Waterfall Wonderland

Beautiful- Quinn and Shanty Runs

In State Game Lands 13, just west of Ricketts Glen State Park, is a place of incredible natural beauty.  I call it the Waterfall Wonderland and it is hike number 31 in Hiking the Endless Mountains.

Here, Heberly Run and Sullivan Branch descend from the vast plateaus, carving incredible gorges and several beautiful waterfalls.  Cliffs and ledges often line the streams, which are crystal clear.  Deep pools have been sculpted from the bedrock, which is often bright red or even pink.  In the gorges are thick temperate forests and an incredible biodiversity.  It is simply one of the most special places in the Mid Atlantic.

Last weekend I joined Ryan, Wes, Bill, and his nephew Sawyer on a hike into the gorges.  There are no trails along the streams.  It is an arduous bushwhack, but the scenery is more than worth it.

We met at Sullivan Falls in the morning and worked our way up Sullivan Branch.  The sunlight cut through the mist and electrified the leaves.  I’ve hiked this circuit many times and I believe this was the first time I hiked it counter-clockwise.  Pigeon Run Falls sprayed from the right.  Sullivan Branch has many waterslides and cascading waterfalls in mossy grottos surrounded by cliffs and ledges.  Deep pools adorn the creek.  Red and white bedrock were wiped clean by the floods last year.

We reached the top and followed the trail across the plateau.  The trail is now obvious and in fairly good shape, although it is not blazed.  We left the trail and descended to Quinn and Shanty Runs to a place of amazing beauty where you are surrounded by waterfalls that feed into an aquamarine pool.

We resumed the hike and reached Lewis Falls, where we spoke to another hiker.  I tough descent followed as we reached the bottom of the falls.

Lewis Falls

We continued down Heberly Run to two more falls- Twin and Big.  Lower Twin Falls plunged into an incredibly deep, clear pool.  There was one waterslide above deep red bedrock.  Big Falls is simply impressive, as towering cliffs dripping with springs surround the falls.

Big Falls

A hike down Heberly Run followed until we reached Sullivan Branch again.  This time we simply hiked up Sullivan Branch, something I never did before; I normally just took the dirt road.  Sullivan Branch from Sullivan Falls to Heberly Run was very beautiful with boulders and many ledges, pools, and waterslides.

Sullivan Falls

Sullivan Falls soon came into view from a distance, marking the end of our incredible sojourn.

Please visit, but treat this special place with respect.  It is a difficult, and potentially dangerous, hike and bushwhack.  No trails follow the creeks, so you must often hike in and along the streams.  Passing the waterfalls is difficult.  Sullivan Branch is often encased with cliffs, and in places, you must climb up along the waterfalls.  Usually, the bedrock provides good traction. It will be a hike you won’t soon forget.

More pictures.

More hike information on Mid Atlantic Hikes.

 

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