Backpacking the Old Loggers Path- July, 2018

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View from Sullivan Mountain, Old Loggers Path, Loyalsock State Forest

The Old Loggers Path (OLP) is a classic backpacking loop that has grown in popularity over the years. I was surprised to realize that I last backpacked the entire trail in 2012, over six years ago. So I decided it was time to return and experience this trail once again. I was also looking forward to seeing the two new shelters that were built on the trail last year.

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As a change, I decided to hike the trail clockwise, something I had not done before. I also decided to start at the new trailhead off of Krimm Road, instead of Masten, the traditional trailhead.

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I arrived late morning, quickly got my gear together, and began hiking down the trail. It felt good to stretch the legs and hike on an actual trail, instead of bushwhacking, my more common pursuit. The trail followed old logging grades and crossed a small meadow. I hiked past a large campsite along a stream with damage from a flood in 2016. I soon reached Masten and continued on the trail as it made an easy, gradual climb through a forest of beech trees. I crossed a dirt road and entered a scenic hemlock forest where I took a break. The OLP doesn’t have a lot of forest diversity; most of the trail features hardwood forests, so it was nice to sit under the cool hemlocks.

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I encountered patches of stinging nettle along the OLP, but it wasn’t too thick and I was able to pass through, with shorts on, without too much discomfort. I soon reached the side trail to Sprout Point vista and shelter. The shelter was near the vista which provided nice views over the valleys and ridges. It would be a great place to stay for the night, but there is not any water nearby.

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The OLP then descended through scenic, open forests of hardwoods. I crossed another road and traversed a series of stream valleys with rolling terrain. Each stream had a little water, and a campsite. The OLP also passed along a logging cut. A steep climb followed up to the trail’s finest vista, Sharp Top. Up until this point I had only seen two other hikers, but there were about ten backpackers at the vista, enjoying the wide panorama of wooded lowlands and distant mountains. It is an impressive view so I was happy to take a rest for a few minutes.

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The trail followed the edge of the plateau with a series of ledges and then entered brushy areas with plenty of blackberries. I then hiked into a mature forest above a stream with the sound of cascades that filled the air. As I neared the bottom, I passed the yellow blazed S&NY Trail, which is a cross connector trail to the OLP. I soon reached a campsite at Pleasant Stream.

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Pleasant Stream suffered from a lot of flood damage with embedded trees and gravel, sand, and cobblestones everywhere. I crossed the stream easily, passed another campsite, and continued on the trail. This next section was re-routed due to the flood damage; the trail made a steep climb up to the road, followed it for a little ways, and then followed a grade to Long Run. I crossed Long Run and passed more hikers. A climb then ensued up Sullivan Mountain as I tried to move fast to see the sunset. I reached the first series of vistas with beautiful view of the mountains basking in the golden glow of the setting sun. It was breathtaking. I set up my tent at a small site near one of the vistas. I sat at the vista and watched the stars come out. Owls hooted in the distance, coyotes howled through the forest, and fireflies lit up the sky.

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I was up early the next morning and enjoyed watching the rising sun through the misty trees. The trail passed large boulders and followed level grades over springs and small streams. I reached Doe Run and saw the new shelter, which was set close to the creek in a beautiful location. I made note to camp there on a future hike. I reached a view over Rock Run Gorge, where a couple were just getting up and I then hiked down to gorgeous Rock Run, passing above an unnamed falls on Yellow Dog Run. This is such a beautiful stream with its bedrock pools, chasms, and waterfalls. I sat there for a while to eat and enjoy the scenery.  While there I spoke to another backpacker.

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I was surprised by the number of hikers on this trail. I saw almost 40 hikers, but the OLP did not feel particularly crowded.

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I like the northern section of the trail because of the scenery and the hemlock forests. The rapids of Rock Run filled the air as I hiked up the trail, passing several other hikers. I crossed a few more streams and then returned to my car on Krimm Road.

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It was great to be back on the OLP. Hopefully my return will not be in another six years.

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More photos.

This trail is described in Hiking the Endless Mountains and Backpacking Pennsylvania.

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Old Loggers Path

Location: Loyalsock State Forest at Masten.  Located between Shunk and Ralston.

Length: 28 mile loop

Blazes: Orange

Difficulty: Moderate. The trail often follows old grades with gradual changes in elevation, but there are steep areas near Sharp Top and Long Run.

Highlights: Rock Run, a stream of exceptional beauty, Sharp Top, Sprout Point, views from Sullivan Mountain, big rocks near Buck Run, two shelters at Sprout Point and Doe Run.

Vegetation: Mostly hardwoods with some laurel. There is some hemlock along Rock Run. Stinging nettle is an occasional issue in the summer.

Camping: Most streams have a campsite. There are two shelters. If you want to camp at a view, there are small sites at Sprout Point, Sullivan Mountain, and the view over Rock Run.

Water: Generally not an issue. In very dry years the only creeks that will have water are Pleasant Stream and Rock Run.

Concerns: There is no bridge across Pleasant Stream. In high water this is a dangerous crossing.

Go clockwise or counterclockwise? From Masten or Krimm Road, the trail is easier counterclockwise. Going clockwise saves the best scenery towards the end of the hike.

Where to start? Most people start at Masten, but Krimm Road is another ideal starting point, particularly if hiking the trail clockwise.  Krimm Road is located just off of Ellenton Road.

Trail worth hiking? Yes. The OLP is an ideal weekend loop that is usually well graded. There aren’t a lot of rocky areas. The terrain isn’t too easy, or hard and there are beautiful forests and scenic features.

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Legend for the map above:

C: larger campsite, 3 or more tents

c: smaller campsite: 1 or 2 tents

V: vista

S: Shelter or lean-to

F: Waterfall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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After Work Hike to White Brook and Koerber Falls-SGL 57

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White Brook Falls-SGL 57

It had been a fairly wet spring and I knew some waterfalls would be running into the summer. I don’t hike much in SGL 57 during the summer, so most of my photos are in the autumn or winter.  SGL 57 has about thirty waterfalls and I knew they’d be beautiful surrounded by green foliage and moss instead of bare trees, ice, and snow.

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Since this was an after work hike, I decided to visit White Brook and Koerber Falls; each is less than a mile from the road.

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We began the hike up to White Brook Falls. The glen was beautiful with its towering trees and deep, clear pools. There was some stinging nettle, but we were able to pass through relatively unscathed. As we approached the falls, the scenery grew more beautiful with red bedrock slides, rounded boulders capped with moss, and more deep pools. I could see the white ribbon of the falls up ahead.

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We reached the falls and it was a beautiful sight. There was still plenty of water. White Brook Falls is known for its graceful spout and overhanging ledge. It is a very scenic and unique falls. The cool breeze at the base of the falls made it very comfortable, cutting the heat of the day and keeping the bugs away. I could have sat there for an hour, but there was another falls we wanted to see on the other side of the valley, so we walked back to Windy Valley Road.

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Our next destination was Koerber Falls, a smaller stream than White Brook, we hoped there would still be some water. We hiked up the gorge, exploring a mossy mini-chasm with a slide and deep pool and an eight foot falls. Up ahead was Koerber Falls. It still had some water; being under it was like a natural shower. The water descended in delicate threads from the moss above. The acoustics at the falls were incredible, as our voices bounced off the ledges creating a surround sound effect. We walked back to the Mehoopany Creek, waded across it in twilight, as storm clouds gathered overhead.

More photos.

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Central Appalachian Road Trip

 

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We recently took a trip through the central Appalachians of West Virginia and Virginia to see some under-the-radar parks. It was a great trip, one that I would recommend, especially for those looking for something different.

Coopers Rock State Forest

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A great place to hike with views of the Cheat River Canyon. Do not miss the Underlook Trail to see huge cliffs and boulders. A highlight is the impressive Rock City Trail, where the bedrock separated, creating a straight chasm. There is also an old iron furnace.

Highly recommended.

Valley Falls State Park

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A small, day use park with a series of wide waterfalls, about ten feet tall, on the Tygart Valley River. Worth the stop.

Recommended.

Audra State Park

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Another small park that features a huge rock shelter, known as Alum Cave, with a long boardwalk above the rapids of Middle Fork River.

Recommended.

Holly River State Park

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One of my favorites, this isolated park is located deep in the Appalachian foothills, reached by curvy roads. A true hidden gem. Enjoy miles of trails through beautiful forests, views, and several waterfalls. There is a great restaurant at the park, and good camping. The forest had a kind of rainforest feel with all the rhododendrons and towering trees; the park gets a lot of rainfall. There are also historical points of interest, such as a one room school house.

Highly recommended.

Babcock State Park

This park has a classic West Virginia view of a gristmill (often seen in photographs), a small natural arch, and some views. Worth the stop.

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Recommended.

New River Gorge National River

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A must-visit, this place has one of the most impressive canyons in the east. Trails lead to cliffs and commanding views of the canyon. The Grandview Trails are among my favorite. Don’t have much time? Hike the classic Endless Wall Trail to impressive Diamond Point. Sandstone Falls in the southern end of the park is worth seeing. The park doesn’t have many waterfalls, but Glade Creek had some beautiful smaller falls and cascades. Enjoy views of the famous New River Gorge Bridge and its iconic arch at the visitor’s center. The gorge is famous with rock climbers.

Highly recommended

Twin Falls State Park

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Located in southern West Virginia, this park has a restaurant and resort. There are also miles of trails to two falls in glens cloaked with rhododendron. Trails also lead to views, and there is also a pioneer era working farm.

Recommended.

Breaks Interstate Park

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A majestic, rugged canyon carved by the Russell Fork on the border of Virginia and Kentucky. Enjoy stunning views and impressive rock outcrops on the Geological, Overlook, and Laurel Branch Trails. The Notches were an impressive spot. Grassy Overlook is one of the less popular vistas, but it is worth it, particularly for sunsets. This area offers tons of hiking and world class whitewater. The gorge is called the “Grand Canyon of the South”. You can easily spend several days here and the restaurant in the park was convenient. This park is a true hidden gem that should be on anyone’s list.

Highly recommended.

Pinnacle State Park

A small park in West Virginia with a towering rock outcrop with average views. The rock had some graffiti. Not worth the stop.

Not recommended.

Shenandoah National Park

We drove the Skyline Drive on our way home. This iconic drive is worth the time with its countless vistas of the beautiful Shenandoah Mountains. Watch for all the deer; bear are often seen.

Highly recommended.

On your next trip, consider out-of-the-way parks.  They are just as beautiful as the more popular places, have far fewer crowds,  are less expensive, and the local communities can use the tourism dollars.

More photos.

Waterfalls of Maple Spring Run- Ricketts Glen State Park

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Porcupine Falls, Maple Spring Run, Ricketts Glen State Park

Ricketts Glen is one of PA’s most popular, and beautiful, state parks. The famed Falls Trail takes hikers under old growth forests and along many waterfalls. However, this large park has many secrets besides the popular Falls Trail. I decided to explore Maple Spring Run to see what hid in its deep, isolated gorge.

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I parked off of PA 118 and walked up the Falls Trail, passing several other hikers. This trail was not crowded, yet. After the third bridge, I went off the Falls Trail and began to bushwhack up Maple Spring Run. I soon encountered a maintenance trail to allow workers to access the Falls Trail for repairs. I continued up Maple Spring Run and was impressed by the towering trees and pristine stream that tumbled over mossy boulders. The stinging nettle made the hiking tedious, so I stayed close to the creek. A side stream joined from the left and I continued right. The gorge became steeper and I soon encountered the first falls, partially concealed by a fallen log. It was about 20 feet tall.

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I scrambled above to see a series of beautiful cascades that led to huge boulders, ledges and a 15 foot falls. This gorge was once home to some truly huge hemlock trees. Sadly, most are now dead. Regardless, the isolation and scenery made Maple Spring Run feel primeval.

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I climbed above this second falls and pushed upstream over the difficult terrain. I soon reached the finest falls on Maple Spring Run- Porcupine Falls. A truly beautiful sight with a column of water dropping straight off a cliff. There were additional 8 foot drops above and below. In total, this falls is about 40 feet tall; the two uppermost drops make the falls about 25 feet tall.

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Nearby were cliffs and ledges with rock overhangs. I scrambled to the top to see some partial views from the cliffs into the misty gorge below.

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I continued up the creek to see more cascades under hemlocks. I came to a final falls, about 20 feet tall in a glen. Another climb brought me to the Old Beaver Dam Road Trail, where I turned right. It seemed so easy to hike on a level, established trail as I sailed through beautiful forests of pine, hemlock, and laurel. I could hear the waterfalls of Kitchen Creek roaring far below.

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Another trail soon returned me to the Falls Trail in Ganoga Glen. After hiking alone in the rugged wilderness of Maple Spring Run, I had culture shock from being surrounded by so many people. The Falls Trail was impressive with the high water flow and tremendous, powerful falls. Each was impressive, particularly Ganoga Falls, but I tried to avoid the crowds. I began to miss the isolation of Maple Spring Run.

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I retraced my steps and returned to my car. I know there are more secrets in this famous park.

More photos.

When hiking Maple Spring Run, keep in mind it is rugged and stinging nettle is prevalent in summer.  This is a small stream that can disappear when it is dry out.  This is far more difficult than the Falls Trail and only experienced hikers should attempt it.

For the map below, the route along Maple Spring Run is off trail and not blazed.

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Waterfalls of Hemlock Run-SGL 13

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Hemlock Run, SGL 13

In the isolated western ramparts of SGL 13 is a stream called Hemlock Run.  I have long suspected it had waterfalls, so I went to find out.

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There is a parking area and a small sign identifying the creek, located at 41.318183, -76.506174.  The road leading to Hemlock Run may be gated outside of hunting season.  A car can negotiate this road, but it is a little rough and a vehicle with some clearance is a good idea.

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I parked at the parking area and there was a gated road to the west of the run.  Because this road climbed high above Hemlock Run, I decided not to take it.  Rather, I hiked up the run instead.

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There was a faint footpath that crossed the run a few times.  It was a beautiful area.  Hemlock Run doesn’t have many hemlocks, but there were plenty of spruce growing, enhancing the scenery.  Red trilliums dotted the ground.

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The faint trail I was on evaporated in brushy and wet areas, so I continued to follow the run as it tumbled over cobblestones.  The run turned west and entered a rocky gorge with moss and springs.  The rock was loose and shifted under my feet.  The first falls was about 6 feet, the second about 15, and the third about 12.  The isolation of this place was incredible.

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I bushwhacked south, over a ridge and down to a tributary stream of Hemlock Run, where there was a cool, little gorge.  I then retraced my steps back to my car under drizzling rain.

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I drove back down the road where I saw a sign for Deep Hollow.  Intrigued, I had to explore.  I found a trail on the west side of the creek and some small waterfalls.  I climbed up the gorge.  It featured open hardwoods with some large trees, but no more waterfalls.  Regardless, it was a beautiful place.

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SGL 13 is a waterfall paradise.  I have seen about forty waterfalls on these game lands.

More photos.

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Little Schrader Creek and Carbon Run-SGL 12

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Little Schrader Creek, SGL 12

Little Schrader Creek is a tributary of Schrader Creek in SGL 12 and it is a beautiful stream featuring bedrock gorges, waterfalls, and deep pools.

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I parked near Laquin at 41.626264, -76.656104 and walked the road up along Schrader Creek.  After crossing a bridge over Little Schrader Creek, I turned right onto an obvious, unblazed footpath.  This path crossed a meadow and entered the woods along an old grade above the creek.  Little Schrader Creek is very scenic with rapids and boulders.  I then entered a gorge with cliffs and a deep pool fed by a waterfall carved into the bedrock.  This was a very beautiful spot.  The falls weren’t very tall, maybe ten feet, but the power of the water and smooth, eroded bedrock made for an impressive sight.

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The trail continued upstream, crossing a small tributary and then another meadow.  The trail followed a grade that became eroded and narrow into another gorge with cliffs and fluorescent moss.  Again, the scenery was superb.  I soon reached another falls, a slide into a narrow chasm of smooth bedrock.  Some logs were embedded in the chasm.  There was a deep pool and some rhododendrons growing from the cliffs.  Upstream was a gorge with smooth, sculpted bedrock creating pools and flumes.

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I retraced my steps.  The hike to Little Schrader Creek is about 1.25 miles, one way.

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I also visited Carbon Run, a creek just to the east of Little Schrader.  I parked at 41.631031, -76.642714 and hiked up Carbon Run.  I soon reached an 8 foot falls into a deep pool.  Above was a scenic hemlock shaded glen with smooth bedrock, cascades, slides, and deep pools.  It was very scenic.  I found an old grade on the east side of the creek which easily returned me to the parking area.

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Little Schrader Creek is described as Hike No. 70 in Hiking the Endless Mountains.

More photos.

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Bar Bottom Hollow Waterfalls-Loyalsock State Forest

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Bar Bottom Falls, Loyalsock State Forest

Bar Bottom Hollow is one of the Loyalsock State Forest’s hidden gems, a deep gorge filled with beautiful waterfalls.  The hollow is located just to the east of Jacoby Falls, although the two are not connected by a trail.  I first hiked to the hollow a few years ago and this old post will help you navigate.

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I parked at Dad Dad Chapman Road and simply walked the road to a spruce forest and logged area, where I took an obvious grade to the right for a mile.  This grade descended and right before reaching some pine trees and laurel, I turned right for a quick off trail hike. I soon intercepted an old grade (red on the map below, all trails and grades are unblazed) and crossed the creek.  This red route is the most scenic entrance into the hollow; I did not follow it on my prior trip to the hollow, which is linked to the old post above.

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The red grade followed the creek downstream and soon passed a multi-tiered fifteen foot falls over mossy ledges.  I was able to go behind the falls, under the ledges.

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The grade continued, staying above the gorge.  I could hear a second falls deep in the gorge, but it was out of sight.  It is a 10-12 foot falls in a grotto with many tumbling springs, a beautiful sight.  The grade climbed through some laurel, descended to a sidestream, crossed it, and then descended along the small sidestream into a glen with small cascades.  It soon returned to the creek with more rapids and cascades.

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The glen continued downstream passing large mossy boulders and hemlocks.  It crossed the creek and continued with views of rapids, slides, and hemlocks.  I enjoyed a 12 foot slide falls and just downstream was Bar Bottom Falls, a stunning 20-25 foot falls in a grotto, with a second falls joining from a side stream.  The orange grade on the map joins the red grade near this falls.

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The beauty of this gorge with its waterfalls and mossy ledges is hard to describe.  Bar Bottom Falls is just so beautiful.

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There are more waterfalls downstream and the grade provides easy access.  However, due to rain and fading daylight, I did not venture any further than Bar Bottom Falls.

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Be sure to spend some time exploring Bar Bottom Hollow, it is a place you will not soon forget.

More photos.

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The red grade on the map is the most scenic.  Unfortunately, at its northern end it fades into laurel right before the orange grade, but this laurel is easy to bypass.