The temperatures had just fallen in the mornings when I set out for this double loop. Some leaves revealed that they were on the cusp of gaining fall color. The trail here is wide and easy to follow, but always houses rocks, mud, puddles, and stream crossings. Mill Run was higher (and therefore beautifully louder) than I remember seeing it in past years, and housed a gorgeous glisten as the sun hit its moving waters. I heard a waterside speckled falcon scream and watched it throw out its wings and gracefully fly to a higher vantage point.
I knew this run would be brutal at some point. Fang-like rocks sink their feet into runners’ soles in this part of Pennsylvania. There are some soft piney sections, some slightly rooty sections, but it is mostly uneven, rocky ground on this loop. Twisting your feet and ankles every direction, they do not promote keeping you on your toes- like the time they sent me sprawling and sliding face first down a hill as my palms slid down the dirt trail and I jammed my fingers on a rock to stop my descent.
The first loop had been otherwise pleasant, however. The solitude was surprising for a balmy September Saturday. I had gone out self-supported, so I stopped and got more water and snacks at my car after this loop (although I had carried too much to begin with because of the falling temperatures and lesser hydration needs). The second loop sent me on the initial drawn-out downhill that I didn’t mind but one that delivered a nagging and unpleasantly rocky uphill to the finish. I pressed on through the menacing miles of flying yellow-jackets on Hess Trail. Luckily, I was not stung like the time I ran this section and they got me in the skull just a few steps before I made it to the “Beware of Yellow-Jackets” sign.
Altogether, Quebec Run is a fantastic loop for bikers and hikers, and it presents a technical challenge along with plenty of elevation. It is lush and peaceful, boasts abundant flora and fauna, and provides enough distance to require endurance of the foot travelers it attracts.