The McIntyre Wild Area encompasses over 7,000 acres and is located in the Loyalsock State Forest, near the small town of Ralston. It is just north of Rock Run, widely regarded as Pennsylvania’s most beautiful stream. This is one of my favorite wild areas- it’s streams feature many waterfalls; there are big rocks, boulders and cliffs, scenic forests, and history. In fact, the mining town of McIntyre was located here. Today, only the cemetery exists. The town band would play at Band Rock and residents in the valley below could hear the music.
Even today, you can see the evidence of the mining era, such as mounds, depressions, fills, and old foundations. Ironically, the forests have largely healed what was once mined, with scenic forests of pine, hemlock, spruce, tamarack, and hardwoods.
I’ve been to the wild area before, but on this trip I wanted to explore some new places. Leigh Ann and I drove to the parking area off of McIntyre Road and I followed a trail through thick spruce to a hidden pond, covering an acre or two. The pond was surrounded by spruce and was crystal clear, but appeared shallow. What was most interesting was the moss- it formed a carpet throughout the spruce forest. We picked up an old forest road and reached a meadow with several tamaracks growing, the only local coniferous tree that drops its leaves in winter. They were all golden.
We continued to follow the old road until it became a path and then it disappeared into the mountain laurel at the edge of the plateau. A bushwhack ensued to the edge where there were broken views of Rock Run’s gorge. We were able to follow a deer path along the edge with more nice views. I began to hike back in the direction where we parked, staying at the edge of the plateau. We finally picked up an old trail and followed it to large ledges and rock outcrops. Some of the boulders were truly massive with narrow crevasses. This is an area where rock climber like to visit. We continued along the edge, passing a small seasonal stream and another huge cliff; from the top there was a view. We passed some mining ruins and reached McIntyre Road, and soon returned to the car.
We then made our way to Band Rock Vista, with a commanding view of Ralston and the Lycoming Creek valley. The sloping buttresses of the plateaus were impressive. We enjoyed the views for a while and then headed back to the car.
I hope to visit the McIntyre Wild Area again soon and re-explore Dutchmans and Abbot Runs with all their waterfalls; it has been about ten years since I’ve been to that section of the wild area.
For more pictures, click on: http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/581799889WtXvRx?vhost=outdoors