Waterfalls of Somer Brook Gorge-SGL 57

IMG_20170506_203530_663

Somer Brook is located deep in SGL 57.  It has carved a deep gorge in the plateau featuring big rocks, rapids, pools, slides, and several waterfalls.  It is a place of rugged, dramatic beauty.  A few weeks ago, I decided to check out this gorge.  With recent rains, and the game lands road to the top of the mountain opened for turkey hunting season, it was an ideal time to do some exploring.

20170506_133437

I parked at the last parking area before the gate and followed the gated roads, which were flowing with water through the spruce forests.  The woods were incredibly aromatic.  I turned right on the next road and crossed Somer Brook, rushing with water.  I continued on the road as it went around the top of the plateau until I reached a discreet side stream.  My bushwhack began as I descended this stream.

IMG_20170506_211303_283

This small stream proved to be gorgeous with a slide and then a 15 foot falls over a cliff.  Below was a gauntlet of large boulders and nonstop cascades and pools.

IMG_20170506_213018_566

The scenery became even better.  Three stream joined at the same place among a slope of large boulders.  There were waterfalls and cascades everywhere as the water tumbled over the boulders.  It was breathtaking.

20170506_140057

These three streams converged into a larger one that continued with cascades until it disappeared over the edge of a grotto.  I descended into the grotto to see a place of great beauty.  A 20 foot falls with huge car sized boulders at its base, followed by more waterfalls.  Ferns covered some of the boulders.  I named this place Atkinson Falls.

IMG_20170507_101154_830

As I negotiated the tough terrain, there were many loose rocks that shifted under my feet.  I stepped on one rock, and the other end shot up, slamming into my shin.  It was very painful as blood oozed from my leg.  I had no choice but to keep walking.

IMG_20170507_090039_123

Below was an 8 foot falls with a long slide over red bedrock.  I could see Atkinson Falls above through the trees.  This unnamed creek continued with rapids and boulders until it joined a rain swollen Somer Brook.

20170506_154055

Somer Brook worried me- it was a raging whitewater river as it surged between boulders and swirled through pools.  I needed to find a safe place to cross.  I made my way up the creek and found a calm, shallow pool above some rapids.  With my poles, I made it across safely but the current was surprisingly strong.  I looked upstream to see Somer Brook choked with boulders and whitewater.  This place was wild, untamed.

20170506_152347

I found another unnamed sidestream and began the arduous hike up.  My legs shook with pain and exhaustion.  This sidestream was filled with cascades over boulders, but no distinct falls.  I then reached Southbrook Road.

20170506_152524

I followed the road a short distance and then saw an old, discreet grade to my left.  I knew this led to the base of Somer Brook Falls, the tallest of them all.  I reached the base of the falls, crossing the powerful creek again above a 15 foot falls.  The base of the falls was filled with natural foam from the reddish swamp water.   I reached the point where the two branches of Somer Brook joined- it was awesome.  The forest and gorge were filled with the roar of water.  Trees dripped with moisture.

IMG_20170507_114550_760

I made my way up to Somer Brook Falls and it was a stunning sight as a torrent plummeted 80 or so feet through a chasm.  This is an amazing falls.  I made my way up the top of the chasm through a forest of hemlock and spruce.  Above is a beautiful spruce forest with a 3 foot falls over pebbly conglomerate.   I made my way through the deep green spruce forest over the blood-colored water from the tannins in the spruce and hemlocks.  I returned to the road and made my way back to the car.

20170506_154343

This is an amazing place, a gem in not only SGL 57, but all of Pennsylvania.  I’m glad I was able to experience it.

Location of Somer Brook Gorge.

More photos and videos.

20170506_155940

***************************

GPS coordinates of the scenic places in Somer Brook Gorge:

Boulder Cascades (above Atkinson Falls):  N 41 26.376  W 76 09.646

Atkinson Falls:  N 41 26.383  W 76 09.678

Somer Brook Falls: N 41 25.834  W 76 10.123

Parking area:  N 41 25.087  W 76 09.817  (Road to parking area is only open during the fall and spring hunting seasons)

My route:

My route

Scar Run Waterfalls and Gorge-Loyalsock State Forest

IMG_20170501_155830_913

Located north of the more well-known Ketchum Run Gorge, Scar Run Gorge is one of the Loyalsock State Forest’s hidden jewels.  My goal was actually to see a pine forest north of the gorge, but I ended up hiking Scar Run as well.

IMG_20170430_203653_002

I parked off of Coal Mine Road where it meets the gated Randall Road.  I followed the gated road and its yellow and blue blazes.  At a Y, I followed the road to the left, leaving the blazed trail to the right.  This road went through a series of four deer fences and ended at the edge of the pine forest.  From here, it was off trail hiking.

20170430_152505

The pine forest was quite beautiful, comprised mostly of red pine with some spruce, white pine, and random apple trees.  It had a dark, haunting quality to it, and would be a beautiful place to visit after a snowfall.  A small, marshy pond was embedded in the forest.  The ground was carpeted with thick layers of needles.  The southern part of the pine forest was at a lower elevation and featured thick white pine.  Pine forests of this size are rare in the area; this one covers roughly 80-100 acres.

IMG_20170501_192930_021

I hiked to the edge of the plateau to see meadow areas with thousands of mayapples growing.  I was going to retrace my steps, but then thought, why not return along Scar Run?  So I bushwhacked down to Scar Run, following some old grades.

20170430_153042

Scar Run is a stream of great beauty, featuring many waterfalls, pools, and green moss grottos.  It is described in Hike No. 42 of Hiking the Endless Mountains.  An old grade started on the south side of the creek, but then crossed to the north.  A variety of wildflowers were growing.  The grade is close to many of the falls, offering fine views of the scenic creek.  In some places, the grade is washed out.  I was particularly happy to see trout in Scar Run.  Ledges glistened with springs as large trees towered above ferns.  Moss seemed to cover everything near the creek, creating a ribbon of emerald.

IMG_20170503_165914_283

The old grade crossed the creek with more waterfalls to the left.  I simply followed the grade back to Randall Road and my car along Coal Mine Road.

IMG_20170502_180615_109

Afterwards I drove down Coal Mine Road to the Loyalsock Trail and hiked out to Alpine Vista.  The view was beautiful as shafts of sunlight penetrated the brooding clouds to the fresh leaves of the fluorescent forest below.

20170430_172045

If you love waterfalls, check out Scar Run.

More photos.

Location of Scar Run.

******************************

Hiking Scar Run is fairly easy.  All GPS coordinates from Google Earth.

  1.  Park along Coal Mine Rd.  41°27’50.03″N  76°36’36.04″W
  2. Walk the gated road, bear left at 41°27’53.77″N   76°36’37.19″W
  3. Follow this obvious road, which becomes more brushy through a series of 4 deer fences.
  4. Pine forest is located at 41°28’36.90″N 76°37’22.50″W
  5. Want to just see Scar Run and its waterfalls?  Go to the old grade at 41°27’50.76″N  76°36’39.28″W.  Hike the grade down to Scar Run.
  6. Scar Run has lots of stinging nettle in summer.  Do not attempt in high water.

Hiking Hunts and Pigeon Runs-Waterfall Wonderland (SGL 13)

20170423_124707

As many of you know, the Waterfall Wonderland in SGL 13 is a place of amazing natural beauty.  I love it for not only its waterfalls, but also its isolation, deep gorges, and large trees.  I returned a few weeks ago to explore two tributaries of Sullivan Branch-Hunts Run and Pigeon Run.  I explored each tributary on separate hikes.

IMG_20170423_202510_425

Hunts Run

First I hiked to Hunts Run.  Thanks to recent rains, Sullivan Branch and Sullivan Falls were flowing high.  I made my way up Sullivan Branch, enjoying the gorge, rapids, and cascades.  I saw Pigeon Run Falls with its plummeting sheet of water and continued up the creek, enjoying all the falls and deep pools.

IMG_20170423_203641_567

I crossed Sullivan Branch and hiked up the slope, reaching an old grade that brought me to Hunts Run.  The hike up Hunts Run was scenic, but there were no waterfalls, just non-stop cascades over mossy boulders.  This glen was scenic and isolated.  At the top I explored some large cliffs and overhangs.  What was most impressive was a forest of old growth hemlocks, with many large trees.

IMG_20170423_204141_021

I then made my way back down to Sullivan Branch, and returned to my car.

IMG_20170423_200450_377

Pigeon Run

My second hike took me up Pigeon Run, a stream well known for all its waterfalls.  This hike did not disappoint.  This creek had five or six waterfalls in beautiful grottos and overhanging ledges.  The last falls was a slide that spread out like a fan, just below a private property line.

20170429_172518

Pigeon Run became a gauntlet of steep boulders and more cascades in a very rugged glen.  Many trilliums grew on the boulders.  I followed the game lands boundary to a stunning place at the top of the gorge.

IMG_20170429_211255_097

Massive, ancient hemlocks surrounded this place, as cliffs and ledges rose over me.  At the top was a beautiful 40ish foot falls that tumbled down three or four drops.  I called it the Falls of the Hemlocks, located at N41 20.815 W 076 19.825.

IMG_20170429_192938_668

This felt like a wild, primeval place.  I followed the cliff rim west, back to Sullivan Branch.  This was a beautiful place with large cliffs crowned with more large hemlocks.  There were views of the gorge below through the trees.

IMG_20170429_213510_628

I made my way down the slope, passing boulders and rock outcrops back to the unblazed trail above Sullivan Branch, which I took back to my car at Sullivan Falls.

IMG_20170429_211934_526

More photos.

Location of this place.

Hoagland Chasm and Weed Falls-Loyalsock State Forest

IMG_20170425_155634_393

South of Shunk, just within the Loyalsock State Forest, is a place of great beauty that is fairly easy to reach and that few know even exists.  Weed Creek and Hoagland Branch join among waterfalls, chasms, gorges, deep pools, and rapids.  Hemlocks shroud this special place.  I call it the Hoagland Chasm and Weed Falls.

IMG_20170416_193708_307

I parked along the road where Bear Wallow Road meets Dry Run Road.  I then hiked an obvious, gated old grade to the north as it curved through drainages and then began a long, gradual descent to Slaskey Run.  I noticed a faint footpath on the grade.  The forest was beautiful with many large hardwoods and countless spring wildflowers, not to mention many large areas of ramps.  At Slaskey Run there was a private property line so I followed an obvious grade to the right as it continued a gradual descent.

IMG_20170419_193247_699

Below Slaskey Run tumbled over small waterfalls and slides.  The largest falls is about 7 feet tall.  As I neared Weed Creek, another grade was to the left.  I took it.  It followed the top of Weed Creek’s gorge and then descended to the water.  From here, I walked in and along the creeks.

IMG_20170417_072337_162

Weed Creek promptly entered a hemlock shaded gorge with steep slopes and ledges.  The creek danced down slides and rapids with deep pools.  It was very beautiful.  The gorge opened up and I soon found myself on the top of Weed Falls, a scenic, curving 30 foot falls.  I was able to scrambled down the side of the falls and entered a stunning grotto as cliffs rose around me topped with hemlocks.

IMG_20170417_070402_224

I continued down Weed Creek with more rapids and slides.  I then reached a beautiful sliding cascade where Weed Creek joined Hoagland Branch.  The beauty of this spot was amazing with deep translucent pools as cliffs hemmed in Hoagland Branch.  The sounds of the rushing creek echoed against its rocky confines.  I was amazed by this place.

IMG_20170417_071222_196

I turned left and hiked upstream along Hoagland Branch; I was speechless.  I entered a spectacular chasm as red rock rose above me with angled buttresses.  The creek had carved into the bedrock deep pools and slides.  Hemlocks towered overhead.  As I hiked up the chasm, the cliffs grew taller, everything was deeper and darker as if I was entering a different realm.  There were no waterfalls, but several slides and rapids with deep pools.  It rivaled the famous Rock Run.  The floods from last Fall had scoured the sides of the chasm along the angled contours of the red bedrock.  The northern end of the chasm ended at a private property line.

20170416_115852

I retraced my steps back to Weed Creek, mesmerized by the scenery.  I explored more of Hoagland Branch below Weed Creek to see the deep pools glowing in the bright sun.  There were rapids and deep pools.  A cabin was further downstream on the left.  I saw the state forest boundary and turned around, retracing my steps back to the car.

IMG_20170416_193059_042

A place of remarkable beauty hidden in the shadows of gorges and hemlocks, I will be back to Weed Falls and the Hoagland Chasm.

More photos.

Map to Hoagland Chasm and Weed Falls

********************

Hiking to Hoagland Chasm and Weed Falls is easy.  The grade down to Weed Creek is obvious.  There are no marked trails or signs.

  1.  Park at the juncture of Dry Run Road and Bear Wallow Road.  Park along the road, space is limited.
  2. Follow the obvious, gated grade north of the road as it curves and then gradually descends through a beautiful hardwood forest with many spring wildflowers.
  3. Reach Slaskey Run and a private property line; turn right onto obvious grade.
  4. Small waterfalls along Slaskey Run below the grade.
  5. As you near Weed Creek, look for a faint grade that curves left.  Follow it above Weed Creek Gorge with views of the gorge.
  6. Descend to where Weed Creek and Slaskey Run meet.
  7. The rest of the hike follows the creeks.  You must hike in and along the water.  Do not attempt in high water.
  8. Hike Weed Creek downstream into a beautiful hemlock gorge.
  9. Reach the top of Weed Falls.  Possible to scramble down north side of the falls, be careful.  Otherwise hike around it.
  10. Beautiful grotto or gorge below Weed Falls.
  11. Reach juncture of Weed Creek and Hoagland Branch at a sliding waterfall.  Scenery is superb.
  12. Turn left and hike Hoagland Branch upstream into the stunning chasm.  Chasm is about 1,000 feet long and ends at a private property line.  Be careful hiking in the chasm and watch for the deep pools.  Again, never attempt in high water.
  13. Retrace your steps.
  14. Please treat this special place with respect.
  15. Hike is about 1.5-2 miles, one way.

20170416_114758

 

Dayhiking at Worlds End State Park

IMG_20170415_175532_881

We returned to Worlds End for some dayhiking.  Our first hike was on the unofficial Sawtooth Trail, which I described previously.  This second hike was as enjoyable as the first as the trail explored big rocks, ledges, crevasses, and unique whitish triangular ledges.  This is truly a beautiful trail that should be on anyone’s list when they visit the park.  We reached the Link Trail and turned left, through hemlock forests and above more ledges.  These two trails create a 2-3 mile loop that is easy and very scenic.  Please note the Sawtooth Trail is unofficial, it does not have blazes or signs, but it is fairly well established as it explores the top of the ledges.

IMG_20170415_213120_076

Our second hike began at the park office.  We hiked to the orange blazed Butternut Trail and began the climb up, before turning right on the “lower road” sign as the trail crossed a steep slope with the Loyalsock Creek below.  We then entered the scenic glen of the Butternut Run with ledges and many wildflowers.  Butternut Run was flowing well as the trail passed above a waterfall.  Switchbacks over rocky slopes soon brought us to Butternut Vista with a nice view of the creek and park.  The trail from the vista was level and quite scenic, passing a side trail on the right that went up to Loyalsock Road.  The Butternut Trail passed below another falls that was further off trail at the top of the glen and then proceeded through the forest with more fine scenery of big trees and flowers above the deep glen.  I really enjoyed this trail.

IMG_20170415_202227_583

We then reached a yellow trail to the right.  This unnamed trail was an easy old grade through a stately hardwood forest with some big vines.  Cliffs rose above us to the right.  The grade was obvious with a slight incline as it wrapped around the mountain and entered the glen of High Rock Run.  Down in the glen was a falls and grotto I never noticed before.  We crossed High Rock Run and passed a campsite, which brought us to the Loyalsock Trail (LT), where we turned left.

Map of loop from Butternut Trail to High Rock Run

The LT descended high above High Rock Run, taking us through hemlocks and between rocks before High Rock Vista.  We left the LT and took the High Rock Trail down to PA 154 and the state park.  This loop was about 4-5 miles.

20170415_131711

These are two great loops that you need to check out the next time you’re at Worlds End.

More photos.

20170415_130556

IMG_20170415_193556_957

Hike to Big Cove Run Gorge-Loyalsock State Forest

Bluestone Falls

Recently, an isolated gorge in the Loyalsock State Forest interested me.  Located east of Bar Bottom Hollow, Big Cove Run tumbles down a gorge and appeared to have several waterfalls.  Steep slopes surround the streams.  Not knowing what to expect, I decided to check it out.

IMG_20170414_204244_532

The first issue was which way to go in- the route from Bar Bottom Hollow was longer, but appeared easier.  The shorter route from Barbours was undefined, would require crossing the sides of steep slopes and bypassing private property.  I decided on the Bar Bottom Hollow approach.

Travis Eberhart Falls

I followed the route of my Bar Bottom hike from last year, until I reached a road to the left which climbed up the side of the mountain and passed in front of an isolated cabin.  The old road re-entered the woods where I made a left on an unblazed old grade.  This obvious grade crossed the top of the mountain and proved to be a beautiful hike through expansive hemlock forests.  The grade became a little harder to follow, but dropped down into the drainage of Big Cove Run.

IMG_20170414_203846_280

I was happy to see some water flowing and I left the grade, heading downstream into the deep glen.  Cascades and waterfalls soon appeared over mossy rocks and under hemlocks.  The creek unfortunately disappeared underground.  There was damage from the flash floods of last year which may have affected the creeks ability to hold water.  I reached two beautiful moss grottos which would hold beautiful waterfalls; now there was only a trickle.  The surrounding forest had many large trees, including some massive hemlocks, which were struggling against the adelgid.  From high above I heard the haunting calls of coyotes.

20170414_142026

I then reached an impressive, multi-tiered falls over a series of bluestone ledges which I called Bluestone Falls.  Again, it was a trickle, but when flowing it would be a great falls.  A side stream joined with its own falls, again, a trickle.  This was the heart of the glen and it was very scenic.  The creek then entered a mini-gorge with more cascades.  I had to do a little canyoneering; don’t attempt this part in high water.  I then reached the top of a 30 foot cascade which had some water.  I called it Travis Eberhart Falls after finding a gravestone in his memory on my hike out.

IMG_20170414_165245_848

Another side stream joined down a steep glen.  I hiked up it, but it had no distinct falls. I climbed to any area surrounded by ledges and rocks.  Many large ash trees were dying.  A nice spot, but not worth the climb if you are looking for waterfalls.

20170414_145201

From here, it is best to just retrace your steps.  While I hiked the north rim of the gorge, there were no views, but there were some good sized ledges.

Looking down Bluestone Falls

Is Big Cove Run worth the effort?  Yes, if there’s water.  For some reason, this creek does not hold water well, whether due to the flash floods or it just happened to be dry.  This surprised me since smaller creeks were flowing well in other areas of the forest.  It should be flowing if the Loyalsock USGS gauge is 5-6 feet or above.  When flowing, Big Cove Run has a beautiful assortment of falls and cascades in an isolated, rugged setting.

More photos.

***************************

How to hike to Big Cove Run.

  1.  Park at the gate of Dad Dad Chapman Road.  This gate may be open during hunting season.
  2. Hike Dad Dad Chapman Road; be sure to continue straight where the gravel road bends left to a drilling pad.
  3. After about 2 miles, reach a logged area with forests of pine and spruce.  Turn right onto an obvious grassy old forest road.
  4. After about another mile, turn right onto a forest/camp road.
  5. Follow for less than a quarter mile, turn left onto a jeep forest road.  Follow it as it climbs the mountain.  It levels and passes a cabin.
  6. The old jeep road re-enters the woods, turn left onto an obvious grade in a hemlock forest.
  7. Follow this beautiful trail through hemlocks for roughly a mile.  Descend to the headwaters of Big Cove Run and leave the old grade.
  8. Follow the creek down into the gorge.  Be careful.  There are some steep areas.  Retrace your steps.

 

Backpacking the Black Forest Trail

IMG_20170409_194824_394

A few weeks ago I met up with some friends from college for our regular backpacking trip.  We headed further west this time, to the Black Forest Trail (BFT).  We began at Slate Run to do a loop of about 20 miles or so along the BFT and side trails.  Our route followed the BFT counterclockwise from Slate Run, left on Francis Road, left on Old Supply Trail, right onto the BFT, straight onto Manor Fork Road, left onto Gas Line Trail, straight onto BFT, straight onto a yellow trail, left onto Naval Run Road back to the parking area.  This loop offers some of the best views of the BFT, waterfalls, great camping, without being too challenging.

IMG_20170409_181441_091

The weather was incredible, with sunny skies, warm temperatures, and a nice breeze.  The climb from Slate Run is long, but gradual as it follows a narrow ridge with views through the trees.  At the top we enjoyed a couple of fine views over Slate Run gorge.  The trail meandered through a forest with extensive mountain laurel and rock outcrops with more views.  We reached the top of Red Run at another beautiful view over the deep gorges and large rocks on the far side of the gorge.  The descent was steep and rocky, but the scenery was excellent with many waterfalls and cascades over the large rocks and boulders.  We hiked along beautiful Red Run, passing campsites above the rushing water.  We reached Slate Run, as the sounds of rapids filled the forest.  We climbed, leaving the BFT, and turned left onto Francis Road, passing a few more views, and then we descended to Slate Run Road.

IMG_20170409_205903_876

We turned left onto the blue blazed Old Supply Trail as it followed sidehill up above Manor Fork.  It appeared the trail was being worked on with new sidehill.  The blazes became infrequent, but the trail was obvious.  As we neared Foster Hollow, the trail was hard to follow; I recommend you stay near the creek.  We camped at the bottom of Foster Hollow at a nice site.

IMG_20170410_123022_828

The sun returned the next morning as birdsong filled the forest and frost covered our tents.  We climbed up Foster Hollow with its cascaded over mossy rocks.  It was a scenic trail.  We passed two guys camping and soon turned right onto the BFT.  A steep climb ensued through a beautiful hemlock forest and a spring bubbling out the ground.  At the top, the trail leveled and soon entered a beautiful pine forest with another spring and campsite.  A roadwalk followed on Manor Fork Road, a gravel road to the Gas Line Trail.  The trail soon returned us to the BFT along a ridge with many vistas of the Pine Creek Gorge.  The views were beautiful in the bright sun.  Matt and I even walked on the Jerard Trail a short distance off the BFT to see the Stone Seat vista and its view of the distinctive peak of Gillepsie Point in the distance.

IMG_20170410_212715_742

As we descended, we passed more views and then the trail steeply switchbacked down to Naval Run.  The mountains really looked rugged and imposing as we descended.  We checked out Naval Run Falls from above and then took a yellow blazed trail to Naval Run Road, which we followed to the parking area.

IMG_20170411_181414_903

The BFT is a beautiful trail and I think everyone enjoyed the hike.  This loop includes a lot of the BFT’s highlights without being too hard.  It is a nice option for those not wanting to do the entire loop.

IMG_20170411_195701_918

We celebrated at the Hotel Manor with a meal and beverages, surrounded by the gorge as fisherman stood in Pine Creek, trying their luck.  It was great to be back on the BFT in the beautiful Pine Creek region.

IMG_20170410_123405_486

More pictures.

Black Forest Trail map.

IMG_20170412_163815_245