SGL 57- Boulder Brook and Mehoopany Creek

Boulders in the upper Mehoopany Creek

Boulders in the upper Mehoopany Creek

I returned to SGL 57 with Wes and Ryan to explore an unnamed creek between Somers Brook and South Brook.  We drove to the top of the mountain during a frigid, sunny morning.  At the top we were greeted with incredible spruce forests that remind me of the Adirondacks, just six hours closer to home.

We followed a series of gated game commission roads to our creek, which I’ll call Boulder Brook.  The brook meandered crazily under a dark hemlock forest.  We soon reached the edge of the plateau where cascades began to announce themselves.  The brook then dashed steeply down the mountain over a maze of huge boulders, hence the name.  The gorge was very steep and had flood damage.  In higher water, this would be an impressive place to hike with countless cascades.  With the bright sun and low water, it was hard to get a good picture.  The terrain was very rugged with all the boulders, but we reached Mehoopany Creek and Southbrook Road.

We hiked up the road, really a grassy path.  Our goal was an impressive chasm or gorge with rapids, waterslides and deep pools.  As we hiked upstream, entire mountainsides were consumed by the floods, offering views of new rapids far below.  We soon reached the gorge, which was scoured by the floods.  A deep pool lied at the bottom.  The water danced over ledges and slides.  It is a beautiful place.  A high cliff towered above us, decorated with icicles.

Wes exploring the gorge along the Mehoopany Creek

Wes exploring the gorge along the Mehoopany Creek

We pushed upstream and reach Southbrook Road once again, part of it was obliterated by the floods.  It is hard to imagine the epic amount of water during the floods, in places it was 15 feet higher than the creekbed.

We reached a nice meadow at South Brook and followed a grassy grade across the plateau back to the car.  Along the way Ryan saw a huge buck as the soggy trail passed through thickets of bare blueberries.  The trail brought us back to the where we started.

More pictures.

Location of the gorge and rapids along the Mehoopany Creek.

SGL 134- Loyalsock Valley Vista and Huckle Run

Loyalsock Valley Vista

Loyalsock Valley Vista

Surrounded by the beautiful Loyalsock State Forest, SGL 134 is a worthy destination

in its own right.   Covering almost 7,000 acres, these game lands feature deep hemlock forests, ledges, views of the narrow Loyalsock Valley, and Huckle Run, a stream of great beauty.

I first hiked on these game lands about 12 years ago and had not been back prior to this hike.  However, the experience had always stuck with me.  On my first hike, my group followed a series of unofficial trails.  I wasn’t sure where these trails were on my second visit, so I knew some bushwhacking would be required.

We reached the parking area to see it full; it was bear season.  We would only see one hunter in the woods on our entire hike.  We hiked down the gated road under thick hemlock forests and passed some meadows.  The bushwhack soon began with a turn into the hemlocks; these game lands feature extensive hemlock forests.  The forests were beautiful as we made our way to the edge of the plateau.

We soon reached the edge where there were some ledges and mountain laurel.  We made our way along the cliff edge, battling laurel.  As we proceeded, the ledges became larger as we traversed the edge of them.  I climbed into a pine forest and turned right, where we reached a prominent cliff with an incredible view- Loyalsock Valley Vista.  This vista is unique in that it is set down in the valley, so you are surrounded by the higher plateaus.  The Loyalsock Creek glistened in the sun 500 feet below.  The view to the west was impressive as the valley narrowed into a winding gorge as the prominent peak of Smiths Knob rose in the distance.  The wind buffeted the vista, so we did not stay long.

We found the old trail system as it meandered above ledges, under hemlocks, and crossed the plateau.  It was a very nice forest walk.  There was still a faint treadway.  Our next goal was Huckle Run.  We reached a trail juncture and turned right and this trail took us down into the gorge.  We had to leave the trail where it entered private property and we followed the game lands boundary steeply down to Huckle Run.

We were treated to a stream of amazing beauty.  Huckle Run carved grottos with waterfalls, cascades, and deep pristine pools.  The water was incredibly clear.  I hiked up the creek to see more waterfalls and pools eroded into the bedrock.  What a stunning place.

 

Falls on Huckle Run

Falls on Huckle Run

 

I climbed back up to the trail which followed a grade above the creek.  The creek narrowed into a deep gorge.  We hiked further to see a gorgeous series of waterfalls over moss covered ledges.

The old trail ended so we continued up the creek as it tumbled over boulders and rocks at the bottom of a deep gorge.  A snow squall passed through sending snowflakes swirling down into the gorge.  Hemlocks draped the canopy.

We climbed out of the gorge and reached an old game commission road.  We followed the gated road back to the car as a setting sun sent shafts of light through the hemlock forests.  I will surely be back to this special place.

More pictures.

Location of Huckle Run.

 

Henry Lott and Somer Brooks- SGL 57

Cascade on Henry Lott Brook

Cascade on Henry Lott Brook

Hiking off trail fills you with the feeling of not knowing what to expect.

Or how much daylight you will have.

I returned to SGL 57 to explore more of this wilderness.  And it again confirmed to me that it is one of the most impressive places in Pennsylvania.  Our goal was Henry Lott and Somer Brooks on the east side of the Mehoopany Creek gorge.  It was a warm, humid, overcast day.

We parked the car and began a hike up Mehoopany Creek; the effects of the epic floods from a few years ago were still evident.  We soon reached Henry Lott Brook and made our climb.  This creek was also ripped apart by the floods, and in several places there were landslides, or places where the land along the creek subsided.  The creek soon revealed its beauty with huge moss covered boulders, deep pools of translucent amber water, and countless cascades over ledges.  We crossed where we needed and battled through fallen trees.  We passed one massive landslide where a scar was ripped down the side of the mountain, leaving a jagged mound of rocks on one side, and a huge pile of trees at the creek.

Landslide

Landslide

As we climbed, the gorge became narrower as cliffs rose on the right.  Cascades became more frequent, and in places, the creek was inundated with boulders.  One unique spot was a mini-glen where the creek carved down into the smooth bedrock, swirling around a boulder lodged at the top of a small waterfall.  Deep pools carved into the bedrock were everywhere.  This would be the place to be in summer.

We reached a stairstep cascade along some boulders; above were thick hemlock forests.  Our trek brought us to a forest road as mist sailed through the trees.  It was a warm, overcast day, threatening rain that never came.  We followed the road past spruce trees and bare forests.  The road took us along a food plot, and to our right there appeared to be cliffs and some views.  We did get some views through the trees, but we were in the clouds.  Caves and crevices were in the boulders beneath us.

We soon made our way to beautiful Somer Brook in a hemlock forest.  The terrain was tough as we descended, but the creek was beautiful with more cascades and pools, framed by giant boulders in a steep glen.  Little did we realize we were losing daylight, and we still didn’t get to the best part.

A side stream joined from the left, marked by a fifteen foot falls with a swirl of foam.  We climbed up to see an amazing 75-100 foot falls descending over tiers of rock. The top tier was out of sight.  It was beautiful.  We sat there enjoying the stunning scenery of this little-known falls.  Even this stream is not shown on any topo map despite its respectable size.  The cliffs of the grotto surrounded us as the sound of cascading water filled our ears.  The entire scene was engulfed by the green of hemlock and spruce.

Thankfully, we did not linger too long…

The 75-100 foot falls along Somer Brook

The 75-100 foot falls along Somer Brook

We began the steep climb up the rim of the glen over a carpet of moss.  I passed near a boulder, sliding off a cliff, propped up by a tree.  Suddenly I heard a loud crack and the rush of air.

Another tree had collapsed off the side of the glen and crashed close to where we had been standing at the bottom of the falls.

Strangely, I was not too flustered by this fortunate happenstance since I was to pre-occupied with the scenery, and the climb.  We soon reached the top of this impressive falls as we looked into the gorge below.  With daylight fading on an overcast day, it was clear we would not be able to continue our hike down Somer Brook.  It is as steep and rugged as Henry Lott Brook.  It was not a place to be in the dark.  We decided to hike out to the gated forest road.

To get there we were treated to an amazing spruce forest that was deep, dark, and mysterious.  It was eerie and silent, except for the wind at the treetops.  This place resembled a rainforest, or someplace in the Pacific northwest.  Carpets of moss covered the floor as the placed creek meandered.   Spruce seedlings battled for light.  We were surrounded by green.  Were we in Pennsylvania?

We reached the gated road and continued on to the “famous” Stone Cabin, a well-known landmark.  The cabin is interesting; few structures in this area are made completely of stone and this one has a unique style with how the stone was laid and fitted.  For a cabin so unique and well-known, it is underused.  I always thought it would be neat if it were a hut where people could stay, like the ones in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

The Stone Cabin

The Stone Cabin

We began a long gradual descent, passing cliffs, boulders and ledges.  Twilight descended as we reached the Meat Trail and its faded yellow blazes.  The trail descended steeply over sodden leaves.  By the time we reached the Mehoopany Creek it was almost dark.  The creek bed was torn by the floods, and was several feet lower than it used to be.  The old swinging bridge, collapsed years ago, lied crumbled along the steep bank.

And we had to cross the creek.

We found a fallen tree that we gingerly stepped across over the current.  By the time we reached Dutch Mountain Road, it was pitch black.  These woods were dark, with little ambient light from nearby towns.  We heard a couple deer run in the forest above us, invisible.  The night was warm and humid as we walked along the Mehoopany Creek and its melodic current.  Thick clouds capped the mountains.  A few pick up trucks slowly drove by us.  We reached the car exhausted after a 14 or 15 mile epic journey across rugged, isolated terrain.

To see places few others have made it all worthwhile.  To see the beauty that few even know exists in our backyards is a blessing.

More pictures.

 

 

 

 

Prompton State Park

View along the Cliff Trail

View along the Cliff Trail

Prompton State Park is located near Honesdale and encompasses Prompton Lake, an Army Corps of Engineers flood control project.  The lake covers 290 acres and the park features over 20 miles of trails on 1,500 acres of public land.  This is a popular place for mountain bikers, and the trails are generally tailored to fit their needs; however, there is some very good hiking to be found at Prompton, particularly in the northern part of the park.

We arrived on a cold, blustery day as wind whipped down the lake.  We crossed over the dam and began on the Hemlock Trail as it meandered through scenic hemlock forests, interspersed with hardwoods.  We reached one cove featuring a deep hemlock forest as sun spliced through the trees.  It was a beautiful spot.  We turned on the High Ledge Trail, which continued its meandering ways as it traversed some ledges.  The trail took us down a rocky drainage to the East Shore Trail.  This trail stayed above the lake as cliffs loomed deeper in the forest.  We passed a meadow and soon reached the start of our hike near the dam.

We drove to the northern part of the park where I wanted to check out the Hiker, Cliff, and Sidewinder Trails.  I’m glad we did, this was an excellent hike.

The trail initially followed an abandoned road carpeted with moss and leaves.  We turned left onto the Hiker Trail and it was a lot of fun as we climbed between tiers of massive ledges, slicked with springs.  The ledges were comprised of blocks of cross bedded sandstone.  We then turned left onto the Cliff Trail which took us through the woods and down to a beautiful creek flowing under hemlock and spruce.  Not sure where the waterfalls were, we headed upstream on the Cliff Trail.  No luck, but it was still a beautiful trail through a deep hemlock forest and a meandering stream.

After retracing our steps, we headed downstream along a beautiful trail that traversed the deepening gorge of red bed rock.  Cascades and waterslides adorned the creek as the gradient picked up.  Soon we were treated to a long waterslide.  The creek was running low.  Just below us was an impressive red rock chasm.

Red rock chasm above the waterfalls

Red rock chasm above the waterfalls

We hiked down the steep trail to the first falls as it tumbled down a series of ledges.  It must be an incredible sight in higher water.  Another falls was downstream, but was too difficult to get a picture of it with a dusting of snow on the ground and the low water flow.  This is a beautiful spot.

First falls in low water

First falls in low water

We reached the East Shore Trail and turned right, crossing the flood torn streambed.  The trail then treated us to a scenic walk along the Lackawaxen River.

Trail along the Lackawaxen River

Trail along the Lackawaxen River

We reached the car for the drive home.

For water lovers, the lake is an excellent place to kayak and fish.  It is undeveloped and features many bays and coves.

For more information, visit Friends of Prompton State Park.

More pictures.

Panther Hill, Lackawanna State Forest

View from Panther Hill

View from Panther Hill

I was able to get out for a quick hike a few weekends ago, so I set my sights on Panther Hill in the northern part of the Lackawanna State Forest.  I had heard of a view up there, so I decided I needed to check it out.  It was a cool, sunny day.

I parked the car and walked along a gated forest road, before turning left onto a wide, grassy trail.  This took me down to scenic Panther Creek as brook trout darted in every direction.  I crossed the creek and continued on the trail.  I turned left onto another trail, passing some old ruins.  The trail gradually climbed.  The colors from the birch were beautiful with bright, vivid yellow.

As to be expected, it was time for a bushwhack.  I began the climb up the mountain, where I passed old logging grades.  The climb was unique in that there were level tiers going up.  The terrain became rockier as I climbed over some ledges.  I saw an open area above and pushed ahead.

I soon reached a magnificent view, a 180 degree vista where you could see for 30-40 miles, from the mountains near Mehoopany to Miller Mountain, Bald Mountain, and Elk Mountain.  There were still some colors, but it was past peak.  The Nesbitt Reservoir was in the valley below.  Despite being so close to urban areas, this view was mostly untouched.  Deep red blueberry bushes covered the ground, as stunted oak trees grew above.  The deep valleys of the Panther and Painter Creeks were to the west.  Truly remarkable.  A hawk soared overhead.

What made the view so unique was the diversity of the topography.  Instead of flat plateaus, there were ridges, summits, deep valleys, and even a reservoir.

I hiked along the ridge, battling through carpets of red blueberry bushes where I reached more views, including one from a cliff.  Clouds sailed overhead.

I hiked up the mountain, passing ledges and reached the top where there was a bald with some stunted pine trees.  This appeared to be the summit of Panther Hill, and there was a view to the west.  I returned to the first vista as the skies cleared below a setting sun.  Shadows began to grow from the valleys below.  I didn’t want to leave, but daylight was fading.

I made my way down the mountain to Panther Creek.  I passed a cascade and moss covered grotto.  The stream gurgled with little water from the dry weather we’ve had.  I passed more ruins and returned to the trail.  I crossed Panther Creek again and reached my car.  I will surely be back to this special place.

More pictures.