I knew something was there, I just didn’t know what. The topographic maps hinted at a secret gorge with waterfalls, miles from any road. Did SGL 57 have another secret up it sleeve? After seeing so many of its waterfalls, gorges, big rocks, pristine streams, and diverse habitats, it was hard to think there could still be something hidden deep in the thousands of acres of forests. How could a place this beautiful, this diverse, be relatively unknown for so long?
Our plan was ambitious. We would bushwhack from Becker Brook southwest along cliffs and ledges, proceed down to Mehoopany Creek, and then climb up the hidden waterfall gorge. From there, we would have to find some way out to the road. While I expected rough terrain and thick brush, I did not expect to see a place so beautiful.
Ryan and I left the game commission parking area above Becker Brook, battling thick mountain laurel above a rim of cliffs. The brook roared below us, announcing the presence of cascades. We scrambled down a fractured cliff to reach the one branch of Becker Brook. It was a steep ravine filled with boulders and a creek with non-stop cascades and rapids. The sun was blistering with its light, even in the morning. The day promised to be a hot one. Our route descended along a branch of Becker Brook, with damage from the floods still evident. Sides of the ravine were torn out with collapsed trees and landslides. We soon reached the other, and larger, branch of Becker Brook and began our climb up. This branch was even more scenic with higher cascades and deep pools framed by large, smooth boulders. The setting was truly scenic, and we weren’t even at the best part.
We reached a private property line and turned away from the brook. A climb followed up to a series of ledges and cliffs. Moss and fern covered boulders hid deep caves and crevices as springs dripped in secret. Ice and snow still remained in the shadows. The footing was difficult as I negotiated the terrain. A spring cascaded down a carpet of moss like a bathroom shower. As we proceeded around the rim, the cliffs became larger, featuring massive overhangs and deep grottos that held even more ice.
The rim soon revealed a long cliff from which countless springs tumbled down. Rounded columns of ice and snow were under the cliffs. It was a beautiful place that we called the “Weeping Wall”. In winter, the ice flows here would rival the more famous ones at Kasson Falls. The rim wasn’t done. We fought through beech saplings as the sharp twigs stabbed and cut my legs. The cliffs rose higher and we reached a couple of nice views of the Upper Mehoopany Creek canyon. One view even looked down the canyon towards Forkston. I wish we could have spent more time at the views, but we didn’t know how difficult the rest of the hike would be, so we pushed on. I was beginning to feel very tired and sluggish. I had little energy as the sunlight burned through the bare trees. I didn’t know why I felt weak. I wasn’t that hungry and I still had water, which I made sure to drink.
Our route took us into a valley or drainage where we passed a couple small springs. I walked on top of a large ledge and looked down. There I saw something that almost seemed Biblical- a spring pouring from solid rock. I had to look twice to make sure I saw it right. There it was, a pure spring gushing from a crack in the rock. Ryan and I scrambled down. We just stared at it. Ryan put his ear to the ledge; he could hear the water flowing through it. I decided to drink from it, and quickly filled up my bottle and reservoir. The water wasn’t simply cold, it was chilled. And it was the most delicious water I ever tasted. We both sat there, drinking to our hearts’ content. The smallest thing became the most surprising. I immediately began to feel better as my strength returned. We called it “Blessing Spring”. We didn’t want to leave. Eventually, we did. We were refreshed and invigorated.
A long, steep descent to Mehoopany Creek followed as rapids glistened in the sun. We hiked upstream and took a break along the water in the bright sun. Our hike continued along the valley into an area which appeared to have subsided from the floods; a distinct fault marked the place where the land subsided. Surprisingly, the forest remained unaffected.
We reached the unnamed creek and passed a campsite with old cookware. The bottom of the gorge was covered with fallen trees and flood erosion. A ten foot falls soon greeted us. Large boulders littered the creek as we scrambled. Ahead was a long waterslide and an impressive grotto with a stunning falls about 40 feet in height.
A difficult scramble around the highest falls revealed more waterslides and pools. The gorge was precipitous with steep slopes, making it difficult to crawl out. We looked up to see a stunning sight- three waterfalls descending the gorge. We were able to crawl behind the second falls as a curtain of water got us wet. Another tough scramble followed where we reached a beautiful grotto at the top of the gorge. There was another falls where we were able to crawl behind.
We sat at the top of the gorge and looked down with its large boulders and bedrock slides. Fractured cliffs framed the gorge. We were amazed by the scenery. If this gorge was close to a road, it would be a state park.
We explored another ledge and then made our way out to the road through forests with ground pine and blueberry bushes. A road walk followed back to the car, bringing an end to another epic journey in SGL 57.
We travel the world to see places we’ve never been, when such places exist in our own backyards.
Photos and videos of the hike.
Location of the Waterfall Gorge.