent visit to the Laurel Highlands in Southwestern Pennsylvania. However, there was a thick fog in the valley below the Summit Inn were I was staying. I drove into the thick fog on my way to the Ohiopyle State Park located about 10 miles from the Inn. I decided to hike on the Great Gorge Trail in the park. It was foggy when I arrived.
I was surprised to find no cars at the parking lot for Cucumber Falls and the Great Gorge Trail. When I drove past the parking lot on the previous afternoon it was full and cars were parked alongside the road. I was glad I was the only one there so I could enjoy the solitude of the trail, and hopefully see some wildlife.
I left my Jeep and walked down the steep trail to Cucumber Run,
where I was able to view Cucumber Falls. I was the only person on the trail. I would only see two other people on my five mile hike.
I continued on the rocky trail along Cucumber Run.
Rhododendrons lined the trail under the towering hemlock and oak trees above.
I followed the trail down to the Youghiogheny River. There were no rafters at this early morning hour. I walked back up the trail and began my hike on the Great Gorge Trail
The trail follows an old coal tramway right of way above the Youghiogheny River. It was very dark under the large oak maple and beech trees and the overcast and foggy skies.
There were a lot of ferns growing along the trail, including Christmas ferns,
intermediate wood ferns,
and New York ferns.
The were also large patches of Canadian woodnettle growing in many areas along the trail.
There were only a few wildflowers in these deep woodlands. I saw a lot of these pretty blue American bellflowers all along the trail.
There were also a few white bergamots and,
white avens scattered along the trail.
There were also a few delicate jewelweeds or touch-me-not on the trail.
It has been very dry throughout the state but here, along the river their was some moisture. And moisture in the Summer produces mushrooms. And I saw a few on the trail including these jack-o-lanterns,
this is a type of bolete mushroom,
these two mushrooms,
are types of amanita, and
this one a pigskin puffball. It actually is not a puffball but and earthstar fungi and is poisonous.
I continued my hike on the trail. It pretty level as it continued on the ridge above the Youghiogheny River. There were now some more beech , hemlock and pine trees in the woodlands along the trail
There were not many bird or wildlife activity. I head a few red-eyed vireos, and hermit thrushes. And I saw this pretty bird, a hooded warbler, a lifer for me. I would hear and see a few more of these colorful birds on my hike.
The trail continued for about two miles, crossing a few streams before,
ending at the Allegheny Passage Trail. This trail was much wider and was covered with packed stone making it much easier for hiking and biking.
I first walked toward the “high bridge” I had crossed on the previous afternoon. I took in the spectacular view of the Youghiogheny River before I then followed the trail for about a . 1/2 mile.
I walked passed the small stream along the trail and saw this green frog. It may have been the same one I saw on my hike the prior afternoon.
The sun began to break through the clouds and fog after I had hiked out about 2 1/2 miles. I had to end my hike since I was meeting my niece Cassidy at Fallingwater at 10;30 a.m. and I wanted to get some breakfast at the Inn. I am always hungry.
I walked back on the Great Gorge trail seeing one woman riding a bicycle and another walking her dog on the Allegheny Passage Trail. These were the only two folks i saw on my four mile hike.
I did see a few more hooded warblers but that was all the wildlife I saw on my return hike.
I was a little disappointed. I hoped to see more birds and other critters on my hike to share on my blog. . However a walk in the woodlands is always enjoyable. I loved seeing the waterfalls, rivers and just spending time in the solitude of the woodlands. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my hike on the Great Gorge Trai. Ohiopyle State Park morning hike July 30 2022.
“Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter.” John Muir