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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A remarkable day exploring the amazing natural beauty of Pennsylvania.
It’s not hard to find the waterfalls on Satterlee Run.
- 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.
- Location of Saterlee Hollow Road.
- 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.
- Follow the grade along the creek, avoid a road to the right.
- Reach the game lands.
- 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.
- The heart of the glens is an incredible scene. N41 38.744 W76 28.324
- 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.
- There is a fourth falls on Satterlee Run located at N41 38.597 W76 28.577.
- 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.
- To be more discreet, I parked along Kellogg Road and then walked up Saterlee Hollow Road.
- The old growth hemlock forest along Chilson Run is located here. Most of the big trees are still alive. 41.630084 -76.542147
- As always, treat these special places with respect.