Ascent of Mount Misery on 2015-01-17

Climber: William Musser

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, January 17, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mount Misery
    Elevation:650 ft / 198 m

Ascent Trip Report

Today I awoke early to re-explore the hiking options at the Valley Forge National Park. I had previously hiked up Mount Joy in the snow last year but was not able to figure out to add Mount Misery to the route. It is complicated but once I figured it out it makes a great twofer hike peakbagging trip. After trying this twice and making many mistakes along the way this is my suggestion on how to make the most of this national park hiking experience:

1) Bag Misery first it is the hardest to navigate and leaves Joy for the end.
2) Start this endeavor at the Covered Bridge which is where Valley Creek Road and Yellow Springs Road intersect.
3) Park at the parking lot off of Wilson Road (this is just west of the covered bridge)
4) Optional – Hike down and touch water in the fast moving creek and get a nice photo it makes a nice low starting elevation
5) If not, either way you have to cross Yellow Springs Road west of the covered bridge and find the trail head for Mount Misery trail. The trail is well marked and in great shape and blazed in white
6) Hike up north and be careful you have to turn west on the Horseshoe trail which goes onto private land so I mistakenly took the first western spur I found that looked “private” but it meandered up and down some ravines along the Hamilton Drive loop with no access out to the subdivision to the west. I got some nice park hiking in and added probably another 100 feet of gain each way before returning back to the intersection with the Mount Misery trail and continued north the correct way.
7) Shortly you approach a well-marked junction with the Valley Creek spur trail to the right, and you instead head uphill and to the left and Mt Misery trail jogs west and then again north and around the Hamilton Drive homes.
8) On a NW bearing you arrive at another well marked junction. Mt Misery Tail heads NW but you take a left on a much smaller but well-marked trail called the “Horseshoe trail” the blaze color turns to yellow for the Horseshoe Tr.
9) Eventually you reach the sign where you leave national park lands and are now on private land but the trail continues west by SW. The trail is in good shape and yellow blazed. The private land owners have nice houses and wire fence the out of bounds to you the hiker. The easement across private land is more than 30 feet wide and nice.
10) The Horseshoe Trail deadens on to Forge Mountain Drive but the yellow blazes are everywhere (on power poles, curbs etc…so you can find it in the middle of the now urban jungle.
11) The Horseshoe Tr continues all the way to the summit of Mt Misery but it comes and goes. I did not realize this so I headed up Knob Lane to High Point Lane and then guessed to go right (north) which gave me much roller coaster street walking to the summit. Especially the last few hundred feet of East Horseshoe Trail but I realized later there is a more direct route. If I had turned left on High Point Lane and headed south you intersect Forge Mountain Dr and find in the road once again yellow blazes and a nice sign showing you the way up another private easement between people’s houses right up to the summit!
12) I summited from the north past the radio tower. I had followed previous reports in here that talked about driving up to the highpoint and have the address of the drive easement but I disdain drive up highpointing so as soon as I saw the yellow blazes at the summit I followed them south past the water tower and realized the horseshoe trail stops and starts but is obviously there so the public can go all the way from the national park to the summit. It is thus, a hike through well marked national park trails, through well maintained easement trails on private land, an urban hike through a nice public housing subdivision and then more easements to the summit. I would love to know the history of those negotiations!
13) Then retrace your steps all the way back down and into the national park once again BUT to add Mount Joy with the best trail up stop at the junction of the Valley Creek spur and the Mt. Misery trail mentioned earlier. It is well marked.
14) Take the Valley Creek spur east downhill to the creek below. It is steep and on this day treacherously icy but very scenic with the ravines and leaves off the trees.
15) The spur trail terminates at Valley Creek and a level nice wide maintained trail that you can follow south again back to the covered bridge.
16) Here is where it gets fun. This next trail is NOT on the national park maps but it is there and in good shape and much better views than the standard approach from the parking lot off of SR 252. Cross the covered bridge and head west.
17) Immediately turn SW on Yellow Spings Dr and look for a concrete retaining wall with a few stone steps heading straight up Mount Joy. It is not marked or blazed and not on the maps but they built the dang steps and wall so it is for real
18) Take this very steep but nice switchback up the side of Mount Joy.
19) The unofficial switch-back has nice views to the south and intersects some large maintained trails that follow the Inner Line paved road. I hiked up the road and found another non official trail to the summit and then noticed that if I had headed North on the trail there are official trails to the summit.
20) On the way down I used the official trails exiting west and along the creek and back down to the unmarked switchback and down to the covered bridge and back to the car
21) A completed twofer.

I preferred this route to my previous standard follow the paved walks with a billion tourists. In fact with the early morning sun rising and 14 degree F cold outside, I had the hiking to myself until the very end return trip. This entire twofer took me 1 hour and 50 minutes and covered around 14,500 steps (and around 1200 feet of total gain) about 7 miles including all of my mis-turns and mistakes described in. I would do this in 1 hour and 30 minutes and less than 1000 feet of gain if I stuck to the more efficient route next time and did not make the wrong turn before the Horseshoe trail. I would budget more than 2 hours if you stop to rest or eat or take photos.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:770 ft / 234 m
    Total Elevation Loss:830 ft / 252 m
    Round-Trip Distance:4.9 mi / 7.9 km
    Quality:4 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack
    Weather:Cold, Breezy, Clear
14F early morning 7 AM
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:700 ft / 213 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 500 ft / 153 m; Extra: 200 ft / 60m
    Loss on way in:200 ft / 60 m
    Distance:3.2 mi / 5.2 km
    Route:Mt Misery trail to Horseshoe Trail to subdivion
    Start Trailhead:Covered Bridge and creek  150 ft / 45 m
    Time:1 Hours 10 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:630 ft / 192 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 560 ft / 171 m; Extra: 70 ft / 21m
    Gain on way out:70 ft / 21 m
    Distance:1.7 mi / 2.7 km
    Route:Mt Misery trail to Horseshoe Trail to subdivion
    End Trailhead:Valley Creek at junction of Spur trail and Valley   90 ft / 27 m
    Time:35 Minutes
Ascent Part of Trip: Misery Joy

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Mount Misery2015-01-17 a770 ft / 235 m
2Mount Joy2015-01-17 b396 ft / 121 m
Total Trip Gain: 1166 ft / 356 m    Total Trip Loss: 1166 ft / 355 m

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