Golden Eagle and Dragon’s Back Trail Loop-Tiadaghton State Forest

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View from Ravenshorn, Golden Eagle Trail

 

The Golden Eagle Trail (GET) is a nine mile loop that is widely considered one of PA’s most scenic dayhikes.  This trail has challenging terrain, several vistas, diverse forest types, streamside hiking, gorges, and the cascades of beautiful Wolf Run.  The premier feature of the trail is the impressive view from Ravenshorn.

I returned to the GET with Ed and Ken, whom had not hiked this trail before.  As usual, I also had a different plan in mind.  I noticed some maps had a new trail that connected to the GET, called the Dragon’s Back Trail.  This new trail traversed the ridge to the west of the GET and dropped down to PA 414.  Our plan was to hike the GET counterclockwise, and then follow the Dragon’s Back Trail and the Pine Creek Rail-Trail to complete the loop.

The day was very hot and sunny.  The forests were incredibly green.  The climb up to Ravenshorn was tiring, as we passed a pink lady slipper and jack in the pulpits.  The heat of the day was magnified by the climb.  We made it to the top in good time and followed the ridge to a great view up Wolf Run.  Ravenshorn soon came into view with its stunning vista looking down Pine Creek between massive plateaus.  The terrain is so steep it felt as if we could just fall into the surrounding gorges.  Ed and Ken were impressed.

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Wolf Run

 

We descended on a ridge with fascinating rock outcrops and soon reached Wolf Run.  This pristine stream creating a cooling breeze under hemlocks.  It was a pleasure to hike up the creek has the water tumbled over ledges with moss.  The top of the drainage featured a beautiful pine forest with some large trees.  We passed a view that was partially overgrown and reached an old grassy forest road.  Two other hikers warned of a snake ahead.  We did not see it.

Next was Beulahland Vista as it overlooked the rolling plateaus and some distant farm fields for thirty miles.  Puffy clouds sailed by as a hummingbird zipped to a tree above us.  We passed another view looking down Bonnell Run.

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Beulahland Vista, Golden Eagle Trail

 

The GET left the old woods road to the left, but we continued straight, following the yellow blazes of the Dragon’s Back Trail.  There was no sign for the trail.  We climbed gradually Dragon’s Back Trail was well blazed and established.  It descended under a scenic hardwood forest.  As we continued, the ridge gradually narrowed and pine trees became more common.  As the name implies, there were some hills along the ridge, but the trail was not rocky.  The trail was close to the steep escarpment above Pine Creek and there were some views through the trees.  In winter, the views would be non-stop.  The ridge narrowed so we could see down both sides.  A climb under more pine trees brought us to a beautiful double vista looking down on Slate Run and Little Slate Run.  Pine Creek flowed far below.  We sat to take it all in.

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View of Slate Run and Pine Creek, Dragon’s Back Trail

 

We finally left as the narrow ridge provided one more climb until the trail dropped to the right.  I took an obvious, unblazed trail to the left that climbed to a view over Bonnell Run.  Just further was an extensive old quarry under red pine trees and more partial views across Pine Creek.  This could be a great campsite for backpacking, although there is no water.  While backpack camping is not allowed on the GET, the Dragon’s Back Trail may make the GET available to backpackers by offering dry campsite options.

I returned to the Dragon’s Back Trail and began the descent (here, where the trail descends, it may be known as the Quarry Mountain Trail).  The trail followed long switchbacks along an old forest road.  It was actually a nice walk down, although my feet burned a little.  There were lots of centipedes on the trail.

We reached PA 414 at a trail sign, crossed the road, and walked down to Tombs Flats.  We then turned left onto the rail trail to complete the loop, with views of small, old cemeteries, Pine Creek, and many kayakers.  We even saw a bald eagle.  The blooms of dame’s rocket surrounded the trail.  We reached the car, completing our loop.

The Golden Eagle-Dragon’s Back Trail Loop was an excellent hike.  The Dragon’s Back Trail is a great alternative from hiking along Bonnell Run on the GET.

More photos.

Map and brochure of the Golden Eagle Trail (does not show the Dragon’s Back Trail).

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  1. This loop is about 11 miles.
  2. We parked at the Clark Run access, 41.438753, -77.510730 on Google maps.
  3. The Golden Eagle Trail is blazed orange.
  4. The Dragon’s Back Trail and Quarry Mountain Trail are blazed yellow.
  5. All trails are fairly well established.
  6. The Dragon’s Back Trail connects to the GET at the top of Bonnell Run along the old, grassy forest road.  There is no trail sign.
  7. The vista on the Dragon’s Back Trail is located at N 41 27.835  W 077 29.896.
  8. Before descending, take an obvious, unblazed side trail to a view across Bonnell Run.  The view is located at 41.458402, -77.500082 on Google maps.
  9. The quarry area is located at 41.456895, -77.501868 on Google maps.
  10. There may be an additional view on the ridge, it appears to be on state forest land, although a cabin road passes it, located at 41.454455, -77.505290 on Google maps.  I did not hike out to it.
  11. The loop crosses PA 414 at this trail sign.
  12. Follow road down to Tomb Flats.
  13. Follow the rail trail to the left to complete the loop.

Trough Creek State Park and Raystown Lake

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Balanced Rock

 

After a visit to Pittsburgh, we decided to make a stop at Trough Creek State Park. The skies were overcast and rainy, as the clouds threaded over the green ridges.  The state park is one of the finest in PA, famous for its gorge with rock outcrops, cliffs, views, waterfalls, and Balanced Rock, an erosional remnant perched on the edge of a cliff.

We hiked up to the rock, crossing over a swollen Great Trough Creek and its rapids.  Rainbow Falls soon came into view, flowing with great force down its narrow, scenic glen.  A quick climb brought us to Balanced Rock, an impressive natural feature.  The rock appears as if it could slide off the cliff at any moment, but it has been there for centuries.

I wanted to hike the Ledges and Rhododendron Trails, but the rain forced us back to the car.

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Hawn’s Overlook, Raystown Lake

 

There was one more place I wanted to see: Hawn’s Overlook above Raystown Lake.  I’d never been there, but had seen photos of it.  We walked the trail through an incredibly green, fluorescent forest to the view.  It was impressive as it revealed the vast Raystown Lake bordered by high ridges and mountains.  The view was untouched, as the lake and its bays and coves stretched out into the distance, hiding between the hills.  Mist rose from the foothills.  This is surely one of PA’s most unique views.

More photos.

R.B. Winter State Park and Hook Natural Area Vistas

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Off-trail vista in the Hook Natural Area, Bald Eagle State Forest

 

I recently did some exploring in the Bald Eagle State Forest. My plan was initially to hike the Allegheny Front Trail, but I ended up not having enough time.  So, I drove to R.B. Winter State Park and hiked through the Rapid Run Natural Area.  This short, easy trail explores an old growth hemlock forest along Rapid Run and rhodo jungles with carpets of moss.  I also walked around the small, scenic lake and hiked a little ways on the Mid State Trail.  This park is very scenic, set between forested ridges and features clear streams that tumble down the valleys beneath hemlocks and pine.  The stone dam that creates Halfway Lake also has a nice waterfall that compliments the setting.  The park does have an “out of the way” feel to it.  R.B. Winter State Park is a trailhead to the Mid State Trail and features many other trails that offer a variety of dayhiking options.

Next I stopped by Sand Bridge State Park, which has the distinction of being the smallest state park in PA. It was little more than a picnic area along Rapid Run with rhodo jungles.

I then ventured to see the Hook Natural Area. This well-known hiking destination has always eluded me, and I wouldn’t have time to explore it on this trip, but I did see a superb vista from Jones Mountain Road overlooking hollows, valleys, and ridges that faded into the distance.  I also wanted to check out an off trail vista.  I hiked down a powerline swath and then veered west into the woods, following faint game trails.  I came upon a talus slope with great views to the south.  I could see the long ridges sweeping to the southwest and farmlands far below.  I had to limit my exploration of the talus slope since I saw a couple of rather sedate rattlesnakes.  I retraced my steps to the car, driving through Lewisburg and heading home on back roads.

I’ll be returning to the Bald Eagle State Forest soon. I definitely plan to hike the Hook Natural Area this summer.  The insanely rugged Goosenecks gorge also looks fascinating, if not intimidating from all the vast talus slopes.  That will have to wait until Autumn.

More photos.

The off-trail vista is located at 40.968647 -77.141057 on Google maps.

Waterfall Glens of Satterlee Run-SGL 36

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Waterfall on Satterlee Run

Recent rains filled Satterlee Run as it roared down the gorge. The clouds broke, filling the forest with sunshine.  Large maples and birch trees rose over me.  I was walking upstream, to see if there were anymore waterfalls.  The forest was still, I had not even seen a deer on my hike.  Suddenly, the ground exploded as a black mass rose from the forest floor and moved with incredible power and speed…

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Waterfall glens of Satterlee Run

Satterlee Run flows down a gorge into the South Branch Towanda Creek, between Towanda and New Albany. I had heard rumors of a possible falls on Satterlee a few years ago.  Recently, Raymond Chippa, of PA Waterfalls, explored Satterlee to reveal an incredible glen of waterfalls.  I had to see it for myself.

Southern Bradford County is home to exceptional natural beauty, so much so that I’ve been spending less time at my typical stomping grounds, SGL 57. This area has Rollinson Run, Kellogg Mountain, Deep Hollow rock maze and view, Little Schrader Creek, Deep Hollow Falls, Schrader Creek, Falls Creek, old growth hemlocks at Chilson Run, and now what may be the crown jewel-Satterlee Run.  How much more is there?

I began by hiking up Saterlee Hollow Road. The road fords the creek, and since the water was high I decided not to cross it with my car.  The road is dirt and single lane; it is in good shape until the next stream crossing.  The road appears public, but the adjoining land is posted.  Nowhere is the road gated or marked private.   At the second creek crossing, a side stream came down from the right, I could see a falls through the trees, but kept going straight.

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Fourth falls on Satterlee Run

The road becomes an old grade, washed out in places, with several more stream crossings. Expect wet feet on this hike.  I reached the game lands boundary at a stream crossing, entering a beautiful forested valley as Satterlee Run had bedrock waterslides and pools.  After another crossing, the grade climbed to my left, I followed the creek.  Soon an amazing waterfall glen came into view among some landslides and fallen trees.  I couldn’t believe it.  Two streams separated by a narrow ridge dropped over waterfalls.  It seemed surreal.

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Top of the first falls, tributary to Satterlee Run

I had to take a break to experience the magnitude of this place. The roar of water, the crashing of water, seemed to be everywhere.  Moss carpeted boulders and ledges as the forest was just turning green.  I hiked up the unnamed tributary first, maybe we’ll call it the South Branch Satterlee Run.  I followed a herd path up a steep, mossy slope above a 40 foot cascade.  At the top of the falls was another sidestream with its own waterfalls.  This place was becoming ridiculous.  I walked onto the red bedrock to be surrounded by waterfalls.  I then followed the narrow ridge between the two streams to look down on both sides to see more, you guessed it, waterfalls.  Even Ricketts Glen doesn’t have a setting this unique.  I continued up the South Branch to see two or three more waterfalls.  The creek narrowed in a mini-gorge that ended at a slide.  I simply walked in the water.

I crossed over the ridge and dropped down to Satterlee Run. I was upstream of the waterfalls.  I hiked upstream to see if there were any more.  The creek narrowed in a large gorge as rapids and boulders filled the stream.  It was beautiful.  Cliffs and ledges rose around me, I knew there had to be a falls ahead.  And there was.  A series of slides and pools brought me a grotto with a 20-30 foot cascade.  Springs dripped from draperies of moss.  I climbed up along the falls.

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Bear cubs in a tree

I walked upstream. Were there more falls, I thought.  I was walking slowly up the creek when the bear suddenly appeared.  It ran hunched near the ground, away from me, with amazing power.  I didn’t have time to process what was happening.  The bear was thirty feet from me.  I looked up above me.  Something was in a small hemlock tree.  Porcupines?  Maybe the bear was hunting porcupines.  No, it was three cubs. I moved back quick, scanning the forest for the bear.  I didn’t panic, but I also realized that I was lucky.  If the bear ran towards me, I’d have no time to protect myself, regardless if I had a gun or spray.  Why did she decide to run instead of attack?  She obviously saw me a long time prior to my seeing her.  How close was I to serious injury or death, due to no one’s fault?  Nature has different laws and rules by which humans must abide.  The irony is that the bear’s deathly fear of me likely saved my life.  I retreated, amazingly calm and accepting of what happened, and could have happened.  I don’t know why.

Satterlee Run soon distracted me. I reached the glen to see a series of three waterfalls in an incredible grotto.  The top falls had an old stone mill dam, and a small spillway.  Moss and dripping springs were everywhere.  The beauty was unmatched.  I made my way down each of the falls, entranced by the beauty.  How is this place not famous?  How much more lies hidden in PA?  I returned to the heart of the glen, a little changed by the experience of Satterlee Run.

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First falls on the tributary to Satterlee Run (South Branch Satterlee Run)

I walked back out. Since I was in the area, I made a quick stop by Deep Hollow Falls.  I thought about going to Falls Creek and Long Valley Run, but the sunny conditions were not ideal for the pictures I wanted to take, and I was running low on time.  So I drove along Millstone Creek to see Chilson Run.  I didn’t find any waterfalls, but did stumble upon a surprising old growth hemlock forest.  The giants were still hanging on against the adelgid as they rose over the creek.  I traded the roar of waterfalls for the serenity of these ancient trees.

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Old growth hemlock forest, Chilson Run, SGL 36

A remarkable day exploring the amazing natural beauty of Pennsylvania.

More photos.

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It’s not hard to find the waterfalls on Satterlee Run.

  1. Follow Saterlee Hollow Road.  This road appears to be public and is a narrow country lane.  There is a vehicle ford at the beginning and the road is in good shape to the next ford.
  2. Location of Saterlee Hollow Road.
  3. The road is bordered by land that is posted, but the road itself is not posted or gated.  After the second ford, the road degrades to an old woods road.  There are several more stream crossings.  Expect to get wet feet.
  4. Follow the grade along the creek, avoid a road to the right.
  5. Reach the game lands.
  6. You can follow the grade to the top of the glen.  If you do, turn off here.   I think it is best to follow the creek to the bottom of the glens.
  7. The heart of the glens is an incredible scene.  N41 38.744 W76 28.324
  8. To explore the glens, the terrain is steep and challenging.  It will take time to bypass the falls.  Be careful, the terrain is potentially dangerous.  The scenery is exceptional.
  9. There is a fourth falls on Satterlee Run located at N41 38.597 W76 28.577.
  10. In the event access is not allowed to the falls from Saterlee Hollow Road, access may be possible on trails and old forest roads from Deep Hollow, but I have not hiked that way.
  11. To be more discreet, I parked along Kellogg Road and then walked up Saterlee Hollow Road.
  12. The old growth hemlock forest along Chilson Run is located here.  Most of the big trees are still alive.  41.630084 -76.542147
  13. As always, treat these special places with respect.

Pocono Daytrip-Mt. Wismer, Childs Park, and Long Swamp

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View through the Delaware Water Gap from Mt. Wismer.

 

I don’t seem to go to the Poconos to hike as much as I should. Over the last decade, new preserves and conservation easements have greatly expanded the hiking opportunities in the area.  We drove out to check out two new places, and another I’ve been to before.

Our first stop was Mt. Wismer, located at the Gravel Family Nature Preserve, known for its vast 20-30 mile views. The trail followed an old woods road along blueberry meadows in bloom, and jungles of rhododendron.  We followed the orange trail up the slope with massive boulders and ledges.  A right turn onto a blue trail took us to the vista.  It was impressive.  The escarpment of the plateau has this grassy meadow with views from the Kittatinny Ridge in New Jersey, to Blue Mountain, near the Lehigh Gap.  We could see the Camelback Mountain ski slopes.  Most unique is that we could see straight through the Delaware Water Gap to the rolling hills in New Jersey.  I think the views from Mt. Wismer are better than those from Big Pocono.  There were rolling foothills to Blue Mountain and the water gap.  We returned via the steeper, narrow, and rocky red trail to complete the loop.  Overall, this was a great hike.

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Deer Leap Falls, Childs Park

 

Our second stop was to the Childs Park in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. I had been there before, but I wanted to see the reconstructed trails.  This short hike features a scenic gorge and three impressive waterfalls.  There were ruins from an old mill and many large, old growth hemlock and pine trees.  While crowded, it is always a pleasure to hike at Childs Park.

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Boardwalk across a spruce and moss bog, Long Swamp.

 

Our final stop was the Long Swamp preserve, featuring a loop around a wetland.  The land is owned by Camp Speers YMCA, but public access is allowed.  The most scenic part of the trail was the southern boardwalk as it traversed a spruce and moss bog that was unique and mysterious.  Carpets of water-logged moss covered the bog as spruce trees grew from tangled roots.  Pitcher plants and sundews can be seen from the boardwalk in season.  I’m glad I did this hike, but if I were to return, I would only include the southern boardwalk across the bog.

More photos.

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Mt. Wismer/Gravel Family Nature Preserve

  1. Park here.  N41 13.611 W075 15.842
  2. We returned to complete the loop via this red trail.
  3. Bear right/straight at this meadow.
  4. Yellow blazes appear on the trail.
  5. Trail ascends among large boulders and beneath ledges.
  6. Reach a blue trail and turn right to the view.
  7. Return via the steeper, rockier red trail, or retrace your steps.

Map and information.

What does Mt. Wismer look like in the Autumn?  Check out this post from the superb Gone Hikin’ website.

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George W. Childs Park

This is a short loop hike along the impressive gorge and waterfalls of the park.  While popular, this hike is worth it.

More information.

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Long Swamp

  1. Park here.  N41 16.750 W074 56.266
  2. Follow trail to left of office.
  3. Turn left on the pink trail.
  4. Hike around the swamp, but the trail stays in the woods, with no views of the swamp.
  5. Bear left/straight on wider grade and pass a lean-to.
  6. Turn left at next intersection down to platform and boardwalk.  This is the most scenic part of the trail.  Complete the loop via the Bog and Lower Deer Run Trails.

Map and information.