The Mid State Trail is the longest in Pennsylvania, stretching from Maryland to New York. In the Tioga State Forest, the trail climbs out of the Pine Creek Gorge and descends along Mossy Run to Stony Fork, a stream of great beauty that is famous for its cascades, deep swimming holes, and polished bedrock. It is beloved by hikers, whitewater paddlers, anglers, and nature lovers.
I maintain a section of the trail along Stony Fork. Recently, I drove out to the trail to work on my section. From Claymine Road, the trail meandered between large rocks and descended along Mossy Run, a small stream with many waterfalls and cascades with ledges and rocks that are often carpeted with moss. The stream is odd; it often flows underground, only to reappear to tumble over a bedrock ledge.
The trail then follows Stony Fork with its rapids and deep clear pools carved into the smooth bedrock. The trail stays close to the creek, only leaving to climb higher above when the terrain along the creek becomes too steep. The roar of the creek was a constant companion along the trail as it twisted and turned through laurel and under pine or hemlock trees.
As I headed downstream, the creek became more impressive, with larger cascades, slides, and deeper pools surrounded by ledges dripping with springs.
The sun fought through the clouds as the winds picked up from an approaching cold front. Leaves danced across the forest floor and over the aquamarine water.
If you ever hike the Mid State Trail, take time to enjoy the beauty of Stony Fork. In the summer, you’d be hard pressed to find better swimming holes- a nice treat for summer backpacking. Keep in mind that a bridge does not exist where the trail crosses the creek, so be prepared for wet feet and do not attempt to cross in high water as Stony Fork becomes a powerful and dangerous whitewater river.