Sunday, November 7, 2010

Youghiogheny Scenic & Wild River: Kendall Trail

This one's not in Pittsburgh, or even Pennsylvania, but if you happen to find yourself at nearby Deep Creek Lake for a weekend, this is a nice, easy, scenic trail worth checking out.

This is an out-and-back.  Starting from the town of Friendsville, simply follow the river upstream along Morris Avenue and you'll see the trail head where the road ends, more or less under the I-68 overpass.  It runs five miles sticking pretty much to the river bank, then just sort of peters out into ever thicker brush at National Falls.

A map of this trail is unnecessary, and I don't have one anyway, but this map of the adjacent Yough should give you a pretty good overview.  National Falls is at the southern end of that cluster of rapids.

This is a beautiful river valley, and its general inaccessibility (except by foot or kayak) means you're pretty well out there in the wilderness after the first mile.  At the end of the second mile you'll reach a fork; to keep running, stay to the right, along the river. If you're feeling like a break, check it out to the left, where you'll find the foundations of the ghost town of Kendall.  In fact, these first two miles are the remnants of a railbed that once ran to Kendall, where the railroad apparently decided that the canyon became too tricky to keep going.

Here the path turns to an unmaintained fireroad-type surface for another mile or so, then gets into some singletrack.  There is a rocky section about halfway along that can be a bit tricky with the fallen leaves and a lot of loose rocks, but other than that, nothing serious.

Since you're going upstream, the trail is uphill.  You barely notice it, though, until you realize how much easier it is coming back down.  One of those.

Along the way are many points to access the river, but be warned that there is a dam upstream, from where they release large amounts of water which can take this from a rather shallow, mild river to one of the fastest around.  If you happen to be there on a release day, you'll likely see many kayakers and rafters on their ways down.

You'll know when you've reached the end because you really won't be able to push any farther through the vegetation.  Also, there will be a large boulder (and a few smaller ones) on the edge of the bank that you can climb out on to get some great views of the valley above and below you.