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Hiker Reviews for the Tar Jacket Ridge Hike - 1 to 14 of 14   
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By: Jim Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, October 21, 2016
Did this as two night trip with a first time backpacker who thought it was hard, but not too hard. Definitely recommend camping by the big ol rock at piney river. That's a nice spot. Be careful when hiking LST. After that abrupt turn the trail climbs up a mountain and becomes not so clear cut in parts and the blazes are spread out, so you have to search a little to find the next blaze. And a lot of the blazes are faded. Double blazes at intersections are reminders to not take the wrong trail. Other than that it was a nice trail to hike. You can fill up at hog camp, piney river, the shelter, and the end of LST when it finally crosses the spring. Camped at Salt Log Gap next to the forestry road the 2nd night but people were driving on it at night which weirded me out, so I'd recommend camping a little up the hill to the south or just before the first LST/AT intersection. Overall, some interesting sights, good water, 2 memorable views (tar jacket and wolf rocks). Good hikers can do this in one or two days

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, February 20, 2016
We hiked this loop with 10 Boy Scouts at a good time to see the views in February--they were fantastic! There was still a little snow on the ground in the shadowy areas. The road to the parking area is tough--I would not do this in my Honda Accord.  We had a 10 passenger van and a Land Rover Disco which did fine. There were a lot of people at the meadow when we arrived (with slushy snow covering the road completely), but other than one trail-runner (doing 18 miles!) we saw no one else on the entire hike.  The trail was pretty muddy. The hike was strenuous for the 2 adults--the Scouts did fine.  There are a lot of tough ups and downs for us old guys, but it was a great trip (someone mentioned in a comment that it was relatively flat for the AT. I guess compared to the Priest, yes, but there were still some tough ups and downs with a fully loaded pack).  We had no trouble finding the Seely/Woodworth Shelter, of course, since it is right on the AT. You might be tempted to walk right to the shelter once you see it, but coming from the south, the blue-blazed trail to the shelter is farther up to the north along the AT.  It was pretty muddy around the shelter.  We were alone at the shelter and had plenty of places to camp. The water source was fairly close (not as close as I typically like, as at Johns Hollow), but it was adequate--it was flowing nicely with all the melting snow.

The next day just as it started to rain, we started back on the Lovingston Spring Trail.  The Lovingston Spring Trail was well marked, and we had no trouble following it at first, but we did miss the right turn after the Hunting Trailer--it must be very close to the trailer (this was our fault for not more closely consulting the above description). We followed the forestry road which pretty much starts at the hunting trailer. After a while, we saw the Lovingston Spring Trail where it crosses the forestry road again. We made a left hand turn a the spring onto the trail--FYI, the trail crosses the forestry road just where a spring crosses the road, so it was hard to miss. The trail continued up the spur there in sight of the road off to our right.  It was a great hike back to the AT and we thoroughly enjoyed it, though I might need a couple more days to recover!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, December 05, 2015
Did this as a 2 day hike and started from Salt Log gap since we had a few novice hikers. This was a decent hike, for late fall. With no leaves on the trees you had some good views the whole hike. I would not recommend this in the summer since you will not be able to see much except at a few points. the weather was nice, high 50's during the day and a chill 26 at night. The shelter area is nice and big, can easily fit 6-8 hikers in the shelter and there is a privy for the more modest. The water source is hike behind the shelter and was flowing good. The lovingston spring trail was a nice change of scenery and was easy to follow this time of year. Next person to hike it should ring some blue spray paint and touch up some of the blazes. Wish I thought of it. Also starting from salt log you drive up alhambra rd and it has some great waterfalls that go into the creek and plenty of places to drive up and camp. overall was a decent hike.

By: Darren V. Wildhare Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, February 27, 2015
Along with three others, we attempted to concur this loop, however from the beginning we knew a challenge lied ahead. The service road that leads up to the parking area on Hog Camp Gap was covered with 6-8 inches of snow and a sheet of ice underneath that. I was able to get my 4x4 Tundra to about within 1/4 mile of the parking area, however backed down and parked in an alternate location. We hiked up 1.5 miles to the meadow to find 12-18 inches of snow. WE set up camp down near the water source to protect ourselves a bit from the wind, however lows got to around single digits Friday night. Needless to say after breakfast Saturday morning we made a smart decision to not attempt the climb up Tar Jacket Ridge due to the uncertain amounts of snow totals on the summit and trail heads leading up to it. Overall it was a great hike and were able to test out our winter gear which held up nicely! We live to hike another day.....

By: Ken Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 08, 2014
If you just like a walk in the woods then this is a great hike. Not too many steep sections, good miles, and not too many rocks on the trail. I took this as described but missed the turn after the hunting trailer on the return route. I ended up walking the service road until it T'd with another service road, hung a left, went way downhill, and eventually intersected back with the AT 2.2 miles from the trail head at Salt Log Gap. Got lucky and if I hadn't had my GPS I probably would have found myself backtracking quite a ways and possibly hiking in the dark. Anyhow...I ran into 2 Southbound thru hikers at the shelter. Spoke with them a little bit and then gave them a ride into Buena Vista. One of them flip flopped the trail and was 85 miles from finishing the trail. Saw another south bounder as well on my way to the shelter.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 25, 2014
I spread this hike out over two days. One thing I noticed, on this site they refer to the area where you park as Log Camp Gap, it is actually called Hog Camp Gap. I got corrected on this sitting around a campfire with some people I met along the way. Overall, it is a nice hike. The views at the top of Tar Jacket Ridge are beautiful, and all the way along the ridge this time of year you can see out because the leaves have fallen. Coming down the back of the ridge can get fairly steep. I ended up slipping on a leaf covered rock and falling, so be careful when the leaves are on the ground! The rest of the hike back to the Seely/Woodworth Shelter doesn't offer many views, but there are still some nice sights along the way. The large rock formations are cool, and there are quite a few of them. When I arrived at the shelter, I was surprised to see 8-9 other people, and 3 other dogs (I had mine with me, so this was nice!) Everyone was very welcoming and invited me over to enjoy the fire with them once I was set up. This was needed as it got down into the 40's overnight. The sunrises facing straight into the shelter and it was a nice place to sit and eat some breakfast the next morning. The Lovingston trail on the way back wasn't too hard to follow. The blazes that were there were clear, but there were not many of them. Even leaving the shelter, the first blaze is difficult to locate. I had to walk around a few minutes to find it because there is a trail intersection there. Once on the trail though, I could clearly follow the trail itself. After following this back to rejoin the AT you just follow back the way you came in. And the hardest part of the hike I think is hiking back up the steep side of Tar Jacket Ridge. Once you reach the top again you are just about done, but again, it is steep!

By: Daniel Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 31, 2014
Overall fun hike. Not too hard, but definitely steep enough in places to get the heart pumping. Just to reinforce a few other's statements, Lovingston trail is pretty well overgrown and the blazes are difficult to find or non-existent in places. Some thru-hikers as well as a couple ATC volunteers provided that tidbit of knowledge and I decided to take it without finding out first-hand.

By: Joe (Hotpockets) Shunk Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 26, 2014
The hike starts out with a great view.  There are also a "lot" of apple trees, so I am going to have to include this as a hike in the fall.  We noticed several trees growing on top of huge boulders at the Little Piney Creek crossing....cool!  There were plenty of places to pitch a tent at the shelter and  places to re-fill water.  

By: Bob Nelson Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 14, 2013
Hiked in direction indicated over two days. The main view at the top of Tar Jacket Ridge was outstanding, others limited. The other view, water, and camping spots on the way to the shelter was all as advertised. A big tree was growing on top of a large rock at the camping site along North Fork Piney River -- impressive. Thought I would see about camping along the two springs 0.3 miles up the Lovingston Springs Trail, but it was boggy with downed timber and no camp sites. So I went back and spent the night at the shelter and its fine piped spring. The Lovingston Trail is faint but well blazed for the first 0.3 miles. Then about a half mile after the big turn near a stream off the trail to the right, it joined an old woods road. Unfortunately, while easy to follow, the trail was not blazed at all from that point until the old hunting trailer at which point it became well blazed again. The trail 0.5 miles later off the forestry road is a bear right -- use care there. Also Lovingston Spring looks to be a reliable water source where the trail crosses the forestry road 0.2 miles before starting the ascent of Rocky Mountain.

By: Paul J. Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 26, 2013
This was exactly as described and we loved it. It was Memorial Day weekend and we knew everywhere would be packed but with great weather in the 70s, we opted for an overnight at the shelter and loved it. The hike in it was gushing with new ferns, trilliums and jack in the pulpits with slightly screened views by the trees that certainly felt like walking on a mountain ridge. Lots of big open and lush woodland clearings to walk through. While the parking area was mobbed for folks heading up to Cold Mtn and the other direction, we saw very few people and loved it.

Left at 2pm from Log Camp Gap and arrived at the shelter a little before 6pm with plenty of camping spots (if for some odd reason there were numerous hikers here).

For day two, the Lovingston Spring at the start of the Spring trail (blue blaze) near the shelter was cool for an off trail exploration as well as the first mile or two of that trail before it turns to fire road. At that point, we missed the turn off of the fire road back onto the blue blaze trail (as had some girls the day prior we ran into) and had to take some estimated left hand guesses to meet back up with the AT. While we love a loop, we might not take this leg again and opt for the more enjoyable AT. Probably amazing in the early spring and fall for views but for late spring, it was beautiful right at your feet.

By: Jon E Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 13, 2012
Did and out-and-back Tar Jacket Ridge + Spy Rock (about 22 mi pretty flat w/ no big climbs.) The first couple of views about 0.5 mi in were absolutely spectacular. Sun was just up and due to rain the previous night, puffy clouds were still down in the valley with several peaks poking through. Very quiet--only saw 3 other people the whole day, all N-S thru-hikers. More like being enveloped in the forest, which can be just as magical and exciting as big views. There are a few of the latter along the way, and you'll have them all to yourself. Lots of birds singing. A few trees just starting to change, a little bit of orange, red, and yellow against a carpet of green. On the return trip stayed on the AT, though the blue blazed trail is well-marked.

By: wife2dren Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 02, 2012
Hiked in on 2 June 2012 and returned on 3 June 2012 following the directions listed here. It was a perfect weekend for hiking. Following the extreme storms that traveled across the state the previous day, we were pleasantly surprised to see the AT was in GREAT shape. In fact, we came across someone weedwhacking the trail near the pictureseque rock overlook (it's a great campsite & rest stop - don't miss it). We agree with the others' assessments of this hike in terms of the stretches that are more strenuous than others. Overall, though, this was a relatively flat hike, and as AT newbies, we were able to hike it with confidence. The only caution we have is the Lovingston Spur when leaving the shelter. The first half of the trail is in poor condition with blue blazes barely visible at times. There were several times we had to stop to locate the blaze to determine where the trail was. (Note there is a lot of red/yellow blaze & tree markings in this area it denotes the National Forest boundary.) The turnoff from the logging road back onto Lovingston Trail was covered & with the entrance of the trail not easily identifiable, it can be easy to miss. About halfway through the Lovingston Trail, the trail becomes easily identifiable and you can start to hike it with confidence about your whereabouts.

We give the first day's hike a 3 in terms of difficulty and the return hike a 4.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, January 14, 2012
Hiked 13-15 Jan 2012, with Obsessive Compulsive Backpackers (meetup.com). Arrived at trail head Friday night about 1130pm, it was 17F with wind gusting to probably 25-30mph, blowing over tents during set up. Got down to 14F. There had been snow earlier that week so there was about 1" in the trail and forest where the sun didn't hit. Trail was in very good shape, the snow was hard and crunched, footing was great. Trail extremely well marked (AT of course). Spring was flowing fast and very easily found, there is a sign denoting the trail to spring directly in front of the shelter. Six of us slept in the shelter, 1 in a tent. Saw only 1 bear print near shelter. No issues with small critters or bears, didn't see or hear anything. On the way to the shelter the trail crosses a large creek, a good source of water or camping. The views as described here really great, just about .5 mile up the trail head from the parking lot. It was really too cold with the wind chill to stop for very long on the way to the shelter. Note: everyone's camel-back tubes froze making them useless, recommend substituting a canteen in this weather.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Just did this hike on wednesday and thursday and it was a ton of fun. We ended up doing it a little backwards because it was looking like rain the first day and we wanted to get to the shelter as soon as possible. So we took the AT to lovington springs and did that loop then back the next day all on the AT. I was impressed at how well the lovington trail was blazed because it winds occasionally off of a logging road but we never worried about getting off route. The shelter is really nice but the water is spring that is a little bit of a trek down, probably about 200 yards. There also is a privy there. We did this hike in march so there isn't much to see in the way of foliage but the views on the AT portion were really nice. There is a really cool boulder area to climb on and look out at all the surrounding mountains. I wasn't as impressed with the lovington gap trail but it was still fun. The most strenuous parts of the hike are the first 1/2 mile or so and the last 1 1/2. The rest of it is relatively mellow. This is my first review so it's probably a little long sorry.

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