Hike Cheryl’s Trail-Loyalsock State Forest

Length: About 1.5 miles one way (this hike is from the Jacoby Falls trailhead to the Pipeline Vista)

Blazes: Blue

Parking: 41.376762, -76.920109. Jacoby Falls trailhead.

Highlights: View, cascades, meadow, beaver pond, hemlock forests, unique rocks

Issues: The trail is lightly hiked and may not be well established. There is no bridge across Wallis Run, a sizeable creek. Blazes are hard to follow in places, particularly the meadow which will be overgrown in summer.

Difficultly: moderate

Description: Cheryl’s Trail goes from Rider Park to Jacoby Falls, but this hike is only at the northern end of that trail. While plenty of people hike to Jacoby Falls, most ignore the sign for Cheryl’s Trail. That’s too bad, because this is a fun hike with some challenges along the way. It is a true diamond in the rough. In fact, overall, I think this hike is more fun and diverse than Jacoby Falls.

From the parking area, cross the boardwalk and enter the woods. Turn left onto the blue Cheryl’s Trail. As you will immediately see, this trail is not well established and the blazes are far apart in places, but they are there. Hike under the pine trees and descend back to the road. Cross the road.

Now you are faced with the first challenge, crossing Wallis Run. Expect your feet to get wet as it is a sizeable creek. Do not attempt in high water. Reach the other side and notice some beaver ponds and dams to the left. Now is the second challenge, the meadow. There are blazes on posts, but expect this to be overgrown in summer. On the plus side, enjoy the wildflowers. To cross the meadow, stay on top of the bank above the floodplain; this might be an old grade. Enter the woods with some large ironwood trees and then enter a scenic pine and hemlock forest. Again, blazes are a bit hard to follow, but there is more of a tread here. The trail angles right and then turns left on an old grade.

Hike into a glen with a beautiful series of small falls and cascades over mossy bedrock. The trail crosses the creek and climbs. I did hike up this creek, off trail on an old grade, it was scenic with many cascades. There was also a large ledge with a porcupine cave.

Back on Cheryl’s Trail, climb until the trail levels in a hemlock forest. Notice rock outcrops to your right. These are what I call Cheryl’s Rocks and they are the highlight of the hike. Go off trail and explore them from the bottom. There are overhangs, chasms, grottos, and caves. The rocks are very colorful with moss and lichen. In one cave, there are springs dripping, it must be an amazing place when frozen. These are some of the most beautiful rock ledges in the Loyalsock State Forest.

Back on the trail, follow a grade in a beautiful hemlock forest. The trail is much easier to follow. Ascend gradually and then level again under hemlocks. Reach the pipeline swath and enjoy the view. A better view is further up the bank on the pipeline swath. Retrace your steps.

The trails on Blessing Mountain between Rider Park and Jacoby Falls can use more footsteps to help keep them open, so please hike there.

Blessing Mountain trails map.

More photos:

Hike to Montage Glen and Gorges-Pinchot State Forest

Montage Glen

Length: Approximately 13 miles

Difficulty: Moderate to challenging. Only suitable for more experienced hikers due to navigation.

Parking: 41.347786, -75.678358, off of Montage Mountain Road.

Access: We took the long way in. Balish Road off of PA 307 may offer a more convenient access. Hiking in from the Lake Scranton trail will be much shorter, if it is permitted.

Highlights: Views, hemlock forests, gorges, cascades, waterfalls, stone cabin, Montage Glen, bedrock slides.

Trail conditions: No trails are marked or blazed. This route follows gated forest roads atv trails, and off trail sections. On the map, red is off trail, brown is an atv trail or grade, dashed black lines are atv trails. Expect to cross creeks without bridges.

Description: It is truly remarkable how much beauty surrounds Scranton. Within a few miles of the city are waterfalls, gorges, vistas, lakes, and unique rock features. If trails were built to these amazing places, Scranton would surely become an outdoor recreation destination, rivaling Asheville, Chattanooga, Roanoke or Burlington.

This hike is just an example of that. On the doorstep of Scranton is the relatively vast Montage Tract of the Pinchot State Forest, covering 7,500 acres. Within a few miles of the city is natural beauty and isolation. In the deep gorges and hemlock forests, I could not believe I was on the edge of a city.

From the parking area, walk around the gate and climb up the forest road. Near the top, avoid the road to the right. Reach a gap in the ridge, where the road continues and descends; do not descend. Follow atv trails to the left that climb the ridge. The atv trails ascend to a knob, here you might want to go off trail along the edge of the mountain where there are several nice views.

Continue on the atv trail. Reach a split, it is best to go right as it is less wet. Descend and then gradually climb. Reach the end of a forest road, which I believe to be Montage Road. Follow the road as it descends. Before climbing again on the road, turn left and begin the off trail section. Hike down the valley and make your way through laurel, which is not too thick. A stream forms; this creek does not appear to have an official name, so I called it Stone Cabin Brook for the purpose of description. Continue down the brook as cascades and slides begin to form. We stayed on the west side of the brook. Reach a scenic waterfall with three drops, about 15 feet tall or so. Hike into a beautiful hemlock forest and reach the stone cabin, a quaint, whimsical structure that seems to belong in Snow White. Here, there is an old grade, follow it down along the tumbling stream into more hemlocks. Cross Stone Cabin Brook and hike into a beautiful forest. Reach Stafford Meadow Brook.

It is best to cross Stafford Meadow Brook; there was a fallen log when we were there. Pick up Ore Mine Road and turn right onto it. The brook has rapids, pools and boulders. Cross Stafford Meadow Brook on an old bridge and continue upstream. Begin to climb on the road. Reach a wooden bridge across a creek, a ten foot falls is just downstream. Here, your second off trail section begins.

This is what I called Montage Glen and it is the highlight of the hike, as you will soon see. Make your way up the creek to a twelve foot falls, then a long slide. Above that it another incredible bedrock slide, one of the longest I’ve seen. The beauty is impressive. Above this slide were cascades, falls and more slides, curving through the bedrock. We were stunned.

We continued upstream through moderately thick laurel, hemlocks and pine. There were a few more cascades. We then intersected an atv trail and turned right, heading west. We climbed to a rock ledge and followed the atv trail south to the forest road. We turned right onto the forest road and retraced our steps.

The highlights of this hike are the lower section of Stone Cabin Brook, Stafford Meadow Brook, and the incredible Montage Glen. Be sure to see the glen when there is sufficient water, as it is likely a trickle in dry periods. When hiking this area, keep in mind there are many intersecting atv trails, so gps navigation is a good idea.

Enjoy this beautiful place right next to Scranton.

Map is for general directional purposes only, it is not a gps route.

More photos and videos:

Hike the West Branch Forest Preserve-The Nature Conservancy

Length: Approx. 14 miles

Blazes: Donut Hole Trail is orange, other trails are not blazed.

Highlights: Views, gorges, cascades.

Parking: 41.323858, -77.575713. The road to the parking area can be a little rough and impassable if there is snow or ice. A vehicle with some clearance is a good idea.

Issues: Many trails are not blazed and trail junctures often do not have signs.

Level of challenge: Overall this is a moderate to difficult hike.

Description: The West Branch Forest preserve is a large property owned by the Nature Conservancy, located east of Hyner View. There are deep gorges, cascading streams, views, and isolation. It is a great destination for the more experienced hiker. There are several trails, with the most notable being the Donut Hole Trail; this 100 mile trail passes through the preserve.

From the kiosk, follow an unblazed trail along an old forest road. Ascend gradually and reach the top. Notice an unblazed old forest road to the left, it is the Middle Mountain Overlook Trail. This spur trail follows the ridge with some meadows, crosses a dense grassy meadow, and reaches some partial views. Overall, it may not be worth it.

Reach the orange DHT and turn left. Follow a narrow ridge along a pipeline swath. When the trees are bare, there are views off of both sides. Reach a fine view at the end of the ridge. Descend and follow a very long switchback along an old forest grade. Descend more steeply to Richie Run and then hike above it. Cross Bear Pen Run and hike more closely to scenic Richie Run. Enjoy the hemlocks and cascades. It can be easy to miss where the DHT crosses Richie Run. It is a good idea to follow the unblazed Richie Run Trail upstream several hundred feet to see more cascades and small waterfalls. A trail is barely perceptible.

The DHT makes a long climb out of the gorge along sidehill that clings to the steep slopes. When the trees are bare, it is striking how narrow the gorge is. Pass a cabin and follow a mossy road to the top. Turn right on Sugar Camp Road, and another left on an old forest road to South Overlook Trail. This hike is worth it as the view is beautiful, and perfect for sunsets as it overlooks the ridges and gorges to the west.

Return to Sugar Camp Road and follow it back to the parking area. The West Branch Forest Preserve is an off the radar destination, but perfect for those looking for a challenging, scenic, and isolated hike.

More photos:

Hike to Wanamie Falls-Pinchot State Forest

Wanamie Falls from the rock outcrop.

Length: About .6 mile, one way.

Trail conditions: Good. No trail to the base of the falls.

Blazes: None

Highlights: Meadows, wildflowers, waterfall, rock outcrop

Issues: No trail to the bottom of the falls, need to scramble down

Parking: A lot is located at 41.175630, -76.026584.

Level of challenge: Easy, except if you try to go to the bottom of the falls.

Description: This is a very short hike to a surprisingly beautiful waterfall. Despite this region being extensively mined in the past, it still holds places of great beauty. This hike is on the Penobscot Ridge Mountain Bike Trail, which really follows jeep or atv trails. This hike is on the Wanamie Tract of the Pinchot State Forest.

From the parking area, simply follow the trail up through meadows that must be beautiful in summer. Cross over Reservoir Creek and continue a gradual climb. Meadows are off the the left, while a gorge with trees is on the right. Enter the woods and the trail crosses the creek on a footbridge above the falls. You can hike to an impressive buttress of rock on the west bank to see the falls from above.

To get to the bottom of the falls, it is best to descend on the east side as it is less steep than the west. There is no trail. Wanamie Falls has three drops, all total it is about forty feet tall. The buttress of rock enhances the scenery. Retrace your steps.

I hiked a little more of the Penobscot Ridge Mountain Bike Trail but it seemed to be primarily a rutted atv trail, so I turned around.

To see a beautiful falls with a short hike, it doesn’t get much better than Wanamie Falls.

Red is off trail route to the bottom of the falls.

More photos:

Hike the Eiger/Log Slide Loop-Pine Creek Gorge

Bull Run Vista, Pine Creek Gorge, Tiadaghton State Forest

Length: Approx. 3.5 miles

Parking: At the Tiadaghton State Forest district headquarters, 41.314481, -77.384649. Do not park along Lower Pine Bottom Road as there is no space.

Highlights: Beautiful view, old quarries, ledges, mountain laurel, historic log slide.

Issues: The climb is steep in sections.

Level of Challenge: Moderate to difficult

Trail conditions: Trails were in good condition.

Blazes: Lower Pine Trail is red, remainder of trails are yellow.

Description: The Pine Creek Gorge in the Tiadaghton State Forest is home to many hiking trails and this is one that should be on your list. Park at the forest headquarters which has its own views and wildflower meadows. If the building is open, be sure to check it out to see the displays and a balcony with a green roof and more views.

The red Lower Pine Trail begins at the end of the parking area and descends in a pine forest. Reach Lower Pine Bottom Run with a small cascade and hike the edge of the giant arched concrete culvert. Reach Lower Pine Bottom Road and turn right. Hike up the road a short distance. Turn left at a trail sign, which calls the Eiger Trail the “Quadfather”, you’ll soon see why. Hike behind a cabin and reach the beginning of the loop, continue on the Eiger Trail as it follows an old grade through laurel. The grade steepens as it climbs the flank of the mountain. Begin to pass old quarries and ledges.

The trail eases as it follows the grade along the steep slope of the mountain. I liked this part as the trail offered such forgiving tread across steep terrain. The forested slopes just fall away. Reach a large quarry and more ledges. The ledges continue before the trail begins a series of well built switchbacks up through the laurel.

Finally, the trail levels off at the top and you soon reach Bull Run Vista, an impressive view of the Pine Creek Gorge. The vast plateau is incised with many gorges and glens. Pine Creek is about 1,200 feet below.

Now begin the Log Slide Trail through mountain laurel. This trail would be beautiful in late June when the laurel blooms. The trail then begins its descent on an old log slide, which is somewhat gradual. Hike through groves of hemlocks with moss. Pass an old stone retaining wall for the slide. Reach the end of the loop and retrace your steps. The Log Slide Trail is easier than Eiger, but both are worth hiking.

More photos:

Hike to Gamble Run Falls and Vista-Tiadaghton State Forest

Gamble Run Falls

Length: Approx. 6-7 miles in total to the falls and vista.

Blazes: Mid State Trail is orange, Gamble Run Trail is red.

Parking: Small lot at 41.242016, -77.334424.

Trail conditions: Good. Trails are well blazed and easy to follow.

Highlights: Cascades, small falls, pools, streamside hiking, hemlocks, vista, beautiful gorges.

Issues: Hike up to the vista is steep and rugged.

Level of challenge: Easy to difficult

Description: I really enjoyed this hike and look forward to returning. It is yet another gem in the Pine Creek Gorge region. This is an out and back hike to both the falls and vista. Part of this hike follows the Mid State Trail (MST) the longest trail in the state and a part of the Great Eastern Trail, which goes from Alabama to New York.

From the parking area, hike up and around the meadow with some nice views on the Gamble Run Trail. Expect wildflowers in summer. This meadow really reminded me of the Appalachian Trail in Virginia during my thruhike this year. Drop down and follow an old grade. At first it is well above the creek, but it gradually comes closer. Along the way, the MST joins. Gamble Run nears the trail and it is adorned with cascades and pools of clear water. There is moss, ferns and hemlocks. The cascading water accompanies the trail as you gradually hike up.

Reach Schultz Fork where the MST turns right and begins the climb. Here, Gamble Run has a beautiful slide and deep pool. This is a gorgeous spot. Continue on the red Gamble Run Trail into the scenic gorge. The cascades, ferns, and moss provide the scenery. Up ahead you’ll notice a large ledge with a deep pool; the creek slides through a narrow chasm. This is Gamble Run Falls. Not more than ten feet tall, it is quite beautiful as the water has sculpted the bedrock. While the Gamble Run Trail continues, turn around here and return to the MST at Schultz Fork.

Now begins the climb into this rugged gorge. Schultz Fork is seasonal, but has a variety of beautiful cascades and small waterfalls when flowing. Seeing and hearing the water eases the climb. The trail steepens and moves from the creek. Reach the heart of the rugged gorge where two branches meet and a cliff looms on the other side. The MST turns left and makes a final climb; if the trees are bare, the rugged gorge spreads before you.

The MST makes a sharp right turn. Here, look for faded blue blazes on the left. Follow this trail a few hundred feet through the laurel and reach beautiful Gamble Run Vista (or Schultz Fork Vista) from a ledge. Overlook the deep gorges and tiers of ridges with no signs of development or traffic. It is a glorious window into the wilderness and well worth the climb to see a view most hikers probably miss. This is an ideal sunrise vista. Hidden gems like this vista make hiking so rewarding and underscore the beauty of the MST. From here, retrace your steps to the parking area.

Cascades, falls, pools, moss, ferns, hemlocks, meadows, and a wilderness vista, what more do you want on a hike?

This map is for general directional purposes only, it is not a GPS track.

More photos:

Backpacking the Red Run/Mosquito Creek Loop-Quehanna Wild Area

Cottongrass superbloom in late September. Quehanna Wild Area.

Length: About 17 miles.

Parking: Large parking area at Beaver Run Dam, 41.261312, -78.257948.

Blazes: Quehanna Trail is orange, other trails are yellow. South of Quehanna Highway, Red Run Trail might be red (can’t remember!)

Level of Challenge: Easy to moderate

Highlights: Isolation, cascades, beautiful streams, diverse forests, large rocks, views, vast meadows, beaver dams, chance to see elk, good camping.

Issues: Stinging nettle in a few places, particularly Porcupine Draft, wet and muddy areas, creek crossings in high water. Need to navigate a variety of trails. Many trail junctures have signs.

Description: I love the Quehanna Wild Area. It is one of my favorite places to backpack and hike with its views, streams, meadows and isolation. Its web of trails offers so many route options and it provides great scenery without punishing terrain. Go there, you won’t regret it.

This is a great loop for an overnight backpack or a long dayhike for those looking for a challenge. This description begins from the Beaver Run Dam parking area and is clockwise. Follow the yellow trail on the east end of the parking area, pass a meadow and cross the Quehanna Highway. Reach a great vista and descend; watch for a left hand turn at the forest clearing, it is easy to go straight. Descend to Paige Run, a gorgeous creek with cascades, giant boulders, hemlocks and rhododendrons. Cross the creek and make a short climb. Turn left onto the Teaberry Connector with meadows and then turn right onto the East Cross Connector (ECC) as it meanders through laurel and hardwoods. Reach a forest road and follow it to the right.

Turn right onto the Quehanna Trail (QT) as it descends into the steep gorge of Porcupine Draft, which is notorious for nettle in summer. Yet, the gorge is scenic with some large boulders and nice cascades. Turn right onto Red Run Road and follow it. The QT crosses Red Run over a bridge. The scenery is beautiful. Hike up near the creek with hemlocks and rhododendron. You will also see some campsites. The trail veers up Sanders Draft, a highlight with its large cascades and pools. It is beautiful. Enjoy this section.

At the top is a nice campsite. Turn right onto the yellow Sanders Trail. This section is blazed sufficiently, but you must pay attention to turns as there are other interconnecting trails. I enjoyed the forest isolation of this section and the beautiful hemlocks. There are wet areas. Cross a powerline and enjoy more scenic woods dotted with hemlocks. Reach a meadow and a pipeline swath, which can serve as a campsite. The stars are amazing.

Continue as the trail threads along meadows and streams. Enter a pine forest and pass another campsite. Reach Lincoln Road and a small trailhead. Turn right and then left onto the connector trail to the Quehanna Highway. Now follow the Red Run Trail as it explores a large hardwood forest with ferns everywhere, an amazing sight in autumn. Turn right onto the Ralph Seeley Trail. I loved this trail with its assortment of meadows, streams and hemlocks. Turn left onto the ECC and hike along Meeker Run with a great campsite under hemlocks. There are some cascades just off the trail.

Turn right, leave the ECC, and climb to beautiful Crawford Vista as it overlooks the Mosquito Creek gorge. Make a sharp left onto the Mosquito Creek Trail, which can be easy miss. Descend to Mosquito Creek with a campsite and hike along the creek, following the Bridge Trail. There are rapids and giant boulders across the creek. Climb and cross the vast meadows. If hiking in September, look off to your right for the superbloom of cottongrass, there are plains of white.

Return to the ECC and turn left, crossing more meadows and views while hiking above Beaver Run. This area resembles Dolly Sods in West Virginia. Cross Beaver Run over a bridge (a beaver dam downstream has started to flood the bridge, so expect wet feet). Follow the ECC across meadows and woodlands. Reach the dam of the Beaver Dam impoundment and turn right across the dam, leaving the ECC. Enjoy the views over the water. Pick up a road and follow it back to the parking area.

Route is the pink/red line. Description is clockwise from the Beaver Run Dam parking area. Black dots are campsites. Blue dots are cascades.

More photos:

Backpack the Hammersley Wild Area Loop-Susquehannock State Forest

View of Hammersley Canyon from the off trail section. Hammersley Wild Area.

Length: Approx. 16 miles

Parking: Small trailhead at 41.572694, -77.847969 (Twin Sisters Trailhead). The roads were in good shape if driving from Cross Fork.

Blazes: STS is orange, Twin Sisters Trail is yellow, with orange blazes. There is an off trail section.

Trail conditions: Fairly good. STS is in decent condition, Twin Sisters Trail was pretty easy to follow.

Highlights: Isolation, meadows, views, small cascades, streamside hiking, great campsites, Hammersley Pool, vistas. Lots of ferns.

Issues: Off trail section is steep, stream crossings, crossing Hammersley Fork in high water would be dangerous.

Level of challenge: Moderate to difficult

Description: The Hammersley Wild Area is one of the premier wilderness areas in Pennsylvania, covering over 30,000 acres and surrounded by vast state forests. The famed Susquehannock Trail System (STS), an 85 mile loop, traverses the wild area and there are many yellow blazed side trails. By combining the STS and Twin Sisters Trail you can make a loop the explores the beauty of the Hammersley.

To complete this loop, most people use the pipeline swath to the north. But if you are more adventurous and want a more scenic route, I recommend the off trail route as shown on the map. It is a ridgewalk with meadows and great views, but it does get steep as you near the bottom.

From the parking area, head south on the Twin Sisters Trail, it is blazed yellow but there are also orange blazes. It is a scenic trail with hemlocks, large hardwoods, and gradually climbs a ridge. It follows an old grade as it hugs the side of the mountain. You will soon reach the Twin Sisters Vista, aka Hammersley Meadows, large meadows formed by wildfires. These meadows offer superb views.

This is also where the off trail section begins. Simply descend right, or west, along the northern edge of the meadows. Watch for brush or pickers, you may want to stay along the forest line. Soon, fine views begin to unfold from meadows of the Hammersley Canyon. It is a beautiful ridge walk. Pick your way down to Twin Sisters Hollow Run as best you can; it gets steep but there are no ledges or scrambling. The rock underfoot can be loose. Reach the bottom, cross Hammersley Fork, ascend the bank and reach the STS. This off trail trek is shorter and more scenic than the pipeline, it also affords you an opportunity to see the meadows twice on this hike. However, it is also more challenging than the pipeline.

Follow the STS as it accompanies Hammersley Fork; the trail usually stays on a bank above the creek. Cross side streams that often have campsites. Meadows are often along the Hammersley Fork, the forests are mostly hardwoods. Cross the Hammersley Fork without a bridge, expect wet feet; this is dangerous in high water. The trail climbs steeply above the fork and then gradually descends. Cross Dry Hollow with small cascades and reach Hammersley Pool and some campsites. This is a beautiful spot with a bedrock pool of clear water and a cascade.

Continue on the STS as it stays above the creek; there is one superb campsite you can see below the trail. Descend to another gorgeous spot, where Elkhorn Hollow and the Hammersley Fork meet. There is great camping under hemlocks with cascades. I think this campsite may be nicer than the Hammersley Pool.

The STS climbs up Elkhorn Hollow, a beautiful wooded gorge. It levels at the top with mountain laurel. Reach the Twin Sisters Trail and turn left. This is an easy, rolling trail with vast areas of ferns and some hemlocks. Most of the forest is hardwoods. The ferns are stunning in the autumn. Years ago, the Twin Sisters Trail was a little hard to follow, but it was much better established on this hike.

Reach the meadows. While off trail, I recommend exploring the south meadow; it has excellent views. There is a campsite between the two meadows. The trail crosses the north meadow where there are pickers and more views. You can go off trail to the right to the top of the north meadow for more awesome views. The views here are unique with tiers of rolling ridges and deep hollows. Both meadows are ideal for sunsets. Complete the loop where you began your off trail hike and retrace your steps back to your car.

The Hammersley is a special sanctuary of the Alleghenies and northern Appalachians.

This map is for general directional purposes and is not a GPS track. Red is off trail.

More photos:

Hike the Ott Fork Trail-Tiadaghton State Forest

Waterfall on Ott Fork

Length: 3 miles, one way

Blazes: None, but the trail is well established and easy to follow

Parking: Pull off parking is at 41.318569, -77.413760

Highlights: Waterfall, cascades, hemlock forests, streamside hiking

Issues: Several stream crossings

Level of challenge: Easy

Description: The Pine Creek Gorge is a hiking wonderland with a vast array of trails. It is also a trail running destination. The hike along Ott Fork is beautiful as it follows a creek with its cascades and hemlock forests. This trail is also along the Eastern States 100, one of the premier trail races in the country.

From the parking area, just follow the old grade as it enters the gorge of Ott Fork. You will soon see some waterfalls and cascades, no more than ten feet tall, but still very scenic. These are the tallest falls on the trail. Continue upstream with some stream crossings and an old bridge abutment. Cascades dot Ott Fork. Mountain laurel and some rhododendron adorn the forest.

As you hike, hemlocks become more common with moss. Some of the trees are somewhat large. Ott Fork babbles off to the right. Pass a juncture with the Pine Hollow Trail. Continue along Ott Fork until the trail ends at a dirt road. Retrace your steps.

This is an easy and enjoyable hike that feels isolated. Ott Fork is a gem worth visiting. While in the area, visit Mountain Top Provisions for a meal.

This map is for general directional purposes only and is not a GPS track.

Exploring the Somer Brook Gorge-SGL 57

This map is for general directional purposes, it is not a gps track. Red is off trail. Brown is a trail, but blazes and tread may be faint.

SGL 57 is one of the crown jewels in the Mid Atlantic. Somer Brook is just one of its many beautiful streams. I’ve been to Somer Brook many times, exploring different sections, but I have never hiked the entire gorge. I finally did, and it was incredible. A true waterfall and cascade wonder in an isolated, wilderness setting.

A few things about this hike- there is no trail along Somer Brook, just follow it upstream. You will have to cross the creek many times, so expect wet feet. Do not attempt in high water, as Somer Brook becomes a ferocious whitewater torrent. It is best to park at the “High Knob Trail parking area” as shown on Google maps. But this is only accessible during hunting season. The road is in decent shape, but a vehicle with some clearance is recommended. There is year-round access from Windy Valley/Bellasylva Road via the Swinging Bridge or Meat Trails. However, you must cross Mehoopany Creek without a bridge. If Somer Brook is high, you do not want to even consider crossing Mehoopany Creek. This description begins from the “High Knob Trail parking area”. This hike is roughly 9-10 miles in length. It is challenging, incredibly beautiful, and should only be attempted by experienced hikers. It’s a good idea to bring a friend.

From the parking area, walk around the gate and head north on the road. Enter a stunning red spruce forest with moss. Turn left on the next road, this is Southbrook Road and cross a small stream. Leave the red spruce and cross another creek; you will be completing the loop here. Pass the stone cabin and continue on the road, passing the High Knob Trail to the left. To the right is the deep gorge of Somer Brook; you will likely be able to hear the waterfalls and cascades.

Where the road makes a left turn, look for a sign for the Meat Trail, take it as it descends. There may be some old blazes. A treadway should identify the trail. As you reach the bottom, leave the Meat Trail to the right. The off trail section begins. Hike to Somer Brook and follow it upstream, crossing as necessary. There are areas of brush along the trail, but you can bypass. The first feature is a slide cascade. Continue on the west side, or right side, of the brook. Reach Kovaleski Cascade, an impressive spot with a giant, angled boulder. Now stay on the left side of the creek since the right has a steep cliff. Reach beautiful Sunrise Falls and its deep pool.

I typically stayed on the left side until I reached a side stream. If flowing, take it to Atkinson Falls, a fifteen foot falls with large boulders in a beautiful glen. If flowing well, there are countless boulder cascades above the falls. Return to Somer Brook and continue upstream.

You will soon reach one of my favorite spots, the Endless Cascades. This place is incredible. For hundreds of feet, the creek cascades and tumbles over a gauntlet of large, mossy boulders. Water falls in every direction and angle. You are surrounded by it. There are deep pools and bedrock slides. A highlight is a wide twin falls that fans out into a grotto with trickling springs.

The Endless Cascades continue until you turn the corner and reach where the two branches of Somer Brook meet. This is a gorgeous place with huge boulders, grottos, and pools. If the trees are bare, you can see towering Somer Brook Falls, an incredible sight. Take the branch to the right and see Mashed Potato Falls, so called because of its appearance when frozen. Reach the base of Somer Brook Falls as it tumbles down a steep glen. This falls is roughly 80 feet high in total. Hike above the falls to the left, or east. At the top are some more cascades in a beautiful spruce and moss forest.

When another creek joins from the right, follow it back to Southbrook Road. Retrace your steps back to your car. You won’t soon forget this hike.

The largest falls within the Endless Cascades.

Photos and videos: