Mill Creek Falls-Loyalsock State Forest

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Mill Creek Falls, Loyalsock State Forest

Mill Creek Falls, located outside of Hillsgrove, is a well known destination in the Loyalsock State Forest. The falls is about 12 feet high and has a beautiful deep pool surrounded by ledges and cliffs. Downstream is a gorge with moss, hemlocks, slides, and pools. A longer loop version of this hike is described as hike no. 49 in Hiking the Endless Mountains.

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I parked in a pull-off on the left along Mill Creek Road, which about 1.5 miles from Hillsgrove. An unmarked but obvious trail descended to the creek and gorge; the falls soon came into view. It isn’t hard to descend to the creek and look at the falls from the bottom, the more impressive view, with the cliffs, ledges, and aquamarine pool. In 2016, an epic flash flood struck Mill Creek, causing catastrophic flooding to Hillsgrove. Even on this hike I was able to see where the flood line scoured the sides of the gorge, about 15-20 feet high. Vegetation was stripped from bedrock and large boulders were tossed with ease.

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I decided to hike up the creek to see how much of the old trail remained. I crossed the creek above the falls and followed the remnants of an old grade. I then crossed Mill Creek a second time and walked around a vast floodplain of gravel and cobblestones. On the left side of the creek was a cliff with cascading springs. I crossed the creek a third and final time and entered a grotto of green ledges with moss and lichens; many springs flowed out of the ground. I crested a ridge and then followed another old grade that was damaged by the floods, but I was still able to follow it. Large trees and root balls littered the forest floor. The creek was still scenic but I thought of my hike on this trail years ago with the thick hemlocks and peaceful stream unmarred by floods.

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I hiked past a cabin, turned right onto Big Hollow Road, and found away across Mill Creek again as the bridge was separated from the road. Mill Creek created a new channel that bypassed the bridge. I walked to Mil Creek Road and turned right and walked the road back to my car.

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While the hike up Mill Creek may no longer be as beautiful as it once was, the short hike to Mill Creek Falls is- it is a gorgeous place whether it be a hot summer day or frozen in white by winter.

More photos.

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Holtzauer and Jackson Trails-Loyalsock State Forest

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Small waterfalls off the Holtzauer Trail.

There is a proposal to create the Hoagland Loop Trail (HLT), which would connect the Loyalsock Trail to the Old Loggers Path. Over Thanksgiving of last year, I spent some time scouting some routes for the HLT by hiking the Holtzauer and Jackson Trails in the Loyalsock State Forest, west of High Knob overlook. I hiked these trails as a loop, although it was not ideal due to all the road walking.

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I began by hiking the yellow blazed Holtzauer Trail from Old Sock Road (a sign along the road has it spelled as “Holtzhauer”). This was a surprisingly nice trail and even seemed to get some use as it had a well defined path. I climbed gradually to a beautiful series of ledges, cliffs, and even a small cave. The orange and yellow hues of the rock reminded me of Utah. The trail climbed above a glen with thick laurel. I went off trail down to the stream where there was series of ten foot waterfalls.

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The trail continued its climb, coming closer to the small stream between the laurel. I then entered a valley surrounded by large boulders and ledges; it was very beautiful. A series of climbs brought me through laurel thickets and into a scenic hemlock forest next to a wetland. The Holtzauer Trail then ended at the High Knob Trail, on which I turned right.

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I always enjoy the High Knob Trail due to its mature hardwoods and isolation. It is a beautiful woodland walk. I reached the back side of a pond in a pine forest and reached a juncture with the Jackson Trail, where I turned right. The Jackson Trail is one of my favorites, I soon reached the outlet of the pond framed by pine trees. This pond is one of my favorite places in the state forest.

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The Jackson Trail went through thick laurel under pine and hemlock, over ledges, and around vernal pools and frog ponds. I followed the trail as it veered right and descended through more laurel and down to a small stream. I crossed the stream and hiked along side it with cascades, although this creek is often dry. The creek disappeared down a rugged gorge. The Jackson Trail became very steep as it dropped straight down; it is probably the steepest trail in the state forest. I looked into the gorge and thought I saw some waterfalls.

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The steep descent eased as the trail veered right and followed a grade down to a private property line, and then made a sharp left onto an old grade, which it followed to PA 87. I then walked PA 87 and Old Sock Road back to my car.

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Both trails are scenic and worth hiking. I hope to return in wet weather to explore the waterfalls in the gorge along the Jackson Trail.

More photos.

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Exploring the Mountain Between Heberly Run and Sullivan Branch-SGL 13

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View high above Sullivan Branch, SGL 13

In the late Fall I explored a plateau of SGL 13 between Sullivan Branch and Heberly Run. This plateau appeared to have cliffs, views, hemlock forests, and possibly waterfalls. It would be a tough, off trail hike, but I was up for the challenge to explore an area few have seen.

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I parked at Sullivan Falls, but I spent little time at this popular landmark. Instead, I hiked down Sullivan Branch to where a small sidestream joined from the right. I crossed the icy creek and hiked up the sidestream. I was immediately presented with ledges, cool rock formations, and cascades over mossy ledges.

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I pushed uphill along this small, unnamed stream. The terrain was very steep as I ascended the glen. Soon, a 60 foot falls came into view, still flowing despite the dry weather; I called it Cliff Spring Falls. It was a beautiful falls surrounded by cliffs with springs dripping to the left. I had to get above the falls and a tough scramble over ledges followed as I clung to the steep slopes with by arms and legs. Above the falls was another 10 foot falls. Further up, the creek flowed under the rocks. I entered an area with ledges, boulders, and some large hemlocks. I then turned north to see some cliffs and a possible vista.

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I hiked along the top of cliffs with a well-worn bear trail. Hemlocks grew overhead. I soon reached a couple of scenic views looking into Ricketts Glen and down Sullivan Branch. There was complete isolation and wilderness as tiers of bedrock surrounded me under ancient hemlocks. I retraced my steps back to the small stream.

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I then headed south along the plateau escarpment with more ledges, boulders, and old growth hemlock. I also explored a few chasms. I reached the point of the plateau, and headed north along the escarpment with more old growth hemlocks. I dropped into a drainage and followed a line of cliffs with cascading seep springs, it was impressive. Springs just poured out of the ground above the cliffs, creating a dripping sound throughout the forest. I continued along the cliffs to the west where I reached a fine view looking down Heberly Run. All I heard was a breeze through the forest.

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I retraced my steps back to the cliff springs and followed the drainage down. A creek soon appeared with some falls and cascades about 10 feet high. This unnamed creek joins Heberly Run just above Twin Falls. I didn’t go to Heberly Run, instead I followed a well established old grade on the east slope above Heberly. It was a great hike through large hardwoods. I hiked above a landslide and near some rock outcrops. I then descended to Sullivan Branch into an area with pine and barberry.

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I crossed Sullivan Branch on some fallen logs and hiked up to the road, which I followed back to my car at Sullivan Falls.

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It was great to explore this wild, untamed place. My aching legs thanked me the following day.

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Cold Run Trail-Worlds End State Park

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Boulder Arch on the Cold Run Trail, Worlds End State Park

The Cold Run Trail is a new 1.5 mile long trail in Worlds End State Park and the Loyalsock State Forest. The trail is blazed yellow and is a half loop that connects to the east end of the blue blazed Worlds End Trail. It is best to hike the Cold Run Trail clockwise.

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This is an exceptional trail that is well built, designed, and features superb scenery. It has it all- a vista, waterfalls, hemlocks, streams, gorges, cascades, cliffs, big rocks, chasms, and a boulder arch. This is a trail you need to hike. It was built and designed by Warren Renninger, a volunteer who has rebuilt and maintained many of the trails at Worlds End.

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The best way to reach the Cold Run Trail is to hike the Canyon Vista Trail clockwise from PA 154 and the campground. Hike along the beautiful Loyalsock Creek with its pools and rapids. Cross PA 154 and begin to climb along a narrow grade along a steep slope above PA 154. Continue to climb. Look for the yellow Cold Run Trail with a small sign on the left, follow it.

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The Cold Run Trail continues to climb, but gradually moderates. Level off and reach a fine view looking up the Loyalsock Creek. Descend below some ledges and drop down to Cold Run with waterfalls and cascades in view of the trail. In winter there are impressive ice flows. Continue upstream, although the trail keeps above it. Enjoy views of a 15 foot falls and enter the heart of the gorge where the two branches of Cold Run meet as cliffs and boulders loom overhead. Cross one branch of Cold Run with cascades and then descend to the other with more cascades and a large boulder. Climb again above the small stream. The trail levels off in a hemlock forest and then crosses a small stream. Hike above another falls and then descend to another stream with small cascades. Cross it and reach an old grade.

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Leave the grade to the left and ascend into a beautiful rock maze, chasms, and cliffs with the highlight being a boulder arch. Climb to the top of the cliffs and cross the level plateau. The trail then descends into large boulders, exploring more chasms until it discreetly ends at the blue Canyon Vista Trail. If hiking counterclockwise on the Canyon Vista Trail, this juncture with the Cold Run Trail is easy to miss.

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From here, you can return to the campground by turning right onto the Canyon Vista Trail. Or turn left on the same trail for a longer hike to see more chasms, boulders, and the famous Canyon Vista, its namesake.

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The Cold Run Trail is an awesome hike and an excellent addition to all the great hiking that Worlds End already has to offer.

More photos.

A map of the new Cold Run Trail is below:

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Dry Run Gorge-Loyalsock State Forest

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Dry Run Gorge. Blue dots are waterfalls and cascades.  Red dot is the picnic area.

Dry Run Gorge is in the heart of the beautiful Loyalsock State Forest and is a wonderful place to explore. The gorge features a wealth of waterfalls and cascades, a gorgeous picnic area under pines along a babbling mountain stream, and many trails.  Dry Run Road makes it easy to explore the gorge.

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Like waterfalls? Almost every stream in the gorge has them, although most are seasonal. The most popular by far is 20 foot Dry Run Falls, but also see Andrea, Grotto, Old Bark, and Dutters Run Falls.

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Want a picnic? The Dry Run picnic area features two shelters made of heavy timber and stonework from the CCC era. Recently, they have been beautifully reconstructed.  They are the perfect place to relax with friends and family.

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Want to hike? There are wealth of trails that allow you to hike around the entire gorge. You can make a great loop via the Old Bark, Loyalsock, and Dutters Run trails. Take the High Knob Trail to a mountain top pond and the famous view. Stony Run trail is more isolated with a gorge, cascades, and laurel. If adventurous, hike off trail up Dutters Run to see its gorge and assortment of waterfalls.

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The Hillsgrove ranger station is located along Dry Run Road and is an ideal place to get maps and the latest information.

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Enjoy the beauty of the Loyalsock State Forest.

More photos.

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Waterfalls of Rock Run (North of Sones Pond)-Loyalsock State Forest

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Falls and pool on an unnamed tributary of Rock Run, Loyalsock State Forest

Rock Run is a popular place with amazing natural beauty located near Ralston in the Loyalsock State Forest. But did you know the state forest has another Rock Run that is also very beautiful? This one is located north of Sones Pond and is a tributary of the Little Loyalsock Creek.

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There are no trails that explore this watershed, but Rock Run Road provides convenient access to the creeks. Hike off trail a short distance from the road down to Rock Run. This valley is filled with an assortment of waterfalls, cascades, grottos, and pools. Some of the falls are seasonal.

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There is a 20 foot falls just below Cavanough Road, which I call Cavanough Falls. It is in a hemlock shaded glen with ledges and is very scenic.

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Rock Run itself has an assortment of falls, cascades, and deep pools. None of the falls are over 10 feet tall, but it is a stream of remarkable beauty. Old grades on the east side of the stream help with access. There are about 6-7 falls or cascades of varying heights.

Falls off of Rock Run Rd.

An unnamed tributary east of Rock Run features a narrow gorge with beautiful falls and cascades, which culminates with Balcony Falls, a spout that leaps off a protruding rock ledge, which looks like a balcony. I’ve never seen a falls quite like it. It is about 15 feet tall.

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Just above Rock Run Road is a seasonal stream with a series of falls and cascades over mossy ledges. It is very beautiful when flowing.

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The Loyalsock State Forest has so much natural beauty. Next time you’re at Sones Pond, check out Rock Run.

More photos.

For the map below, the blue dots are waterfalls and cascades.  The red dots are places where there is enough space to park.

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Hike to Maple Run Falls-Ricketts Glen State Park

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Maple Run Falls, Ricketts Glen State Park

Ricketts Glen has more waterfalls than what it is on its famous Falls Trail.  There are one or two falls on Shingle Cabin Brook, and I suspect there are falls on Maple Spring Run.  However, there is also a falls hiding in plain sight, just below PA 487- Maple Run Falls.

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This is a beautiful falls and one of my favorite in the park.  About 15 feet tall, it is a falls the features a spout into a deep pool.  It reminds me of a taller Cottonwood Falls, located at Worlds End State Park. In high water, it probably creates a fan of cascading water.  Above the falls is a grotto with cascades and slides under hemlocks.  Maple Run Falls is located at about 41.311159, -76.294302.

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The easiest way to the falls is to park at  trailhead for the Grand View Trail (41.314650, -76.300104) and walk the east side berm down PA 487 until you see this falls.  While the berm is fairly wide, this way isn’t advisable.  The off trail route (the one I took) is to  park at the trailhead, cross PA 487, descend to Maple Run, and follow Maple Run downstream to the falls.  Along the way, enjoy some cascades and the grotto above Maple Run Falls.  The best views is to descend to the falls on the left (east) side of the creek.  You can also use the Old Beaver Dam Road Trail, hike the loop to the right, hike for 2/3rds of a mile, and then descend off trail to your right down the falls.  Hopefully, the park will construct a spur trail to the falls off of the Old Beaver Dam Road Trail.

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As crowds surround the park’s other waterfalls, you can have this gem all to yourself.

More photos.

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