For my big hike this fall, I tackled the 300 plus mile long Allegheny Trail that spans theMonongahela National Forest of West Virginia, starting at the PA border and stretching southwest until it reaches its southernmost terminus with the Appalachian Trail not far from Pearisburg, VA. It winds its way through some interesting and beautiful scenery – such as Blackwater Falls State Park and giant hemlocks, old coal towns, canyons, and ridgelines. It has a shelter system also of eight shelters. There are resupply points and friendly townsfolk (who may not understand WHAT you are doing but who want to help anyway!!)
It is important to note though this trail is NOT the Appalachian Trail with a well-trodden trail and white blazes heralding from tree trunks every 100 yards. Few people traverse this trail. There are places where you can hardly even find a trail. Some of the tread work on the hillsides is very narrow. In some areas the blazing too is very faint. It is a much more primitive trail in many aspects and thus one needs to be prepared for a primitive experience. There are blowdowns to amble over or under.
|Blowdowns are par for the course on a primitive trail|
The website for the Allegheny Trail (see link below) provides the would-be hiker with a guidebook (yes it's over 12 yrs. old) and maps (fairly accurate). There are also multiple pages you must download and print up the updates (of which there are many). Hopefully soon they will actually update the guidebook as a while, but until then, you must download all the available info offered so you know where you are going (there are several reroutes in place that the guidebook and maps do not cover.
As I mentioned on this trail you need to use your common sense. Section One is mostly road walking and yes the blazes can sometimes be few,
|View from Middle Mtn|
Most of the shelters are in fairly good shape. Over half of them don’t have reliable water sources (the two at Rowelsburg, Canaan Mtn, Waddel, Marlin Mtn) but you can walk water in from other sources (except for Marlin, it would be a LONG walk as that is a dry section). If you are interested in a resupply sheet for the ALT, email me at
All in all, the ALT was an interesting look into the world of thru hiking long ago where a trail is actually a journey in the wilderness, and for that I have much admiration for the pioneers of long distance hiking.
West Virginia Trails Association (for maps, guidebook, and other info)
|Several one room schoolhouses along the road walk|