Waterfalls of Hog Run-SGL 13

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Hog Run Falls

Hog Run carves a gorge deep in SGL 13.  I recently hiked there to see its little-known waterfalls.  SGL 13 is famous for its many waterfalls.  I had never been to Hog Run before, and have spent very little time in this part of SGL 13, so I was excited to see a new place.  And what a place it was.

Elk Run

I parked at the first parking area on the right, just outside of Elk Grove.  An unblazed and unsigned trail crossed Bloody Run and reached a forest grade.  Nearby, Bloody Run had a six foot falls.  Another trail went up along Bloody Run.  I turned right on the obvious old grade as it circled around the base of the mountain.  The grade ended with some cabins below me.  Time to bushwhack.  This bushwhack was fairy easy through an open forest.  I gradually descended, staying in the game lands, and reached Elk Run.  Another cabin was just downstream.

"Bacon" Cascades

Elk Run was a surprisingly large mountain stream.  Another unmarked, unsigned trail followed an old grade and crossed Elk Run three times.  Two of those crossings were wet with no bridge or rocks to use.  One crossing did provide a log.  Elk Run and its valley were beautiful with hemlocks, large hardwoods, and ledges with dripping springs.  The path was evident along the old forest grade.

After the third crossing, the grade continued upstream (little did I know that I should have veered right to use an old grade that would have made my hike up Hog Run much easier).  I soon reached where Hog Run joined Elk Run; I turned right up Hog Run.  The hiking became difficult; the gorge was rugged with many rocks and boulders.  Nonstop cascades and pools adorned the creek, the pools were crystal clear with blueish bedrock.  No grade provided easy passage.  Despite the fine scenery, the hiking was exhausting and I began to wonder if I would run out of daylight.  Soon, bedrock slides and cascades appeared and I looked ahead to see a falls in a notch between a cliff.  The falls was beautiful, surrounded by fractured cliffs.  Springs fell from the ledge on the left.  I called this Hog Run Falls.  Creative, I know.  I scrambled around the falls on the left and was treated to a series of three slides and pools.  So beautiful.  I jokingly called these the Bacon Cascades, due to the name of the creek.

Side stream waterfalls

Mercifully, a grade appeared on the right and I followed it.  People must hike back here, I thought, as I saw a footpath.  The grade climbed higher above a deep gorge with many smaller falls and slides.  I hiked above a sizeable falls with two or three drops.  The grade returned near the creek and vanished, but soon returned as I reached a grotto.

This grotto was something special.  It felt timeless, primeval.  A sidestream tumbled down on the left with non-stop 10-15 foot drops.  In high water it must be spectacular.  The grade climbed steeply on the right to bypass the grotto, but I followed the creek.  Ledges and cliffs surrounded me, dripping with springs and clothed in moss.  Ancient hemlocks grew overhead.  Hog Run tumbled down this grotto over stairstep ledges and at the top was a large slide and pool.  Rotting, moss covered logs inundated the grotto.  Should they ever clear out, the total gown of cascading water would be a fine sight.  I reached the top of the grotto and looked to my right to see a beautiful old growth hemlock forest with some large trees.  The setting reminded me of the Forrest Dutlinger Natural Area.  Snow dusted the forest floor and the wind up here was colder than in the valleys below.

The old grade appeared to end in this ancient forest and I followed it around the rim of the grotto and back down to Hog Run.  I retraced my steps back to Hog Run Falls along the narrow path.  I can now see why people venture back here.

Falls in grotto

I wasn’t excited about bushwhacking down Hog Run’s rugged gorge.  The grade continued downstream from Hog Run Falls, so I decided to take it.  Again, I thought I saw a path under the fallen leaves.  The grade was fairly easy to follow, other than some fallen trees and luckily it brought me down to Elk Run, right where I made the third stream crossing.  If you hike Hog Run, take this grade.

Falls in Hemlock Grotto

I retraced my steps and endured the wet stream crossings, but the water wasn’t that cold.

I soon reached Bloody Run and decided to explore it.  I crossed a series of old grades on the east side of the creek, but higher up the slope.  I then crossed the trail I noticed earlier.  My bushwhack up Bloody Run revealed a 12 foot falls, filled with logs, and a five foot falls.  I found the trail I crossed earlier and hiked it back down to the car, passing a cairn along the way.  The trail had continued further upstream on Bloody Run and I suspect there may be more waterfalls.

Old growth hemlock forest

I returned to my car just as it was getting dark.  A day well spent.

More photos:

https://www.flickr.com/gp/49239558@N04/L8ChT5

Hemlocks

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Hiking to Hog Run is actually fairly easy with only a short bushwhack.  Most of this hike follows trails or old logging grades.  No trails have signs or blazes.

  1.  Park at N41 18.381 W076 25.686.
  2. A trail enters the woods, crosses Bloody Run, and reaches an obvious, large old logging road.  N41 18.503 W076 25.672
  3. Turn right on old logging road.  It curves around the mountain above some cabins and then ends.
  4. Begin bushwhack.  Enter woods, angling right and heading downslope.  Woods are fairly open.  Reach Elk Run at N41 18.801 W076 24.789.
  5. A path follows Elk Run upstream along an old forest road.  Cross Elk Run three times, the second crossing may have logs you can use.  Elk Run is a large creek, expect wet crossings.  The valley is beautiful.
  6. After the third stream crossing you have two choices.  For the harder hike along the stream and up the gorge, continue up the grade to where Hog Run meets Elk Run (N41 19.335 W076 25.212).  Turn right and go upstream, the terrain is difficult and there is no trail.  Many cascades and some nice pools.  For the easier and recommended route, bear right after the third crossing and hike to N41 19.284 W 076 25.155.
  7. Climb path up the old grade.  The grade can usually be followed fairly easy, but expect some fallen trees.
  8. Reach the top of Hog Run Falls.  N41 19.904 W076 25.202.
  9. To see the bottom of the falls, cross the creek and scramble down the opposite side.
  10. Bacon Cascades are just upstream.
  11. Continue up the grade on the east side of the gorge.  The gorge becomes steep below the grade with many cascades.
  12. Reach a more level area where the grade disappears.  Reach the end of a grotto.  Sidestream falls is on the left.  Grade climbs steeply on right.  Grade bypasses the grotto.  Grotto has ledges, cascades, and dripping springs.  N41 20.292 W076 24.909
  13. The grade dissipates upon reaching Hog Run, a scenic old growth hemlock forest is to the right.  N41 20.330 W076 24.878
  14. Retrace your steps.
  15. This hike is about 3.5 – 4 miles one way.
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