Sunday, February 3, 2013

Blue Marsh Lake, PA - Spring Creek to Lake Road with Skinners Loop

Blue Marsh Lake - U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

GPS Coordinates for Spring Creek Parking: 40.369907, -76.080343 (near mile marker 10 on the trail map)

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Spring Creek Parking Lot
To shorten the hike by 2 miles you can park at:
Lamms Mill Road Parking:  40.382106, -76.081674 (near mile marker 11 on the trail map)

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Blue Marsh Lake Trail System - U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Yellow shows the multi-use trail which is on the park map.  Orange shows a more scenic, well-defined and maintained but unmarked footpath not on the park map.  The footpath is about .8 miles where the multi-use trail from one end of the footpath to the other is a woods road about .4 miles long.

From Spring Creek - 8.6 miles (if taking footpath instead of multi-use trail, add .4 miles each way)
From Lamms Mill Road - 6.3 miles (if taking footpath instead of multi-use trail, add .4 miles each way)

From the Spring Creek parking lot, follow the woods road at the "Hiking Trail" sign
Follow the woods road but watch for ...
... a distinct footpath to the left that cuts through a field. There is no sign.  The trail can be seen on Google Earth.
The trail through the field leads to the multi-use trail that circles the lake.  Turn left on the multi-use trail and after a few steps cross a bridge over Spring Creek.
Spring Creek
10-Mile Marker
Lots of bunny tracks and lots of fox tracks.
Somebody slept right alongside the trail last night.
Meadow voles burrow through the snow...
... all the way home.
Geese in formation.
A long bridge ...
... over an unnamed creek.
An old stone wall along the trail.
Blue Marsh Lake
Not only can the Lamms Mill Road lot serve as alternate parking to shorten the hike, I discovered an unmarked, but well-defined and well-maintained trail (not on the map) starting just to the left of the kiosk that provides for a much more interesting and scenic footpath along the water versus the continuation of the multi-use trail which goes on as woods road.  Since the footpath meets back up with the multi-use trail, you can take one out, the other back or go both ways on the same trail.
Heading out along the multi-use path versus ...
... the unmarked footpath.
The footpath rejoins the multi-use trail at this area where water flows over the multi-use trail.
The multi-use path continues on ...
... to the bridge leading to the Peacock Road parking and kiosk.
The trail makes a sharp right turn at the kiosk and continues beyond the barrier.
The multi-use trail switchbacks up along an arm of Blue Marsh Lake.
At an unmarked intersection a right turn leads to Skinners Loop, sometimes blazed with red diamonds on posts, which loops around a peninsula.  This trail out is at a lower level with the trail back at a higher level.
An occupied birdhouse with very uncomfortable looking furnishings.
At the end of the peninsula, some water views before ...
... ascending on the return route ...
... to views of the Blue Mountain where the Appalachian Trail resides in the distance.
At the end of Skinners Loop turn left and start retracing back.
You can continue back on the multi-use trail or ...
... via the more scenic unmarked footpath.
Back on the multi-use trail after Lamms Mill Road parking.
Don't forget to leave the multi-use trail to the right on the path through the field.  There is no sign.  I forgot but Shawnee remembered.  Thank goodness I have a GPS - Global Positioning Shawnee.
Along the field back to the parking lot.

[  0.00]  Exit parking lot at "Hiking Trail" sign, continue along edge of field
[  0.15]  Turn left on footpath that cuts through field; at T-intersection with multi-use trail, turn left towards bridge over Spring Creek
[  0.35]  Keep straight along edge of field when unmarked trail goes right with no creek crossing; 10 mile marker post
[  0.65]  Descend steeply and cross bridge
[  0.95]  Cross short footbridge over small side stream
[  1.05]  Keep right at fork
[  1.10]  At Lamms Mill Road kiosk, either keep straight on multi-use trail or turn right just past kiosk on footpath along lake which will rejoin multi-use trail in .8 mile  (footpath is about .4 mile longer than staying on multi-use trail)
[  1.95]  Cross bridge at Peacock Road kiosk and turn right to continue beyond barrier
[  2.15]  Left at fork and cross creek on footbridge; keep right at next two forks
[  2.40]  12 mile marker
[  2.65]  Either way at fork - right is more scenic, trail comes back together
[  2.80]  Turn left on road (appears to be paved in spots under snow) when left goes to water
[  2.90]  Keep right at T-intersection. left goes to Lake Road parking
[  2.95]  Keep right at fork on red diamond blazed Skinners Loop (no sign at intersection)
[  3.00]  Keep left at fork
[  3.65]  Keep right at fork
[  3.70]  Keep right at fork
[  3.80]  At T-intersection at water pump, keep right (left is where the loop completes)
[  4.15]  At end of peninsula trail makes a sharp left
[  4.55]  Turn right at end of loop at water pump
[  4.65]  Keep right at fork
[  5.40]  Turn left at intersection on multi-use trail (the far left trail, the one to the right of that goes to Lake Road parking)
[  5.45]  Keep straight on multi-use trail when Skinners Loop Trail (where the loop began) goes left (unmarked)
[  5.60]  Keep left (right goes to Lake Road parking); a few steps ahead at fork keep right
[  5.75]  Go either way at fork, trails rejoin
[  6.15]  12 mile marker
[  6.30]  Trail turns left
[  6.50]  Turn left at Peacock Road kiosk and cross bridge
[  6.95]  Either keep straight on multi-use path or turn left for footpath (.4 miles longer)
[  7.45]  Lamms Mill Road parking
[  7.85]  Cross long footbridge
[  8.20]  Keep straight when woods road goes left to creek with no crossing
[  8.35]  Cross bridge
[  8.40]  Turn right on footpath through field leaving multi-use trail (not marked)
[  8.60]  Back at parking


  1. Looks like you had a great hike. Winter is definitely the time to come to Blue Marsh for sure. We live in the same county and have never hiked there. Next time you're in Berks County you'll have to do the Pinnacle/Pulpit loop!

    1. Beth,
      You are so lucky to live where there are so many hiking opportunities nearby. It's a 2 hour drive for me to get there. I have actually hiked the Pinnacle/Pulpit loop a couple of times, most recently just a couple of months ago. So many other places I still need to get to in your neck of the woods...

    2. I'd like to try to explore the AT west of Berks County at some point this year. It's funny, I love the pinnacle, but we find ourselves in NJ quite a lot, especially DWG and Jenny Jump, two of our faves.