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What started as a morning being completely exhausted turned into an amazing day hiking. We were sitting around eating breakfast, trying to decide what to do with our afternoon.  It looked like it was shaping up to be a beautiful fall day, so we didn’t want to be cooped up in the house, and we didn’t want to spend it doing yard work. Yuck. So, what other option is there? Taking a hike, of course! Asking Robby if he would want to go hiking with us, his eyes lit up and he said “Now?!” Yes, now! We quickly got ready and had to figure out where to go. Since Robby has only done a couple of hikes in his young life, we didn’t want to do anything too long. One of our go to hikes has been Charcoal Burners to Old Mine Railbed to Three Lakes Trail in Fahnestock. The loop we typically do is about 4.5 miles, so that’s too long, but luckily there’s so many possible variations, we managed to tweak it so it could be about 2 miles. Using my Avenza map app, I was able to calculate how far the hike would be before starting it. This time around we would do Old Mine Railbed to Charcoal Burners to Three Lakes Trail. The plan sounded good we so we set out.


To start at the yellow blazed Old Mine Railbed Trail, go down Dennytown Road and turn onto Sunken Mine Road, which is a treat to drive or walk anytime. There is a little parking area opposite of the trailhead. When you start on the trail, you are walking along the eastern shore of the John Allen Pond. A heavily wooded section, you are greeted with beautiful colors from the changing leaves this time of the year. A lot of trees have lost their leaves at this point, so you get glimpses of the pond through the trees. You ascend slightly, climbing up some rocks. This was the most difficult part of the trail for Robby, as was coming down because you are walking over lots of rocks, but he was pretty confident of himself, constantly reminding us that “I’m a very good hiker”.

After you descend the little hill, you can take a little side path through the rocks to walk out to the water. This is a nice place for contemplation or a snack break.

Walking back onto the trail, you walk along the mysterious property of the Orentreich Foundation with the tower amid the open fields. After this you come to a 90 degree right turn, and continue along the Old Mine Railbed.

This part of the Old Mine Railbed is a wide trail, that is flat and very easy to walk. Robby was enjoying picking up acorns and “planting trees” . Enjoying it a little too much. He had to stop every two feet. Finally, he just picked up a stick and used it as his pointer to point us in the direction of all the trail markers he found. A little bit of excitement occurred as I was about 1 inch from stepping on a snake, and both I and the snake fled in separate directions. Robby enjoyed looking at the snake though. About halfway through this part of the trail, you come to the intersection with the Charcoal Burners trail. It is here where we turned right and began following the red blazes.

Back to a narrower trail, you go slightly downhill, while crossing over a small stream where you might be lucky like we were to see a frog swimming through the water. A slightly tricky part of the trail is a zigzag where some trail markers seem to be missing, making it hard to see where the trail is. If you find it, you will see some rock formations that some people built, including an arrow pointing the way made out of rocks. You are only on the Charcoal Burners Trail in this section for only about a quarter of a mile, as it terminates when it meets up with the blue blazed Three Lakes Trail.

Turning right onto the Three Lakes Trail, you wander through the remnants of the John Allen Homestead, with the footprint of the cellar visible, and bricks in the ground. As you head up towards the lake, the trees start to clear, thanks to the handiwork of the beavers, who have cut a lot down. You walk along the lake, with the beaver huts visible in few different locations. You then come up to the dam which has been breached, this time of year the waterfall has slowed to a trickle. Crossing over the now little stream, you head up a hill, where you arrive back at Sunken Mine Road. Turning right will bring you back to the car.

Overall the hike was 2.2 miles. Robby kept up really well, and was able to traverse most of the terrain easily. We now know that we can take him on more hikes. Most importantly, he is learning to appreciate the outdoors. His enthusiasm for spotting things in nature, his stopping to explore, allows us appreciate our surroundings even more. Things we miss, or just take for granted, excites him so much, it gets us excited.  It also gets him off the couch, away from the TV or tablet, and out of the house, which I don’t think enough kids do these days. Hopefully the seed has been sown, and one day he can bring his kids on hikes.


See the map of the hike here

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