Big Mountain via Hogback Mountain

Big Mountain via Hogback Mountain

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 39.95040°N / 77.9367°W
Additional Information Route Type: Hiking
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Difficulty: Moderately Strenuous
Sign the Climber's Log

Overview

 

Hogback Mountain (1,810 feet / 552 meters) is in Pennsylvania's Buchanan State Forest, just east of Big Mountain (the highpoint of Tuscarora Mountain).  This out-and-back route takes one to the summit and scenic overlook on Big Mountain, but ascends Hogback Mountain as a bonus along the way.  The route is moderately steep, and generally less rocky than the Tuscarora Trail.  Despite climbing two peaks, it is actually shorter than the route to Big Mountain that starts at Cowans Gap State Park and stays on the Tuscarora Trail for the entire length.

 

Getting There

 

The starting point is just off PA 75.  A small sign on the west side of the road simply says, “PARKING.”  The grassy area has room for about a dozen cars. The turn for the trailhead parking area is easy to miss, so note that it is 2.5 miles north on PA 75 from the intersection of PA 75 and US 30 in Fort Loudon, PA.  (Fort Loudon is a small town thirteen miles west of Chambersburg, PA.) 

 

Trailhead Parking Area
Trailhead Parking Area

Route Description

 

Just uphill from the grassy parking area, there is a trail sign (“CHARCOAL TRAIL”) by a yellow gate. 

 

The Charcoal Trail
The Charcoal Trail

 

From here, just follow the yellow blazes of the Charcoal Trail.  This easy-to-follow trail winds around the north side of Hogback Mountain, taking you from the parking lot on the east side to a saddle on the west side. 

Several streams cross the trail on the east side, so there can be some mud to deal with.  These streams are narrow and shallow, however, and the mud is not very difficult to avoid.

On the north side of Hogback Mountain, the trail is generally flat and straight – a pleasant walk through the woods.

 

The Charcoal Trail
The Charcoal Trail

 

On the west side is arguably the best scenery of the ascent of Hogback Mountain, as the Charcoal Trail ascends alongside more or less picturesque streams. 

 

The Wet West
The Wet West

 

The Wet West
The Wet West

 

In about 1.8 miles there is a saddle, and the junction of the Charcoal Trail and the Hogback Mountain Trail.  The Charcoal Trail ends here; the Hogback Mountain Trail continues to the summit of Hogback Mountain.  One can turn left (east) here and hike about 0.3 miles to reach the summit of Hogback Mountain, or turn right (west) to continue toward Big Mountain, saving the summit of Hogback for later.

 

Hog Meets Charcoal
Hog Meets Charcoal

 

From the saddle, it is another 0.8 miles on the Hogback Mountain Trail to the top of Big Mountain.  It is generally steeper than the Charcoal Trail, but the slope lessens near the top.  As before, just follow yellow blazes.

 

Hogback Mountain Trail
Hogback Mountain Trail
Hogback Mountain
Hogback Mountain

 

Just below the summit of Big Mountain, the Hogback Mountain Trail reaches a junction with the Tuscarora Trail, which is blazed blue.  Continue straight on the yellow-blazed Hogback Mountain Trail (unless you would prefer walking on uneven rocks the rest of the way to the scenic overlook). 

 

Trail Junction
Trail Junction

Soon after this point, the trail emerges from the woods and passes a tower.  Between this tower and the appropriately named Tower Road is a signpost that marks the terminus of the Hogback Mountain Trail. 

Terminus
Terminus

 

From here, just head north along the road and Big Mountain’s scenic overlook will become obvious on the right within about two minutes.  Obviously, Big Mountain has better views than Hogback Mountain, including a view of Hogback Mountain itself.

 

Lonely Overlook
Lonely Overlook
From Big to Pig
From Big to Pig

Simply retrace your steps to get back to your car, following yellow blazes all the way.  Don't forget to visit the summit of Hogback Mountain if you didn't do so on your way up!

 

Top Hog
Top Hog

 

The roundtrip is about six miles, including the short walk to the overlook on Big Mountain.  The Hogback Mountain Trail itself is 1.1 miles long, from the top of Big Mountain to the summit of Hogback Mountain.  The overall elevation gain is about 2,000 feet.

Essential Gear

No special gear is needed, unless one is attempting the route in winter conditions.  This is a Class 1 hike.

External Links

See the Tuscarora Mountain page for External Links related to this area.



Parents 

Parents

Parents refers to a larger category under which an object falls. For example, theAconcagua mountain page has the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits' asparents and is a parent itself to many routes, photos, and Trip Reports.