As you can tell by the posts in this blog, I spend a lot of time in SGL 57. It is not just close and convenient, it is also one of the most unique and beautiful places in Pennsylvania. It features vast, elevated plateaus with balds, deep spruce forests, rimrock cliffs, and hidden glens with waterfalls and bedrock cascades.
I recently learned the High Knob Trail was cleared, so I decided a hike was in order. I last hiked the trail about 10 years ago and it was in rough shape. I also hoped to find a series of cliffs I remembered from my last visit.
Wes, Ryan, and Ed joined me and we met up at the stone cabin. We decided to check out Somer Brook Falls, which is a couple hundred yard east of the cabin, off the trail. We soon reached the top of the falls which was covered in ice. It was a beautiful sight. The falls are between 75-100 feet tall and have a couple of drops. We hiked to the bottom of the falls and Ryan led us on an old railroad grade. We followed the grade and then reached Southbrook Road, where we turned left. We walked up the road a short ways and then turned right onto another old grade, the start of the High Knob Trail. If hiking from the stone cabin, the trail will be on your left. The trail did not have a sign, but there was a small sign post. The trail had faded yellow and white blazes.
The trail was easy to follow as it kept to an old forest grade. We passed through a meadow and forests of hemlock. Much of the forest was beech saplings and some huge cherry trees. The trail began to head south as we wrapped around the north end of the loop. I kept my eyes on the right, to see if there was any sign of the cliffs. I noticed what appeared to be a drop off and some large mountain laurel bushes. After a quick walk off the trail, we reached the rim of cliffs and boulders. What an impressive place. There were caves, crevices, maze of boulders, and massive overhangs. We got a bite to eat as we enjoyed the scenery.
Our hike continued on the trail, which passed through four deer fences in areas that were logged. We hiked across a meadow and soon reached a gravel road. The trail crossed the road and soon entered a deep and beautiful spruce forest. The emerald green was a stark contrast to the bare, gray woods. The High Knob Trail crossed another gravel road and we made our way around the southern end of the loop. This was once a railroad grade and there were many ties still in the trail. The trail through here was narrower, but we were still able to follow it. This would be a great place to hike in July due to all the blueberry bushes.
Spruce trees still accompanied the trail, but most of the forest was hardwoods. We reached another deer fence, which we followed to the right. The perimeter of the fence soon brought us back to Cider Run Road, which we followed back to the car. If hiking the High Knob Trail clockwise, it can be difficult to tell where the trail begins off of Cider Run Road. The entire loop, not including the falls or cliffs, is roughly 7 miles long. The trail is easy with virtually no climbing. Everyone had a great time and I’m sure it won’t take 10 more years for me to hike it again.
Location of the trailhead.
Location of the stone cabin. Somer Brook Falls is located just east of the cabin, off the trail. The High Knob Trail leaves Southbrook Road, to the left, on an old grade north of the cabin.