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.

Vistas of the McIntyre Wild Area-Loyalsock State Forest

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Off trail vista at the southern point of the plateau, McIntyre Wild Area

 

The McIntyre Wild Area, located near Ralston, is famous for its scenic beauty. Here you will find several streams with cascading waterfalls, rugged gorges, big rocks, ponds, and vistas.  The wild area is also home to historical remnants from the mining era, including the site of a town with the same name.  The town is long gone, but the cemetery remains.

I returned to the wild area with a different plan- to explore the south rim to check out some off-trail vistas. After visiting a pond teeming with tadpoles and salamanders in a grove of spruce, I parked at Band Rock Vista and took in the view.  I then bushwhacked south through a beech and hardwood forest.  The sun was bright and warm.  As I continued, hemlocks and pine became more numerous, with some large trees.  There were also many large, rotting stumps from the prior trees that were logged.  Those trees must have been huge.  As I neared the rim, the mountain laurel prevailed with thick jungles.  I had to fight through it, but it wasn’t bad.  I did get some scrapes and cuts.  I reached the rim and was treated to several rock outcrops with views over Ralston, Lycoming Creek Valley, and Rock Run Gorge.  It was quite beautiful in the hot sun.

There was a lower view that I wanted to check out. I followed a bear trail down through the ledges and over boulders.  The terrain was very rugged.  I reached this lower vista from a cliff, but the view was really no better than the higher vista.  I could see Rock Run far below, as the roar of its rapids filled the gorge.  I climbed back up through the heat, a little concerned the rattlesnakes might be awakening.

I returned to the top and followed an obvious trail along the spectacular cliff rim with numerous views of the gorge and valley. The final views felt the most wild, with the roar of Rock Run below.  I headed northeast, into the vallley of a small, pristine stream where I washed off.  Next was a beautiful, serene hemlock and pine forest.  I headed east to a small pond hidden in the forest.  It was deeper than the other I had seen.  I swung west and returned to the hemlock and pine forest with carpets of ground pine.  If the hemlocks can stay healthy, this will be a stunning old growth forest decades from now.

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Beautiful pine and hemlock forests.

 

I returned to my car by following an old grade. I then set off across the Loyalsock State Forest in search of Ticklish Rock…

More photos.

Map of the area.

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This is an off-trail hike and you should be an experienced hiker to attempt it, although the terrain is fairly easy.

  1.  I began at Band Rock Vista, where there is a parking area.  N 41 31.235  W 076 56.567
  2. Proceed south to the cliff rim and views.  Continue east along the rim for more views.  N 41 30.506  W 076 56.627
  3. If you want to see the lower view, a steep scramble is required.  N 41 30.428  W 076 56.593
  4. The small woodland pond is at N 41 30.928  W 076 56.100.

Vistas, Rock Mazes, and Waterfalls of Deep Hollow-SGL 36

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View over Deep Hollow.

 

I first met Geren several years ago. He was looking to paddle the South Branch Tunkhannock Creek and I was available at the last minute.  The creek was swollen, its powerful current boiling and twisting around rocks.  I had been whitewater kayaking for only a couple years.  I paddled out onto the water and the current swept me downstream with ease.  We rounded a bend to see the water constrict and then disappear over a ledge with a geyser of mist shooting up.  I was nervous and Geren was ahead.  Geren vanished over the edge but soon reemerged, fearless and relaxed in the chaos.  I followed into the torrent of whitewater and flipped.  I quickly rolled up, surrounded by the crash and froth of water.  The gorge of Little Rocky Glen surrounded us with its spring slicked cliffs as another rapids roared its presence downstream.  The creek would have its way with me that day, with two swims and a scratched helmet.  Geren would go on to paddle thirty foot waterfalls and Class V rapids.  I settled for Class V hiking.

We met back up to do some exploration of the Millstone Creek area in SGL 36, specifically Deep Hollow. While lower elevations had no snow, as we drove into the mountains, a few inches of snow covered everything.  It was beautiful, but also odd that we had to wait until mid-April to hike in the snow.  Our goal was a rock outcrop that looked promising from satellite images.  We drove up Deep Hollow Road to the game lands boundary and parked at the sign.  Across the road were some boulders that blocked an obvious grade and trail.  To our right was a small, unnamed creek.  The unmarked but obvious trail meandered up the slope.  I looked to my right, towards the unnamed creek, and noticed what appeared to be a cliff on the side of the glen.  I mentioned to Geren I’d like to explore the creek on our way down.

We had no idea what would be waiting for us.

The trail was eroded and wet in places as it tunneled through impressive jungles and tunnels of mountain laurel. This would be the hike too do when the laurel blooms in June.  The trail leveled and became wet in places from small springs.  To our right was the deep glen of the unnamed creek.  The shadows of trees stretched across the snow.  We looked to our left to keep an eye out for any rock outcrops, the goal of our hike.  We saw some outcrops and left the trail to begin a bushwhack through the laurel and to the rocks.  This bushwhack would prove to be completely unnecessary.  We scrambled up to some colorful, slanting boulders and a deep cave.  Above was a nice view across the valley, but nothing spectacular.  I was resigned to thinking that this was all the hike had to offer.

We explored some more ledges as we fought through the laurel. Then, suddenly, the trail appeared.  We took it to the left, hoping it would go somewhere.  And it did.  It explored the top of the plateau with meadows of lowbush blueberries and twisted oak trees.  The trail ended at two cairns and some, what appeared, to be scattered rocks on an exposed ledge (they wouldn’t be so scattered when I returned).  A trail to the left soon brought us to an impressive exposed ledge with great views to the south.  Deep crevasses surrounded us as a large round boulder was perched on the edge.  It was a beautiful spot.  While the view was not as broad and expansive as the one on Kellogg Mountain, it was still great, looking down into the deep hollows and tiers of ridges.  The large ledge sloped down to our right, bordered by more deep crevasses.

I walked back out to the cairns and saw the scattered rocks out of the corner of my eye. I then noticed a letter.  The rocks weren’t scattered, but formed words to say, “Love You”.  Mother Nature is so nice.

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Geren exploring the maze.

 

Geren was ahead of me, following herd paths to the west. He yelled for me, saying I needed to see something.  Below us was a rock maze, where the bedrock had separated into square boulders with deep crevasses and passageways.  We had to be careful where to step with the snow.  We were able to scramble down into one crevasse, where there was dripping water, moss, and lichens.  The mazes continued along the west rim of the outcrop, but dimished as we explored the north rim.  There were lots of animals tracks, including coyote and bear.

It was time to hike back out. We found the trail and decided to follow it.  It was a great walk.  The trail led all the way back to where we had left it.  An obvious trail leads all the way to the vista, making this hike easy and accessible.

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Deep Hollow Falls

 

As we neared the bottom, we left the trail to explore the creek. As we battled through some laurel, we reached the edge of a cliff and I could hear the sound of falling water.  I got excited.  I looked to see the top of a falls.  I couldn’t believe it.  This was a substantial waterfall in an impressive grotto.  Upstream were two or three more 10 foot falls.  Since we were at the top of the high falls, we had to get to the bottom.  We hiked through the laurel along the edge of the grotto to the bottom.  I was surprised to find a fieldstone grade for an old footpath; maybe at one time these falls were well known.  The setting was breathtaking with the falls and grotto.  All of this was completely unexpected.  I couldn’t believe it.  Never before have I stumbled upon such a substantial waterfall, without a hint or idea that it was there.  I find it hard to believe it is not well-known.  I named it Deep Hollow Falls for the nearby road, and the setting.  Below was another ten foot falls and a cascading slide.  We soon reached the road, bringing an end to our hike.  These falls are no more than .25 to .3 mile from the road.

Another Pennsylvania gem hiding in plain sight, waiting for you to experience it.

More photos and videos.

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Hiking to the vista and rock maze is easy!

  1. Park at the SGL 36 boundary and sign on Deep Hollow Road.  N 41 38.813′ W 076 31.198′
  2. Cross the road and follow the trail/grade blocked by boulders.  The trail is unmarked, but is obvious and well-established.  An unnamed creek is to the right.
  3. The trail climbs up the mountain.  It is eroded and wet in places.  The trail tunnels through extensive mountain laurel jungles and tunnels.
  4. The trail levels above the steep glen of the unnamed glen.  Encounter more wet areas.
  5. The trail bends left and begins a gradual climb.
  6. Reach a “T” intersection, turn left.  N 41 39.117′ W 076 30.340′
  7. The trail remains obvious as it crosses the plateau with laurel, lowbush blueberry meadows, and oak trees.  Reach two cairns, follow the trail a short distance to the left to the vista.  N 41 39.053′ W 076 30.536′
  8. To see the rock mazes, head west from the vista for about 700 feet, following herd paths.  N 41 39.067′ W 076 30.638′
  9. Retrace your steps back to the car.
  10. Watch for snakes in hot weather.
  11. Be careful at the mazes, there are deep crevasses.
  12. Do not explore the top of the mazes if there is heavy snow.
  13. Late June is an ideal time to hike this trail to see the mountain laurel blooms.
  14. The vista and rock mazes are located here.

Want to see the waterfalls?  It’s easy.

  1. Park at the same place as the hike to the vista and maze.
  2. Don’t follow the trail, follow the creek.
  3. Encounter a 5 foot slide, 10 foot falls, and then a stunning grotto of 50 foot Deep Hollow Falls.  N 41 38.832′  W 076 31.043′
  4. It is difficult to climb above Deep Hollow Falls.  We went on the left side of the creek, battling laurel.  Be careful, there are cliffs surrounding the falls.
  5. There are two or three more 10 foot falls above Deep Hollow Falls.
  6. The falls are less than a quarter mile from the road.

Enjoy and share this beautiful place.  As always, treat it with respect.

Tuscarora State Park

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Hiking along Locust Creek

 

We recently drove down to Tuscarora State Park near Tamaqua to do a hike. This park features a scenic lake surrounded by ridges and several miles of trails.  Our hike was on the Spirit of Tuscarora Trail, also called the Spirit Trail, widely regarded as the most scenic trail in the park.  The trail is blazed yellow, white, and red and is basically two loops and connector trails that follow Locust Creek.  We parked at the end of the parking area and soon found the trail.  It explored a beautiful forest of hemlock, pine, and rhododendron above the lake.  The trail dropped down to the water, providing views of the forested mountains on the far shore.  After a short climb, the forest became more scenic with jungles of rhododendron.  A left turn brought us to Locust Creek as the trail stayed fairly close to the babbling water through more rhododendron and hemlocks.

The scenery improved with more streamside hiking and even some rhododendron tunnels. This is the hike to do in early July when the rhodos bloom.  Locust Creek was clear as it peacefully flowed over cobblestone and into deeper pools.

The red trail brought us to a meadow and began to loop around onto an old grade. We dropped down under pine and hemlock to another side stream with more great scenery and a massive, fallen pine tree.  We reached the white trail again and turned left.  After an initial tunnel of rhodos, the forest became more open and then we returned on the yellow trail.

We hiked along the lake and saw two bald eagles flying in the strong wind. They seemed to be having fun swirling on the currents in the air.  We hiked along the lake, enjoying views as the sunlight shimmered across the water.  After checking out the yurts and small cabins, we returned to the car.

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Tuscarora Lake

 

Tuscarora State Park is a very nice place to spend a day, or weekend. The lake is beautiful and has a small beach.  The forested trails offer great scenery, with plenty of green even in winter thanks to all the pine, hemlock, and rhododendron.  There are also trails across meadows that feature wildflowers.  You may even catch a glimpse of some bald eagles.

More photos.

Park information.

The View from Kellogg Mountain-SGL 36

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Panorama from Kellogg Mountain

Kellogg Mountain is in SGL 36 and rises between Millstone, Schrader, and South Branch Towanda Creeks. I’ve known of the possibility of some views on the mountain, so I recently climbed it to check them out.  I drove down Weston Road and turned right on a gravel road that went by a gas pad.  I continued up the road to a gate and small parking area on the left, next to a spruce plantation.

Since the road was gated, I simply hiked up it. The climb was steady and there were some switchbacks, but I made it to the top in good time.  The trees were a little more stunted at the summit with a variety of pine trees and blueberry meadows.  A number of radio and communication towers were also at the summit.  The road took me to an old, dilapidated cabin next to the site of a fire tower, now torn down.  The small cabin was interesting and even had a keystone embedded in its chimney.  Here, the road ended at a small parking area.  When the gate is open, it is possible to drive to the top, all the way to the old cabin, and greatly reduce the length of this hike.

The rest of the hike followed an old grassy forest road south. It was an enjoyable hike.  I crossed a very small stream and negotiated some wet areas.  The mountain was isolated with only the wind to accompany me.  I disturbed some grouse as turkey vultures flew overhead.  I reached a meadow and saw an obvious trail to the left that went through a laurel thicket.  I followed this trail until it degraded into a maze of smaller, game trails that soon brought me to an impressive series of cliffs.  I had reached the view.

It was a stunning view from the large white balconies of the cliffs, looking down a nearby glen where I could hear a tumbling stream. There was the steep walled valley of the South Branch Towanda Creek and tiers of ridges that stretched down into the valley.  I could see the profile of the mountains to the east with their rolling plateaus and peaks.  Between the mountains there were views to the east and north where I could see farmlands, and even the windmills near Mehoopany.  The views stretched for 20-30 miles and I wouldn’t be surprised if I could see into New York.  The scope and range of this view was superb, offering a variety of scenery.  Facing east, the view would be ideal for the sunrise, or even the sunset as the valleys below filled with shadows.  These views were truly impressive and I’m surprised they are not well known.

The white cliffs were also striking, providing three vistas from massive balconies of overhanging rock. These balconies made it ideal to rest and enjoy the sun and views.  Each view was similar, but offered a slightly different perspective.  Narrow trails follows the cliff rim.  Be careful as these are big cliffs and a fall will be deadly.  Turkey vultures sailed overhead, looking down on me and wondering why there was someone where they like to land.

I retraced my steps, vowing to return in the Autumn, or anytime.  After, I stopped by the impressive Lamoka Rapids on Schrader Creek, watching the clear, powerful current pulsate through the smooth, polished bedrock before it cascaded into a deep, aquamarine pool.

Kellogg Mountain is another of Pennsylvania’s hidden gems that you need to see.

More photos.

Location of the views on Google maps.

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This hike is easy!

  1. Follow Weston Road from the village of Powell.  After about 1.5 miles turn left onto a gravel road.  If you cross Millstone Creek, you went too far.
  2. The road gets a little steep, but is well maintained.  Reach SGL 36 and a small parking area on the left at a spruce plantation.  The road is gated and you must walk the road to do this hike.  Parking area is at N 41 40.978′ W 076 29.929′.
  3. If the gate is open (usually during hunting season), you can drive to the top of the mountain.  The road does get somewhat steep and is narrow in places, but is well-maintained.  The road switchbacks up the mountain.  It reaches a small parking area and the drivable road ends before a wooden gate.  This is at the old cabin.
  4. Follow the grassy forest road south.  Be prepared for sun exposure.
  5. Cross a very small stream, and then negotiate some wet areas.
  6. Reach a meadow and look for an obvious ATV trail on the left, through some laurel bushes.  N 41 39.836′ W 076 28.600′.
  7. Follow this trail as you near the cliffs.  The ATV trail ends, follow smaller, meandering game trails a short distance to the cliffs.
  8. There are three vistas and you can walk to each along the cliff rim, but be careful. N 41 39.790′ W 076 28.481′.
  9. There appears to be some bear activity along the cliffs.
  10. Kellogg Mountain has a reputation for snakes, watch out for them on hot, sunny days.
  11. From the bottom this hike is about 4-5 miles one way.  From the top it is about 1.5 miles one way.

Get out there!