North Country Trail Out and Back
ElevationAscent: 102' 31 m
Descent: -101' -31 m
High: 1,220' 372 m
Low: 1,168' 356 m
GradeAvg Grade: 1% (1°)
Max Grade: 5% (3°)
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“A beautiful over the prairie and through the woods run beginning at the bike rental parking lot.”— Laura McGinnis
The Butterfly Loop Trail is marked and is a short, scenic grass trail that ends back on the main trail. It is a nice photo-op spot year round. There is a small man-made pond stocked with coy and a artistic curved bridge. The natural tall grasses, goldenrod, local trees, and summer flowers are worth the stop.
After crossing the road that leads to McDanels Boat Launch, the trail turns to dirt, grass, and gravel. It is a little challenging on the ankles with wash outs and larger rocks in a few places, but most of the trail is a solid narrow path for one to run. The trail is marked by blue blazes, but they have not been updated and are fading in places, so pay attention in the fall and winter when the path disappears under the leaves and snow.
The trail is closed on the other side of the park access road and with no knowledge of if or when this will change as of 11/16. The "trail closed" signs looked rather long term, and the trail appeared overgrown. Double back to follow the trail past Muddy Creek; you'll see the water on the right of the path and come to a reverse fork. Head to the right up a slight hill through young trees and then down a steep 20-foot section to a metal foot bridge over the water. Follow the trail around the lake, and find a couple stops to view the dam.
Go through or around a small parking lot for maintenance vehicles, and the trail surface becomes more grass and dirt into the wooded area along the lake. Watch for the blue blazes, as it's easy to lose the path through the young trees especially in the fall. The trail follows fairly close to the lake, and there are a couple nice spots to take pictures of the dam. You can hear the waterfall at the dam as you approach, and there is a bench to take a break.
Once past the dam, follow the tree line along the open grass to a small gravel road. Stay off the road and follow the marked trail. It heads again into the woods along the lake. Watch for the blue blazes as it's easy to lose the path through the young trees especially in the fall. There are several small foot bridges over the streams and small gullies that are in good shape. Between the trail and the lake, there are several cement structures (looks like a paintball maze?), and the trail makes a turn still following along the lake. This is a good landmark to watch for where the blue blazes are tough to see at times.
Once you pass the cement structures, if you go only a little further, you can turn back and head straight for the bike rental parking lot to complete approximately 3 miles. The trail does go much further for miles to the west for longer runs (to be explored in the future!)
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History & Background
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Land Manager: PA DCNR - Moraine State Park