Trough Creek State Park and Raystown Lake

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Balanced Rock

 

After a visit to Pittsburgh, we decided to make a stop at Trough Creek State Park. The skies were overcast and rainy, as the clouds threaded over the green ridges.  The state park is one of the finest in PA, famous for its gorge with rock outcrops, cliffs, views, waterfalls, and Balanced Rock, an erosional remnant perched on the edge of a cliff.

We hiked up to the rock, crossing over a swollen Great Trough Creek and its rapids.  Rainbow Falls soon came into view, flowing with great force down its narrow, scenic glen.  A quick climb brought us to Balanced Rock, an impressive natural feature.  The rock appears as if it could slide off the cliff at any moment, but it has been there for centuries.

I wanted to hike the Ledges and Rhododendron Trails, but the rain forced us back to the car.

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Hawn’s Overlook, Raystown Lake

 

There was one more place I wanted to see: Hawn’s Overlook above Raystown Lake.  I’d never been there, but had seen photos of it.  We walked the trail through an incredibly green, fluorescent forest to the view.  It was impressive as it revealed the vast Raystown Lake bordered by high ridges and mountains.  The view was untouched, as the lake and its bays and coves stretched out into the distance, hiding between the hills.  Mist rose from the foothills.  This is surely one of PA’s most unique views.

More photos.

R.B. Winter State Park and Hook Natural Area Vistas

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Off-trail vista in the Hook Natural Area, Bald Eagle State Forest

 

I recently did some exploring in the Bald Eagle State Forest. My plan was initially to hike the Allegheny Front Trail, but I ended up not having enough time.  So, I drove to R.B. Winter State Park and hiked through the Rapid Run Natural Area.  This short, easy trail explores an old growth hemlock forest along Rapid Run and rhodo jungles with carpets of moss.  I also walked around the small, scenic lake and hiked a little ways on the Mid State Trail.  This park is very scenic, set between forested ridges and features clear streams that tumble down the valleys beneath hemlocks and pine.  The stone dam that creates Halfway Lake also has a nice waterfall that compliments the setting.  The park does have an “out of the way” feel to it.  R.B. Winter State Park is a trailhead to the Mid State Trail and features many other trails that offer a variety of dayhiking options.

Next I stopped by Sand Bridge State Park, which has the distinction of being the smallest state park in PA. It was little more than a picnic area along Rapid Run with rhodo jungles.

I then ventured to see the Hook Natural Area. This well-known hiking destination has always eluded me, and I wouldn’t have time to explore it on this trip, but I did see a superb vista from Jones Mountain Road overlooking hollows, valleys, and ridges that faded into the distance.  I also wanted to check out an off trail vista.  I hiked down a powerline swath and then veered west into the woods, following faint game trails.  I came upon a talus slope with great views to the south.  I could see the long ridges sweeping to the southwest and farmlands far below.  I had to limit my exploration of the talus slope since I saw a couple of rather sedate rattlesnakes.  I retraced my steps to the car, driving through Lewisburg and heading home on back roads.

I’ll be returning to the Bald Eagle State Forest soon. I definitely plan to hike the Hook Natural Area this summer.  The insanely rugged Goosenecks gorge also looks fascinating, if not intimidating from all the vast talus slopes.  That will have to wait until Autumn.

More photos.

The off-trail vista is located at 40.968647 -77.141057 on Google maps.

Waterfall Glens of Satterlee Run-SGL 36

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Waterfall on Satterlee Run

Recent rains filled Satterlee Run as it roared down the gorge. The clouds broke, filling the forest with sunshine.  Large maples and birch trees rose over me.  I was walking upstream, to see if there were anymore waterfalls.  The forest was still, I had not even seen a deer on my hike.  Suddenly, the ground exploded as a black mass rose from the forest floor and moved with incredible power and speed…

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Waterfall glens of Satterlee Run

Satterlee Run flows down a gorge into the South Branch Towanda Creek, between Towanda and New Albany. I had heard rumors of a possible falls on Satterlee a few years ago.  Recently, Raymond Chippa, of PA Waterfalls, explored Satterlee to reveal an incredible glen of waterfalls.  I had to see it for myself.

Southern Bradford County is home to exceptional natural beauty, so much so that I’ve been spending less time at my typical stomping grounds, SGL 57. This area has Rollinson Run, Kellogg Mountain, Deep Hollow rock maze and view, Little Schrader Creek, Deep Hollow Falls, Schrader Creek, Falls Creek, old growth hemlocks at Chilson Run, and now what may be the crown jewel-Satterlee Run.  How much more is there?

I began by hiking up Saterlee Hollow Road. The road fords the creek, and since the water was high I decided not to cross it with my car.  The road is dirt and single lane; it is in good shape until the next stream crossing.  The road appears public, but the adjoining land is posted.  Nowhere is the road gated or marked private.   At the second creek crossing, a side stream came down from the right, I could see a falls through the trees, but kept going straight.

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Fourth falls on Satterlee Run

The road becomes an old grade, washed out in places, with several more stream crossings. Expect wet feet on this hike.  I reached the game lands boundary at a stream crossing, entering a beautiful forested valley as Satterlee Run had bedrock waterslides and pools.  After another crossing, the grade climbed to my left, I followed the creek.  Soon an amazing waterfall glen came into view among some landslides and fallen trees.  I couldn’t believe it.  Two streams separated by a narrow ridge dropped over waterfalls.  It seemed surreal.

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Top of the first falls, tributary to Satterlee Run

I had to take a break to experience the magnitude of this place. The roar of water, the crashing of water, seemed to be everywhere.  Moss carpeted boulders and ledges as the forest was just turning green.  I hiked up the unnamed tributary first, maybe we’ll call it the South Branch Satterlee Run.  I followed a herd path up a steep, mossy slope above a 40 foot cascade.  At the top of the falls was another sidestream with its own waterfalls.  This place was becoming ridiculous.  I walked onto the red bedrock to be surrounded by waterfalls.  I then followed the narrow ridge between the two streams to look down on both sides to see more, you guessed it, waterfalls.  Even Ricketts Glen doesn’t have a setting this unique.  I continued up the South Branch to see two or three more waterfalls.  The creek narrowed in a mini-gorge that ended at a slide.  I simply walked in the water.

I crossed over the ridge and dropped down to Satterlee Run. I was upstream of the waterfalls.  I hiked upstream to see if there were any more.  The creek narrowed in a large gorge as rapids and boulders filled the stream.  It was beautiful.  Cliffs and ledges rose around me, I knew there had to be a falls ahead.  And there was.  A series of slides and pools brought me a grotto with a 20-30 foot cascade.  Springs dripped from draperies of moss.  I climbed up along the falls.

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Bear cubs in a tree

I walked upstream. Were there more falls, I thought.  I was walking slowly up the creek when the bear suddenly appeared.  It ran hunched near the ground, away from me, with amazing power.  I didn’t have time to process what was happening.  The bear was thirty feet from me.  I looked up above me.  Something was in a small hemlock tree.  Porcupines?  Maybe the bear was hunting porcupines.  No, it was three cubs. I moved back quick, scanning the forest for the bear.  I didn’t panic, but I also realized that I was lucky.  If the bear ran towards me, I’d have no time to protect myself, regardless if I had a gun or spray.  Why did she decide to run instead of attack?  She obviously saw me a long time prior to my seeing her.  How close was I to serious injury or death, due to no one’s fault?  Nature has different laws and rules by which humans must abide.  The irony is that the bear’s deathly fear of me likely saved my life.  I retreated, amazingly calm and accepting of what happened, and could have happened.  I don’t know why.

Satterlee Run soon distracted me. I reached the glen to see a series of three waterfalls in an incredible grotto.  The top falls had an old stone mill dam, and a small spillway.  Moss and dripping springs were everywhere.  The beauty was unmatched.  I made my way down each of the falls, entranced by the beauty.  How is this place not famous?  How much more lies hidden in PA?  I returned to the heart of the glen, a little changed by the experience of Satterlee Run.

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First falls on the tributary to Satterlee Run (South Branch Satterlee Run)

I walked back out. Since I was in the area, I made a quick stop by Deep Hollow Falls.  I thought about going to Falls Creek and Long Valley Run, but the sunny conditions were not ideal for the pictures I wanted to take, and I was running low on time.  So I drove along Millstone Creek to see Chilson Run.  I didn’t find any waterfalls, but did stumble upon a surprising old growth hemlock forest.  The giants were still hanging on against the adelgid as they rose over the creek.  I traded the roar of waterfalls for the serenity of these ancient trees.

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Old growth hemlock forest, Chilson Run, SGL 36

A remarkable day exploring the amazing natural beauty of Pennsylvania.

More photos.

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It’s not hard to find the waterfalls on Satterlee Run.

  1. Follow Saterlee Hollow Road.  This road appears to be public and is a narrow country lane.  There is a vehicle ford at the beginning and the road is in good shape to the next ford.
  2. Location of Saterlee Hollow Road.
  3. The road is bordered by land that is posted, but the road itself is not posted or gated.  After the second ford, the road degrades to an old woods road.  There are several more stream crossings.  Expect to get wet feet.
  4. Follow the grade along the creek, avoid a road to the right.
  5. Reach the game lands.
  6. You can follow the grade to the top of the glen.  If you do, turn off here.   I think it is best to follow the creek to the bottom of the glens.
  7. The heart of the glens is an incredible scene.  N41 38.744 W76 28.324
  8. To explore the glens, the terrain is steep and challenging.  It will take time to bypass the falls.  Be careful, the terrain is potentially dangerous.  The scenery is exceptional.
  9. There is a fourth falls on Satterlee Run located at N41 38.597 W76 28.577.
  10. In the event access is not allowed to the falls from Saterlee Hollow Road, access may be possible on trails and old forest roads from Deep Hollow, but I have not hiked that way.
  11. To be more discreet, I parked along Kellogg Road and then walked up Saterlee Hollow Road.
  12. The old growth hemlock forest along Chilson Run is located here.  Most of the big trees are still alive.  41.630084 -76.542147
  13. As always, treat these special places with respect.

Pocono Daytrip-Mt. Wismer, Childs Park, and Long Swamp

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View through the Delaware Water Gap from Mt. Wismer.

 

I don’t seem to go to the Poconos to hike as much as I should. Over the last decade, new preserves and conservation easements have greatly expanded the hiking opportunities in the area.  We drove out to check out two new places, and another I’ve been to before.

Our first stop was Mt. Wismer, located at the Gravel Family Nature Preserve, known for its vast 20-30 mile views. The trail followed an old woods road along blueberry meadows in bloom, and jungles of rhododendron.  We followed the orange trail up the slope with massive boulders and ledges.  A right turn onto a blue trail took us to the vista.  It was impressive.  The escarpment of the plateau has this grassy meadow with views from the Kittatinny Ridge in New Jersey, to Blue Mountain, near the Lehigh Gap.  We could see the Camelback Mountain ski slopes.  Most unique is that we could see straight through the Delaware Water Gap to the rolling hills in New Jersey.  I think the views from Mt. Wismer are better than those from Big Pocono.  There were rolling foothills to Blue Mountain and the water gap.  We returned via the steeper, narrow, and rocky red trail to complete the loop.  Overall, this was a great hike.

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Deer Leap Falls, Childs Park

 

Our second stop was to the Childs Park in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. I had been there before, but I wanted to see the reconstructed trails.  This short hike features a scenic gorge and three impressive waterfalls.  There were ruins from an old mill and many large, old growth hemlock and pine trees.  While crowded, it is always a pleasure to hike at Childs Park.

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Boardwalk across a spruce and moss bog, Long Swamp.

 

Our final stop was the Long Swamp preserve, featuring a loop around a wetland.  The land is owned by Camp Speers YMCA, but public access is allowed.  The most scenic part of the trail was the southern boardwalk as it traversed a spruce and moss bog that was unique and mysterious.  Carpets of water-logged moss covered the bog as spruce trees grew from tangled roots.  Pitcher plants and sundews can be seen from the boardwalk in season.  I’m glad I did this hike, but if I were to return, I would only include the southern boardwalk across the bog.

More photos.

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Mt. Wismer/Gravel Family Nature Preserve

  1. Park here.  N41 13.611 W075 15.842
  2. We returned to complete the loop via this red trail.
  3. Bear right/straight at this meadow.
  4. Yellow blazes appear on the trail.
  5. Trail ascends among large boulders and beneath ledges.
  6. Reach a blue trail and turn right to the view.
  7. Return via the steeper, rockier red trail, or retrace your steps.

Map and information.

What does Mt. Wismer look like in the Autumn?  Check out this post from the superb Gone Hikin’ website.

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George W. Childs Park

This is a short loop hike along the impressive gorge and waterfalls of the park.  While popular, this hike is worth it.

More information.

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Long Swamp

  1. Park here.  N41 16.750 W074 56.266
  2. Follow trail to left of office.
  3. Turn left on the pink trail.
  4. Hike around the swamp, but the trail stays in the woods, with no views of the swamp.
  5. Bear left/straight on wider grade and pass a lean-to.
  6. Turn left at next intersection down to platform and boardwalk.  This is the most scenic part of the trail.  Complete the loop via the Bog and Lower Deer Run Trails.

Map and information.

The Wonders of Frozen Run Gorge-Loyalsock State Forest

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View of Frozen Run Gorge, Loyalsock State Forest

 

On a warm, sunny Sunday morning I drove past Ricketts Glen as its parking area filled with cars. I kept driving as people were playing softball in Montoursville.  I drove by the Wegman’s in Williamsport, the sun reflecting off of all the cars in trucks.  I was headed somewhere different, a place few have seen.  A hidden realm in a forest of change.

Several years ago, while researching hikes for the second edition of Hiking the Endless Mountains, I saw a place on the map that intrigued me.  Frozen Run cut a deep gorge through the plateau.  The topographic lines were tight, the place seemed rugged.  It looked to have potential, but I knew nothing about it.  There was no information about the gorge and it seemed hardly anyone ever went there.  It was miles from a paved road.  In my small Saturn, I climbed up the ridge, following a narrow dirt road, wondering what I was getting myself into.  It was July.  It was hot.  Humidity veiled the mountains.  I passed an overlook to the west to see miles of unbroken forest and rolling ridges separated by deep hollows and valleys.

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Serviceberry blooms, Frozen Run Gorge

 

The road ended and I found a place to park.  Without a trail, I followed a side stream down to Frozen Run Gorge.  The beauty was impressive.  A pristine stream tumbling over massive boulders into clear pools.  A stunning falls that appeared from between jumbled boulders.  A grotto of red bedrock, moss, waterslides, falls, and pools.  I couldn’t believe a place this uniquely beautiful could be so unknown.  Looking back, this may be where it began for me- Frozen Run taught me that Pennsylvania was a land of hidden wonders, off trail and off road, waiting to be re-discovered.  I changed from the path less traveled, to no path at all.

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View of the Pickenville Mountain Cliffs

 

I returned again, motivated to explore more of the gorge.  Satellite images showed a prominent cliff along the north rim.  After seeing photos of a hike on the impressive cliff on nearby Pickenville Mountain, located on private land, I was excited to see what Frozen Run had to offer.

I met up with Mike and we drove through the state forest.  It had changed remarkably from my last visit with pipelines, widened roads, drill pads, and a compressor station.  The overlook that once featured unbroken forests, now marked with pipelines, pads, and roads.  Maybe something of monetary value was gained from all of this, but something was also lost.  I felt as if I should’ve been more dismayed than I was, maybe I just accepted it now.  Maybe I found solace in that Frozen Run remained unscathed.  We drove on and soon reached a small place to pull off and park.

Our route was different than the one in my book.  We hiked down the tributary and then crossed it, climbing to the edge of the plateau along an old grade.  We were treated to three vistas looking down the gorge, with the dramatic cliffs of Pickenville Mountain in the distance.  At one overlook, a rattlesnake announced its annoyance with a shrill buzz, but it remained invisible among the leaves.  We soon left.  Snakes were a concern on this hike, but I hoped it was still too cool for them.  Seeing one caused some concern, since the cliffs were hiking to faced south in the warm sun.

We dropped from the plateau and reached Frozen Run.  Mike was impressed with all its boulders, rapids, cascades, and pools.  Even I forgot just how lovely it was.  We hiked up to the private property line where there was a small waterfall over boulders.  A quick climb out of the creek and to the plateau followed, as we now headed east along the north rim of the gorge.  We soon reached the cliff rim, protected by jungles of mountain laurel.  The vistas soon appeared on ledges and rock outcrops.  They were beautiful.  The cliff was impressive as the earth fell away; we could hear the roar of Frozen Run below.  Not wanting to surprise any snakes, I called out to them and hit the grounds and rocks with a stick.  We wouldn’t hear another rattler, but Mike did see one hidden bashfully under a rock, right where it belonged.

As we hiked east, the views only improved, becoming more dramatic from the exposed cliffs.  We were impressed.  The mountains had ridges, tiers, and hollows as the high cliffs of Pickenville rose to the northeast.  This place was wild.

And then we reached a prominent ledge, we hiked out to it.  It was breathtaking.  The easternmost and last vista over Frozen Run Gorge.  The gorge just fell away from us as vultures soared far below.  We couldn’t believe it.  Frozen Run continued to roar.  We sat there to take it all in, under the warm sun and bright blue skies.

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Boulder Falls, Frozen Run Gorge, Loyalsock State Forest

 

We finally forced ourselves to leave, traversing down the slope of the gorge, passing large boulders and a cave.  I asked Mike to go in for a picture, he declined.  We entered a forest of towering hardwoods and found some old grades through the laurel.  The roar of Frozen Run became louder.  We angled down and reached Boulder Falls.  This place is gorgeous.  The creek is filled with large boulders and non-stop cascades.  The falls itself is not that tall, but the setting is so unique, just as I remembered it.  Massive, angled, jumbled boulders crowd the top of the falls, making it look as if they could slide down at any moment.  The falls feed a pool under birch and maple.  I didn’t want to leave.

But there was more to see.

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Boulder Falls

 

We hiked downstream with more non-stop scenery, passing the “Bridge to Nowhere”, a random, sizeable wooden footbridge that appears to serve no purpose.  The water leapt from boulder to boulder.  We then reached a grotto of red bedrock and moss, with waterfalls, slides, and deep jade pools.  Boulders added a nice touch to the scenery.  The scenery of this place does not stop.  We reached a private land boundary, where, just for show, there was a sidestream waterfall.  It was time to return to the car.  There were two options, hike back out along the streams as I described in my book, or take a steep side glen into unknown territory.  Naturally, we took the side glen.

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More waterfalls on Frozen Run

 

We crossed the Bridge to Nowhere and were promptly treated to a twisting waterslide the dropped into a pool of incredible clarity.  A steep, obvious old grade made our climb a little easier.  I looked down into a red rock amphitheater with more cascades, crowned with rhododendron.  It was too steep, and I was too tired, to see it up close.  But this side glen wasn’t finished.  We reached a dramatic rocky grotto with a delicate 60ish foot cascade tumbling down the ledges and boulders.  This glen must be incredible in high water.

The grade we followed disappeared, so we followed the stream back to the road and our car.

This hike took longer than we expected, it just had so much to offer.  We found ourselves constantly amazed and impressed.  The sun was beginning to set as we drove out of the state forest, enjoying one last view as the sunlight pierced the clouds with rays, painting the horizon yellow and orange.

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Final view leaving the Loyalsock State Forest

 

More photos and videos.

Frozen Run Gorge is described as Hike 55 in Hiking the Endless Mountains (the route in this blog is different than the one in the book).

The gorge is on the middle, left side of this map.

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Frozen Run Gorge does not have a trail system, although there are some old grade you can use.  The gorge is isolated and rugged.

For this route:

  1. Park at the end of Bodine Mtn. Road.  N41 30.146  W77 00.506
  2. Follow and cross sidestream in northeasterly direction.
  3. Climb to obvious old grade along west rim of the gorge.
  4. Vista at N41 30.259  W77 00.078
  5. Vista at N41 30.305  W77 00.053
  6. Descend to Frozen Run and proceed east to north cliff rim.
  7. North rim views begin at N41 30.344  W76 59.770
  8. Pass views through the laurel heading east.
  9. Greatest and final view is at N41 30.299 W76 59.261
  10. Cave at N41 30.364  W76 59.215
  11. Boulder Falls at N 41 30.149  W76 59.538
  12. Old grade makes for easy hiking on north side of Frozen Run.
  13. Bridge to Nowhere at N41 30.027 W76 59.285
  14. Grotto of pools, slides, and cascades at N 41 29.999 W 76 59.114
  15. Private property line and side stream falls at N41 30.014 W 76 59.033
  16. Cross Bridge to Nowhere to see a scenic slide and clear pool.  An obvious grade is further up the slope on the west side of the glen.
  17. Side glen features a red rock amphitheater with cascades and rhododendron.  N41 29.864 W76 59.513
  18. Rocky grotto with a high, tumbling cascade.  N41 29.864 W76 59.513

This may be a quicker, and steeper, way into the gorge:

  1. Park here.  N41 29.802 W77 00.034
  2. Enter woods here.
  3. Do not follow the grade.  Veer right and follow the creek.
  4. Reach the top of the grotto (No. 18 above).
  5. Descend around the right of the grotto, reach an obvious grade at the bottom.
  6. Descend steeply to Bridge to Nowhere (No. 13 above).
  7. Proceed up and down Frozen Run to enjoy the scenery.

Lehigh Gorge-Tank Hollow Vista and Stony Creek

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Tank Hollow Vista

 

I think the Lehigh River Gorge is one of PA’s crown jewels, and probably its greatest canyon. It is also, in many ways, a best-kept secret.  Yes, the gorge is famous for its whitewater and bike trail.  But without the access to vistas and trails as found at Pine Creek, its wonders have remained largely hidden.  The Lehigh Gorge is home to a world that few see.  A world that once attracted John James Audubon.   I’ve long wanted to explore more of this place.

The Lehigh stands apart in the state for its vast and rugged gorge. Tiers of cliffs and ledges adorn the steep slopes as the sound of rapids fill the air.  There is no other place like in in the state.  From these cliffs are countless vistas.  Even more remarkable are the side streams as they flow through incredible gorges with rapids, waterfalls, pine and hemlock forests, and rhododendron jungles.  Jeans Run and Glen Onoko are known for their beauty.

I decided to try to unlock the beauty of the Lehigh Gorge.

My goal was, at first, simple-to see Tank Hollow Vista. I parked at a game lands parking area and followed a gravel road.  The gated road was open, but I decided to walk it in anyway.  The road was in good shape.  The sun was hot and bright.  I looked ahead to see a black mass- a bear.  She looked back at me and then I saw several cubs bouncing through the undergrowth.  I stopped, hoping they would move deeper into the woods.  They didn’t.  The bears promptly climbed a tree right next to the road I was walking.  Oh great, I thought.  The dexterity and strength of these bears were amazing.  Even the large mother climbed the tree with ease, as the cubs hung onto the top branches, looking at me.   I walked around them in the woods, giving them a wide berth and returned to the road.  The mom looked at me anxiously.  I quickly walked away on the road.

The road passed another gate and descended. I then noticed a wide, obvious trail to the right.  I took it.  The level trail explored scenic woodlands as it headed northwest.  The forest became more beautiful with pine and rhododendron.  I noticed a well-used trail to the right.  I continued straight into a jungle of rhododendron that soon opened up to a cliff and vista.  The vista was stunning as it looked down onto a sharp bend in the river with views both up and down the Lehigh.  I could see and hear the rapids.  The gorge was rugged, wild, untamed.  I sat there to take in the beauty.  Cliffs were along the rim with gnarled, twisted pine trees.  I could look down into Tank Hollow Run, to hear the roar of its hidden waterfalls.  The sunset would be amazing here.

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Stony Creek Falls

 

I retraced my steps. The hike to the vista was easy, so I was looking for a reason to extend the hike.  I saw a trail to the right (or on the left if walking to the vista).  This trail crossed a creek and went through the woods.  It was fairly well-established, but didn’t go anywhere from what I could tell.  I returned to the main trail.  Nearby was the side trail I passed previously, now on my left.  I took it since I’m never one to pass up on a trail when I don’t know where it goes to.  My hope was that it led down to Stony Creek, where I knew there was a waterfall.  The obvious trail descended through the woods, passed above a talus slope and entered thick rhodos.  Here, the trail seemed to disappear, but with a little effort, I found it again as it dropped steeply across rock slopes and under huge hemlocks.  I passed a cliff dripping with springs and reached the bottom of the gorge at the railroad.  Powerful rapids were in the Lehigh.  The gorge was as beautiful from the bottom as it was from the top.  I walked upstream an soon reached Stony Creek.  An obvious trail was on the south side of the creek.  The beauty was stunning- a deep gorge with rapids, boulders, cliffs, and pools.  The creek flowed over waterslides and I soon reached a gorgeous 20 foot falls.  Nearby was an abandoned dynamite shed embedded under a cliff.  The obvious trail continued upstream, through rhodo tunnels and under large pine and hemlock.  The scenery was non-stop.  Cliffs and talus slopes covered the gorge.  The trail crossed the creek over two trees.  I turned around, retracing my steps and enjoying the incredible beauty of Stony Creek.

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Old dynamite shed along Stony Creek

 

I returned to the railway and headed downstream to Tank Hollow Run. I walked a little ways up the creek to see massive, slanted bedrock slabs with non-stop cascades.  It was beautiful.  I could only imagine what was further up the creek in the jungles of rhodos.

I climbed the steep trail back up, which was easier to follow. I reached the original trail that went to the vista and retraced my steps, impressed by the incredible beauty of the Lehigh Gorge.

More photos and videos.

Map of Lehigh Gorge State Park.

Location of the vista on Google maps.

Location of Stony Creek Falls on Google maps.

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The hike to Tank Hollow Vista is easy!

  1.  Park at the large game commission parking area on Behrens Road.  N 40 56.502  W 075 40.350
  2. Walk the road for about a mile and a half to an obvious trail on the right.  N 40 56.740  W 075 41.513.  If the gate is open, you can drive to this trail, the road is in good shape.
  3. Follow the unblazed trail for about a half mile to Tank Hollow Vista.  N 40 56.918  W 075 41.982.  The view is spectacular.  Be careful along the cliff, the pebbly conglomerate can be slippery when it is wet.

Want to go to Stony Creek and Tank Hollow Run?  This hike is much harder, but worth it.

  1. At this trail intersection, only about 800 feet east of the vista, follow this obvious, unblazed trail north.  N 40 56.906  W 075 41.873
  2. The trail makes a gradual descent through the woods.  The trail steepens, crosses the top of a rock slope and enters rhododendrons, where it can be harder to find the trail.
  3. At this large tree, turn left and cross the rock slope.
  4. At this double tree, the trail turns right.  N 40 57.227 W 075 41.979
  5. Go through the rhododendrons on a trail, you will see some cut branches.  The trail gets steeper.  Reach a large hemlock, where the trail turns left.  N 40 57.257 W 075 42.050
  6. Trail is steep down a rock slope, turn right at large hemlock.  Continue descent beneath a cliff with dripping springs.  Continue to steep descent to railroad.  N 40 57.219 W 075 42.079
  7. To see Stony Creek, head north to N 40 57.291 W 075 42.126.
  8. Turn right onto an obvious trail along Stony Creek, enjoy the superb scenery with waterfalls, rapids, pools, and extensive rhododendron tunnels.  The trail follows the south side of the creek.  I turned around where the trail crosses the creek on two logs.  N 40 57.369 W 075 41.732
  9. To see Tank Hollow Run, return to the railroad and hike downstream along the Lehigh River.  Tank Hollow Run is at N 40 57.062 W 075 42.133.  Follow trails a short distance upstream to see massive, tilted bedrock slabs and many cascades.
  10. Retrace your steps back to the car.

The hike is about 4 miles to the vista alone, and about 7 miles if you include Stony Creek and Tank Hollow Run.

Ticklish Rock

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Ticklish Rock

 

This year, I’m making more of an effort to explore Pennsylvania’s hidden, scenic wonders. For a long time, Ticklish Rock has been on my list.  I had seen many photographs of this unique rock formation that appears to defy gravity.  The only problem was that it is on private land.  I had tried to find it a decade ago, but the land was posted along the closest road to Ticklish Rock.

Over the last year, I’ve heard rumors that the public was allowed to hike to the rock. An increasing number of recent photos on the Internet seemed to confirm that.  So I decided to give it a second try.

I drove down the conveniently named Ticklish Rock Road. There was a white house or cabin on the left, and a small parking area before it.  I looked across the road and saw a sign, stating hiking was allowed on Sundays.  Just my luck, it was Sunday.

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Sign at the beginning of the trail.  Please comply with the sign.

 

I parked and followed an old forest grade as it climbed the hill. I continued straight, avoiding intersecting trails and grades.  I reached the top of the hill and crossed a meadow.  Ahead was an open forest at the rim of the plateau with obvious cliffs.  I looked down and saw Ticklish Rock.  I scrambled down.  The rock might be 15 feet tall, and how it stands upright defies belief.  It really is fascinating.  It defies gravity, almost appearing to levitate.  A large rectangular boulder sits atop a narrow, twisting pedestal.  It looks as if it should tumble over at any moment, but it has been there for centuries.

It was called “Ticklish”, because a rock that precarious should wiggle, as if being tickled. Nearby the cliffs are eroding in a similar, twisting fashion, so there may be new ticklish rocks in a couple centuries.  There was also a rock outcrop with a facial profile.

With the leaves off the trees, I was treated to 40 mile views of distant ridges and the escarpment of the Allegheny Plateau.

I then drove down the mountain to US 220. The drive was beautiful, with rolling foothills, shaded hollows, fields filled with deer, and a forested stream studded with ledges.  I passed an old church, turned into a home, with cedar shingles.  It still had its bell.  It looked like a bucolic paradise.

More photos.

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Location of the trail.  It begins across the road from the building you see on the Google map link.

I stuggled with showing the location of Ticklish Rock. I decided to do so because it is open to the public on Sundays, and it is well known.

If you go:

  1. This is private land. Only visit the rock on a Sunday.
  2. Do not loiter or camp.
  3. Do not litter. Pick up any litter you may see.
  4. Do not climb, mark, or deface Ticklish Rock.
  5. Stay on the trail to the rock. It is about a 10-15 minute walk, one way.
  6. Be careful around the cliffs.
  7. Treat this place with respect, as you would want others to act if they were on your property.

Thanks to the Ticklish Rock Hunting Club for allowing access.