Here is a quick recap report of my Knobstone Trail trip as requested by a fellow hiker.
I didn’t have anyone join me for this trip, so I had to utilize Snappyshuttle service to get me from where I parked my truck at Delaney Park to the Deam Lake trailhead. They picked me up at 6:15 and had me to Deam Lake by 7 AM. I took off in the darkness on the combination horse trail/Knobstone trail. This was suppose to be a shared trail for 1 mile. But in Fact, it was more like only a 1/2 mile. Where the trail split off from the horse trail was in an area that had been dozed open, probably because of some storm damage to it. Anyways, the trail markings there were no where to be seen unless you knew where to look for them. I hiked 1 mile on the horse trail as indicated by the re-route claim, but I knew just after hiking past the cleared area that I was probably not on the KT. It was dark and I figured I probably missed my turn, so I turned around and headed back the way I came from. I came across 2 hunters and they assured me that I was on the KT and to just keep following the horse trail as I was before. I got about a mile and a half down the horse trail and then it came to a “T” splitting into 2 separate trails. I knew then that the hunters knew less about this trail than I did, so I once again turned around to look for the trail junction I obviously missed. It was in the dozed off area at the 1/2 mile area, not the one mile area as quoted. So after 1 hour of wasted time and 2 miles of extra hiking, I finally found the trail.
The trail was tough as all the report that I had heard about it. Plenty of steep ups and downs. In fact, it seemed to be laid out in such a way as to make it more difficult than it really needs to be. Most of the trail is on side slopes, yoyo-ing up and down below the ridge lines that are just a few feet above you. It makes no sense to put the trail on a side slope like that, where it’s hard to maintain the trail, it makes it very hard to walk on, and it even voids you the opportunity of having and good views that might be available. I bet there was at least 10 occasions that the trail pushed me straight down off the ridge into a deep draw, only to have me go straight up the opposite side of it. Then once at the top when I was able to look back and observe my path taken, I would see that the ridge line actually horseshoed around the draw and it could have been avoided. This is what is known as “PUDS” pointless up and downs, and this trail was loaded with them from end to end. Also the trail was went through some really nasty areas that could have been avoided all together. The trail went through some really thick brier patches that were miserable to walk through. I’m sure my rain gear is probably ruined by all the brush and briers along the trail. Also there was very few scenic views to the trail, mostly because you stayed on the side slopes, and I didn’t see any rock outcropping like the trail description gave. So in my personal opinion of this trail, I rate it on a scale of 10 in the following categories.
As for my trip personally, it rained on me for 90% of the day on Friday, and 100% of the day on Saturday. It was warm on Friday, so I opted not to wear my rain gear, and just let myself get wet. But on Saturday I wore my rain gear, knowing the rain would be more predominant, and the temperature more cold. The first day I hiked about 22 miles (not counting the 2 extra ones that morning) and made camp next to a stream at about 7:30. I was so tired and wet, I just wanted to get into my tent and sleeping bag and go to sleep. I packed a stove and food thinking I was going to cook for myself, but in fact I never did cook and only ate snack foods the whole time I was out there. I ate Snickers, trail mix, gummy fruit chews, beef jerky, and a hostess fruit pie for breakfast. I also carried plenty of water, not knowing what the water conditions would be like since it’s supposedly a dry trail. But in fact, there were more flowing streams than you could shake a stick at, and they all had good water.
On day 2 I knew I had 23.5 miles left to hike, and with the rain and dropping temperatures, I knew I didn’t want to spend another night out there if I could avoid it. I took off right at day break and hiked all day without taking a break, finally finishing the trail at about 8:30. I was so cold and wet the second day, the only way I could stay warm was to just keep moving. Both nights I hiked into the darkness for 2 to 3 hours, and let me tell you, it was a hard trail to follow. The blazes were few and far between at times, plus the trail was totally covered with leaves, making it hard to see. Also with all the leaves being wet, and the fact that the trail was constantly going straight up and down or along a side slope, I fell at least 20 times on my first day. But somehow on the second day, I managed to only fall a few times in the slippery conditions.
When I finally finished my hike and got backl to Delaney Creek Park, I was pleased to see that the restroom was open, and in fact it had hot showers in it. I didn’t have anything to shower with, but I did so anyways. The hot water worked wonders to bring my core temperature back up to where it needed to be. I then put on some dry clothes I left in the truck, and was on my way home soon after.
All in all I’d say this was a terrible trip, it was a very disappointing trail, and not enjoyable at all. I’d say for the average hiker, give yourself 4 days to hike it, maybe 3 if you you’re a strong hiker, but don’t try to hike it in just 2 days, it’s not worth the effort.