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August 13, 2012

Tuscarora Trail, Spruce Pine Park, WV to Hancock, WV, 10.0 miles  

       This hike is Section 1a of the Great Eastern Trail in my guidebook.  Parts of it are trail, while the majority is on road.  The road sections are 1. crossing WV 9 (very short), 2. Burnt Mill Road, 3. a dirt road, and 4. River Road (CR 1), US 522, and Hancock streets.         The trail and road walks are blazed blue, and are fairly well marked, except in the Hancock area.  At the intersection of River Road and US 522, it is not evident which way to go from the blazes.  There are no blazes on the US 522 bridge over the Potomac River.  On the far side, there are some blazes evident in the ramp down to MD 144, but when you get to MD 144, there are no blazes indicating which way to go, and none in sight.  You make a right turn and pass under the bridge, and then you can find blazes on power poles, which are correct, but rather faded. 

Some observations on the trail parts:

• The part between Spruce Pine Park and the WV 9 crossing becomes rather grown-in, especially as it nears WV 9. 
• Mostly the trail is clear (we did toss sticks and branches, and sawed some small blowdowns).  The trail follows an old road in Ruth Morris Park, and it has tall stilt grass which could be trimmed. 
• There is a shelter, Dugan Hollow Shelter, which had no sign pointing to it.  I found it following a white-blazed trail up the ridge (it’s a little confusing to have a shelter named for a hollow to be up on a ridge).  The Tuscarora Trail passes much closer to the shelter than the trail intersection, in addition to being closer in elevation. 
• One large blowdown, near the shelter, remained on the trail. 
• There has been a recent relocation, in Ruth Morris Park, where the trail comes down to River Road. 
• There is some, but not much Poison Ivy on the trail. 
• I noticed only 1 GET sign, at the trailhead on River Road. 

Some observations on the road walks:

• Burnt Mill Road is paved, with light traffic.  It has a one lane steel truss bridge over Sleepy Creek, with an overhead barrier to make a height restriction of 8’ 6” (the trusses are much higher than that).  The trail follows the road to CR 8, and follows it right, then at the next intersection, the trail leaves the road between the road to the left and the road ahead. 
• The dirt road is a pleasant walk.  It is not evident where it comes out, but as we went, it came to an end, so it must be the other direction (to the right) where we got on it.  The trail leaves to the left, going down into Dugan Hollow. 
• Traffic on River Road is heavy.  Probably 100 cars went by us in 3 miles. 
• There is about 30 inches of walking room on the US 522 bridge over the Potomac River.  The traffic is heavy, and it shakes a little when trucks cross. 
• As noted above, there are no blazes on MD 144 (Main Street) west of the US 522, but there are some on the telephone poles east of it.  Those blazes look old.  They do direct the trail from Main Street to Pennsylvania Avenue, then right again, but no more after the C&O Canal. 

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