Hike along South Brook, SGL 57


South Brook

With the cooler weather, I’ve returned to SGL 57 to explore more of its hidden places.  My recent hike took me to South Brook, an isolated stream valley deep in the wilderness of the game lands.  My plan was to explore South Brook, a tributary with a falls, and some cliffs and rock outcrops with the hope of finding a view.

Falls on South Brook at outlet of swamp

We hiked along a gated road until we reached a large wetland through which South Brook flowed.  We entered the woods and hiked the perimeter of the wetlands and reached the outlet of the swamp where there was a surprisingly scenic seven foot falls.  Downstream the creek was beautiful, but surrounded by thick spruce.  This place did not feel like PA.  Boulders and rapids filled the gorgeous stream and we had to be careful since all the rocks were slick.  The spruce proved to be too impenetrable, so we found an old grade west of South Brook that we followed until the forest opened up.  We then resumed hiking along South Brook as it bounced down the valley with rapids, pools, and boulders.

Birch Falls

We reached a sidestream and hiked up it, where a 30 foot falls soon came into view as it tumbled down a fractured ledge.  It was a beautiful spot.  Ryan claimed he smelled birch, so we called this Birch Falls.  We then followed the edge of the plateau, passing some rock outcrops, but no views.  Ahead was an odd blueberry meadow that appeared to be a very shallow bog with water over the bedrock.  We made our way through the blueberry thicket and returned to open woods.  A descent to a stream valley followed.  Soon, giant ledges and cliffs loomed above us with overhanging slabs of rock.  It was impressive.  The place appeared to be filled with natural rock shelters.  Above was a partial view across the plateau and valley.  Most of the trees were bare, but the understory was still filled with color.  We continued along the edge, with more cliffs and outcrops, but no more views.  We made our way down.  If I were to hike this again, I would stay at the base of these cliffs to see all the caves and overhangs.

Next was the descent back to South Brook.  We soon returned to the stream ad hiked up it.  This is a beautiful creek, filled with boulders, pools, and rapids.  Cascades slid from boulder to boulder.  Surprisingly, there was little damage from the floods that struck several years ago.  This was a serene, beautiful place that was a pleasure to hike and explore.

View from a cliff

I returned to the old grade to bypass the thick spruce and retraced my steps back to the car.  A great day in the woods.

South Brook

More photos:




If you’re feeling adventurous, this is how to explore South Brook.  There are no official trails, and some old forest grades.

  1. Park here.  The road gate to reach this parking area is open from mid-September to February.  41.412984, -76.164307
  2. Hike gated forest road to here.  41.394719, -76.184189
  3. Enter woods, hike around wetland to falls located near here: 41.396824, -76.185766
  4. Hike down South Brook, very scenic but the spruce is thick.  You can use an old grade on the west side of the brook to bypass the spruce.
  5. Reach tributary at: 41.405330, -76.194365
  6. Birch Falls is at: 41.405914, -76.193010
  7. Wet blueberry thicket with cliffs and partial views: 41.410916, -76.198505
  8. Vista with beautiful rock outcrops, cliffs, and overhangs.  41.416315, -76.196322
  9. Cliffline extends to about here, explore the base of the cliffs, no more worthwhile views.  41.417184, -76.202086
  10. Descend to South Brook about here: 41.416439, -76.209972
  11. Hike up the beautiful stream with its boulders, rapids, cascades, and pools back to where you left the road. (No. 3 above).

4 thoughts on “Hike along South Brook, SGL 57

  1. I do not say this often about Eastern hikes, but that little loop is one I would like to do, at that exact time of year. By comparison our fall colors are lame.

  2. Your trips to State Game Lands 57 and what you find there never cease to amaze and impress me. Balds, rim rock cliffs, emerald spruce forests, hidden glens, beautiful rarely seen waterfalls, rock shelters and amazing vistas seem to be around every turn, and the fact it is all so little known and unexplored make it even more interesting. I wish I still lived in the area so I could explore and see what all SGL 57 has to offer. You’re very lucky to have the time to explore, thank you very much for sharing your journeys with us. By chance, do you know where the old Ricketts fire lookout tower was located?

    • Thanks for reading. SGL 57 is a very special place with its isolation and remarkable diversity. Few other places in the mid-atlantic can match it. It’s not going anywhere-you can still explore it! I’m not sure where the old fire tower was at, other than the one on the Grand View Trail.

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