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.
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.
Navigating this hike is easy.
- Park at this lot, located here on Google maps. N 41 35.047′ W 076 46.254′
- Walk the gated road for about three miles east.
- At this bridge for Rollinson Run, leave the road and hike off trail up Rollinson Run. N 41 35.693′ W 076 43.003′
- Falls at N 41 35.872′ W 076 43.125′
- Another falls at N 41 35.982′ W 076 43.141′
- 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.
- Wolf Run Falls is at N 41 36.068′ W 076 42.669′
- 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.