Outdoors,  Photography,  Western Pennsylvania

A Cold but Fun Bike + Hike for the New Year

New Year’s Day here was dominated by rain, so the day was spent reading and walking around the neighborhood under cover of umbrella. The day after, though, was overcast, getting colder, and a little bit drizzly, but the rain wasn’t pouring! I loaded up the camera backpack with all of the camera stuff plus the bike tools, filled a water bottle, and layered up for a bike and hike on the Roaring Run Trail and the connecting Rock Furnace Trail in Apollo.

First up was a ride to the top of the hill, just before the trail descends back down to the river and goes further on to its terminus in Edmon. At the top of the hill is Flat Run and the associated falls, as the stream makes a rapid descent from the surrounding hills into the river valley, where it flows into the Kiskiminetas River.

Flat Run is usually a small stream, but with all of the rain the day prior, it was running well! It was well worth the effort to lug the extra camera gear up the trail so that I had a tripod and lens options.

After spending some time enjoying the falls here, I hopped back on the bike and rode back down the hill to where the Rock Furnace trail meets the Roaring Run trail. The Rock Furnace trail is an old well maintenance road (there are still several gas wells along the way, which I believe are still active). The trail follows Roaring Run to its confluence with the Kiskiminetas River. At one point, where the well maintenance road forded the stream, the Roaring Run Watershed folks constructed a pedestrian suspension bridge to cross the creek. I biked up the trail to the bridge, and then locked up the bike and continued on foot. I knew I would be stopping several times and descending from the trail to the creek to get photos, so it was easier to just be on foot.

Roaring Run passes an old iron furnace, the name of which I’m going to forget right now. Flat Rock Furnace, maybe? There is an enormous flat rock above the site of the furnace. Today, the remains of the stone structure of the furnace are still present, in the midst of large trees and boulders bigger than cars. It is hard to imagine that, in the days of its operation, the area was likely clearcut of timber to supply the furnace with fuel, and surrounded by support structures for the ironmaking operation.

Roaring Run itself is usually a pretty calm stream, cascading down the water-hewn rock on its way to the river. After a big rain, though, it was running fast and deep, living up to its name as it roared down through channels that the stream itself cut through the rock. As evidenced by the photo above, this isn’t even as dramatic as it can be. I love seeing the “steps” that the stream cut into this rock, likely fueled by large snow melts and heavy rains over untold years.

After hiking up to the old vehicle bridge along the trail, I decided to head back down to where I stashed the bike, and make my way back to the truck. The day was becoming increasingly windy and cold, and I was about ready to warm up with a cozy cat back at home. It was a great day outside for the new year!

Jonathan does a lot of stuff. If you ask Jenny, maybe he does too much stuff.