Salt Springs State Park

Falls at Salt Springs

Falls at Salt Springs

Salt Springs is one of the best-kept secrets in Pennsylvania.  Well, it used to be.  I’ve been coming to this park for over ten years and it is amazing how much it has changed, and how popular it has become.  The barn has been refurbished, the old farmhouse has been restored, a parking area has been added, and a boardwalk traverses the rim of the gorge.  The park is very popular with New Yorkers, since it is close to the border.

Salt Springs is described in Hikes Nos. 3-5 in Hiking the Endless Mountains.

It is hard not to love Salt Springs, with its gorge, waterfalls, old growth trees, and miles of trails that explore streams, boulders, meadows, cemeteries, and woodlands.  There is even a primitive camping area with some beautiful sites along Silver Creek.  Salt Springs is one of the few state parks managed by a non-profit agency, Friends of Salt Springs Park.  Please support this great organization.  State parks lands cover 405 acres, and the Friends of Salt Springs Park also own an adjoining 437 acres.  They are essentially managed as one park with a network of trails connecting both properties.

I recently returned to Salt Springs with Tim, Rick, and Rick’s two kids, Keith and Logan.  However, seeing the park was not my only goal for this trip.

We began by hiking up the Fall Brook Trail as it follows the creek into the gorge.  The kids loved scrambling up the three waterfalls.  Next we followed the Hemlock Trail as it explored a forest of old-growth hemlock, with some trees being over 300 years old.  A boardwalk followed the rim of the gorge under the towering canopy of the old growth trees.

Boardwalk above the gorge

Boardwalk above the gorge

The kids really enjoyed investigating Penny Rock, which is a large boulder where people have embedded pennies and other coins over the years.  To leave a coin is supposed to bring good luck.

Investigating Penny Rock

Investigating Penny Rock

Next we followed the Woodland Trail through a beautiful forest with a fallen hemlock that was well over 350 years old.  The trail descended to the park’s namesake, a small, salty spring that bubbled with methane gas.  The spring was well-known to the Native Americans, who used the salt.

We then took a walk down to check out the campground along Silver Creek.  There are eight sites and three camping cottages.  Tent sites nos. 2-5 appeared to be the nicest.

We returned to the car and left the park.  But I had one more destination.  Very close to the park in the small hamlet of Franklin Forks is a relatively new brewery, Endless Brewing Co.  I stopped by, but they were closed.  Salt Springs State Park and Endless Brewing Co., what more could you want?

Rick at Endless Brewing Co.

Rick at Endless Brewing Co.

More information about Salt Springs State Park.

More pictures.

 

Worlds End State Park

Double Run

Double Run

I’ve been to numerous state parks across the nation, but Worlds End is among my favorite.  Nestled in a deep gorge, surrounded by the vast Loyalsock State Forest, it conveys a sense of place that makes it feel special.  Standing along the beautiful Loyalsock Creek and looking up the towering bluffs and graceful white pine trees, it is hard not to appreciate the beauty of this park.

And Worlds End is a hiking wonderland.  An extensive network of trails explore secret glens with cascades and waterslides, deep hemlock forests, great views, and giant rocks.  The parks trails also connect to those in the state forest, creating a nearly endless number of hiking opportunities.  This hike is a shortened version of hike No. 37 in Hiking the Endless Mountains.

Leigh Ann and I returned to Worlds End and parked at the Double Run Nature Trail.  I was happy to see the Worlds End Chapel was still around.  The original site was swept away in the floods, so a new one was built across the road.  It would be hard to find a more peaceful place of worship.

Worlds End Chapel

Worlds End Chapel

The Double Run Nature Trail is beautiful as it explores the glen with moss covered ledges and countless cascades.  The trail has undergone a lot of work (thanks to Warren Renninger), and it was a pleasure to hike.  We passed Cottonwood Falls and its crystalline pool.  The hike took across a footbridge and up a ridge.  We soon returned to Double Run and proceeded up a side branch of this stunning stream as we followed the Link Trail.  This is an excellent trail (and is far more scenic than the section of the Loyalsock Trail that it bypasses).  The trail wound around boulders, meandered above waterfalls, and traversed mossy ledges.  We soon reached the road and crossed it, following a new section of the Link Trail that climbed up the mountain and then leveled off along the bottom of a series of ledges.

The trail returned to its old route and began the climb up to Canyon Vista, the green expanse faded with the haze as shafts of sunlight pierced the clouds.

Canyon Vista

Canyon Vista

There were some people at the vista when we arrived, including a family.  An adorable older woman, probably a grandmother, slowly walked down to the vista.  She gasped in awe at the view, saying it was so beautiful.  I got the feeling she was the too-rare type of person who was impressed with just about everything.

She then asked her family, “I know this might sound stupid, but are these the Smoky Mountains?”

“No, they’re further south” came the answer.  A few minutes passed.

She asked, “Are these the Kittatinny Mountains?”

“No, they’re in New Jersey.”  A few more minutes passed.

“Are these the Alleghenies?”

No response.

I was half impressed with everyone’s relative knowledge that those mountain ranges even existed.  Although Grandma’s final question might be considered correct, I was tempted to ease her boundless curiosity and tell her these mountains are popularly known as the Endless Mountains, but I didn’t.

We left the vista and continued on the blue blazed Canyon Vista Trail as it followed the edge of the plateau.  The highlight of the trail are a series of large boulders and ledges between which the trail explores.  Along the way the moss revealed a peace sign.

Peace

Peace

We soon passed two families hiking up the trail, the woman said, “That hill nearly killed me.”  And the trail did get very steep as it angled down the mountain.  We hiked across the road and followed the trail along the gorgeous, crystal clear Loyalsock Creek.  Families were swimming in the water or relaxing on the rocks.

One “tradition” I’ve noticed at Worlds End over the years is that people often make cairns along the creek.  The come in different styles and sizes.  Some are quite artistic.  They will be swept away in the next flood, but will surely return time and time again.

Cairn

Cairn

We walked the road back to the car, ending another visit to Worlds End.

More pictures.