North Country Trail – Clarion Loop
Nestled on the edge of a student parking lot for Clarion University sits the entrance to a well-hidden trail that descends down a somewhat steep hill to the edge of Clarion River. What a fun trail!
Latitude: 41.21159487358051, Longitude: -79.375217170697 See the map at the bottom of the post.
1.9 miles over 295 feet elevation gain.
There are at least two parking spots dedicated to the trail, and both of them were open when we stopped by. We only saw one other person on the trail which we found surprising given how close to Main Street Clarion it was.
After a fairly short trek into the woods, you will come across a fork in the trail. Blue & white leads to the North Country Trail and the steeper portion of the Clarion Loop. The white marker indicates the gentler slope, but that also means a steeper climb back up. I would definitely recommend taking the path to the left: Blue and white. Follow this until another fork where you would want to take the white marked path to stay on the Clarion Loop segment.
It doesn’t take long for all signs of Clarion to disappear, with the last gasp of civilization being the Offical residence of the Clarion University situated in the woods. The slope leans into the river and the path begins its meandering pattern downward. Soon we could hear the sounds of running water from a small tributary that spills into the river.
The switchbacks give way to veiled views of the river, and large rocks on the upper side of the trail. Old oil or gas pipes run parallel to the path.
When the trail just about touches the river, the path snakes around various large rocks and trees.
At the base of the trail, there is a small clearing where you can venture right to the edge of the water. Across the river, you can make out a few camps and hear people.
The trail back up was a lot less steep, and we were both pretty thankful for that. Having left earlier in the morning, and with nature’s cooperation, it wasn’t nearly as difficult as it could have been had the weather been much above 60.
The slope back up the hill had views of the river and large rocks mixed in.
Any time you’re hiking uphill it’s important to take short breaks and maintain proper hydration. On one of our frequent breaks, I managed to find the perfect tree for a quick nap.
The slope soon became much gentler and passed over a few streams.
Overall it was probably the best hike I’ve been on this year. Lots of interesting things to see, and at just under 2 miles I had enough energy left in the tank to mow the grass and do other errands later in the day.