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July 3, 2010

Hampshire Grade Road to Lower Campground, 7.5 miles. 
     This is Section 1c of the Great Eastern Trail and part of Section 12 of the Tuscarora Trail.  It is within the Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area.  This was a warm, dry day with temperatures approaching the 90s.  With me were my hiking partner David and my dog Sid. 
     Some observations:

  • There are no town signs in Shanghai or Ganotown on CR 7 (Back Creek Valley Road).  The "Speed Limit 35" sign coming into Ganotown from the south is absent.  
  • The Sleepy Creek Road (CR 7/9) is paved for one mile and becomes a gravel/rock/rut road.  It has lots of potholes and rocks sticking up, but I've seen worse.  Even so, I might prefer to approach on the Hampshire Grade Road and take the road along top of the Third Hill Ridge.  Sleepy Creek Road is not as bad on the west side of Third Hill Ridge.  
  • There are no signs at all, even stop signs, on the road along the top of Third Hill Ridge.  It's not too hard to find, and it's not too bad as a gravel road, although it does have areas with potholes. 
  • Although the other campgrounds have signs at their entrances, there is none for the Lower Campground.  There is a parking spot to the right of the red gate where the Tuscarora Trail continues north, 100 yards from where the Lower Campground road leaves the road to the dam.  
  • The Tuscarora Trail is hard to find on the Hampshire Grade Road.  Even though I had been there 8 weeks before, I still walked right by it after we parked.  I could find it opposite the "Beacon Trail" sign (to the south) only.  As far as I can tell there is not one “Tuscarora Trail" sign in the Sleepy Creek WMA.  
  • The Trail is very faint and grown in (not too thick, though) near the Hampshire Grade Road.  Soon it goes on the Old Still Road, a dirt road which is fairly open, but it has some high growth on it.  
  • The guidebook says it is 20' from the spring-fed (now completely dry) creek to Old Still Road, but it is more like 60'.  
  • The section is 2.7 miles trail (often on old forest roads), 2.4 miles on gated roads, and 2.4 miles of gravel roads open to traffic.  
  • Even though it has been extremely dry lately, there were still a few muddy parts.  It must be awfully muddy in this section during normal or wet times.  
  • At mile 4.0 (S to N) the Guidebook says to continue straight on road, which would be up a hill through an open field.  At that location, the blazes follow a very muddy, overgrown road to the left.  These two come together in a short distance.  The over the hill route would be preferable.  
  • Along Sleepy Creek Lake, the Trail keeps its distance, but there are a few trails leading down to the Lake.  The Lake is getting overgrown with water lilies.  
  • As we came to the end of the section, the gravel road continued ahead to the dam parking, while the Trail followed the road to the right 100 yards and then left the road through a red gate on the left.  There is parking just past the gate on the left.  
  • There was little (but some) poison ivy on this section.  
  • No ticks or Gypsy Moth damage were seen. 

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