Hike to Tamarack Falls-Loyalsock State Forest

Tamarack Falls is one of the most scenic falls in the Loyalsock State Forest.  At about 20 feet or so in height, the falls is located in a beautiful grotto of fractured rock with hemlocks.  The trail to it easy and very enjoyable, if you can find it. This is the easiest and most scenic route to the falls.  It is neither marked or signed, but does follow an obvious old forest grade to the top of the falls.  Hemlocks adorn this trail, making this hike very enjoyable.  You may notice some orange plastic flagging along the trail.   

The trail is level and then descends gradually until it nears Tamarack Run.  The trail then descends along the creek.  The grade fades out, but simply follow the creek downstream along a path to the top of the falls.  The trail then switchbacks down along some ledges to the bottom of the falls.  The gorge is rugged with lots of rocks and cascades.  Enjoy the cave-like overhang in the grotto.  There are no other sizeable falls downstream, but there are more cascades.  Return the way you came.  

This hike is short, about .6 mile, one way.  There is no established parking along the road, pull off as best you can.  The trail, or old grade, meets Loyalsock Road at about 41.472756, -76.528259. The above map is by Ben Van Riper.

Golden Eagle and Hilborn Superloop-Tiadaghton State Forest

This rugged, beautiful loop combines the classic Golden Eagle Trail and the Hilborn Trails and should be on the list of any hiker looking for a challenge.  Along it are stunning views, deep gorges, old growth trees, and cascades.  And it can only really be dayhiked, adding to the challenge.  Camping is not allowed on the game lands or the Golden Eagle Trail.  There are some state forest lands along the Dragons Back Trail that may allow camping, but there are no established sites.  Theresa joined me on this hike.

We began by hiking the orange blazed Golden Eagle Trail (GET) counterclockwise.  We trekked up to Ravenshorn, passing several trail runners.  After enjoying the views, we descended on the narrow ridge passing rock formations down to Wolf Run.  The trail along Wolf Run is a favorite, with beautiful cascades and slides in a deep gorge.  Wolf Run can be dry in the summer.  As we hiked up the run, we enjoyed some giant hemlock and pine trees.  At the top, we saw a nice view and then hiked a grassy forest road to beautiful Beulahland Vista, probably the most bucolic and serene vista you could hope to find.  We did a quick side hike to Bonnell Run Vista where we saw a group of Amish hikers.

We retraced our steps back to grassy Beulahland Road, which is not blazed.  We hiked it for over a mile until there was a road climbing to the left, we took it.  It brought us to stunning Twin Mountain Vista, a favorite of the hike.  It reminded me of being in the Catskills.  The trail now followed an unblazed ATV trail, but it was easy to follow as we hiked the ridge and made a short climb, and then a gradual descent to another great view from a meadow.  The descent steepened to a great view looking across the gorge of Hilborn Run.  From there, the trail became very steep as it threaded its way down to the rail trail.

We took a break at the rail trail where a sign pointed us towards the Hilborn Run Trail; again, not blazed but easy to follow.  At first the trail was a gradual climb as it entered the gorge.  We took a side trail to the left which brought us into the heart of the gorge, it was beautiful but not the right route.  We returned to the proper trail.  The climb began to get steeper, but never as steep as the Hilborn Bald Trail.  We enjoyed some giant hemlock trees and the climb seemed relentless.  We finally reached the top and the GET where we saw two hikers, but our route took us right onto a grassy forest road, which was unblazed.  The yellow blazed trail began where the forest road ended.

We hiked the ridge which gradually became narrower above the Pine Creek Gorge.  We then ran into Ericks and Dave, who were thruhiking the PA Wilds Trail.  They were getting close to the end of their incredible journey and were looking a little tired.  After talking, we headed down to Webber’s Vista, named after Pine Creek icon Bob Webber who built many of the trails in the area.  The view was great as it looked down on Slate Run.

Next was the descent of Quarry Mountain Trail, but first we went straight on an old road along the ridge to enjoy an incredible view looking up Slate Run.  The descent was moderate as we switchbacked down the mountain to PA 414.  We crossed the road and followed the rail trail to the left enjoying wildflowers, an old cemetery and great views of beautiful Pine Creek as people fished and kayaked.  This area is incredible.  

The rail trail brought us back to the cars, ending our exhausting but beautiful hike.
This hike is about 16 miles long and has about 7,000 vertical feet of climbing and descending.  It is one of the most challenging and beautiful dayhikes you can do in the state.  After finishing, celebrate with a meal and beverages in Slate Run or Waterville.  

Parking is at 41.438796, -77.510714. For the map above, brown trails are not blazed, but are easy to follow.

Map and guide.

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Looking up Slate Run.

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Ravens Horn, Golden Eagle Trail.

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Twin Mountain Vista.

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Lock Branch and Summerson Loop-Hammersley Wild Area

This is a great loop for hikers who like isolation, streams, gorges and forests.  While there aren’t any views or towering waterfalls, you will see beautiful forests of hemlock and pine, the stunning old growth forests of the Dutlinger Natural Area, and cascades along scenic Summerson Branch.  The loop is about 10.5 miles long.

The hike begins off of Trout Run Rd.  There is a small pull off, or you can drive down a camp road to park and begin the hike.  The trail is blazed yellow.  Cross Trout Run, there is no bridge, and follow the road to a car camping area.  Veer right and cross the creek to begin a gradual climb on the Lock Branch Trail.  The trail follows an obvious grade and makes a steady climb; as far as climbs go, this one is almost enjoyable.  The trail hugs the side of a steep, narrow gorge and passes through forests of stately hardwoods and tunnels of hemlock and pine.  It is a beautiful hike.  In winter there would be views of the gorge through the trees.  Some small side streams cascade down, but they only have water after a heavy rain.

At the top, the trail levels off in a beautiful hemlock forest with some small spring fed streams.  A slight climb brings you to another tunnel of hemlock and pine.  After that is a grove of old growth hemlock, a beautiful spot with towering trees.  Cross a pipeline swath with a trail sign and short push through some moderately thick laurel.  Reach a meadow with a small concrete obelisk for the Texaco Co.  The trail veers left and re-enters hemlock forests.  Reach a trail sign for the Beech Bottom Trail, turn right to hike this spur down into the old growth hemlock forest.

This trail is also blazed yellow and is a little hard to follow at first, but the blazes are there.  We hiked down to the trail register and returned to the loop.  Enjoy this spectacular old growth hemlock forests- a true cathedral of trees.  

Back on the loop, we continued on an old forest road with some yellow blazes.  Soon, the trail was unblazed, but still easy to follow.  There was laurel, hemlock and pine.  We reached an intersection with an old forest road with a trail sign (if hiking clockwise, this juncture can be easy to miss).  Turn right here; this was unblazed as well, but easy to follow.  This trail, the Trout Ridge Trail, was more open with meadows and hardwoods.  We dropped down into a valley and reached a trail sign for the Summerson Trail, on which we turned left.

This yellow trail was not as established as the others, but we were able to navigate it.  It descended down the valley and soon mossy cascades appeared along the clear creek.  The hike was scenic.  At times we followed an old grade with original stonework.  We really enjoyed the isolated nature of this valley.  Soon, the cascades grew larger with mossy boulders, and hemlocks became more common.  This is a beautiful valley. There are a few stream crossings, but nothing too difficult.  Some advice- before Lock Branch joins from the left, the trail ascends onto some narrow, sketchy sidehill.  It is not an ideal trail.  Just stay along the creek, it is easier and more scenic.  Return to the trail where Lock Branch joins Summerson Run.  

The trail descends along the valley and across a meadow.  Reach the car camping area and complete the loop. 

Pull off parking is roughly at 41.445994, -77.932090.

Hike to Twin Sisters Vista-Hammersley Meadows (Susquehannock State Forest)

This is an easy to moderate hike that leads to spectacular mountaintop meadows and beautiful views across the Hammersley Wild Area.  This is a truly unique place in Pennsylvania.  The hike is about 2.5 miles one way.  

From Red Ridge Road, follow the yellow blazed trail; you’ll also notice new orange blazes.  The terrain is hilly as the trail goes through hemlock groves and under forests of some huge hardwoods.  It is a beautiful forest hike.  The trail crosses the side of the valleys and gorges, allowing you to look down through the open forests with glades of ferns.  In one place, the trail follows an old grade with original stonework.  

Reach a sign indicating the meadows were created by a fire in the 1960s.  The trail crosses what I call the north meadow.  Enjoy the stunning views, with the ridges, knobs, and peaks over deep gorges and valleys.  In the valley below is the Susquehannock Trail.  The trail continues across the north meadow and then reaches the corner of the south meadow before entering the woods.  The Twin Sisters Trail continues south and eventually meets the Susquehannock Trail.

I suggest you go off trail to explore both meadows (red on the map).  I really enjoy the expansive views from the south meadow, which is an ideal place for sunsets.  In spring, you will see many painted trilliums growing in the meadow.  For the north meadow, climb to the top for 30-40 mile views.  Keep in mind that pickers grow in parts of the north meadow.  If you want more of an adventure, descend along the northern edge of the north meadow along a ridge to more meadows with views down the canyon of Hammersley Fork.

This is a place where you will want to linger and enjoy.  On our visit, some people were camping at the meadows and I was a little bit jealous.  Beautiful clouds swept across the horizon and I could see distant rainstorms drifting across the wild area.

The Hammersley Wild Area is a special place, a sanctuary in Northern Appalachia.  Explore and enjoy it.  

Parking is at 41.572678, -77.847954.  Red Ridge and Windfall Roads are in good shape.  Avoid McConnell Road as sections are in poor shape.  

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Hammersley Wild Area.

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Barclay Mountain Vista and Waterfalls-SGL 36

This hike features a vista and a glen with waterfalls.  Trails, or forest roads, lead all the way to the top of the glen, but then an off trail hike down the gorge is required to see the falls and cascades.  This hike is located on SGL 36, on a plateau generally known as Barclay Mountain.

At the game commission road, it is best to park at the lower or top areas, which are really just places to pull off.  The lower parking area can be reached by a car, and Bull Run Falls is nearby.  The top parking area is at the gate and the road to it was in good shape, although a little steep in places.  A vehicle with some ground clearance is a good idea.   Just hike up the gated road to the top of the plateau.  Turn right at the first, second, and third intersections.  At the fourth, turn left and hike to a small meadow area.  Here, the forest road ends, but continue straight onto an ATV trail as it descends and then turns left.  You will soon reach a beautiful vista looking over the plateau escarpment, farms, hills, Mt. Pisgah and Armenia Mountain.  You can see for over thirty miles.

Continue on the ATV trail as it descends and crosses an unnamed creek.  Here, leave the trail and descend along the creek.  It is very steep in places.  Enjoy an assortment of waterfalls, cascades and bedrock glens.  Some of the falls are twenty five feet tall.  In Spring, expect to see many trilliums blooming.  It is best to hike out on the west side of the creek.  Retrace your steps back to your car.

For the map above, black is the game commission road, orange are the forest roads, yellow is the ATV trail and red is off trail. No trails are marked or blazed.

A nearby hike is the Lamoka Mountain Vista that you may want to include.  

This hike is about 3.75 miles one way from the lower (first) parking area.  Parking is at 41.678628, -76.542309 for the lower/first lot, or at 41.680715, -76.555526 for the top lot near the gate. The top of the waterfall gorge is at about 41.685427, -76.575632.

The waterfall gorge is a small creek and is likely dry in summer. As an approximate correlation, the USGS gauge on Towanda Creek should be at least 750 cfs for decent flow.

Hike to Meyers Mountain Vista-SGL 307

This hike leads to a beautiful view on Meyers Mountain in SGL 307.  This view is from a cliff, and you can see for fifty miles.  It is ideal for sunsets.  Most of this hike follows a trail of some kind, but the last short section is off trail.  However, navigating the off trail section is easy since all you need to do is follow the private property line while staying on the gamelands.

From the parking area, simply hike up the game commission road up along the powerline and past the second gate.  Continue on the road as it enters the woods and begins to level off with a gradual incline.  Here, the woods are scenic.  The old road descends slightly and enters a large meadow, take the ATV trail to the left and climb steeply.  The trail bends left with a final short climb and reach a four way intersection, so straight.  The trail follows along the private property line, but then goes into private property.  Here, go off trail and follow the private property line, staying on the game lands.  Do not trespass. There are some ledges you will need to hike around, but the woods are fairly open and hiking is easy.  

You will soon reach the cliff and its fine views; the views are nearly 180 degrees and you can see the highlands of SGL 57 and 36, about fifty miles away.  You can also see into the Lackawanna Valley. After enjoying the views, retrace your steps.

Parking is at 41.525293, -75.567438.  The hike is about 2.5 miles, one way. For the map, black is the route with a road or trail of some kind, red is off trail, yellow are other trails.

Quehanna Cliffs and Boulder City-Quehanna Wild Area

As many of you know, I love the Quehanna Wild Area.  One place I had always wanted to explore were the cliffs and boulder city above Red Run.  A few months ago, Michael joined me to check it out.  

The best access is the pull off parking along Red Run Road, where the Quehanna Trail joins it.  Hike up, or east, on the trail along scenic Red Run and Sanders Draft.  There are beautiful cascades, pools, rhododendron, and hemlock.

It is an off trail hike up to see the rocks.  Some flagging marked where we left the Quehanna Trail.  The climb was steep, but the giant rocks we saw along the way provided some respite to our screaming thighs.  As we reached the top, we saw an impressive collection of giant sandstone boulders looming in the forest, often draped with moss and lichens, or surrounded by rhododendrons.  Up ahead was a prominent cliff, 50-60 feet tall.  Giant boulders were below the cliff.  There were some overhangs, and anchors for rock climbing.  
We scrambled to the top of the cliffs where there were some views, but the most interesting feature were some caves, chasms, and mazes near the north end of the cliffs.  It was a fascinating place to explore.

From there, we made our way down the steep slopes back to the Quehanna Trail.  There is a lot of great hiking nearby, including the beautiful Red Run Gorge Vista.

For the map above, the Quehanna Trail is blazed orange and red is the off trail route.

Pull off parking is at about  41.279226, -78.245685.  The cliffs are at 41.279734, -78.237746.

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Quehanna Trail over Red Run.

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Hike the Eagles Mere Conservancy Trails

This hike explores trails on land owned by the Eagles Mere Conservancy.  This hike is easy to moderate in difficulty and the trails are generally well marked and easy to follow, although there are some turns you’ll need to pay attention to.  Highlights are a historic rail grade, rock outcrops and mazes, and beautiful hemlock forests with some old growth trees.  

From the parking area, follow the rail grade, the former Eagles Mere Railroad.  This railroad was built in 1892 for tourists and went to Sonestown, where it connected with a railroad to Williamsport.  It was abandoned in 1928.  The Susquehanna and Eagles Mere Railroad went west from Eagles Mere, down Kettle Creek, to Hillsgrove and over to Masten.  It was built for logging and was used from 1902 to 1930.

Upon entering the state forest, blue blazes appear.  Sections of the grade are muddy and wet, and the forest is largely open hardwoods.  Reach an intersection and turn right.  Reach a wetland and a sewage treatment facility.  A red trail goes right, but continue left on the grade.  Reenter conservancy lands where the scenery improves with hemlocks.  Turn left onto a yellow blazed trail and reach the end of a residential street.  Turn left onto a red trail and climb under giant hemlocks to Rock Labyrinth, a highlight of the hike.  Enjoy the chasms, mazes, and passageways in the gigantic rocks.

The trail proceeds through hardwoods and then reaches another grove of hemlocks at Fern Rocks, a more modest outcrop.  Enjoy more hemlocks as the trail crosses over a wetland and stream with some boardwalks.  Cross a road; the next section is a network of red trails, so you’ll need to keep an eye out for trail intersections.  Turn right at the first and reach Big Spring, a covered spring with stonework, it is the source of Rusty Run.  Turn right at the next intersection, and left at the third (if you reach the road, you went too far).  

Enjoy the beautiful hemlock forests with some large trees.  Climb up to some rock outcrops called Eagle Rocks, a very scenic spot.  At the top of the rocks, turn right onto the green trail and descend.  Pass some more rocks and enter a hardwood forest with some more outcrops to the right.  Climb a hill and turn left on the light green trail, and descend to a meadow.  Return to the rail trail and turn right back to the car.

Parking is at 41.410086, -76.574828. The hike is about five miles long.

Hike to Rusty Falls-Loyalsock State Forest and Eagles Mere Conservancy

I’ve hiked to Rusty Falls in the Loyalsock State Forest a few times, always along the red blazed bridle trails from Shanerburg Road (see Hike No. 40 in Hiking the Endless Mountains).  On this hike we did something different, we hiked to it from the Eagles Mere Conservancy via the Falls Path.  This was an enjoyable hike.  This route also makes the falls accessible in winter when Shanerburg Road may be impassable. 

We parked near the Outlet Pond and followed the old rail bed past the Conservancy Cabin.  We then turned right onto the Rainbow Path, blazed with rainbow placards.  The trail took us across a gravel road and into some hemlocks.  Next was a left turn onto the Falls Path, blazed blue.  This trail crossed small streams under a hardwood forest.  We crossed the Rainbow Path and soon entered a beautiful hemlock forest with some large trees, a highlight of the hike.  We reached a private property line where the trail turned right, under more scenic hemlocks.

We then entered the state forest with hardwoods.  The path reached a forest road, and turned right onto it, descending to the red blazed bridle trail.   We turned left, or straight, onto the red trail/forest road which took us down to Rusty Run.  Cross Rusty Run as best you can, there is no bridge and its not a very big creek.  The forest road turned left and then right.  At the right turn we followed an unblazed trail to the left, which was obscured by a fallen tree.  The trail took us to Rusty Falls.

The falls are not very big, the bottom drop is 10-12 feet tall, and there is also a 4 foot drop upstream.  But it is a very scenic and serene setting.  If you’re feeling adventurous, go off trail and head upstream.  Enter a narrow hemlock gorge with cascades and pools.  You will soon see Upper Rusty Falls, an 8 or 9 foot falls with a deep pool and a grotto with hemlocks.  I think it is the most scenic of the falls.  

Return the way you came.  Overall, this hike is fairly easy with some hills and gradual declines and climbs.  There are wet spots.  It is about 2.5 miles, one way.

Parking is at 41.410100, -76.574777.

Information about the Eagles Mere Conservancy.

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Upper Rusty Falls.

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Coyote Rocks and Bowmans Creek Loop-SGL 57 and Ricketts Glen State Park

This is an excellent dayhike in SGL 57 and Ricketts Glen State Park.  The trails are unblazed, but are pretty easy to follow.  Cairns mark some intersections.  You will see tumbling mountain streams, giant rocks, hemlock forests, a great view, peaceful woodlands, fern meadows, and a superb streamside hike along Bowmans Creek.  You will also see some ruins from the ice industry era.  The terrain is moderate with gradual inclines and declines.  There are some stream crossings without bridges and it will be difficult to navigate this hike in snow or heavy leaf cover.  This loop is part of an extensive system of unofficial trails in the isolated Bowmans Creek valley.

Start at the parking area along Wolf Run.  The road here is in decent shape and can be driven by a car, but a vehicle with some clearance is a good idea.  Avoid if there is snow or muddy conditions.  Look across the road from the parking area, notice a trail going into the woods.  Follow it.  The trail crosses Wolf Run and then proceeds upstream along Bowmans Creek.  The scenery is excellent along this pristine creek with laurel, rhododendron, pine and hemlocks.  The creek babbles over rocks and into pools.  This is an excellent streamside hike.  Keep in mind the trail is close to the creek in places, so do not hike it in high water.

Reach a large mound, an old railroad grade, and continue upstream in a hemlock forest.  Look for some metal beams crossing the creek; here, the trail turns right away from the creek and goes along a meadow with some stone ruins and foundations.  Reach a T intersection with an old grade, turn left, and then right onto another old grade and go up hill.  Reach a second parking area.  Turn right onto the road and walk to Bean Run.  The trail begins on the left before Bean Run, but notice a massive stone retaining wall for the railroad grade along Bean Run.  

The trail follows an old grade up Bean Run and it keeps its distance from the creek.   The trail turns right, it is easy to miss as a trail also continues straight.  If you cross a creek, you went too far.  Descend to Bean Run and cross it as best you can.  The trail continues up the grade with giant boulders along the trail.  Spruce trees also become more common, making for a scenic hike.  Climb away from the creek to the plateau with open hardwoods and ground pine.  A red blazed side trail joins from the left.  Descend along beautiful fern meadows.  Reach the top of Wolf Run and look for a trail to the left, the side hike to Coyote Rocks.  

Cross Wolf Run and cross the plateau with open woodlands and more ground pine.  Curve south and into a small valley.  Reach the edge of the plateau and Coyote Rocks.  Enjoy the expansive views over the Bowmans Creek valley.  This is a great view for sunsets.  Return to Wolf Run.  Descend along Wolf Run on an old grade for more pleasant hiking.  At the bottom, reach a meadow with some briars.  Reach the road, turn left to the parking area and your car.  

This hike is about 6-7 miles long.  Parking area from where description begins: 41.353013, -76.194238. Second parking area: 41.348599, -76.209527.

For the map above, yellow is this route. Orange are other trails or grades. All trails are unblazed but are pretty easy to follow. Watch for intersections; cairns mark some of them.

Another hike to Coyote Rocks.

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Coyote Rocks, SGL 57.

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Coyote Rocks panorama. SGL 57.

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Hiking along Bowmans Creek.

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