FKT: Lee Strappello - Terrace Mountain Trail (PA) - 2020-05-10

Route variation
one way
Gender category
Finish date
Total time
3h 57m 43s
GPS track(s)

The Terrace Mountain Trail runs 25 miles from the south end of Lake Raystown (just outside of Saxton, Pennsylvania) to the north end, finishing above the man-made dam which created the lake. At times, the trail takes you right along the water, where I have seen Bald Eagles fishing, or you may find yourself high above the lake with a panoramic view of the serpentine shape of the water. This is an aesthetic line for a trail, traveling the length of the lake, and gives you a visible reminder of the distance you are covering. The trail itself is marked with blue blazes and has mile and half-mile marker posts. Some of these posts have lost their number plates to porcupines, a never-ending battle, but many are new placements. Work is being put into the trail by volunteers, and a recently acquired grant will fund improvements on the section between Tatman Run Recreation Area and Trough Creek State Park, a section that runs along a steep side slope which makes it hard to maintain. I am excited for this work to be completed as this trail is a gem that is worth maintaining.

Having said all of that, this is not a buffed out smooth trail. Much of the single track sections are very rocky and blow-downs are a common occurrence. You’ll be crawling through and around these blow-downs at times, but it never becomes annoying, just an added challenge. A few sections take attention to follow and you may find yourself pausing to scan for that next blaze. One such section is the before mentioned section from Tatman Run to Trough Creek, which will be getting some love in the coming year. In full disclosure, as with many trails, it definitely pays to have been on the trail before attempting an FKT. Not that you would get lost, but missed turns and backtracking would be a result of trying to do a speed attempt without seeing some of the tougher sections first. Although work on the trail in the coming year may change that equation and make it more clear to follow.

Now for the Nitty Gritty:

The trail runs 25-25.3 miles long with appx. 4,250 ft of climbing (I averaged two different runs to get this number using a Garmin watch and the Strava App. Garmin Connect overshot the elevation gain by a huge amount while Strava did better). The actual FKT effort showed 3,800 feet of climbing on Strava, while a previous effort showed over 4,700 on Strava. The TMT starts at Weavers Bridge outside of Saxton, Pennsylvania. This is the bridge you cross before getting to the Weavers Falls Boat Launch area. There is limited parking with only 4 spots, although people do park along the road as well. GPS coordinates are (40.2350569, -78.2193850). The first 5.5 miles run along a gravel forest road. The beauty of running right beside the water at times makes this a cool section. A few sustained climbs test the lungs and legs as well. At 5.5 miles you hit a sign for Lake Raystown Resort straight ahead, and TMT to the right.

This begins a section of single-track. In the two miles between this turn and Tatman Run Recreation Area, you will cross rt. 994 and drop down in a low-lying boggy valley that includes a covered bridge over one stream. There is another stream crossing that typically is about ankle deep. You will get wet feet! At 7.3 miles you’ll cross the Tatman Run paved access road and see another sign for the TMT, this one lists Trough Creek State Park as the next location. This section is 5 miles of single-track with a few steep climbs. Mostly it runs along the mountain side and the main obstacles are the narrow sloping ribbon of trail and finding the blazes. An old cabin at mile 10 is an interesting spot to check out. Arriving at Trough Creek you will hit a gravel road for a few hundred yards before crossing a pedestrian bridge over the creek. After crossing you can either go straight through a picnic area to the paved park entrance road and take a left for a few hundred feet where you will hit a gate and another TMT sign. Or directly after crossing the bridge, turn left along the creek through the grass and un-blazed trail leading up to that same park entrance road, again take a left and the gate is just ahead. If it’s a hot day, walk down into the Ice Mine to cool off. This sign at mile 12.5 lists Fink’s Road 6.2 miles ahead, although it’s actually closer to 5 miles.

You’ll run down an old pavement road that now runs straight into the lake. Just before reaching the water, you’ll see blazes to the right. This section includes some nice single-track at first, and then becomes old logging roads. There are some Great Lake views in this section. You’ll hit Finks Road about mile 17.4. Turn left on the gravel road and enjoy a long gradual descent. Your legs will be grateful! You’ll bottom out right along the lake once again at mile 18.6 where you’ll see Trail Shelter #1 which is a lean-to for overnight camping.

The coming miles are a mix of really nice trails and some old logging roads. The great sections will outweigh the less aesthetic sections. You will see Seven Points Recreation Area across the water from this section. And two viewpoints in particular are pretty epic views. The view at the mile marker 20 post (this post has fallen over) is perhaps my favorite!

At about 22.5 miles you’ll cross a gravel access road and a TMT sign pointing up to a slight right (do NOT take a sharp right onto the access road). You are getting close now! The blazes at this point are a little obscure and many of the trees are marked with blue paint rings by the past loggers. If you keep following the most obvious way when in doubt you should be fine. You’ll be cursing all the blue paint though. This section will be grassy logging road and may feel like a slog. Basically you’ll be running along the mountain side trending slightly upward all the way. This is another section you really should see before an FKT attempt.

When you hit the mile 24.5 marker post, be looking for a small TMT sign pointing to the right just ahead. The trail used to go straight here and you will see blazes continuing and logs cut out of the trail. The old finish would have had you running along the mountain side for perhaps another half mile, then hitting Corbin Rd for a 1.5 mile gravel road run down to Corbin’s bridge. Don’t miss the turn as it’s much more aesthetic to finish on top of the ridge! This turn will switchback to the right and head back south for a little ways. There are TMT signs at all the turns as you switchback your way up a 500 ft climb to the finishing trailhead. If the leaves are off the trees, you’ll have a good view of the dam. The finishing trailhead is along Corbin Road (gravel road) at GPS coordinates (40.4221654, -77.9856328).