by Bill and Mary Burnham (Falcon Guides)
© 2013 Bill and Mary Burnham/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
We hiked the lower and upper Hoop Hole Trail. This hike starts from the parking lot for the Hoop Hole Trail on SR 615 \ Craig Creek Road instead of starting at Roaring Run. The lower Hoop Hole loop requires you to cross Saw Mill and Hipes Creeks roughly twelve times during the hike. If your boots are waterproof this will not slow you down. Otherwise, you may spend some time figuring out the best way to cross without getting wet. We hiked up the left side of both the lower and upper Hoop Hole trail. This is a much steeper climb then coming up the Iron Ore Trail from Roaring Run and then ascending Pine Mountain by turning right onto the upper Hoop Hole Trail. Turning left onto the upper Hoop Hole Trail from the Iron Ore Trail will provide the steeper climb but will not require you to cross the creeks on the lower loop. Regardless of your starting point you will hike the upper Hoop Hole Trail which is never more than a foot path. At times the path can only be identified by the yellow blazes. In our case, the upper trail was blocked at points by large downed trees which we either had to climb over or crawl under. We were hiking in early April after a winter of heavy snow and rain. So, the trail obstructions we experienced may not be representative of the normal state of the upper loop as it was obvious that the Park Service had recently cleared the lower loop of multiple obstructions. The upside of hiking in early April was that we had spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and valleys at various points along the hike as well as from the top of Pine Mountain. The hike took us nine hours with several rest stops. Our party consisted of two adults and two middle school boys ages 14 and 11. Unless your a glutton for punishment take the upper Hoop Hole Trail loop counter-clockwise regardless of your starting point. The weather and views were absolutely beautiful during our hike and well worth the hike even up the steep side.
Decently challenging, this one, aerobically more than technically with a fair amount of vertical. No views the day I went, but the setting was dramatic. Damp and very foggy with the forest crowding in. Claustrophobic and a bit spooky. I kept hearing phantom bears around the next curve hiding in the fog and assessing my delectability. There's a lesson here, which I have shown no sign of internalizing, that hiking by myself through the fog is an easy way to self-induce paranoia.
Good trail, good workout, no traffic.
We didnt see the campsites that were indicated on the map.
Trail was well marked with yellow blaze until we reached the creek, where markings disappeared completely.
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