First Day Hike- Ricketts Glen State Park

Little Cherry Run Trail

Last year we began a tradition of having a First Day Hike, a concept that has spread across the nation over the last few years.  This year, we decided to keep the tradition alive.  Despite the frigid 9 degree temperatures, the bright sun provided some motivation to hike as five brave souls met me at the parking area in Ricketts Glen State Park.  While surrounding areas were free of snow, over six inches covered the trails in the park, giving the impression that this was in fact winter.

This hike was about 5 or 6 miles long and we began by hiking down to the breached Glen Leigh dam, an old, crumbling concrete structure that is odd for a dam since it is essentially hollow.  We passed above some frozen waterfalls and hiked along the headwaters of Bowmans Creek under deep green boughs of hemlocks.  Maples and birch trees with rolls of peeling bark rose through the forest.  The temperatures warmed a little since we were out of the wind.  The trail was beautiful as it explored peaceful forests and countless animal tracks across the snow.

Little Cherry Run Trail

We turned left onto the new Little Cherry Run Trail, the most scenic section of the hike.  Everyone loved this trail as it climbed up a gorge with a tumbling stream that had several small waterfalls and cascades.  Large rocks and boulders loomed overhead.  The gorge was draped in snow and ice flows.  Two bridges offered easy passage over the frozen stream as the sound of the falling water filled the gorge.  The water was reddish from the swamps upstream.  For those that tire of the crowded Falls Trail, be sure to hike the Little Cherry Run Trail.

Group on the Little Cherry Run Trail

The trail leveled off through a beautiful, deep, green hemlock forest as we crossed small meandering streams.  The frigid sunlight cast shadows across the snow.  We turned left onto the Cherry Run Trail and returned to the dam to complete the loop.  We retraced our steps back to the cars.  Join us for next year’s First Day Hike!

More photos.

The loop we hiked.



First Day Hike to Umbrella Rock and Devil’s Den-SGL 44


Umbrella Rock

While staying at Parker Dam State Park, I wanted to hike and find Umbrella Rock in nearby SGL 44, just south of Ridgway.  I had seen photos of the rock a few years ago and made it a goal to find it this year.


We were treated to an incredibly sunny, and pretty warm, day.  There was still snow on the ground.  We parked off of US 219 and followed a forest road along the ridge, along a logged area, and then it veered left and descended to North Branch Island Run.  Some of the trees were blazed with fluorescent colored arrows, but they were sporadic.  The trail crossed the run and climbed out of the valley back to the plateau where it leveled off.  We then reached a four way intersection with another grade (we will be returning to this intersection from the right on the hike back) and continued straight.  The trail climbed gradually through an open hardwood forest when we reached a trail to the right with a plastic post that had a drawing for an umbrella, so we turned right.  The trail soon brought us to an incredible rock outcrop rising through the forest.  Perched on the edge was Umbrella Rock.  The rock was impressive, a massive boulder perched on a pedestal. It nearly connected with a larger outcrop.  We took a few photos and looked around at this rock wonderland.  The tan, orange, yellow, and rust colored rocks contrasted with the snow.  Others had been here, with their tracks abandoned in the snow.

We decided to explore the escarpment to the west.  I’m glad we did.  Massive house sized boulders populated the forest with passageways and crevices.  Soon, we discovered a large cave created by the separation of boulders that I hiked through; a geocache was in the cave.  It was as impressive as Umbrella Rock.  Nearby was another cave and large cliff that was entrapped by the squid-like branches of a tree.  Massive rocks were everywhere.  I hiked to another outcrop that had a formation similar to Umbrella Rock, I called it little umbrella rock.  These rocks were incredible.

Massive rocks

We returned to Umbrella Rock and I decided to find another rock formation, called Devil’s Den.  We followed the tracks we previously found as it followed an obvious trail through scenic woodlands and laurel thickets.  Devil’s Den is northwest of Umbrella Rock.  We reached an obvious woods road and turn right, going uphill.  We then took the second wood road on the left, near a gas well clearing.  This soon brought us to the Devil’s Den formation where we saw two other hikers and their dog.  Massive boulders were separated be narrow passages and crevices, with a carpet of moss.  The reddish rock made me think of a mini-Utah.   An obvious trail led to the nearby Devil’s Den where there were deep chasms hidden in snow and shade, surrounded by leaning, massive boulders.  We took the obvious trail to the top as it tunneled through laurel to open areas.  The trail veered left to a series of vistas from the crest of the rock.  It was beautiful.  The view was untouched.


The sun was beginning to set and we still had a few miles to go.  I hoped to explore more of the impressive Devil’s Den, but time wasn’t on our side.  We retraced our steps to the obvious woods road and turned left on it, which brought us back to the four-way intersection we previously passed.  We then retraced our steps back to the car as the sun sank below the distant ridges, casting the deep valleys in twilight.

After a great year of hiking to new places in 2016, I couldn’t think of a better way to begin 2017.  If you like big rocks and formations, put this hike at the top of your list.  This area of PA is truly beautiful and nearby Ridgway is a gorgeous town.

Exploring the mazes

More photos.

This area is also the setting of the Elk County Boulder Dash, and there is a map on their website showing the locations of both Umbrella Rock and Devil’s Den.  While the trails are obvious, they did not appear to be marked or signed.

Top of Devil's Den


The hike to these features are pretty easy.  Umbrella Rock is shown on Google Maps.  I’m showing how to get to Umbrella Rock because it is already very well known and is a popular hiking destination, as is Devil’s Den.  I will not show the location of the cave or “little umbrella rock”.

It appears most people hike up from the west, from PA 949 or Arkansas Lane.  This may be easier, but we did not hike in that way.

  1. Park off of US 219 at a very small lot for 2-3 cars.  Google maps show this to be Sylvan Heights Rd.  A larger game commission lot is about 200 yard further south on US 219. N 41 23.879  W 78 41.904
  2. Follow the obvious, gated forest road as it descends.
  3. Pass a logged area with deer fence.  Avoid trail to the right.
  4. Reach the ridge and avoid a trail to the right.  Some fluorescent arrows guide the way.
  5. Veer left and descend.  N 41 23.704 W 78 42.726
  6. Reach bottom of the valley and cross North Branch Island Run.
  7. Climb to the top of the plateau.  Fluorescent arrows disappear.
  8. Reach top of plateau and pass a four way intersection, continue straight.
  9. Obvious trail begins slight increase.
  10. Reach a trail to the right with a small plastic post with a hand drawn picture of an umbrella.  Turn right.  N 41 22.998 W 78 42.864
  11. This trail takes you to the base of the formation and Umbrella Rock, another trail joins from left.
  12. Hike around the outcrop and climb to see Umbrella Rock. N 41 22.975 W 78 43.038
  13. To hike to Devil’s Den, follow the trail that was on your left in No. 11 above.
  14. This trail follows rolling terrain through a hardwood forest and some laurel.
  15. Reach an obvious forest road, turn right, climb uphill.
  16. Turn left onto trail near gas well clearing. N 41 23.115 W 78 43.588
  17. Hike to a formation with deep passageways.  Trail goes around this formation. N 41 23.340 W 78 43.672
  18. Trail reaches Devil’s Den.  Obvious trail goes to the top with good views to the south and west.  N 41 23.402  W 78 43.820
  19. Retraces steps to obvious woods road, turn left.
  20. Reach the four-way intersection.  N 41 23.179  W 78 42.954
  21. Turn left and retrace steps back to the car.

New Years at Parker Dam State Park


On the Souders Trail, Parker Dam State Park

We wanted to do something different this New Years, something other than watching the ball drop at Times Square, fireworks, and staring at television screens.  So, we got a cabin at Parker Dam State Park in the PA Wilds for some peace and quiet.  I’ve been to this park a few times and have always enjoyed it.

The cabin was made of logs and was somewhat rustic with beds, fireplace, stove, and fridge.  A bathhouse was nearby with water and a shower.  And cell phone service was limited.  Our first hike was in the park itself, on the Beaver Dam and Souders Trails.  We were treated to an incredible winter wonderland.  Snow had recently fallen, coating the hemlocks and pines with gowns of white, bending the branches down.  We hiked along wetlands and beaver dams, as ice encased the water below.  The Beaver Dam Trail began right at the cabin area and first explored a hardwood forest with some very large trees.  We then descended to the beaver meadows, crossing them on a bridge.  The trail then entered the pine and hemlock forests, the most beautiful part of the hike.  The deep forests encompassed the level trail, it was a joy to hike.

The skies were overcast, but the temperatures were fairly warm.  We reached the park road and walked to the park office and turned right onto the Souders Trail, a short loop with more winter wonderland scenery, and views of scenic Laurel Run, as it flowed through forests encased in snow.  We passed a mountain biker, riding the trails on a bike with really fat tires.  Next was a hike along the lake, dam, and the boardwalks before returning to our cabin.

Laurel Run

Parker Dam has miles of easy trails that explore streams, wetlands, and different forest types.  The park has a long logging history and was once a CCC camp, which built its impressive stone dam.  The park is also the western trailhead of the Quehanna Trail, a 72 mile loop.  It feels isolated, despite its proximity to I-80.  I think the Beaver Dam and Souders Trails are the most scenic in the park, but also consider some longer loops in the nearby Moshannon State Forest.   The Trail of the New Giants is a nice loop that climbs a hill with a view of the park. There are both mountain biking and cross country ski trails. You can also do a variety of loops along the Quehanna Trail.

The next day we traveled to SGL 44 south of Ridgway to find Umbrella Rock and explore the fascinating rock outcrops.  That trip will be described in the next post.

Parker Dam Lake

As we drove home, we stopped by the Marion Brooks Natural Area next to the Quehanna Wild Area to see the white birch forest in the snow and mist.  It was beautiful and captivating.

Marion Brooks Natural Area

A great weekend in the PA Wilds and a great way to start the new year.

Map of Beaver Dam Trail and Souders Trail, which we hiked


More photos

More info on Parker Dam State Park


Allegheny Ridge and Graff Woolever Loop (Loyalsock Trail)



View from the Allegheny Ridge, Loyalsock Trail


One hike I’ve always enjoyed was the Allegheny Ridge loop along the Loyalsock Trail.  It offers a good view, ridgetop walking, small streams, and beautiful forests.  If you begin from PA 87, there is also a killer climb with some big rocks and a view, although I did not hike that section on this trip.

White pine tree, Loyalsock Trail

I returned to do a variation of the hike no. 52 in “Hiking the Endless Mountains”.  I decided to do a loop, beginning from the forestry buildings along Little Bear Creek Rd., and then returning via the Graff Woolever Trail.  I hiked part of the Graff Woolever Trail years ago and always wanted to complete it.

Loyalsock Trail up Pete's Hollow

I reached the new and very large trailhead parking area, where I followed the Loyalsock Trail (LT).  The morning sun was rising, sending shafts of light through the still forest and across the white snow.  The trail steadily climbed up a hollow with a small stream.  Large pine and tulip poplar trees towered overhead.  The trail steepened and the snow and ice made it slow going.  Again, the forests were beautiful with lots of birch, pine, and hemlock.  The trail leveled and veered right onto a snowmobile trail.  After a short climb, the LT turned left, leaving the wide snowmobile trail, and followed the crest of the ridge.  I was soon treated to a superb view looking south from the ridge.  Fields adorned rolling foothills as ridges rose in the distance.  It was a beautiful view in the bright winter sunshine.  I took a break to watch the cars and homes far below.  A campsite was nearby.  The trail continued along the ridge and then dropped into a valley, only to return to the ridge with some rock outcrops.  It was a great walk with some nice views through the trees.  The LT veered right and dropped from the ridge, following another snowmobile trail.  Hemlocks filled the dark forests as small streams meandered across the trail.

Graff Woolever Trail

The LT left the snowmobile trail to the left, I continued straight.  After a quarter mile or less, I turned left onto the Graff Woolever Trail, marked by a “GW Trail” sign and blue blazes.  The trail was in good shape although it may be brushy in summer.  It was a glorious woodland trail as it parsed laurel, pine, and hemlocks.  I soon heard a stream to my right.  The trail bent right at a triple blaze (avoid the footpath to the left) and dropped into a beautiful stream valley with more hemlocks and some large trees.  The blue trail continued downstream to a campsite with stone furniture and an elaborate fire ring.  What an awesome place to spend the night, I thought.

Cascades along Graff Woolever Trail

But the blue blazes came to a sudden end and I was unsure where the trail went.  I thought I saw some old footprints in the snow, which followed the creek.  I did the same.  The creek tumbled off the side of the mountain with many small cascades and the “trail” simply followed the creek.  There was no sign of the trail with the snow, and I began to wonder if I was following human, or bear, footprints.  The terrain was quite steep.  I began to wonder if I missed the trail somehow.  Then an obvious old skid trail appeared; it was clearly the trail with cut logs, but still no blazes.  While steep, it was a great trail as it closely followed the tumbling stream with many small waterfalls.  I could see the distinctive peak of Smiths Knob through the trees.  Near the bottom there were two stream crossings as rhododendrons crowded the trail, a nice treat since rhodos aren’t that common in the Loyalsock.  I reached the bottom a little ways behind a cabin.  The trail was indistinct, but I was close to the cabins and Little Bear Creek Rd.  The trail veered right and crossed Little Bear Creek without a bridge, but I used the footbridge for one of the cabins.  There was a sign for the Graff Woolever Trail along the road.  I then walked a short distance along the road back to my car.

Graff Woolever Trail

This was an excellent loop, 5-6 miles in length.  Scenic campsites at the vista and the Graff Woolever Trail make this a great little overnight loop.  The GW Trail is blazed and established well on the plateau, but its fairly steep along the creek, without blazes.  Except for a short section, it follows an obvious old skid trail along the creek.  Next time you are hiking this area of the Loyalsock State Forest, be sure to include the Graff Woolever Trail.

Graff Woolever Trail

Map of the state forest which shows the Graff Woolever Trail on the left side of the map:

Keep in mind the Graff Woolever Trail is on the east or south side of the stream, not the west side as on the state forest map.

Bottom of Graff Woolever Trail

More photos:

Trail map

The Keystone 49: Peakbagging in Pennsylvania (Climbing the Keystone State’s Beautiful Mountains and Vistas)



Gillespie Point


Many people enjoy climbing mountains, or peaks, whether it be for a specific elevation or the view at the top.  This is common in New York and New England, and to a lesser degree, the southern Appalachians.

Pennsylvania is an odd state for “peakbagging”, because it doesn’t have many peaks.  Most of the terrain in this state is defined by ridges and plateaus with fairly consistent elevations.

Regardless, the views in Pennsylvania are still impressive, and the climbs can be very challenging.

This list is based upon mountains with features at or near the summit, such as a view, firetower, or rock outcroppings.

The focus is not on the high point itself.

There generally must be a vertical climb of at least 500 feet that is feasible for a hiker to do from a lower elevation.

Some climbs are off trail.

All climbs are on public land, or land where the public is allowed to hike.

Some peaks are reached by a road. Access via road does not count.

Summits or mountains close to each other and along the same route are described together.

Focus is on those mountains with significant views, as compared to narrow views through trees.

People may be surprised to learn that vertical climbs in Pennsylvania reach 1,600 – 1,700 feet, comparable to some mountains in New York and New England.

Summit elevations and vertical climbs are estimates.

For some off-trail or little-known vistas, GPS coordinates from Google maps are included.


Eastern Pennsylvania

 1.  Mt. Wismer

Elevation: 1,900

Vertical climb: 500

Route: Trails from T602, off of PA 447.  This is a conservancy property opened to the public.

Feature:  Views of Pocono foothills with view through the Delaware Water Gap.

Location:  North of Canadensis, Monroe County

Road to summit: No

See through Delaware Water Gap


2.  Camelback Mountain

Elevation: 2,100

Vertical climb: 800

Route:  Trails from North Rd.

Feature:  Extensive views from the summit

Location: Big Pocono State Park, Monroe County

Road to summit: Yes


3.  Mt. Minsi

Elevation:  1,400

Vertical climb: 900

Route:  Follow Appalachian Trail from Mountain Rd.

Feature:  Views of Delaware Water Gap

Location:  Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Monroe County

Road to summit: No


4.  Panther Hill

Elevation: 2,000

Vertical climb: 600

Route:  Off trail hike from Highbridge Rd.

Feature:  Expansive views to the northwest

Location:  Pinchot State Forest, Lackawanna County

Road to summit: No

GPS:  41.278315, -75.620957

View from Panther Hill


5.  Dunmore Pine Barrens/Gravity RR Preserve

Elevation: 1,900

Vertical climb: 700

Route:  Trails from Dunmore Reservoir No. 1.

Feature:  Expansive views from an exposed ridge and High Rock cliff.

Location:  Near Dunmore, Lackawanna County.  Located on a private preserve, but public hiking is allowed.

Road to summit: No

GPS:  41.407102, -75.576065.  High Rock cliff at 41.404844, -75.575886


6.  Mt. Pisgah

Elevation: 2,200

Vertical climb: 1,100

Route:  Trails from Mt. Pisgah State Park

Feature:  Good views to the west.

Location:  Mt. Pisgah State and County Parks, Bradford County

Road to summit: Yes

View from summit of Mt. Pisgah


7.  Kellogg Mtn.

Elevation:  2,100

Vertical climb:  1,000

Route:  Hike gated game commission road to the summit.  View is located almost a mile south of the summit.  Gate is open during hunting season.

Feature:  Superb view to the east from cliffs.

Location:  SGL 36, Bradford County

Road to summit: Yes, but not to view.  Road only open during hunting season, gated at bottom rest of the year.

GPS: 41.663149, -76.474702


8.  Pole Steeple

Elevation:  1,300

Vertical climb:  500

Route:  Trails from Pine Grove Furnace State Park

Feature:  View of Michaux State Forest

Location:  Pine Grove Furnace State Park, Michaux State Forest, Cumberland County

Road to summit: No

Michaux State Forest


9.  Sunset Rocks

Elevation:  1,400

Vertical climb: 500

Route:  Trails from Pine Grove Furnace State Park

Feature:  Views

Location:  Pine Grove Furnace State Park, Michaux State Forest, Cumberland County

Road to summit: No


10.  Chimney Rocks

Elevation:  1,900

Vertical climb: 900

Route:  Appalachian Trail, other trails from Old Forge Rd.

Feature:  Views

Location:  Michaux State Forest, Franklin County

Road to summit: No


11.  Lehigh Gap

Elevation: 1,400

Vertical climb:  900

Route:  Appalachian Trail from PA 248

Feature:  Extensive views with exposed climb and scrambling

Location:  South of Palmerton, Northampton County

Road to summit: No

The descent into the Lehigh Gap along the Appalachian Trail; the trail crosses the bridge


12.  The Pinnacle and Pulpit Rock

Elevation: 1,600

Vertical climb: 900

Route:  Appalachian Trail from Reservoir Rd.

Feature:  Extensive views over farmlands and mountain ridges.  Cave beneath the Pinnacle.

Location:  Northeast of Hamburg, Berks County

Road to summit: No


13.  Hawk Rock

Elevation: 1,100

Vertical climb: 700

Route:  Appalachian Trail from Inn Rd.

Feature:  View of deep gorge cared by Sherman Creek

Location:  Duncannon, Perry County

Road to summit: No



14.  Lehigh Gorge/Glen Onoko

Elevation:  1,500

Vertical climb:  900

Route:  Trail up Glen Onoko, at top turn right on forest road to view of gorge

Feature:  Waterfalls along Glen Onoko, views of the Lehigh Gorge

Location:  North of Jim Thorpe, Carbon County

Road to summit: No

GPS:  40.898021, -75.757914


15.  Flat Rock

Elevation:  2,000

Vertical climb: 1,200

Route:  Trails from Colonel Denning State Park

Feature:  Impressive view across Cumberland Valley

Location:  South of Colonel Denning State Park, Cumberland County

Road to summit: No


16.  Canyon Vista

Elevation: 1,800

Vertical climb: 700

Route: Trails from PA 87, loop hike is possible.

Feature: View of the Loyalsock Canyon and unique rock outcrops are behind the vista.

Location:  Worlds End State Park, Sullivan County

Road to summit: Yes

Canyon Vista


17.  High Knob

Elevation: 2,000

Vertical climb: 1,100

Route: Trails from Dry Run Road and the ranger station

Feature:  Impressive view.  Pass a pond on the hike up.

Location:  Loyalsock State Forest, Sullivan County

Road to summit: Yes

High Knob Overlook


18.  Bartlett Mountain

Elevation: 2,300

Vertical climb: 1,300

Route:  Mostly old forest grades (no blazes or signs) with short bushwhack

Feature:  Views, bedrock balds, spruce forests, rock features, boreal or subalpine-like setting

Location:  SGL 57, Wyoming County

Road to summit: No

GPS:  41.513064, -76.166374

The balds


19.  Flat Top

Elevation: 2,000

Vertical climb:  1,000

Route:  Old forest or logging grades, no blazes or signs

Feature:  Fine view looking up Mehoopany Creek gorge.

Location:  SGL 57, Wyoming County

Road to summit: No

GPS:  41.480635, -76.148518

View from Raven Rock



View north from Hemlock Mtn

Central Pennsylvania


20.  Blue Knob

Elevation:  3,146

Vertical climb: Between 1,546 and 846 vertical feet depending on route taken.

Route:  Along various trails from Forest or Park Roads

Feature:  View at summit from ski area.  PA’s highest peak and second highest mountain.

Location:  Blue Knob State Park, Bedford County.

Road to summit:  Yes, but is gated before it reaches the top.



21.  Sharp Top

Elevation: 2,000

Vertical climb: 600

Route:  Use the Old Loggers Path from Pleasant Stream Road.  No bridge across Pleasant Stream, do not attempt in high water.

Feature:  Beautiful view that is largely undeveloped.

Location:  Loyalsock State Forest, Lycoming County

Road to summit: Yes


22.  Smiths Knob

Elevation: 1,900

Vertical climb: 1,000

Route:  Loyalsock Trail from Little Bear Creek Road

Feature:  Great views from a peak

Location:  Loyalsock State Forest, Lycoming County

Road to summit: No


23.  Allegheny Ridge

Elevation: 1,800

Vertical climb: 1,000 or 900

Route:  Loyalsock Trail from PA 87 or Little Bear Creek Road.

Feature:  Views of rolling farmlands to south with distant ridges

Location:  Loyalsock State Forest, Lycoming County

Road to summit: No


24.  Sullivan Mountain

Elevation:  2,100

Vertical climb:  900

Route:  Old Loggers Path from Pleasant Stream Road.

Feature:  Views to the south and west from cliffs.

Location:  Near Marsh Hill, Loyalsock State Forest, Lycoming County

Road to summit: No


25.  Big Mtn.

Elevation:  2,400

Vertical climb: 1,100 from Cowans Gap or 1,600 from PA 75

Route:  Trails from Cowans Gap State Park or PA 75

Feature:  One of PA’s finest views over valleys surrounded by rugged ridges

Location:  South of Cowans Gap State Park, Fulton County

Road to summit: Yes


26.  Throne Room Vista, Hall of the Mountain King, and Butler Knob

Elevation: 2,300

Vertical climb: 600 from Jacks Mtn Rd.  1,700 from Mapleton, a long, challenging hike along the Standing Stone Trail.

Route:  Along the Standing Stone Trail

Feature:  A series of remarkable views from talus slopes and ledges

Location:  South of Mapleton, Huntingdon County

Road to summit: No, but a rough road does reach Butler Knob

Throne Room Vista



27.  Jacks Mtn. and 1000 Steps

Elevation: 2,300

Vertical climb: 1,700

Route:  Standing Stone Trail from US 22

Feature:  Incredible staircases of rock steps, non-stop views, historical features.  Last view is at Shorb’s Summit.

Location:  Between Mapleton and Mt. Union, Huntingdon County

Road to summit: No

Shorbs Summit


28.  Sausser’s Stonepile (Stone Mountain)

Elevation: 2,100

Vertical climb: 1,100

Route:  Standing Stone Trail from Frew Rd.

Feature:  Extensive ridgetop vistas, finest is at Sausser’s Stonepile

Location:  South of McAlevy’s Fort, Huntingdon County

Road to summit: No

Sausser's Stonepile


29.  Stone Valley Vista (Stone Mountain)

Elevation:  2,000

Vertical climb: 1,000

Route:  Standing Stone Trail from Greenwood Furnace State Park

Feature:  Vista

Location:  Rothrock State Forest, Huntingdon County

Road to summit: No

Rising sun at Stone Valley Vista


30.  Broad Mtn.

Elevation:  2,380

Vertical climb:  1,400

Route:  Standing Stone Trail from Alan Seeger Natural Area or Greenwood Furnace State Park

Feature:  Firetower that has superb views if it is open.

Location:  Rothrock State Forest, Huntingdon County

Road to summit: Yes


31.  Indian Wells Vista (Tussey Mountain)

Elevation: 2,400

Vertical climb:  600

Route:  Trails from Bear Meadows Natural Area, including the Mid State Trail

Feature:  One of PA’s finest views

Location:  Rothrock State Forest, Centre County

Road to summit: No


32.  Mt. Nittany

Elevation:  1,900

Vertical climb: 600

Route:  Trails on the Mt. Nittany Conservancy

Feature:  View of State College

Location:  State College, Centre County

Road to summit: No


33.  Hyner View

Elevation: 1,950

Vertical climb: 1,200

Route:  Garby and Donut Hole Trails

Feature:  One of PA’s famous vistas

Location:  Hyner View State Park, east of Renovo, Clinton County

Road to summit: Yes


34.  Wolf Run Bald

Elevation: 2,000

Vertical climb: 1,300

Route:  Along the Bob Webber Trail

Feature:  Great views of Pine Creek Gorge

Location:  Tiadaghton State Forest, south of Slate Run, Lycoming County

Road to summit: No


35.  Ravenshorn (Raven’s Horn)

Elevation: 1,500

Vertical climb: 700

Route:  Golden Eagle Trail.  While the view is not near the top of the mountain, it is impressive.

Feature:  Impressive view of Pine Creek Gorge region.

Location:  South of Slate Run, Tiadaghton State Forest, Lycoming County

Road to summit: No



36.  Half Dome

Elevation: 2,000

Vertical climb: 1,300

Route:  Steep trail.  Use trails from Naval Run Rd.

Feature:  Views of Pine Creek Gorge.  Some claim to be one the largest drops from the mountain directly down to Pine Creek itself.

Location:  Slate Run, Tiadaghton State Forest, Lycoming County

Road to summit: No


37.  Hemlock Mtn.

Elevation: 2,100

Vertical climb: 1,400

Route:  Trails, including the Black Forest Trail, from Naval Run Rd.

Feature:  Summit features three vistas, one looking south is particularly impressive.

Location:  Slate Run, Tiadaghton State Forest, Lycoming County

Road to summit: No


38.  Gillespie Point

Elevation: 1,900

Vertical climb: 1,000

Route:  Mid State Trail from Blackwell

Feature:  A peak that features superb view of Pine Creek Gorge and Blackwell

Location:  Blackwell, Tioga State Forest, Tioga County

Road to summit: No


39.  Lookout Rocks

Elevation: 1,500

Vertical climb: 800

Route:  Use trails from Camp Susque.  Public is allowed to use trail from Camp Susque, but sign in first.

Feature:  Impressive view looking down the Lycoming Creek Valley.  View is not near the top of the mountain, but its impressive nonetheless. 

Location:  Trout Run, SGL 133, Lycoming County

Road to summit: No

GPS:  41.409228, -77.032117


40.  Rattlesnake Rocks

Elevation:  1,800

Vertical climb:  1,100

Route:  Trail from PA 14.  Most of this hike is in the Loyalsock State Forest, but check in with Camp Susque first.

Feature:  View of Lycoming Creek Valley

Location:  Trout Run, Loyalsock State Forest, Lycoming County

Road to summit: No

GPS:  41.425028, -77.034629


41.  Hammersely Meadows/Twin Sisters Vista

Elevation: 2,300

Vertical climb: 400 from Red Ridge Rd.  800 from Susquehannock Trail along Hammersley Fork; this is a bushwhack along a ridge with many impressive views.

Route: Easiest route is along Twin Sisters Trail from Red Ridge Rd.

Feature:  Mountaintop meadows with stunning wilderness vistas.  Stars are incredible at night.

Location:  North of Cross Fork, Susquehannock State Forest, Potter County

Road to summit: No

GPS:  41.551859, -77.847247


42.  Tuscarora Mtn (The Lockings)

Elevation: 2,000

Vertical climb:  1,400

Route:  Tuscarora Trail from Furnace Rd. to top of the ridge

Feature:  Several vistas from talus slopes and ledges, some are a short distance off trail

Location:  SGL 124, Franklin County, near Yeakle Mill

Road to summit: No

GPS:  39.762247, -78.060930


43.  Coot Hill

Elevation: 2,484

Vertical climb: 1,100

Route:  Bushwhack from Raver’s Gap Rd. up Ravers Run to summit. 

Feature: Vistas are from talus slopes near summit, looking north.  Vistas are undocumented.  Additional vistas on west flank of ridge.

Location:  SGL 73A, Bedford County, north of Yellow Creek

Road to summit: No

GPS: 40.169375, -78.318488


44.  Pine Island Vista

Elevation:  1,650

Vertical climb: 700

Route:  Established, unblazed trail from Pine Creek Rail Trail where it crosses Pine Island Run.  Very steep climb.

Feature:  Phenomenal vista of the PA Grand Canyon/Pine Creek Gorge.  Vista is not at the top of the gorge.

Location:  Tioga State Forest, north of Blackwell, Tioga County

Road to summit: No

GPS:  41.616002, -77.410153


45. Windy Vista (Jacks Mtn)

Elevation: 2,000

Vertical climb: 1,400

Route: Standing Stone Trail south from Mapleton

Feature:  Beautiful vista looking west over tiers of ridges

Location:  South of Mapleton, Huntingdon County

Road to summit: No



Western Pennsylvania


46.  Rimrock Overlook

Elevation: 2,000

Vertical climb: 650

Route:  Trail from Kinzua Beach Picnic Area

Feature:  Views of the Allegheny Reservoir and National Forest.  Impressive cliffs and rock features.

Location:  Allegheny National Forest, east of Warren, Warren County.

Road to summit: Yes



47.  Mt. Davis

Elevation:  3,213

Vertical climb: 400Route:  Trails from South Wolf Rock Rd.

Feature:  Observation tower with views.  Highest point in PA. 

Location:  Forbes State Forest, Somerset County, west of Salisbury

Road to summit: Yes


48.  Baughman Rock

Elevation:  2,000

Vertical climb: 700

Route:  Baughman Trail from Ohiopyle

Feature:  Superb view of Youghiogheny River Gorge

Location:  Ohiopyle State Park, Fayette County

Road to summit: Yes


49.  Martin Hill

Elevation: 2,700

Vertical climb: 1,600

Route: trails from Sweet Root Natural Area, including the Mid State Trail

Feature:  Views, highest point in the ridge and valley region of PA.

Location:  Bedford County, PA, south of Rainsburg.  In the Buchanan State Forest.

Road to summit:  Yes

GPS:  39.835850, -78.545388

Exploring Heberly Run-SGL 13


A falls on Heberly Run

I returned to SGL 13 to explore Meeker Run, and Heberly Run above Lewis Falls.  Grassy Hollow Road was open for hunting season, which allowed me to drive up and park near Lewis Falls.  The road was driveable, but not well graded, so a vehicle with a some ground clearance is recommended.  I hiked up the closed section of Grassy Hollow Road and Heberly Run soon came into view with all its rapids, pools, and cascades.  The old forest road soon brought me to Meeker Run and I found an old grade on the south side of the stream which made hiking fairly easy.  The small run had many cascades over rocks and maybe a ten foot falls, but nothing more.  I turned around and decided to spend the rest of my hike exploring Heberly Run.

Triangle Rock

Most people do not explore Heberly Run above Lewis Falls since it is out of the way for those doing the Waterfall Wonderland loop.  However, this is a beautiful stream with many falls, cascades, slides and pools.  None of the falls are very high, but they are quite scenic.  I descended to the stream from the old forest road and crossed the creek as needed, accepting my feet were going to get wet.  The beauty was impressive with grottos of rocks, and tumbling water feeding pools.  I passed a large triangle shaped boulder that was impressive.  There were non-stop slides and hidden pools with beds of smooth bedrock.  Large hemlocks rose over me, but they were dying from the adelgid, a sad sight.  One of my favorite spots was a two tiered falls that emptied into a large bedrock pool.  As I went downstream, the creek flowed through chasms of bedrock with powerful rapids.  I even saw a kingfisher fly over the water.

I soon reached Lewis Falls and made the difficult descent to the base of the falls.  What an impressive falls, shooting off a cliff into a pool below, surrounded by tiers of bedrock.  I remember hiking up Heberly Run and seeing Lewis Falls for the first time, after already passing Big and Twin Falls.  Heberly Run was so beautiful it seemed magical.  It still is.

Lewis Falls

More photos:


Waterfalls of Hog Run-SGL 13


Hog Run Falls

Hog Run carves a gorge deep in SGL 13.  I recently hiked there to see its little-known waterfalls.  SGL 13 is famous for its many waterfalls.  I had never been to Hog Run before, and have spent very little time in this part of SGL 13, so I was excited to see a new place.  And what a place it was.

Elk Run

I parked at the first parking area on the right, just outside of Elk Grove.  An unblazed and unsigned trail crossed Bloody Run and reached a forest grade.  Nearby, Bloody Run had a six foot falls.  Another trail went up along Bloody Run.  I turned right on the obvious old grade as it circled around the base of the mountain.  The grade ended with some cabins below me.  Time to bushwhack.  This bushwhack was fairy easy through an open forest.  I gradually descended, staying in the game lands, and reached Elk Run.  Another cabin was just downstream.

"Bacon" Cascades

Elk Run was a surprisingly large mountain stream.  Another unmarked, unsigned trail followed an old grade and crossed Elk Run three times.  Two of those crossings were wet with no bridge or rocks to use.  One crossing did provide a log.  Elk Run and its valley were beautiful with hemlocks, large hardwoods, and ledges with dripping springs.  The path was evident along the old forest grade.

After the third crossing, the grade continued upstream (little did I know that I should have veered right to use an old grade that would have made my hike up Hog Run much easier).  I soon reached where Hog Run joined Elk Run; I turned right up Hog Run.  The hiking became difficult; the gorge was rugged with many rocks and boulders.  Nonstop cascades and pools adorned the creek, the pools were crystal clear with blueish bedrock.  No grade provided easy passage.  Despite the fine scenery, the hiking was exhausting and I began to wonder if I would run out of daylight.  Soon, bedrock slides and cascades appeared and I looked ahead to see a falls in a notch between a cliff.  The falls was beautiful, surrounded by fractured cliffs.  Springs fell from the ledge on the left.  I called this Hog Run Falls.  Creative, I know.  I scrambled around the falls on the left and was treated to a series of three slides and pools.  So beautiful.  I jokingly called these the Bacon Cascades, due to the name of the creek.

Side stream waterfalls

Mercifully, a grade appeared on the right and I followed it.  People must hike back here, I thought, as I saw a footpath.  The grade climbed higher above a deep gorge with many smaller falls and slides.  I hiked above a sizeable falls with two or three drops.  The grade returned near the creek and vanished, but soon returned as I reached a grotto.

This grotto was something special.  It felt timeless, primeval.  A sidestream tumbled down on the left with non-stop 10-15 foot drops.  In high water it must be spectacular.  The grade climbed steeply on the right to bypass the grotto, but I followed the creek.  Ledges and cliffs surrounded me, dripping with springs and clothed in moss.  Ancient hemlocks grew overhead.  Hog Run tumbled down this grotto over stairstep ledges and at the top was a large slide and pool.  Rotting, moss covered logs inundated the grotto.  Should they ever clear out, the total gown of cascading water would be a fine sight.  I reached the top of the grotto and looked to my right to see a beautiful old growth hemlock forest with some large trees.  The setting reminded me of the Forrest Dutlinger Natural Area.  Snow dusted the forest floor and the wind up here was colder than in the valleys below.

The old grade appeared to end in this ancient forest and I followed it around the rim of the grotto and back down to Hog Run.  I retraced my steps back to Hog Run Falls along the narrow path.  I can now see why people venture back here.

Falls in grotto

I wasn’t excited about bushwhacking down Hog Run’s rugged gorge.  The grade continued downstream from Hog Run Falls, so I decided to take it.  Again, I thought I saw a path under the fallen leaves.  The grade was fairly easy to follow, other than some fallen trees and luckily it brought me down to Elk Run, right where I made the third stream crossing.  If you hike Hog Run, take this grade.

Falls in Hemlock Grotto

I retraced my steps and endured the wet stream crossings, but the water wasn’t that cold.

I soon reached Bloody Run and decided to explore it.  I crossed a series of old grades on the east side of the creek, but higher up the slope.  I then crossed the trail I noticed earlier.  My bushwhack up Bloody Run revealed a 12 foot falls, filled with logs, and a five foot falls.  I found the trail I crossed earlier and hiked it back down to the car, passing a cairn along the way.  The trail had continued further upstream on Bloody Run and I suspect there may be more waterfalls.

Old growth hemlock forest

I returned to my car just as it was getting dark.  A day well spent.

More photos:



Hiking to Hog Run is actually fairly easy with only a short bushwhack.  Most of this hike follows trails or old logging grades.  No trails have signs or blazes.

  1.  Park at N41 18.381 W076 25.686.
  2. A trail enters the woods, crosses Bloody Run, and reaches an obvious, large old logging road.  N41 18.503 W076 25.672
  3. Turn right on old logging road.  It curves around the mountain above some cabins and then ends.
  4. Begin bushwhack.  Enter woods, angling right and heading downslope.  Woods are fairly open.  Reach Elk Run at N41 18.801 W076 24.789.
  5. A path follows Elk Run upstream along an old forest road.  Cross Elk Run three times, the second crossing may have logs you can use.  Elk Run is a large creek, expect wet crossings.  The valley is beautiful.
  6. After the third stream crossing you have two choices.  For the harder hike along the stream and up the gorge, continue up the grade to where Hog Run meets Elk Run (N41 19.335 W076 25.212).  Turn right and go upstream, the terrain is difficult and there is no trail.  Many cascades and some nice pools.  For the easier and recommended route, bear right after the third crossing and hike to N41 19.284 W 076 25.155.
  7. Climb path up the old grade.  The grade can usually be followed fairly easy, but expect some fallen trees.
  8. Reach the top of Hog Run Falls.  N41 19.904 W076 25.202.
  9. To see the bottom of the falls, cross the creek and scramble down the opposite side.
  10. Bacon Cascades are just upstream.
  11. Continue up the grade on the east side of the gorge.  The gorge becomes steep below the grade with many cascades.
  12. Reach a more level area where the grade disappears.  Reach the end of a grotto.  Sidestream falls is on the left.  Grade climbs steeply on right.  Grade bypasses the grotto.  Grotto has ledges, cascades, and dripping springs.  N41 20.292 W076 24.909
  13. The grade dissipates upon reaching Hog Run, a scenic old growth hemlock forest is to the right.  N41 20.330 W076 24.878
  14. Retrace your steps.
  15. This hike is about 3.5 – 4 miles one way.