The View from Kellogg Mountain-SGL 36

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Panorama from Kellogg Mountain

Kellogg Mountain is in SGL 36 and rises between Millstone, Schrader, and South Branch Towanda Creeks. I’ve known of the possibility of some views on the mountain, so I recently climbed it to check them out.  I drove down Weston Road and turned right on a gravel road that went by a gas pad.  I continued up the road to a gate and small parking area on the left, next to a spruce plantation.

Since the road was gated, I simply hiked up it. The climb was steady and there were some switchbacks, but I made it to the top in good time.  The trees were a little more stunted at the summit with a variety of pine trees and blueberry meadows.  A number of radio and communication towers were also at the summit.  The road took me to an old, dilapidated cabin next to the site of a fire tower, now torn down.  The small cabin was interesting and even had a keystone embedded in its chimney.  Here, the road ended at a small parking area.  When the gate is open, it is possible to drive to the top, all the way to the old cabin, and greatly reduce the length of this hike.

The rest of the hike followed an old grassy forest road south. It was an enjoyable hike.  I crossed a very small stream and negotiated some wet areas.  The mountain was isolated with only the wind to accompany me.  I disturbed some grouse as turkey vultures flew overhead.  I reached a meadow and saw an obvious trail to the left that went through a laurel thicket.  I followed this trail until it degraded into a maze of smaller, game trails that soon brought me to an impressive series of cliffs.  I had reached the view.

It was a stunning view from the large white balconies of the cliffs, looking down a nearby glen where I could hear a tumbling stream. There was the steep walled valley of the South Branch Towanda Creek and tiers of ridges that stretched down into the valley.  I could see the profile of the mountains to the east with their rolling plateaus and peaks.  Between the mountains there were views to the east and north where I could see farmlands, and even the windmills near Mehoopany.  The views stretched for 20-30 miles and I wouldn’t be surprised if I could see into New York.  The scope and range of this view was superb, offering a variety of scenery.  Facing east, the view would be ideal for the sunrise, or even the sunset as the valleys below filled with shadows.  These views were truly impressive and I’m surprised they are not well known.

The white cliffs were also striking, providing three vistas from massive balconies of overhanging rock. These balconies made it ideal to rest and enjoy the sun and views.  Each view was similar, but offered a slightly different perspective.  Narrow trails follows the cliff rim.  Be careful as these are big cliffs and a fall will be deadly.  Turkey vultures sailed overhead, looking down on me and wondering why there was someone where they like to land.

I retraced my steps, vowing to return in the Autumn, or anytime.  After, I stopped by the impressive Lamoka Rapids on Schrader Creek, watching the clear, powerful current pulsate through the smooth, polished bedrock before it cascaded into a deep, aquamarine pool.

Kellogg Mountain is another of Pennsylvania’s hidden gems that you need to see.

More photos.

Location of the views on Google maps.

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This hike is easy!

  1. Follow Weston Road from the village of Powell.  After about 1.5 miles turn left onto a gravel road.  If you cross Millstone Creek, you went too far.
  2. The road gets a little steep, but is well maintained.  Reach SGL 36 and a small parking area on the left at a spruce plantation.  The road is gated and you must walk the road to do this hike.  Parking area is at N 41 40.978′ W 076 29.929′.
  3. If the gate is open (usually during hunting season), you can drive to the top of the mountain.  The road does get somewhat steep and is narrow in places, but is well-maintained.  The road switchbacks up the mountain.  It reaches a small parking area and the drivable road ends before a wooden gate.  This is at the old cabin.
  4. Follow the grassy forest road south.  Be prepared for sun exposure.
  5. Cross a very small stream, and then negotiate some wet areas.
  6. Reach a meadow and look for an obvious ATV trail on the left, through some laurel bushes.  N 41 39.836′ W 076 28.600′.
  7. Follow this trail as you near the cliffs.  The ATV trail ends, follow smaller, meandering game trails a short distance to the cliffs.
  8. There are three vistas and you can walk to each along the cliff rim, but be careful. N 41 39.790′ W 076 28.481′.
  9. There appears to be some bear activity along the cliffs.
  10. Kellogg Mountain has a reputation for snakes, watch out for them on hot, sunny days.
  11. From the bottom this hike is about 4-5 miles one way.  From the top it is about 1.5 miles one way.

Get out there!

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Waterfalls of Rollinson Run- SGL 12

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The third and highest falls on Rollinson Run

 

Another weekend, another little-known waterfall gem. This is getting exhausting!  It goes to show just how much beauty lies hidden in Pennsylvania.

This year I’m trying to explore more hidden wonders that exist throughout the state. And on that list was Rollinson Run in SGL 12, north of Shunk.

I’ve heard rumors that waterfalls existed on this creek, but I had never seen pictures and really didn’t know what to expect. The isolated location of the stream made it that much more intriguing.  I drove through Shunk and to the miniscule village of Wheelerville.  I turned right onto Schrader Creek Road and drove to the end at a game commission gate, where I parked.  The hike to Rollinson Run was easy- I just followed the gated road.  It was a surprisingly nice walk with views of Schrader Creek, a gorge, beaver dams, and wetlands.  The place felt isolated and I’m sure it is home to a lot of wildlife and birds from all the various habitats.  If you hike here in summer, be prepared for sun exposure.  After three miles, and the second bridge, I reached Rollinson Run.  I left the road and bushwhacked up the stream.  I soon entered a glen, and then a gorge ringed with cliffs.  The first falls soon came into view.  It was 20-25 feet tall and tumbled down a cliff into a pool.  It was a stunning grotto, and I was gorged-in.  I was able to scramble up the falls on the left.

The scenery only improved as I entered a gorge rimmed with fractured cliffs as the creek slid over bedrock. It was truly beautiful.  I turned the bend to see a lower falls, ten or so feet tall with a long slide, but the setting was gorgeous.  Cliff walls rose over me, adorned with small icicles.  The gorge closed in and I had to tip toe in the water to continue.

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The second falls, in a beautiful gorge.

 

Up ahead was the third, the highest, and most impressive falls. A double slide about 40 or so feet tall.  I was stunned this falls was not better known.  A rim of cliffs met at this falls.  I just sat there, taking it in.  I looked down to see the striking gorge carved by Rollinson Run, as the cliffs loomed through the trees.  The clear creek flowed over colorful bedrock with pools and mossy boulders.  I had it all to myself.  Here, again, I was gorged in.  I was able to scramble up the left side of this falls, but this is not possible in high water.  There was a break in the cliffs on the right side of the stream.  I stood on the broad shelf between the two falls, surrounded by the rushing water.

I climbed out of the gorge to be greeted by another falls, only a few feet tall, and a shallow pool over bedrock. I walked up the stream as it flowed peacefully through a gentle valley of hardwoods and meadows.  I reached a wet blueberry meadow, the place to be in July.  The scene reminded me of the Quehanna.    I decided to explore the next stream to the east, Wolf Run, so a bushwhack was in order.  I crossed the plateau through a nice hardwood forest and soon dropped down into Wolf Run.

Wolf Run was smaller than Rollinson, but I headed upstream to see if it had anything. The creek tumbled over stairstep cascades and bedrock slide, and small cliffs and ledges adorned the creek.  I soon entered a distinct glen and saw a fifteen foot falls in a small grotto.  The water was amber from the bogs and swamps upstream.  I pushed further to see a ten foot slide and more, smaller cascades.  I turned around and hiked out, following old grades on both sides of the creek.  I reached the road and returned to my car.

The Schrader Creek valley is one of Pennsylvania’s best kept secrets, a beautiful, isolated place with numerous waterfalls, ponds, pools, whitewater rapids, and historical remnants. It was not always so isolated, once home to logging and mining towns, as well as CCC camps.  But all the people left and the land began to heal, hiding its beauty over the decades.  These waterfalls were all known before, I’m sure, but they were forgotten as people moved and the generations changed.  Now, they are being rediscovered and people are coming back to the Schrader Creek valley for its beauty, not its coal or timber.  The value we attribute to a place can change, from what we can take from it, to what it already is.

More photos.

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Navigating this hike is easy.

  1. Park at this lot, located here on Google maps.  N 41 35.047′  W 076 46.254′
  2. Walk the gated road for about three miles east.
  3. At this bridge for Rollinson Run, leave the road and hike off trail up Rollinson Run.  N 41 35.693′  W 076 43.003′
  4. Falls at N 41 35.872′ W 076 43.125′
  5. Another falls at N 41 35.982′ W 076 43.141′
  6. At the top of Rollinson Run’s gorge, an old forest grade joins from the southwest, this may be a convenient return back to the gated road, but I did not hike it.
  7. Wolf Run Falls is at N 41 36.068′ W 076 42.669′
  8. Wolf Run crosses the gated road at N 41 35.736′ W 076 42.498′

Do not attempt Rollinson Run in high water because it is gorged in and it will be too dangerous to scramble beside the falls.  There are breaks in the cliffs and ledges if you need to get out of the gorge, but it is steep.  It is possible to scramble up the left side of each falls.  Do not attempt a descent of Rollinson Run.  Enjoy this beautiful place.

Waterfalls of Bar Bottom Hollow- Loyalsock State Forest

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Bottom falls in the hollow

 

Bar Bottom Hollow Run has carved a gorge about 800 feet deep into the plateau of the Loyalsock State Forest. Isolated and out-of-the-way, it sees few visitors, but the hollow is home to fine natural beauty that would make it a superb hiking destination anywhere else.  It is remarkable how many of these secret places exist in Pennsylvania.

I had known of waterfalls being in the hollow for a few years, but only had seen a photo of one of them. I decided the time had come to see this place for myself.  I drove up Butternut Grove Road as it climbed up a glen with a small stream and rhododendron.  The road leveled and I parked at the gate of Dad Dad Chapman Road.  I had initially thought it would be more direct to bushwhack east across the plateau to Bar Bottom Hollow, but the thick jungles of laurel soon made me change my mind.  I hiked along Dad Dad Chapman Road along scenic pine forests and numerous vernal ponds filled with croaking and peeping frogs.  It was a nice walk as the road meandered across the plateau.  I then reached a spruce and pine forest at a logging area, here I turned right onto a grassy forest road.  The road ascended and then dropped into a drainage; the old road was easy to follow, but eroded in places.  I then heard ominous howls- were there coyotes in the woods?  I then saw a small flock of snow geese flying north.  They sure make a lot of noise.  The open hardwood forests were serene and beautiful.  I then reached another forest road, a camp road that is used, where I turned right.  The road ascended the side of the mountain a little, passing above the headwaters of Bar Bottom Hollow Run where there were impressive carpets of moss.  The walk along the camp road was easy and enjoyable.

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Third falls from the bottom

 

Of course, I also had a different plan in mind- to see a meadow at the top of the ridge. So I left the road and bushwhacked up the ridge to the meadow.  It was nice, but no views other than the top of Smith’s Knob just over the trees.  There were some trails up there that someone appeared to be maintaining with fresh cut twigs and branches.  The trail followed the ridge to the south, near the steep escarpment of the plateau.  There were also thick tunnels of laurel, and even side trails marked by small cairns.  I wondered what was up with all these trails.  I soon reached the end of the ridge and the trail promptly ended.  So, I made the steep, rocky, rugged and not recommended descent to the hollow.  Overall, this side jaunt was not worth it.

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Highest falls in a remarkable grotto

 

I reached Bar Bottom Hollow Run and it was beautiful and serene as the clear stream babbled down at the bottom of a steep gorge; the walls of the gorge rose steeply on both sides. I wish I had been here ten years ago when the hemlocks were still healthy, it must have been incredible.  Today, what was once an impressive hemlock forest now struggled against the adelgid.  An old grade was on the east side of the creek, making the hiking easy.  Due to my side hike, I was hiking up the hollow, instead of down it, as most people would who venture to the hollow.  Ledges rose above me with slopes of talus.  The first falls came into view, about ten feet tall with an overhanging ledge and a pool.  Soon there was another falls- about fifteen feet tall with a cascade and long bedrock slide.  I continued up the hollow and the gorge became very beautiful with moss covered boulders, cascades, pools, and tiers of overhanging ledges.  I entered a distinct and narrow gorge and I soon reached an impressive grotto with a twenty foot falls and a side stream that showered down with its own falls.  This place must be amazing in high water, or in the winter.  It was truly beautiful and worthy of the miles of hiking.  Above was a small falls, less than ten feet tall, and more cascades and pools.  I returned to the old grade and hiked out of the hollow.  I wanted to see more of the stream, but daylight was fading.  I passed a white hunting cabin and retraced my steps to the car.

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Beautiful pool

 

Since I was so close to Jacoby Falls, I decided to do the quick three mile hike in and out to see it. This is a great trail and I saw several other people hiking.  By the time I reached this 35 foot falls it was twilight.  I had the place to myself as the grotto became more dark and ominous with the fading daylight.  Jacoby Falls is so graceful, if not delicate, as a veil of water dropped down into the amphitheater of rock.  I turned around and hiked out in the dark, as Jacoby Run was a ribbon of silver in the deep, dark gorge.

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Jacoby Falls

 

This hike is dedicated to the memory of Hua Davis, who recently passed away while hiking in the Adirondacks at the age of 61.

More photos.

Jacoby Falls Map and Guide.

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Don’t be intimidated by Bar Bottom Hollow’s lack of official trails, or its “out of the way” nature- it is fairly easy to navigate and explore thanks to old logging roads, grades, and forest roads.

  1.  Park at the gate of Dad Dad Chapman Road.  This gate may be open during hunting season.
  2. Hike Dad Dad Chapman Road; be sure to continue straight where the gravel road bends left to a drilling pad.
  3. After about 2 miles, reach a logged area with forests of pine and spruce.  Turn right onto an obvious grassy old forest road.
  4. After about another mile, turn right onto a forest/camp roadFollow this forest road to a white hunting camp.  The road becomes a grade that descends into the hollow.  Most of the waterfalls can be seen or heard from the grade, but it is worth to hike along the stream as well.  At the bottom of the hollow, the grade passes into private property.

The waterfalls are located at the following GPS coordinates:

N 41 22.987′ W 076 52.160′

N 41 22.753′ W 076 52.044′

N 41 22.664′ W 076 52.029′

Seven Tubs Sunset

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A few miles outside of Wilkes-Barre is a place of unique natural beauty, the Seven Tubs. Once a county park, it is now a part of the Pinchot State Forest.  The Seven Tubs has become a very popular destination for hikers and mountain bikers, and whitewater kayakers have been known to paddle Laurel Run in high water.  It is odd to see a place of such beauty so close to an urban area.

Our goal was to hike to a ridge above the Seven Tubs to see the sunset. We hiked down to the tubs as the water shot through a narrow gorge dusted with snow.  The strong current fed a string of deep pools carved into the bedrock.  There were many hikers on the trails, but we soon left them to hike on the ridge.  We climbed to an old rail grade and then climbed further up the ridge, passing massive boulders, cliffs, and even a cave.  The geology of these ridges are interesting, one side of the ridge had sloping ledges, the other had tiers of cliffs and boulders, between which were ponds and vernal pools.  We hiked up the spine of the ridge, enjoying views across the Wyoming Valley.

Our hike followed some unofficial trails which led to a forest road on top of the ridge with grassy meadows and more views. The sun continued to sink towards the horizon as we reached the view from some large boulders.  The sky became enflamed as the sun sank into the horizon.  There were swirls of red, orange and yellow.  The colors transformed to green, blue, purple, and black.  The last light of the day illuminated the serrated ridges that headed down to Nanticoke and Shickshinny.    At one point, I could see all the colors of the rainbow as the drifting clouds glowed red.  We sat there as the sky shed its colors and the last light of the day faded.  The lights of Wilkes-Barre twinkled below.  With a different perspective, you can see that even in a place like Wilkes-Barre, there is so much more, so much potential.

Our fun was not over. We sped through the forest, passing ponds and scrambling down ledges.  The forest began to fuse into black.   Ryan grew up nearby and remarked how he once hiked somewhere with his dad; he remembered that he scrambled up a cliff with metal rungs to hang onto.   We came upon an old sloping skid trail.  This led down to a cliff.  Ryan was ahead and saw the metal rungs.  It was the same place he had hiked with his dad many years ago.  We descended the cliff in the dark, hanging onto the rungs in the deepening twilight.  It reminded me of hiking in the Adirondacks.  We hiked out on the old rail bed in darkness, which is to become a new bike trail, and returned to our cars.  All the other hikers had gone, we were the last as the stars began to shine overhead and traffic rumbled on Route 115 with searing headlights.

More photos.

Map of the Seven Tubs.

Worlds End Loop: Worlds End State Park and Loyalsock State Forest

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Mineral Springs Falls

 

I have hiked at Worlds End State Park and the Loyalsock State Forest for close to twenty years. Even after seeing parks and trails across the country, the Loyalsock and Worlds End remain as among my most favorite places.

We hiked an 11 mile loop south of Worlds End State Park, where we followed the Worlds End, Loyalsock, and Link Trails. This is a wonderful loop with a lot of diversity.  It can also be an easy one night backpacking loop.  We began at the park office and walked down to the Loyalsock Creek and High Rock.  The creek was running strong and the roar of the rapids filled the canyon.  Springs plummet from the top of High Rock cliff and in winter impressive ice columns form.  There were no ice columns on this day, but numerous springs fell down to the creek, creating a moving rainbow in the bright sunshine.  It was beautiful.  We then turned around and climbed up the yellow blazed Worlds End Trail to the top of the plateau.  At the top, we turned left onto an old woods road that is part of the cross country ski trail system.  This trail meandered through several hemlock forests with some large trees.

We turned right onto snow covered Coal Mine Road and then right onto the yellow Worlds End Trail as it went through a scenic red pine plantation as hemlocks covered the forest floor. There were some nice campsites here.  The trail continued until we reached the Loyalsock Trail, where we turned left.  The trail explored green hemlock forests and passed a cliff off to the left.  I decided to explore the cliff and soon found an old mine entrance which contained unique ice formations.  The mine shaft was narrow and disappeared into the darkness.  Massive rock overhangs rose above us.

Next was a deep, green spruce forest where we took some time to explore. It was beautiful as shafts of sunlight pierced the canopy, illuminating the ground pine below.  The mature trees had straight trunks, looking like columns.  This grove of spruce had a peacefulness about it.  The scenery continued along both branches of Double Run where we enjoyed more hemlocks, rapids, and cascades.  The trail passed the orange Mineral Spring, which smelled like rotten eggs.  Just further was Mineral Springs Falls, a beautiful sliding cascade in a rocky grotto.  An easy trail took us to Canyon Vista as the sun set, filling the canyon with angled shadows under the deep, blue skies as the Loyalsock Creek twisted below.

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Canyon Vista, Worlds End State Park

 

From here, we followed the Link Trail down. I love this trail as it explores Double Run with its many waterfalls and big boulders.  It is such a beautiful stream.  The trail was re-constructed a few years ago and is a joy to hike.   The Link Trail took us along the large, deep Loyalsock Creek as Canyon Vista rose over us, still holding the last light of the day.  Rock carvings with initials over 100 years old were along the trail.   This section of the Link Trail was also newly built with sidehill above the flood torn creek.  The new trail ended behind the state park office.

It’s always a joy to return to Worlds End and Loyalsock State Forest.

More photos.

A map of the loop is here.  Our sequence was as follows:  Park office-13-14-11-10-6 (Loyalsock Trail)-Canyon Vista-Link Trail back to the Park office.

Nescopeck State Park

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Hike along the Nescopeck Creek.

              Recently, I went hiking for the first time at Nescopeck State Park.  I was pleasantly surprised.  The park covers over 3,500 acres, has 19 miles of trails, an impressive environmental education center, and a wide diversity of habitats.  The park is home to over 160 species of birds and 600 plant species.  The trails we hiked are easy, exploring several ponds and the beautiful Nescopeck Creek with verdant hemlock forests.
             We began by hiking around Lake Frances as the water reflected the blue sky and clouds above.  Next we followed the Nescopeck Trail; most of the trails are wide and grassy, and most trail junctures have signs.  A right turn brought us onto the Creekside Trail, the most scenic trail in the park.  We crossed streams over bridges and reached the broad, deep Nescopeck Creek.  We were a little confused, a collapsed cable bridge crossed the Nescopeck Creek, and we thought that was where the trail also crossed.  However, the trail actually turned left and followed the creek upstream without crossing it.
             The Creekside Trail was a pleasure to hike as it explored hemlock forests and carpets of ground pine.  There were many smaller wooden bridges over streams and wet areas.  Vernal pools dotted the forest floor among meandering rivulets.  This place must teem with life in the spring and summer.
             The hike up along the Nescopeck Creek was very beautiful.  The creek was deep, flowing under a green hemlock forest.  The hemlocks looked healthy and were luminescent in the bright sunshine.  The peaceful creek reflected the forest perfectly.  There were some large hemlocks, the long branches arched over the water.   The sound of rushing water soon filled our ears and we walked down to the creek to see a rapid and boulders, with a large, dead tree embedded between them.
             The trail entered a bare hardwood forest and we walked around another pond.  The trail soon brought us to the Lake Frances parking area.  I look forward to returning to Nescopeck State Park again and exploring more of its trails.
More photos.
More information on Nescopeck State Park.