After several weeks of not being able to hike, I was finally able to get out this weekend. Naturally, I ended up in State Game Lands 57. It hard to pass up this wonderland. I met up with Ryan and we began our climb up Flat Top. This time we took an easier route up to Raven Rock as we followed an old logging grade that gradually meandered up the slope through a majestic hardwood forest. The foliage was mostly green, but that would not be the case at the top. We turned left onto another trail where we began to see some vivid colors in the canopy. Maples were bright red. We saw the edge of the plateau and thought there might be a view, so we began a bushwhack. We couldn’t find a view, but after battling some laurel, I did come across a round boulder split in half.
We soon reached Raven Rock and its incredible view looking up the Mehoopany Creek. The deep blue sky, puffy cumulus clouds, and bright sunshine made the view so relaxing. Fall color capped the mountains. This view is described in Hike No. 14 of Hiking the Endless Mountains.
We left the vista to resume our hike, and our bushwhack. We climbed to the top of the plateau, reaching the cap rocks that rim the highest elevations where we passed caves and crevices. We soon reached the first of a series of small balds, surrounded by fall colors. We pressed on, hiking across fern meadows and forests of birch saplings. Our route took us through a boulder maze where some large animal had recently dug a burrow. After climbing through the maze we reached another bald.
We decided to take a more westerly direction and we soon reached the spruce forest of the Flat Top Cliffs. This is such a special place. The view of the high plateaus were breathtaking, as some of the forests were near peak in color. We gazed down the gorges and glens of the Mehoopany and its tributaries as the white bedrock ledges jutted out from the mountain, framed by red spruce trees.
I was walking around, checking out different views from the cliffs, when I looked down to see a tightly coiled rattlesnake. I couldn’t believe it. I must have walked all around that snake, and probably stepped very close to it. Yet, it never rattled, or bit me. I could probably thank the cool temperatures, which made the snake much more docile and sluggish.
We relaxed at this remarkable place as hawks soared overhead, but there was still more to hike. Our route took us north along the cliff line as it revealed more vistas of the mountains. Some of the finest looked south, offering vistas of ridge after ridge.
We descended from the cliffs, following a small stream. An old trail took us through a hemlock forest, along another stream, and across golden fern meadows. We tunneled through hemlock forests and soon reached the last bald of our hike. We took another break before continuing on the trail as it traversed a deep, verdant hemlock and spruce forest.
The trail took us to juncture, where we turned right for the long, steep descent down the glen of Whites Brook back to where we started, bringing an end to another excellent hike in one of Pennsylvania’s most beautiful places.