FKT: Zachary Szablewski - Raccoon Creek State Park Loop (PA) - 2017-12-24

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3h 7m 18s
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Raccoon Creek State Park is a 7572 acre park in Beaver County. It is an Appalachian mixed mesophytic forest which is an ecoregion of the temperate broadleaf and mixed forests biome. The main trees include Red Maple, Yellow Birch, American Beech, White Ash, White Pine, American Aspen, Cherry, and Hemlock.

There are several dozen miles of trail, which traverse the undulating landscape where short steep hills overlook narrow meandering streams. Although there are no sweeping views, the constant variation in terrain and morphing of forest type makes for a ideal trail running experience. One of the most notable features is the Frankfort Mineral Springs, which serves as an excellent photo opportunity. Here there is an overhanging rock slab with a steady pouring spout of water with a backdrop of sparse Hemlock. 

In addition to being one of the most beautiful parks in the state, it also served as Apryle and I’s wedding location. In the planning stages of the wedding we singled the park out due to its proximity to family and friends in the area. It was part way between my family in Tiffin, Ohio and Apryle’s family in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. However, we had only read about it and seen pictures online, but Apryle and I fell in love with the park after visiting it in November of 2015.

We were married on June 4th of 2016 at the main recreation hall and despite plans for a post wedding circumnavigation run, we did not have the opportunity to follow through on this. But in December of 2017, en route back to Tiffin, I decided to tackle the 19 mile loop. The weather was perfect, the trails were snow-free and route was well marked.

I started the run from the Heritage Trail in the southeast corner of the park and made my way southwestward. About four miles into the run, I crossed HW 18 and the trail trends northwestward. I kept on the Heritage Trail for 10 miles before hopping onto the Appaloosa Trail where my trajectory changed to a northeast path. After rounding the western fringe of the park, the Appaloosa trail turned due east and ended with a short stint on a dirt road before becoming the Forest Trail.

The Forest trail dives southeast and I crossed highway 18 again about 14.7 miles into the run. After crossing HW 18, the Forest trail weaves and switches back across the northern board of the park before skirting along Raccoon Lake. In terms of navigation, I struggled most in the last mile, while trying to cross Traverse Creek at the dam site. I made it back to the car 2 hours and 54 minutes of running and covering 19.24 miles and 3488 feet of vertical gain.