FKT: Jeremy Lynch - North Country Trail: Moraine & McConnell's Mill State Parks (PA) - 2022-07-09

Route variation
one way
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
5h 3m 33s
GPS track(s)

Start Time: 06:25

Weather: 63F; Dew Point 61; Sunny

Gear:  Salomon Ultra Glide trail shoes; Osprey Duro 6 Vest w/ 50oz water bladder; Two 10oz water bottles; assorted Honey Stinger fuel

Dropped a car off at the Hells Hollow Parking area in McConnell's Mill then hitched a ride to the Old Stone House parking lot for the NCT.  The section of NCT from the parking area through Jennings Environmental Center was pretty smooth and rolling. I ran part of this section during the Glacier Ridge 50k a few years ago but Jennings is always a great area to run through.

Exiting Jennings, I dropped into Moraine State Park and the Glacier Ridge Trail.  I know the GRT well, but that still doesn't take the sting out of it.  Not many level areas and "hitting your stride" is almost laughable... lots of rocks and roots. I was happy with my 10:30 pace was feeling good after exiting the GRT at the start of the paved biking path.  The winding trail that takes you under the 422 bridge was rolling and full of soft pine needles.

Then the fun went away... The only bad thing about this route is that to connect Moraine and McConnell's Mill you have to run on the road.  Burnside to Johnson is full sun and the heat was radiating off the pavement.  

Dropping into McConnell's Mill on the Alpha Pass trail provided relief from the heat but cranked up the technicality of the trail. Alpha Pass to the mill is a short segment that requires some careful maneuvering.  Crossing the covered bridge at the mill you pick up the Slippery Rock Gorge trail.  According to the PA DNR, the trail is rated as “most difficult” and AllTrails has it listed, and verified by several reviewers, as “hard.”  It’s up and down, never flat.  Rocks, roots, fallen trees, and water runoff add to the adventure.  It’s slow going… like 15 min/mile grinding slow. By this point it was getting hot, so I stopped at several stream crossings and cooled off in the water.  The final segment from the confluence of Hell Run and Slippery Rock Creek to the parking area is hands down my favorite segment of trail in this area.  Some climbs, which sucked late in the run, but some really fun - almost flowy – downs. Hit the parking area at 5h:03m:33s

Distance recorded: 27.25 miles (matches the official NCT trail map distances)

Ascent: 3,694 ft

Avg. Pace: 11'07/mile

Water Consumed: 70oz (no refills needed)

Fuel Consumed: 2 stinger waffles; 2 stinger chew packets; 1 stinger peanut butter protein bar

End Time: 11:28

Weather: 76F; Dew Point 61; Sunny