I used to spend a lot of time in the Loyalsock State Forest. I would look over maps, find trails, and start hiking. Over the years I’ve hiked most of the trails in the state forest and along the way I’ve seen secret waterfalls, hidden glens, cliffs, and beautiful forests. There was many a night when I would drive back home on Route 87 in the dark, caked with dirt and sweat, my legs sore and aching.
As the years passed, I gradually spent less time in the Loyalsock. I was off exploring new areas, or attending to chores at home. However, I still missed the Loyalsock. Even after hiking in places like Yosemite, the White Mountains, and Zion, the Loyalsock remains one of my favorite places due to its unique and subtle beauty. It is without question one of the most scenic public lands in Pennsylvania.
I recently returned to the state forest to see some of its hidden ponds, as well as its vistas. The Loyalsock is unique in that there are several ponds embedded in the forest and most are at least a little ways from a road.
My first stop was to see two wildfowl ponds at the headwaters of Double Run. I parked my car and hiked in on an old woods roads through a stunning hemlock forest. Rays of sunlight penetrated the dark forest to electrify a few younger trees in the understory. I still had some trauma from a recent Adirondacks hike where I was viciously attacked by black flies and mosquitos and I half-expected a smilar assault when I stepped in the woods. Besides a few pesky deerflies, I was left alone.
The grassy trail took me to the first pond, which covered about 15 or so acres. There was open water and lots of standing scags. It was a beautiful and serene place. On a calm day in the fall it would be spectacular with all the reflections.
I hiked further to another, smaller pond that was just as scenic, and larger than I expected. Yellow lilies were about to bloom and several frogs were croaking.
I then drove out to High Knob Overlook; this view never disappoints. The rolling green ridges melted into the distant haze.
Next was a small pond off of Big Hollow Road. This pond was only a few acres in size, but nice nonetheless. The deerflies were a little more assertive at this pond. I then drove to Big Hollow Pond, probably my favorite. This untouched pond is surrounded by forested ridges and hemlock forests. Unlike the other ponds, most of the surface was free of lilypads.
I then drove up to Bearwallow Pond where several people were fishing. A road passes this isolated pond with its stumps and lilypads. A visit to Hoagland Vista as the sun began to set followed. The vista looks down on the Hoagland Creek gorge. My final stop was to sublime Hunters Lake, located adjacent to the state forest. This lake is a kayaker’s and angler’s dream with its clear waters, untouched shoreline, and beautiful views of the mountains.
A beautiful day in the Loyalsock State Forest.