Bald Eagle State Park – June 2020

In June of 2020, Tri State Overland was actually formed from a small idea that was called Cleveland Overland. We set up our first trip to Bald Eagle State Forest because it was close to Cleveland at 4.5 hours away, the views were amazing and the trails were remote and stock vehicle friendly. This was our first trip and we had members from Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania attend which made for a diverse group of people who all share the same interest… Enjoy nature, off pavement driving, camping and companionship in a remote type of setting allowing for some awesome memories to be made. Tri State Overland was born of this idea. Let’s take a look at this amazing trip.

We ended up having seven vehicles with us that day that included two completely stock Toyota Tacoma’s, a Lexus GX460, Nissan Xterra, a Jeep Gladiator, Toyota Tundra and last but not least, a beefy Jeep Wrangler. Every vehicle was modified and/or built for trails except the Tacoma’s, but that wasn’t a problem as all of the trails were stock friendly. We got to camp around 5:30pm and promptly set up. Some of the members were already there while others were just coming in around the same time. We stayed at Poe Valley State Park which I personally liked. It was a smaller camp ground but had nice shower houses and toilets. Tip: on the back of the shower house is a spigot and sink type basin for cleaning dishes or getting water which we didn’t find out until the last day. The campground is beautiful and the night sky views are some of the best around.

Saturday morning everyone got up and had breakfast and got their rigs ready for a day on the trails. We departed Poe Valley State Park and headed on Pine Swamp Run Rd up to Poe Paddy Drive. Poe Paddy Drive has a few spots worth stopping for according to the Purple Lizard Map – which is a must have! Penns View, Ingleby View, Raven’s Knob are all stops with amazing mountain views overlooking the valleys below, and make great photo ops. Poe Paddy Drive loops around the camp ground – sort of – and eventually makes its way to Little Poe Road. We headed south on Little Poe Road toward Panther Run Rd, and headed east and got on Strong Mountain Road. Strong Mountain was fun, off pavement and had some bumps and fun stuff to drive on. Strong Mountain Rd will make a sharp turn a ways in where it intersects Longwell Draft Rd. We decided to follow the turn and head down to where it runs into Treaster Valley Road which takes you to Bear Gap Picnic area, which is a good place to stop if you want to eat or stretch your legs.

From there we headed eastward down Red Ridge Road. This was a pretty simple road, but at the intersection of Knob Ridge Rd, we took a left and headed east again and this is where it got a bit more bumpy and rocky. Still, it wasn’t anything a stock 4×4 couldn’t do easily. Knob Ridge turned into Swift Run Road which we took to Synder Middleswarth which is a picnic and restroom area. After lunch, Swift Run intersects with Short Mountain Road, which we took west and north back to Hunter Road and headed back westward again. We were on the last part of our 60 mile trip by now, and Hunter Road would take us to one of the most fun roads of the trip. The tricky part was there is a little dog leg off of Hunter Road where you head north on Hoofnagle Road and take that all the way up to Longwell Draft Rd. Longwell Draft was my favorite road because it had more obstacles and dirt than the other roads and while not very technical, it was very fun. We ended up taking Longwell Draft Rd all the way back to Strong Mountain Road from before, and back tracking to Poe Valley State Park around dinner time.

Dinner time was great. My family made Camp Fire Chicken Fajitas and of course, s’mores was on the menu for desert! We had everyone over who was on the trail with us and enjoyed meeting new people, making new friends and great memories and having fun around the camp fire until bed time. It was a great first trip and we are glad to have some wonderful people in Tri State Overland.