Resuming work on the “One Lap of Michaux”

One of the first articles I published on this blog was about my “One Lap of Michaux” project.  It was eventually refined and published in Issue #12 of OutdoorX4 magazine.  Although in many ways the route is cool enough to stand on its own, I’m not one to leave well enough alone.

Every trip has to begin somewhere…
… this one just happens to have it’s own staging area.

The end goal for the “One Lap of Michaux,” and future projects like it, is to not only have a narrative describing the route and the historical and cultural significance of the area, but also a .gpx file to accompany it.  Sadly the project was neglected last year and took a backseat to other things.  The LJ being sidelined with bad tires and a busted heater core last fall didn’t help.  Now that it’s up and running, it’s back to work on the project…

As the route stands it’s an almost 100 mile loop beginning and ending in Mount Holly Springs.  It only touches on about two-thirds of the forest land that makes up Michaux State Forest.  There’s an entire section south of Caledonia State Park that I have not yet incorporated into the route.  Half the route, all of Piney Mountain Ridge Road, is also a seasonal road that is closed for the winter.  This means during the winter months and early spring only half the route (as it stands now) can be run.  My goal so far is to map out the southern sections of the forest to expand the route even more as well as map out alternative routes to make the loop possible in the winter months without double backing or spending too much time on paved roads.

Always fun to travel with a few friends.
@ecoa_alex in the middle and one of his college buddies on the left.

This was also a good opportunity to try out my new Cooper Tire Discoverer S/T Maxx tires
And, as always, air down using my J.T. Brooks Automatic Tire Deflator Pro’s.
(Shameless plugs, I know… but I super excited to finally have some new tires on the LJ!)

I’m not going to waste too much time now rehashing the details of the route as it stands now.  You can either read the original article on here or dig up a copy of OutdoorX4.  For now I’m just going to share some of the tidbits about new stuff I’ve mapped out.

Another scenic overlook added to the One Lap of Michaux
Not much to look at now, but in the spring and summer it will be epic once the trees have leaves

One of the tricky parts about mapping out any off-pavement routes on the east coast is the fractured nature of public lands.  Also, in an older state like Pennsylvania which is structured as a commonwealth it means an innumerable amount of smaller municipal jurisdictions.  This means a given road could go for ten miles and pass through just as many different forms of local government each with their own sets of road standards.  Coupled with forest land which is fractured with small pockets of state, local, and private land it makes for an interesting tapestry of roads.  Especially when logging companies and private land owners pay to have certain sections groomed on a regular basis while other sections get rough with age, weather, and usage.

Smooth gravel here,
dirt behind me,
rough gravel just over the horizon.
Same road with different maintenance standards

My task lately has just been pre-running sections of cross-roads.  The two main unpaved roads running end-to-end in Michaux are Ridge Road and Piney Mountain Ridge Road.  As I said, Piney Mountain is season and closed for most of the year.  There are a few smaller roads that run the lenfth of the forest but a large bulk of the forest roads cut up and over the mountains from one side to the other.  Most of these roads turn to pavement at the end of the state forest.

Recording new tracks

The nice thing for me is that Michaux is pretty much in my backyard.  I can head into the forest on a whim and have done so many times.  One of the reasons I am taking my time releasing this article and the .gpx file is because this is a relatively new process for me.  It’s relatively easy to write a short narrative of a trip like I did for OutdoorX4.  It’s a different thing to put a full route out there with the expectations of someone else following it.  That’s why more often than not routes have a very short public lifespan.  Roads change, gates go up, property changes hand, policies change.  It’s a lot to keep up with.  That said, hopefully I can do my part to make sure something like a “One Lap” route can stand the test of time.

It’s not all digital.
Paper maps still play a huge role in my navigation toolbox.
The Caledonia Furnace & Iron Works once belonged to Thaddeus Stevens.
I won’t give too many spoilers, but this is something worth checking out.
This is just one of many historical and cultural connections to the local area along the “One Lap of Michaux”

A scenic view of Franklin County, PA

Uh, a dam you say?
That way?
Don’t mind if I do.

Small parking lot near the base of the dam.
Took a short hike along the stream that was fed by the dam’s spillway.
No spoilers… you’ll have to check it out for yourself.

Although it’s on a paved road, this barn is worth a slight detour to check out.
Makes a great photo opportunity.

The photos in this article were sourced over two separate day-trips.  I’m sure there will be many more.  Hopefully soon I’ll be able and willing to share a finalized .gpx file of the route along with a revised narrative article complete with photos.  In the meantime you’ll just have to settle with articles like this and the occasional photos on the ECOA Instagram feed.  As for the future, well…

The squiggly mess at the bottom is Michaux State Forest
The blue route belong to the original Trans-Pennsylvania Trail
The red route belongs to a revised Trans-Pennsylvania Trail – Vertical Edition going north/south border to border

In my research on Michaux State Forest, I came across two routes from the Adventure Rider forum community. One is the TPAT (Trans-Pennslyvania Trail) originally developed by user “TowPro” The other is a revised vertical version developed by user “tonyjuliano.”  Needless to say I’m intrigued by both of these routes and the potential they have for a “One Lap of Central PA.”

If you look closely at that screen shot you’ll noticed a bright green line to the northwest of Michaux and a very small green line west of that. Those are the first elements of the “One Lap of Buchanan” route that has also gone unfinished (more so than the Michaux route) but it has not been forgotten.

So, stay tuned and hopefully in time you’ll see more details on the “One Lap” series develop.


If you enjoy reading the ECOA blog and projects like the “One Lap” series I encourage you to check out the new ECOA Patreon page.  By joining the ECOA Patron Support Team for as little as $1 a month you get access to patron exclusive items like limited edition hardcover copies of the “No Highways Tour” book series and patron exclusive swag.  Check out this article for a more in-depth look at our history with crowdfunding and our goals for the future.

0 thoughts on “Resuming work on the “One Lap of Michaux”

  1. Thanks for keeping us updated on this trail, i can't wait for the .gpx file for come out. I read you first post about this and have been thinking it would be a good place to start my overlanding. After purchasing a 4Runner last fall I have want to do some trail rides but have no experience with off-road or overlanding. Your blog has a ton of good info and has really inspired me to get out there.