When I was writing the first edition of “Hiking the Endless Mountains”, I remember hiking the Pole Bridge Trail. Although it was short, it was a hike that stuck with me due to the beauty of its forest in a deep glen with moss, ferns, ledges, pools, and cascades. I always intended to return. I didn’t, until this past weekend.
Since my first hike, it appears the state forest had abandoned the Pole Bridge Trail since it is no longer on the maps. My hope was to create a long loop by using the Pole Bridge Trail, bridle trails, some grades, and the Link Trail. This loop was one I had not hiked before, and would feature diverse forests, scenic streams, meadows, Rusty Falls, cascades, and beautiful glens.
I parked at Shanerburg Road, just off of PA 154. I hiked a short distance up PA 154 and turned right at the driveway of a leased cabin. The grade of the Pole Bridge Trail was just up the slope, and I climbed through a thicket of hemlock. Soon the grade cleared and the trail was still in existence, with a perceptible footpath and red blazes. I was on my way.
The weather was perfect. The sun was crisp and bright, it was cool and a steady breeze kept the bugs away.
The trail stayed high above the creek, but the height offered great views of the forest. It was impressive. Hemlocks, birch, maple towered high with a carpet of moss. It almost appeared to be old-growth. There was some nice-sized hemlock, which looked healthier with new growth thanks to our frigid winter. The trail was an excellent hike as it parsed ferns. The forest smell was sweet, reminding me of the Adirondacks. I veered off the trail to inspect the creek with its pools under a grove of hemlock. It is surely one of the most scenic forests in the area.
The trail crossed the creek and proceeded up the mountain. The trail was a little less established, but I could still follow it. The red blazes continued to make an occasional appearance. I reached the top where the trail ended at a new logging road, marked by a cairn. This road was also the red blazed bridle trail. I turned left and followed the road as it gradually ascended along meadows and then descended along a narrow grade. I turned left along Shanerburg Run, still following the bridle trail. The hike up along Shanerberg Run is very beautiful, with thick hemlocks and several stream crossings. I reached the large meadow as the breeze swept across the grass like waves. What a beautiful spot.
The trail re-entered the woods along some cascades on the creek. I followed the trail to Rusty Falls, a 10-15 foot falls in a hemlock glen. My hike continued on the bridle trail to Shanerburg Road, and I left the bridle trail. I followed a gated grade through a forest where I saw a deer and grouse with chicks. I soon returned to the bridle trail where I passed a scenic glen with small waterfalls and another beautiful hemlock forest with a bog. The bridle trail made a sharp, partially hidden turn and climbed through another beautiful forest. I descended to the Link Trail, where I turned right for the steep descent back to Shanerburg Run and my car. However, I first walked out to Flat Rock on the Loyalsock Creek to take in the warm sunshine and sparkling water. The sunlight and breeze were effervescent. I passed two men backpacking the Loyalsock-Link Loop. They seemed to be enjoying themselves. How could they not? Another great day in the Loyalsock State Forest.