Part of the Monongahela National Forest, this two day hike
has great wildlife areas and spectacular clearings. With only
700ft of vertical gain over the whole hike, it's a great workout,
but it won't leave you broken when you get back to your car!
The 19 miles on the Monongahela
forest roads to get to the parking area are gravel with plenty
Start the hike by crossing Gandy
Creek over the footbridge and start up the Big Run Trail,
paralleling Big Run on your right. Remember you will follow
the blue diamonds for most of this two-day hike. Over the next
1.6 miles cross back and
forth over Big Run six times before finally crossing North
Prong and coming to a small
clearing with the North Prong Trail coming in from the left.
Proceed left up the North Prong Trail, where you will pass
several clearings and
cross the run three
times before passing the Eliza Trail coming in from the left
at 2.2 miles from the last junction. At this point, continue
following the blue blazes and triangles as the
trail gets steeper. 1.9 miles after taking the North Prong
trail, you will come to a large
meadow, stay on the right and continue up the trail to a
ridge clearing at 2.5
miles. Stay to the left and go another .2 miles to the intersection
of the Allegheny Trail. Just before the Allegheny Trail junction
a small trail will come in from the left, bypass this and continue
50 yards to the junction.
Turn left on the Allegheny Trail passing a small clearing on
your left. In .5 miles pass the leading Ridge Trail that comes
in from your left, you will take this on the way back. .7 miles
after getting on the Allegheny Trail pass a small pond and spring
on your right, this is your closest source of water from the
camp sight that will be .2 miles further on the left opposite
a ridge line clearing. Start your second day by hiking .4
miles back the junction of the Leading Ridge Trail and turn
The return hike on day two on the Leading
Ridge Trail should only take about 3.5 hours. Follow the
blue diamonds for the Leading Ridge Trail the entire way back
to Gandy Creek, passing the Bea Trail on your right at 2.4
miles and the Elza on your left at 3.1 miles. After starting
your main descent, the road will fork at 4.7 miles. Take the
blue diamond trail that swings to your right and continue downward
with a small stream
on your right at 4.9 miles then going through a rhododendron
patch at 5.5 miles. In another .2 miles, you will come to Gandy
Creek, cross over the footbridge go up to the road and turn
left. In .3 miles the parking lot you departed from the day
before will be on your left.
Big Run Leading Ridge Hike Comments
Howie and Michelle
Date of Hike: Sunday, September 3, 2017
Love the Monongahela National Forest, but this was not one of our favorite hikes. All of the best camping spots are on Big Run Trail and part of North Prong Trail. The solitude should not be set at 5 considering the amount of people we saw in that area. This also goes for camping since the campsites we saw were only in the area previously mentioned. Completely disregard the stagnant pool of water near the camping spot listed in the details of this trail. Some of the numbers are off as well. There is less gravel road to travel than the 19 miles listed here. Also note that the Elza (not Eliza) trail comes in from the left at 1.2 miles (not 2.2) from the junction of North Prong trail. We hiked all the way to the stagnant pond and decided to continue on even though we were quickly losing daylight. We passed several open areas that we considered camping in, but there was no drinkable water source. We decided to cut back across to the North Prong Trail on the Elza Trail (1/2 mile across). We found a campsite on North Prong about halfway to the Big Run trail up on the bank across the run. We watched the moon creep up over the mountain and heard a screech owl overnight. We did 9.73 miles the 1st day in 5 1/2 hrs. and hiked out about 2.5 miles the next day. Note that the stinging nettle is armpit high in some places. We think this trail would be better hiked in reverse so that you come to the good campsites for your overnight camp. Start at the Big Run trail head so that you hike the 1/3 mile on the gravel road at the beginning of the hike.
Date of Hike: Saturday, August 11, 2012
We adapted this route to a day hike by starting at Big Run/Allegheny Mountain trailhead parking on FS112: followed Allegheny Mountain trail to North Prong Trail, and then returned via Big Run. The first half of the hike was smooth walking except for some large mud holes. There were a few wide and well used, but unmarked, trails off of Allegheny Mountain, so a map is helpful. Exploring one to the West we went through a small meadow and ended in a second larger meadow/hunting blind. There was evidence of recent bear activity, but no sightings. Back on the Alleghany Mountain trial, we passed the Tom Lick trail, and in less than a half mile, turned west onto the North Prong trail. (Of note, a longer option is to follow Leading Ridge trail here, adding 2 ˝ miles.) After passing the Elza trail intersection, the North Prong trail became more technical as we gradually dropped altitude into marshland. We picked up Big Run trail going south. For the rest of the hike the trail was narrow and overgrown in parts. We wished for high ankle boots rather than our light weight hikers as we continued on off-camber horse track and wet roots in between stream crossings. Meadow flowers made for some nice scenery. As we climbed out of the valley, the terrain gradually improved until we were surprised to finish on a steep climb of crushed gravel. Total estimated 6.6 miles, without the side trip down to the hunting blind.
Date of Hike: Saturday, September 19, 2009
Did an overnight trip with my wife, a co-worker and her 10 year old son. It was a good starter hike for someone that hasn't had a pack on in 12 years. Most of the trail is very wide and open and very easy walking. Make sure you bring along a map and the directions from this site. Vandals have shot up quite a few of the trail signs. Camp site #2 was an awesome site. There is a very nice ring there for a fire and plenty of level clear ground. We fully expected that we would probably have to share the site, but with the exception of passing one couple walking their dog on the first day, we never saw another soul the whole trip. If you go late in the Summer, do not count on getting water from the spring and pond just before campsite #2. The pond is stagnant and green and the spring is nonexistent. You will need to fill up on water before leaving the North Prong and making the climb up through the meadow. Also, you will not come across any water on your way out in the morning until you have travelled about 5 miles. Overall, a very good hike. Not much for scenery except for some very interesting rock formations. I'd highly recommend it for a good easy starter trip.