by Phil Bloom (Falcon Guides)
© 2010 Phil Bloom/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
My friend and I decided to hike this trail. We were diaapointed that we could not find much information on the trail but did obtain a map from DNR prior to going. All the rewiews that we read advised to cash water and that is what we did because even though we had an inch of rain on friday night all the creeks were dry. That is what you get for hiking in Karst area. So other than that the other complaint we heard was that the trail was not well marked. Either they have done more marking or there have been more people on the trail to make it more defined. We had very little trouble finding the trail. So we started in the state park parked at the camp ground and joind the trail around the Iron Bridge. We hiked counter clock wise because that seems to be the direction that everyone goes and stopped at the SR462 leading in to the park. We stopped becuase it was so hot we could not stay hydrated. I do have to say it was a nice trail though and I would like to hike the rest some time. We hiked just over half. Started on 5 Friday went to the burned out old Ohio River Shelter and were off trail by 4 Saturday. We averaged just around 2 mph. Keep in mind that you go down one ridge just to go up the other side it was very pretty and quit only saw one other couple on the trail. Maps obtained at the park office were use d as fire starter that was all they were good for. I would get the maps for all the horse trails if I go again because it would have been nice to hike in the woods back other than along the road but it was how we knew to get back. But over all weather asside a good hike.
Took a Boy Scout Troop and the older boys did the Eastern half, while the younger boys did the Northwestern area. Trails overall are not well marked. Did not get too far off trail, but it is lightly traveled and could use some maintenance. Overall everybody found it a really good backpacking trip of 2 days/nights. Forced everybody to really pay attention and learn how to read the maps and trails. It was a different kind of challenge since it is not well-maintained or marked. You do need to stash water and you need to plan ahead where to do so. The creeks are all dry this time of year, don't know about the spring. Could not find good maps, but the state park provided enough to get by. The older boys are interested in going back with more time to do the entire loop, and found it a different kind of hike than the Knobstone, Red River, or Smokies.
This was my first trip on the AHT...wish I would have read the suggestions to get the horse trail map too. My suggestion would be to get all three maps ( AHT, horse, and day use) as several sections run together and are not marked well, if at all. The horse trails seem to be marked better than any of the others. One section was completely shut down for logging and required a short detour. Also, make sure you get a current map. I didn't know that I was given an old map until after I was finished. I would rate this trail higher if it was marked better.
I have recently competed the trail and have very valuable info to anyone that needs it. I'm very familiar with the area and have spent a lot of time hiking, biking, camping, caving, rock climbing, repelling,and horseback riding. Please send me an e-mail if you have any questions what so ever. I will even give out my phone # via e-mail to anyone interested. I want everyone complete this beast of a trail and enjoy it, but there are a few things that everyone needs to know before doing so. I would love to shoot the sh** with anyone who has also competed the AHT just for sh*** and giggles. Mattdemak3@aim.com
I recently purchased some new gear and wanted to test it out, so my brother and I chose to complete the AHT over the weekend. After reviewing the guide and topo map we decided that we could do this in two days or less. Roughly calculated we began with 30-35lbs of pack weight each. We started off at 8:40am Sat. at Pioneer Cabin and headed clockwise on the loop, camping somewhere around mile 15. We reached our vehicle around 1:30pm Sunday.
The trail was well blazed with only a few spots of downed trees or poor conditions where it met with horse trails. There were also a few areas where ground cover swallowed up the trail – but blazes always seemed to be in sight. It seems that the AHT got some love since past reviews, but isn’t heavily traveled, don’t count on a well worn and easy to follow path.
With the exception of the hike up to the Ohio River Lookout most of the elevation changes were mild-to-moderate. The 2.9 mile section of trail between Cold Friday Rd. and Pioneer Cabin is by far the most challenging, but still not intimidating. The woods were beautiful with a few wildlife sightings despite our pace and canine companion. The overlooks were not that impressive due to the amount of trees blocking views from shelter sites. We saw no other hikers on the trail during our trip.
That said we completed the entire loop in 1.5 days with around 13.5 hours of actual hiking. We’re both in decent shape but still think that the suggested three day trip either is because of too much gear or aimed at those who prefer to take longer, more frequent periods of downtime. Water filtering was not an option with nothing but dry stream beds, so pack it or cache it.
This trail is not for day hikers but easily completed by those with some basic backpacking experience. I’m confident that experienced hikers and trail runners could complete in a single day with ultra light packs and water caching.
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