Worlds End State Park: Butternut Trail and Alpine Falls Circuit

Butternut Run Falls

Worlds End is one of my favorite state parks.  Here, the Loyalsock Creek flows through a deep canyon and nearly double backs onto itself.  Side streams descend from the plateau through gorges with waterfalls and cascades.  I’ve hiked every trail in the park.  However, this weekend I hiked a brand new circuit that I found to be so enjoyable I regretted that I didn’t think to include it in the second edition of “Hiking the Endless Mountains”.  This circuit begins and ends in the state park, but most of it is in the Loyalsock State Forest.  It features waterfalls, views, hemlock forests with ground pine, and beautiful streams- what more could you want?
 
I began along the Butternut Trail and parked near the Loyalsock Creek.  The damage from the catastrophic September, 2011 floods was apparent.  The creek had torn around the bridge to the cabins and triggered a landslide that resulted in the ground collapsing into the creek, with crevasses and fissures where the earth heaved.  Trees were strewn like matchsticks.  The highwater mark appeared to be 15 to 20 feet above the creek.
 
We climbed up along the trail, high above the roar of the rapids in the Loyalsock Creek.  We entered the side glen of Butternut Run with its many small waterfalls and cascades.  The Butternut Trail is now blazed with red rectangular placards.  The trail switchbacked up a talus slope and soon reached a nice view looking down the Loyalsock into the state park.
 

View from the Butternut Trail

 We continued down the trail and soon reach a sign pointing to a trail that ascends to Loyalsock Road.  We took it as it climbed the plateau under birch, beech, and oak trees; it has some faded red blazes.  The ground was covered with a layer of powdered snow; you could see white on the north facing slopes in the canyon.  The trail ended at the road, on which we turned right and walked for about a half mile.  A right turn on the Loyalsock Trail followed as it descended to a meadow and tunneled under hemlocks before crossing Big Run.  I love this section of the trail, the forests and creeks are so beautiful.  Our goal was Alpine Falls.  The trail followed an old grade above Big Run and passes a narrow view, called Ken’s Window.  We climbed over the ridge and back down under large hemlocks.  We soon reached Alpine Falls as it tumbled down through a rocky grotto.

 

Alpine Falls

The falls were beautiful as icicles laced the cliffs to the left.  The sun came out and illuminated the gorge as patches of blue began to spread between the rolling gray clouds.  On the way back, I decided to check out a little-known falls, downstream of Alpine Falls, and off of the trail.  It was a tough scramble as I balanced myself along boulders and frosted moss.  I peered down 20 feet into a crystal clear pool and saw brook trout scurrying to thier hiding spots.  I soon reached the bottom and took pictures of the falls as it bounced down between boulders.
 

A hidden falls downstream from Alpine Falls

 It was getting late and we had to head back.  We followed the Loyalsock Trail back through more beautiful forests; it seems the hemlocks growing here are mostly healthy.  The trail descended along High Rock Run with its many small cascades and we soon reached High Rock Vista just after the sun had set.  We continued on the High Rock Trail and reached the bridge into the park.  The Loyalsock Creek roared through the twilight as more, and smaller, landslides scarred the canyon walls.
 

Loyalsock Creek

We walked along the banks of the creek, were huge mouds of cobblestones and sand were pushed up.  High Rock cliff was stained with spring water dripping down its face and High Rock Falls announced its presence through the fading light.  As we crossed the bridge back to the car, the creek reflected what little light was left as Venus and the curving blade of a crescent moon rose over the mountains.  We got into the car and headed into Forksville looking for a place to eat.

Twilight at Worlds End

 For more pictures, click on: http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/582063373dDgTcI?vhost=outdoors

For more information about Worlds End State Park, go to:  http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/findapark/worldsend/index.htm

 
 
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