Blazes: Yellow. Some side trails are blue. The trail is well blazed and most trail junctures have signs.
Trail conditions: Overall, the trail was in good shape with some blowdowns. Some rhododendron tunnels were brushy. I believe all stream crossings had bridges.
Difficulty: Moderate, overall. This loop has forgiving terrain, however, the section along the vistas is rugged.
Parking: There are several places to park. The most common trailhead is on PA 504: 40.916978, -77.977045. Black Moshannon State Park (call the park office first about parking): 40.914892, -78.058861. Beaver/Shirks Rd: 40.888138, -78.039010.
Highlights: Vistas, meadows, scenic streams, streamside hiking, great campsites, good isolation, Black Moshannon State Park, bogs, wetlands, pine and spruce forests, extensive boardwalks, extensive rhododendron tunnels, mountain laurel, blueberries, beautiful fern meadows, wildflowers.
Issues: sections of the Moss Hanne Trail can be flooded or muddy in high water.
Best camping: Benner Run, Black Moshannon Creek, Smays Run
Direction of description: Counterclockwise from Beaver/Shirks Rd.
Description: The Allegheny Front Trail (AFT) is a 42 mile loop that encircles Black Moshannon State Park. This trail has an “east loop”, comprised of the eastern half of the loop and the cross connector trails, Shingle Mill and Moss Hanne trails. This is an excellent backpacking loop with beautiful, diverse scenery, great camping, and forgiving terrain, for the most part. I think it is one of the best backpacking loops in the Mid Atlantic region.
I began at the parking area at Beaver or Shirks Road. A yellow side trail takes you to the AFT. I hiked counterclockwise. The trail was beautiful with rolling terrain, fern meadows, and hardwoods. Many azaleas were blooming, infusing the air with a sweet scent. Descend to Smays Run with great camping. The hilly nature of the trail continues with fern glades, meadows, and hardwoods. Cross Underwood Road and gradually climb to the trail’s namesake, the Allegheny Front. The front marks the dividing line between the Allegheny Plateau and the Ridge and Valley region.
Descend from the front among boulders and rocks before reaching the first view. The next four miles are by far the most rugged on the loop as the trail goes up and down along the front. You will descend into hollows with small streams and then back up to the plateau. The terrain is rocky. The four vistas are very scenic with the northern one being the most impressive. Reach PA 504 and a popular trailhead for the AFT.
The remainder of the loop is moderate, even easy for fit backpackers. The climbs and descents are gradual with lots of level hiking. Hike across meadows and a grove of spruce. Descend into Rock Run with three places to camp. At times the run is close to the AFT, but most of the time it is not. The Rock Run Trails join the AFT.
Climb away from Rock Run and traverse hilly terrain with fern meadows, blueberry meadows, and hardwood forests. The fall colors through here must be incredible. Descend to Benner Run, a highlight of the loop. Enjoy the pristine, tumbling creek with extensive rhododendron tunnels and hemlocks. There is one excellent place to camp. Benner Run is gorgeous.
But the scenery doesn’t stop. Cross a footbridge on Black Moshannon Creek and hike along this stunning creek with more tunnels, hemlocks, and great camping. Leave the AFT and continue up the creek on the Shingle Mill Trail. The beauty does not stop; this loop has incredible streamside hiking. Cross a gravel road and continue along the creek. The sublime scenery continues. Through here I saw many pink lady slippers.
Reach the state park dam and hike along the lake, taking in the views. This loop as it all, from vistas, to streamside hiking, and hiking along a lake. Cross PA 504. I did a mile roadwalk on the Westside Road and then hiked the boardwalk on the Bog Trail. This trail is excellent as it explores the wetlands with views across the water. Next, turn left onto the Moss Hanne Trail. This yellow trail is unique. It is easy and rolling as it wraps around the wetlands. There are numerous short boardwalks, and two very long ones. It was a joy to hike. You will be able to see the wetlands and maybe some unique plants.
Enter the woods and climb gradually to the AFT; turn left. The AFT is fairly easy, hilly, and passes through small meadows and pine groves. There are several shorter boardwalks. Enjoy more views of the bog, including beaver dams. Cross another boardwalk, cross Julian Pike, and turn right onto the yellow side trail back to the parking area.
Parking: Pull off parking on Hyner Mountain Road (where this description begins): 41.358681, -77.612945. There is also parking on Old View Road: 41.343858, -77.586890.
Difficulty: moderate to difficult
Highlights: Views, meadows, spring wildflowers, isolation, gorges, small streams, ferns, mountain laurel blooms.
Issues: Nettle in the summer, particularly the bottom half of Post Draft Hollow Trail.
Trail conditions: Overall the trails are in good condition and are blazed well. Some junctures have signs.
Blazes: Donut Hole Trail (DHT) is orange. All other trails are yellow. DHT also has yellow blazes. Cleveland Hollow Trail is not blazed, but is obvious.
Description: This is another great loop near Hyner View State Park. I recommend going clockwise for the more gradual climbs and to save the views towards the end of the hike. From Hyner Mountain Road, follow the DHT up a valley with a creek. The trail is on a forest road. Reach a juncture. Follow the yellow Post Draft Hollow Trail to the left; you will return on the DHT to the right.
The yellow trail makes its way up a scenic wooded gorge with a small creek. Nettle is an annoyance in the bottom half of the gorge, but it becomes less prevalent on the upper half. The climb is gradual and steady. As you near the top, mountain laurel becomes common. The trail levels and reaches Old View Road. There is parking to the left. Cross the road, see a sign for Johnson Run Trail and then make an immediate right onto Ligenza Trail. This trail is enjoyable as it meanders through the woods with meadows and ferns. There is one view at a pipeline clearing.
Reach a gate and stop. The Ligenza Trail goes left, but you’ll want to go right. Walk Old View Road a short distance and turn right onto Cleveland Hollow Trail, there is a sign. This trail follows an old forest road and does not have blazes, but it is obvious. Reach the DHT, turn right. The DHT is a pleasure to hike as it meanders through laurel and woodlands. Reach a pipeline swath and hike it for a few hundred feet with nonstop views. The DHT turns left back in the woods, but go off trail a hundred feet to a stunning campsite and view. This is not to be missed.
The DHT follows an old woods road with rolling terrain. Descend on a ridge and reach more views at a swath. The SOB Hill descends steeply to the right, it is used by trail running races. The DHT follows a more gradual descent on an old road. The SOB Hill rejoins and re-cross the swath with another view. Descend into the gorge with switchbacks. This wooded gorge is scenic with beautiful forests, springs, a small creek, and many wildflowers. Complete the loop and retrace your steps back to the car.
Highlights: Several great views, cascades on Huff Run, meadows, wildflowers, well built trails
Parking: 41.327746, -77.634180 . Don’t be tempted to park at Hyner View, earn the view. Do the climb.
Direction of description: Counterclockwise. I think it is better to climb up to Hyner View then descend.
Issues: Some sections going up to Hyner View are steep. Nettle can be an issue along Huff Run in summer.
Description: This hike needs to be on your list, I enjoyed it very much. It offers both challenge and easy, cruisey sections. And there are views, several more than the famous one at Hyner View. The descent along Huff Run is pure hiking bliss.
Hyner View has become a trail running hotspot. The PA Trail Dogs have done an amazing job building a network of superb trails around Hyner View, creating excellent hiking opportunities. Thier trails are often well built and a pleasure to hike. I hope to explore more of these trails in the future. Try to avoid hiking on their race weekends. Thank you to the PA Trail Dogs for all the work they do.
From the parking area, walk to the end of the road and pick up Cliffhanger. Then turn left onto Carl’s Way, which curves and makes a steady climb up the mountain. There are some views through the trees. Reach a T intersection with Escarpment and the Donut Hole Trail (DHT). Escarpment is blazed yellow and the DHT is orange. The DHT is about a hundred miles long. Here, I suggest a side hike to the right to see excellent views of the river and mountains from ledges. These views are great for a sunset. Return the way you came.
Back on the loop, start the long climb up to Hyner View on the DHT and Escarpment trails. Cross meadows and glades with wildflowers. The DHT appears to separate to the right; it is best to go straight on the yellow trail. The climb steepens and there are more fine views to the south and west.
Reach a meadow area with more views. Enter the woods for another steep push. Break out of the trees and hike up the large meadow that surrounds Hyner Vista. This is pretty dramatic, with views in all directions. Reach Hyner Vista and take pride in your climb; this is by far the best way to experience this famous view.
Turn right on the park road, and then right onto the new Ligenza Trail, blazed yellow. This easy trail explores the woods with ferns. As you near the northern end, the Ligenza Trail follows an old forest road and blazes are few, but the route is obvious. Turn right on Old View Road, a dirt road, hike a short ways, then make a right onto Cleveland Hollow Trail. There is a sign.
Cleveland Hollow Trail is an obvious old woods road; there may be faded yellow blazes. Reach the DHT and turn left. Hike through the woods with laurel and reach Hyner View Road, turn left, follow it a short ways, then turn right on the Huff Run Trail (also the Garby, Paulhamus, and Donut Hole trails).
Descend this yellow trail. This trail is pure hiking bliss. The trail is beautifully built with view of the cascading creek and the deepening gorge. Huff Run has no tall falls, but many small cascades and falls. It is a joy to hike along it. There are spring wildflowers along Huff Run. Cross the run on a footbridge and reach the road. Turn right to the parking area.
Congratulations on making the climb up to Hyner View!
Length: this loop is about three miles. If you add the off trail hiking to Rattler Run Falls and Rattler Rocks, it is about four miles.
Parking: At about 41.610862, -77.304136, it is pull off parking. Rattler Road is usually in good shape.
Highlights: Waterfalls, cascades, ruins, giant rocks, ruins, spring wildflowers
Blazes: Mid State Trail (MST) is orange, Slide Hollow Trail is yellow.
Description: This loop explores a hidden area of the Tioga State Forest that is largely overlooked by the crowds that go to the PA Grand Canyon. This loop offers a lot of scenery and diversity, even more so if you add in the off trail hiking. This description is clockwise from the parking on Rattler Road.
If you want to see Rattler Run Falls, just go off trail and hike down Rattler Run. It is best to stay on the south side of the creek. The creek begins to form a gorge with cascades and small falls. You will also pick up an old grade that makes the hiking easier. There are many spring wildflowers. Reach Rattler Run Falls, about twenty feet tall. This scenic falls is set in a rocky grotto. Just downstream is Rattler Run Glen, which is even more scenic with a variety of falls and cascades in a bedrock glen. There is a private property line on the south edge of the glen, so explore from the north side. PA 287 is just below the glen. From here, retrace your steps, or make a shortcut to Rattler Road as the terrain allows.
Now just walk Rattler Road downhill. It is a nice walk. At the bottom, on the right, notice yellow blazes. This is the Slide Hollow Trail. The trail crosses a short section of private property, but hiking is allowed. Stay on the trail. Cross the creek and notice a ten foot falls just upstream set amongst boulders. A gradual climb follows up the glen and it is scenic with many wildflowers and cascades. It is a surprisingly nice trail. Reach the MST at a register. The Slide Hollow Trail was built so backpackers could access resupply in Morris.
Turn right on the MST and cross two branches of Slide Hollow with cascades. Begin a climb that steepens and joins an old grade. The MST levels and then descends to ruins from the coal mining era; these ruins are at the top of an incline plane which was used to haul coal down the mountain.
The MST follows a level grade under hemlocks. If you want to see Rattler Rocks, you’ll need to go off trail to the left a few hundred feet. This rock city is impressive with giant sandstone rocks, chasms, overhangs and caves. It might be the highlight of the hike. Maybe the MST should be rerouted to include it.
Back on the MST, drop down to Rattler Road and the pull off parking area.
The MST is the longest trail in PA and a part of the Great Eastern Trail. For more info on the MST, click here.
Trail conditions: The Susquehannock Trail System (STS) is well blazed and in good condition. It has mile markers. The West Branch Trail (WBT) is brushy, has some blowdowns, and faded blazes (these may be corrected soon). The STS is a very smooth trail with few rocks or even roots. The WBT is not as well established, but can be followed.
Blazes: STS is orange. WBT is red and yellow.
Camping: This loop has the Sunken Branch Shelter and a small hut, the Dynamite Shed. Best campsites are at Lyman Run and Palmatier Hollow. There’s also a good campsite on the WBT, in the creek west of Captain Shelton Trail.
Highlights: Isolation, scenic streams, open woodlands, wildflowers, a few beautiful campsites, Sunken Branch Shelter, Dynamite Shed, a few minor views, Peak-A-Boo Vista. I think the most unique thing about this hike are the extensive views over meadows, beaver ponds, and dams along the WBT where you can expect to see a lot of birdlife.
Issues: WBT has brush, faded blazes that can be far apart, and some fallen trees. There are some navigational issues hiking the WBT from west to east. Due to the extensive meadows, expect sun exposure on warm days. The WBT can be followed, but it will be slower going than the STS. I think the scenery of the WBT makes it more than worth it.
Description: This loop is a hidden gem of Pennsylvania backpacking. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The terrain is forgiving, the trail is often smooth, and the forests, creeks, and beaver meadows make for a great experience.
There are views on this trail, but not the kind you might expect. Don’t expect big views like on the Black Forest Trail. Instead you will be treated to views over meadows, ponds and beaver dams. This is great for observing wildlife, seeing flowers, or fall foliage. On the WBT, these views are almost nonstop. You will hike a narrow, isolated valley with views of the ridges and plateaus that rise over you.
I began on Lyman Run Road where there is space for pull off parking. I started there because that puts the best camping at Palmatier Hollow, or the Sunken Branch Shelter, about halfway along the loop. There are many places to start and almost all road crossings have a place to park.
I followed the STS gradually up Jacob Hollow, a scenic valley, with open woods where I could see deep through the trees. There was one campsite, but it was small. I enjoyed hiking along the small creek. Near the top, cross some ATV trails which look like dirt roads. The STS then levels on the plateau with some beautiful forests. A small climb to a ridge offers a view to the south and a side trail leads to a north view. Both views are minor.
The smooth trail continued through the forest, passing cross country ski trails. There is an extensive trail system here besides the STS. I reached the start of the STS loop and a trail register. I then began hiking south on the STS through more woodlands and down another beautiful valley. I hiked in Spring and there were many wildflowers, such a red trillium, squirrel corn, dutchmans breeches and trout lilly.
The STS follows Splash Dam Hollow with several beaver dams, ponds and meadows. It is a taste of what is to come on the WBT. Reach the best camping on the loop at Palmatier Hollow, between miles 80 and 81 on the map. There are two sites under hemlocks. The one downstream is particularly beautiful.
Now climb up another valley along a small stream. Pass a small meadow with some old apple trees, indicating an abandoned homestead. The climb steepens a little and crosses Sunken Branch Road. Descend to Sunken Branch Shelter, a very nice spot that can sleep 4 or 5. There is no water at the shelter, so be sure to bring some with you. The shelter has some amenities like chairs and a table. Sometimes members of the Susquehannock Trail Club bring jugs of water to the shelter, but don’t rely on that.
Descend into a scenic valley with streams and springs. Begin a slight climb into another valley and reach a sign for the WBT and a trail register. Turn left on the WBT and leave the STS. The WBT has yellow and red blazes, although I’m told the trail will be red in the future. You will notice the blazes are spaced far apart, but the trail is followable along an old grade. Soon, the beaver dams and meadows appear. If hiking east on the WBT, there are two navigational issues. About a half mile from the STS, the WBT makes a discreet left turn across a meadow (the Problem Meadow on the map) so keep an eye out for that. The WBT then reached a dirt road (ATV trail) and crosses the creek. Here it is easy to continue on the Beech Hollow Trail, but be sure to make a hard right on the WBT along the creek.
The next three or four miles on the WBT offer some unique hiking. The trail stays on the bank above beaver dams, ponds and meadows, offering extensive views. There a wildflowers and lots of birds. I really enjoyed it. The trail has better blazes and is followable, but it is brushy and there were blowdowns. The valley becomes deeper and more isolated. The beaver dams and ponds become larger, with one covering a few acres. It reminded me of the meadows of Quehanna, except set in a deep valley. I couldn’t help but to stop and look at the scenery. If you love meadows, this is your hike. Despite the very forgiving elevation profile of the WBT, it will take you longer to hike it than you might expect.
The WBT has one good campsite, in a hollow west of the Captain Shelton Trail. As you hike east, the trail becomes more wooded, but there are still meadows and beaver dams. Cross an old concrete bridge with a register and reach West Branch Road. Turn left on the road and walk it for .6 mile. The STS joins, turn left on Sunken Branch Road and then follow the STS right into the woods. Climb gradually to the unique Dynamite House, a historic CCC dynamite shed that was turned into a small hut for hikers. There is some space for a tent.
Continue the climb up the scenic valley. The trail levels across the plateau with forests of hemlock and hardwoods. Cross a dirt road (ATV trail) and continue along the plateau. At the second dirt road, turn left and hike a few hundred feet to Peak-A-Boo Vista, offering a fine view of Lyman Run State Park. Return to the STS and make a steep descent. Pass some springs and reach beautiful Lyman Run. Cross a bridge and some fine campsites. Cross another bridge and reach the end of the loop at Lyman Run Road.
This is a great loop for those who want isolation, great camping, good scenery, and wildlife without killing yourselves. Hopefully more hikers will visit the WBT to help keep that unique and beautiful trail open. The entire STS could use more hikers, hike somewhere different and help support the Susquehannock Trail Club.
Blazes: this hike is completely off trail, there are no blazes or signs
Parking: 41.356149, -74.850831
Highlights: Several beautiful waterfalls, cascades and pools
Description: The Poconos are famous for its many waterfalls. However, the waterfalls on Pinchot Brook appear to be unknown. This is surprising because this creek has a beautiful collection of waterfalls and cascades that are continuous for almost a quarter mile. This hike is in the Delaware State Forest.
From the parking area, head east into the woods. The woods are mostly open with only some low brush. Descend to Pinchot Brook and hike up it. First notice a series of moss covered step cascades, these are the Moss Steps. One highlight of Pinchot Brook is the incredible amount of moss that covers the stream bed. Continue up the creek to Slanted Falls, probably the tallest at about 15 feet. The underlying bedrock has slanted layers. Below the falls is a deep pool.
Above are more cascades, slides and another falls. Moss carpets the bedrock. There are deep pools eroded into the bedrock. This is a very scenic stream. Enjoy the cascading water. At the top is a final falls and then the stream levels off. Here, turn west back to the parking area to complete the loop.
Sawkill and Savantine Falls are nearby, and do not miss Lilly Pond which is just up the road.
The Loyalsock Trail (LT) is one of the finest backpacking trails in the Mid Atlantic, if not the northeast. It is a classic Pennsylvania backpacking trail. The LT was first established in 1951, making it one of the older backpacking trails in the country. The trail is known for its challenging terrain and diverse scenery, with many waterfalls, scenic streams, views, gorges, large rocks, hemlock forests, a pond, historic features, and great campsites. Thruhiking the LT will be an experience you won’t forget and is a perfect prep hike for longer trails, like the Long Trail or Appalachian Trail.
Permits: None for parking or backpack camping if staying at a site for only a night. Large backpacking groups may need a permit, contact the Loyalsock State Forest. It can be a good idea to let the Loyalsock State Forest know where you are parked at, the state forest does have patrolling rangers.
Cell service: Spotty, service can sometimes be found on high ridges.
Campfires: Are not permitted at the Haystack Rapids and can be restricted along the entire trail at other times of the year. Contact the Loyalsock State Forest.
Blazes: Yellow with a red “LT”. Old paint blazes are being replaced with small disks.
Days to hike: 3-7 days.
Difficulty: The LT is known as a difficult trail with many climbs, steep terrain, and streams without bridges.
Direction of hiking: Most hikers go from west to east. I went the opposite. I think the trail is a little easier that way and saves some of the best views for the end of the hike. If you prefer steep climbs, hike east. If you prefer steep descents, hike west.
Eastern trailhead: There is a large parking area on Mead Road. 41.447717, -76.453478
Western trailhead: There is a small pull off parking area along PA 87. 41.361361, -76.877028
Other trailheads: Worlds End State Park office: 41.471771, -76.581766
Water: Generally plentiful. Trail can be dry between Ogdonia Creek and Hessler Branch or Grandad Run. The western part of the trail, from PA 87 to Brunnerdale Road is generally drier.
Resupply: There are no readily available places to resupply on the trail. There is a seasonal snack bar open in Worlds End State Park. Highland Lake Manor is along the trail and is a restaurant for a private club, I do not know if it is open to the public. An ideal place to cache food is along Dry Run Road.
Amenities: Worlds End State Park office has a modern restroom and running water.
Side hikes not to be missed: High Knob Overlook, Angel Falls, Dutchman Falls.
Ideal time to hike: Fall colors are usually peak in mid October. Mountain laurel is common along the trail and blooms in mid to late June.
Stream crossings: Outside of Worlds End State Park, there are no bridges across streams. In high water, this is a problem. The largest stream crossing is Kettle Creek, about 20-30 feet across.
Other issues: Stinging nettle is an issue on sections of the trail in summer.
Trail running: The LT and connecting trails host a couple of trail run races every year. These trail races are very popular. It is worth checking when those races are scheduled as you’re planning your hike.
Highlights: Dutchman Falls, Haystacks Rapids, Sones Pond, Alpine Falls, Worlds End State Park, Canyon Vista, Mineral Springs Falls, Alpine Vista, Lower Alpine Vista, Ketchum Run, Rode Falls, Lee’s Falls, Split Rock, Dutters Run, Kettle Creek Gorge, Angel Falls, historic structures near Highland Lake, Smith’s Knob, Allegheny Front.
Map legend: C= campsite or potential camping. P= parking. V= vista. Black dots are large rocks. Blue dots are waterfalls or cascades.
Map 1- Eastern Terminus (Mead Road) to Worlds End State Park Office (13 miles)
This description is east to west. From the Mead Road trailhead, the LT makes a rocky descent to an old railroad grade and turns left on the grade. A blue side trail to the right descends to the bottom of Dutchman Falls. The LT follows the grade, then makes a somewhat discreet right turn off of it. Descend to the Loyalsock Creek for some beautiful hiking. The creek is beautiful. Reach the stunning Haystacks Rapids with several superb campsites. Fires are not permitted here. The rapids are ideal for swimming in summer and can be busy on weekends.
The LT climbs steeply back to the grade at a seasonal waterfall. Follow the grade and then leave it, descending to Rock Run Road. At the road, the Link Trail joins; there is good camping a short distance down the Link Trail. Cross the bridge and follow the road. The LT turns to the right and climbs up a glen with some rock outcrops. Reach the top with large boulders and ledges. Cross a forest road and reach beautiful Sones Pond with excellent camping. Hike through beautiful hemlock forests.
Pass a rock outcrop known as Porky’s Den due to the porcupines that live there. Cross Tamarack Run. Rolling terrain through scenic forests of hemlocks and northern hardwoods follow. Descend to Big Run and take the short side trail to Alpine Falls in a grotto of cliffs. Camping is downstream. Climb out of Big Run and follow an old grade, camping is available well below the trail near the creek. Pass through hemlocks and continue through the woods, sections of this trail can be wet. Begin the descent of High Rock Run with small cascades. Pass a fine campsite above a waterfall. Enter Worlds End State Park (backpack camping is not allowed in the state park) and reach High Rock Vista. Climb from the vista and then make a very steep, rocky descent to High Rock Run; High Rock Falls is below. Hike to the park office.
Map 2- Worlds End State Park Office to Ketchum Run (13 miles)
Cross PA 154 and begin a long climb. Reach another view of Worlds End and turn left onto Pioneer Road, a historic road and the first built through the Loyalsock Canyon. Descend to Double Run with cascades; upstream on Double Run Trail is Cottonwood Falls, a worthy side trip. Cross both branches of Double Run and begin a climb among boulders. The trail levels, but then makes a more gradual climb, passing rock outcrops. Reach the top and hike among giant boulders. Reach stunning Canyon Vista. The trail is rolling to Mineral Spring Falls. Descend and then climb again, passing some giant rocks. The climb continues, and then begins a descent to the west branch of Double Run with camping and hemlocks.
Cross Worlds End Road and continue a climb near a spruce forest. Enjoy beautiful hemlock forests. Reach Alpine Vista with a dry campsite, a steep descent brings you to the equally beautiful Lower Alpine Vista. The views are excellent. Descend to a highlight of the trail, gorgeous Ketchum Run. Reach Rode Falls and climb the ladder next to the falls. Climb to the rim of the gorge and then descend to Lee’s Falls. Hike into a stunning mini-gorge with cascades. Continue up Ketchum Run with fine camping.
Map 3- Ketchum Run to Brunnerdale Road (12 miles)
Cross Ketchum Run (two more falls are upstream, off trail) and climb to Split Rock, which are giant boulders. Descend to Cape Run with cascades and falls. Climb again and cross the loop road to High Knob Overlook, a worthy side hike.
Descend steeply and hike rolling terrain which can often be wet. Pass a campsite and cross Dry Run Road. The trail passes Mary’s View and then descends to Dutters Run with several falls and stream crossings. The gorge is very scenic. Pass a fine campsite and then climb out of the gorge through large hardwood trees, particularly tulip poplar. Descend steeply to Kettle Creek, another highlight. I love Kettle Creek, it is the most isolated area of the LT with cascades and some great camping. Cross the creek, the largest stream crossing on the trail.
Climb to Kettle Creek Gorge Vista, a beautiful view. Climb out of the gorge and then descend to Falls Run with possible camping. Don’t miss the blue side trail to Angel Falls, the tallest on the LT at about 70 feet tall. If flowing well, it is impressive. Downstream is Gipson Falls. The LT descends to and crosses Brunnderdale Run and then crosses Brunnerdale Road. A long gradual climb follows.
Map 4- Brunnerdale Road to Western Terminus (PA 87) (22 miles)
The LT enters private land, camping is not permitted for over six miles and there is about a 5 mile roadwalk. Follow an old forest road and then a dirt road with many fields and meadows. It reminded me of the Appalachian Trail in Virginia. An old cemetery is just off trail. Pass historic buildings from when this area was a resort. The Wind Whistle Inn was the casino of a nearby hotel, now gone. Through this area the LT follows roads, but leaves, following old grades, and then rejoins the roads. The LT passes the Highlands Manor restaurant. Descend on the road. The trail leaves the road to the right, climbs, then enters a glen with a small stream. Climb steeply, the trail levels, crosses a road, and then climbs again to return to the Loyalsock State Forest. Reach the top and then hike along scenic meadows with pine trees. Reach Hessler Branch with camping and water.
Important: the trail can be dry between Ogdonia Creek and Hessler Branch. This is also the road walk section. There is no camping on this section for over six miles, and there can be almost nine miles between water sources, depending on conditions.
From Hessler Branch, the LT climbs and descends between drainages. The creeks have pine and hemlocks, while the ridges in between have hardwoods, oaks, and mountain laurel. The LT passes Shingle Run and then a steep descent and ascent through Snake Run. Descend gradually along Little Painter Run and then climb up to another LT highlight, Smiths Knob. Enjoy three views, the best looks east up the Loyalsock Creek with dry camping. The trail is steep, levels and passes Helen’s Window, another great view. A steep descent continues to a parking area on Little Bear Creek Road.
Now climb up Pete’s Hollow with cascades and rocky terrain. Climb to the Allegheny Front, with one superb view. This area of the trail will be impacted by a pipeline and may be rerouted. Hike along the ridge and then descend. The trail levels with hemlocks and small streams. Hike among laurel and then make the final, challenging and very steep descent over rocks and boulders. Pass Sock Rock and a final view. The trail becomes even steeper as you descend a ledge. The LT levels and then drops down to PA 87 and the western terminus.
Highlights: Lyman Lake, streamside hiking, large rocks, view, cascades, hemlock forests
Issues: No bridge on the Lyman Run Trail
Parking: 41.724853, -77.760514
Description: Lyman Run is a beautiful state park. It is the perfect basecamp to explore the vast Susquehanna State Forest or the PA Wilds. Galeton is nearby and is located in a scenic setting, with a lake surrounded by mountains.
There are many trails at Lyman Run. The highlight of the park is Lyman Lake. This hike is a loop that begins and ends at the parking area near the dam spillway. There are other places to park.
From the parking area, follow the road above the creek, and then descend down to Lyman Run on the Lyman Run Trail. The trail along and near the creek is very scenic with hemlocks. Cross a bridge and continue down the Lyman Run Trail. Cross Lyman Run without a bridge, this would be a serious issue in high water. Continue along the creek and reach Lyman Run Road. Turn left on the road and then right onto the Rock Run Trail.
Follow the Rock Run Trail on a steady climb. Large boulders begin to adorn the forest and cascades are off the trail to the right. The trail then crosses Rock Run with small cascades and soon reaches Rock Run Road, follow it to the left. Reach the view as it overlooks the park and lake. Continue on the road and begin to follow the Wildcat Trail on a steady climb with more cascades and large boulders. At the top, hike under hemlocks.
Turn left onto the Beehive Trail and explore beautiful hemlock forests. Descend into a scenic glen and pass a 5-6 foot cascade over a boulder. Reach the camping area. Turn left on the road and follow the road to the lake and parking area at the dam.
Highlights: Giant sandstone boulders with chasms, creekside hiking
Issues: Blazes becomes sporadic on climb up to the boulders, turn up to the boulders can be easy to miss. Blazes also sporadic around the boulders, particularly the west side of the loop.
Parking: Pull off parking is at about 41.818924, -77.529522.
Description: If you like giant rocks, this is the hike for you. Blue Run Rocks are over forty feet tall with chasms. These rocks also attract climbers. This hike also features a scenic stream, hemlocks and pines, and good isolation. This is not a particularly popular hike, so you will likely be alone.
The trail is in “followable” condition. However, the trail up to and around the rocks have sporadic to non-existent blazing, although there are trails to follow.
From the road, follow the level trail with scenic forests of beech, pine and hemlock. Begin a gradual descent along a creek, which is often in view. Hemlocks often grow over the trail. The trail crosses a side stream. Continue the gradual descent, but keep an eye out for a campsite along the creek below. This marks where the trail turns left and begins to climb. This turn can be easy to miss. The climb is somewhat steep and will get your heart pumping, but it is not very long. Reach the top with mountain laurel, pass another campsite, and descend to the bottom of the rocks.
Take your time exploring these giant outcrops. You can go in between and around some of the boulders. It is a beautiful place and used by rock climbers.
The trail goes around the base of the rocks, but the blazes became non-existent. We were able to follow the trail due to the cut logs on the forest floor. We completed the mini-loop and retraced our steps.
Blazes: only the Loyalsock Trail is blazed, yellow and red.
Highlights: beautiful gorge with waterfalls, Sones Pond, large rocks, Loyalsock Creek.
Issues: To complete the loop, you must follow unblazed trails, and off trail hiking up Coal Run. Hiking up Coal Run is difficult.
Difficulty: moderate to challenging
Description: This short loop packs in a lot of scenery and features one of the Loyalsock State Forest’s hidden waterfall gems- Coal Run. Keep in mind that Coal Run is a small stream, so it is likely a trickle in summer or dry periods. This hike is featured in Hiking the Endless Mountains.
From the parking area, hike across the bridge on Rock Run Road. Begin to climb. Where the road turns right, look for an unblazed grade to the left. Follow it. You may notice a faint path. At a Y in the grade, go right. Reach Coal Run. Now you must hike up Coal Run, after a small cascade, hike over the rocks and fallen trees. The gorge begins to narrow and the scenery really improves. Reach beautiful falls and cascades with giant boulders, my favorite spot. From here, the cascades and falls are nonstop, so enjoy the scenery. On this hike, I stayed on the right bank heading up. Hiking up Coal Run is the most challenging part of the hike, but completely worth it.
The two tallest falls are at the top and are twenty or more feet tall. Scale the steep bank to bypass them. Rock Run Road is nearby, follow it. Make the next left onto Loyalsock Road, reach Sones Pond with a parking area and bathroom.
Sones Pond is gorgeous. Notice an unmarked path on the east shore as it tunnels through brush. Follow it. The forest becomes beautiful hemlocks with moss. Reach the Loyalsock Trail (LT) and turn right. The rest of the hike follows the LT.
Hike up to and cross Rock Run Road and then explore hardwood forests on old grades. The trail then drops down among giant rocks and ledges. Level off and then drop down in the glen of a small creek with cascades. Turn right on a forest road and then left onto Rock Run Road. Retrace your steps back to the car. This is just one of many beautiful hikes in the Loyalsock State Forest.