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.