I recently met up with some friends, Ian and Matt, for our bi-annual backpacking trip, which sometimes becomes an annual affair. We decided on the north loop of the Pinchot Trail since it was a reasonable drive for everyone, particularly me. We had hiked the south loop of the Pinchot Trail, which everyone enjoyed, so we decided it was time for the more isolated north loop.
Of course, I wanted something a little different. Our route took us along the yellow blazed Watres Trail, and just before the trail crossed Panther Creek, we bushwhacked north to the ridge of Panther Hill. Along the way we passed ledges and big rocks. There were open hardwood forests with an understory of lowbush blueberry. We climbed up a cliff to enjoy some views. The ridge gradually climbed higher and higher, revealing more views across the valleys of Panther and Painter Runs, and the rolling mountains in the distance. The final view was the finest, as it looked north to Bald Mountain and the distant plateaus of SGL 57, about 30 miles away. Deep in the valley was the Nesbitt Reservoir. This is truly a beautiful view and it was hard to believe Scranton was only a few miles away.
A descent followed to Panther Creek where we enjoyed Panther Creek Falls as it tumbled down a mossy grotto. There was more water in the creek than I was expecting. Everyone enjoyed the cascading water and clear pools. Under one ledge, Ian saw a pile of porcupine droppings, the telltale sign of a den. We hiked down Panther Creek and then up Painter Run, passing two hikers along the way. Painter is a beautiful creek with tumbling rapids over mossy boulders and many hemlocks. An old grade made the hiking easy at first, but the grade eventually faded away, so we hiked along the creek. The dense beech saplings became annoying at times. I found an old logging railroad grade made up of rocks which provided easier passage. We passed some ledges and a rock shelter with a stone wall. The old grade entered some hemlocks. We crossed Painter Creek, and soon returned to the Watres Trail. We then turned right onto the Pinchot Trail and found a campsite along Painter Creek. Several other people were camping nearby, including a Boy Scout troop from Delaware. The campsites were beautiful under hemlocks along the babbling stream. I slept pretty well under my tarp, although I did hear something rustling across the creek and spooky howl of what sounded like a coyote.
The next day we continued on the trail under clear, cool skies. We passed an oak tree with a small black door at its base, covering an opening into the trunk. We reached the obvious conclusion that this was the work of gnomes who weren’t home at the time. I did briefly wonder what gnomes do when they aren’t at home.
We left the Pinchot Trail and hiked to the Pine Hill vista with its sweeping views. White clouds sped across the deep blue skies. It was cold at the vista and we did not stay long. We continued on the trail and returned to the cars at the parking area, which was filled.
The Pinchot is the perfect trail to get way for a day or two. It is fairly easy, offers some good scenery and isolation, has great campsites, and features diverse forests and habitats.
View from Panther Hill is located at 41.278372, -75.620946.
Panther Creek Falls is located at approximately 41.279978, -75.627438.