The trails of the Tracy Ridge Trail System are an excellent choice if you're looking for solitude and beautiful forest and river views. The dense canopy of oak, beech, black cherry, and hickory envelops you in a rich tapestry of green in the summer, and bursts of bright gold and orange in the fall. Rocky streams mark your way until you come in sight of the wide band of the Allegheny Reservoir. Hemlock groves and mountains frame the scene perfectly. Wildlife species you might see in the forest include white-tailed deer, grouse, black bear, coyote, and wild turkey. Wildflowers are abundant in the spring and summer.
The Tracy Ridge trails have a few different access points, parking areas, and trailheads. The Tracy Ridge Recreation Area offers the most central entry point, as well as vault toilets, running water, picnic tables, and campsites you can reserve through the Forest Service. Starting from this central trailhead, you can make several different loops. It's important to consult a map and plan your route before starting your hike.
One popular hike is the 13-mile Outer Loop. To complete this route, follow the northernmost Tracy Ridge trail along Tracy Run to where it connects with the North Country Trail (NCT). Note that the Tracy Ridge trails are marked with white and gray blazes, while the NCT is marked with blue blazes. Follow the NCT south on a winding course along the river and east until it reconnects with the Tracy Ridge trails, which you'll follow north back to the recreation area.
If you do this full loop, it's a good idea to plan to camp. You can reserve a campsite in advance or find a backcountry campsite along the trail. Note the posted rules and the Leave No Trace policy. Keep in mind if you plan a shorter route that some connecting trails, like Johnnycake Run, can be challenging, with steep ascents. You may also encounter sections of trail with downed trees or dense overgrowth.
If you're looking to get away, don't hesitate to visit Tracy Ridge. This fairytale forest gives you so many ways to enjoy a perfect escape with your pup.