While staying at Parker Dam State Park, I wanted to hike and find Umbrella Rock in nearby SGL 44, just south of Ridgway. I had seen photos of the rock a few years ago and made it a goal to find it this year.
We were treated to an incredibly sunny, and pretty warm, day. There was still snow on the ground. We parked off of US 219 and followed a forest road along the ridge, along a logged area, and then it veered left and descended to North Branch Island Run. Some of the trees were blazed with fluorescent colored arrows, but they were sporadic. The trail crossed the run and climbed out of the valley back to the plateau where it leveled off. We then reached a four way intersection with another grade (we will be returning to this intersection from the right on the hike back) and continued straight. The trail climbed gradually through an open hardwood forest when we reached a trail to the right with a plastic post that had a drawing for an umbrella, so we turned right. The trail soon brought us to an incredible rock outcrop rising through the forest. Perched on the edge was Umbrella Rock. The rock was impressive, a massive boulder perched on a pedestal. It nearly connected with a larger outcrop. We took a few photos and looked around at this rock wonderland. The tan, orange, yellow, and rust colored rocks contrasted with the snow. Others had been here, with their tracks abandoned in the snow.
We decided to explore the escarpment to the west. I’m glad we did. Massive house sized boulders populated the forest with passageways and crevices. Soon, we discovered a large cave created by the separation of boulders that I hiked through; a geocache was in the cave. It was as impressive as Umbrella Rock. Nearby was another cave and large cliff that was entrapped by the squid-like branches of a tree. Massive rocks were everywhere. I hiked to another outcrop that had a formation similar to Umbrella Rock, I called it little umbrella rock. These rocks were incredible.
We returned to Umbrella Rock and I decided to find another rock formation, called Devil’s Den. We followed the tracks we previously found as it followed an obvious trail through scenic woodlands and laurel thickets. Devil’s Den is northwest of Umbrella Rock. We reached an obvious woods road and turn right, going uphill. We then took the second wood road on the left, near a gas well clearing. This soon brought us to the Devil’s Den formation where we saw two other hikers and their dog. Massive boulders were separated be narrow passages and crevices, with a carpet of moss. The reddish rock made me think of a mini-Utah. An obvious trail led to the nearby Devil’s Den where there were deep chasms hidden in snow and shade, surrounded by leaning, massive boulders. We took the obvious trail to the top as it tunneled through laurel to open areas. The trail veered left to a series of vistas from the crest of the rock. It was beautiful. The view was untouched.
The sun was beginning to set and we still had a few miles to go. I hoped to explore more of the impressive Devil’s Den, but time wasn’t on our side. We retraced our steps to the obvious woods road and turned left on it, which brought us back to the four-way intersection we previously passed. We then retraced our steps back to the car as the sun sank below the distant ridges, casting the deep valleys in twilight.
After a great year of hiking to new places in 2016, I couldn’t think of a better way to begin 2017. If you like big rocks and formations, put this hike at the top of your list. This area of PA is truly beautiful and nearby Ridgway is a gorgeous town.
This area is also the setting of the Elk County Boulder Dash, and there is a map on their website showing the locations of both Umbrella Rock and Devil’s Den. While the trails are obvious, they did not appear to be marked or signed.
The hike to these features are pretty easy. Umbrella Rock is shown on Google Maps. I’m showing how to get to Umbrella Rock because it is already very well known and is a popular hiking destination, as is Devil’s Den. I will not show the location of the cave or “little umbrella rock”.
It appears most people hike up from the west, from PA 949 or Arkansas Lane. This may be easier, but we did not hike in that way.
- Park off of US 219 at a very small lot for 2-3 cars. Google maps show this to be Sylvan Heights Rd. A larger game commission lot is about 200 yard further south on US 219. N 41 23.879 W 78 41.904
- Follow the obvious, gated forest road as it descends.
- Pass a logged area with deer fence. Avoid trail to the right.
- Reach the ridge and avoid a trail to the right. Some fluorescent arrows guide the way.
- Veer left and descend. N 41 23.704 W 78 42.726
- Reach bottom of the valley and cross North Branch Island Run.
- Climb to the top of the plateau. Fluorescent arrows disappear.
- Reach top of plateau and pass a four way intersection, continue straight.
- Obvious trail begins slight increase.
- Reach a trail to the right with a small plastic post with a hand drawn picture of an umbrella. Turn right. N 41 22.998 W 78 42.864
- This trail takes you to the base of the formation and Umbrella Rock, another trail joins from left.
- Hike around the outcrop and climb to see Umbrella Rock. N 41 22.975 W 78 43.038
- To hike to Devil’s Den, follow the trail that was on your left in No. 11 above.
- This trail follows rolling terrain through a hardwood forest and some laurel.
- Reach an obvious forest road, turn right, climb uphill.
- Turn left onto trail near gas well clearing. N 41 23.115 W 78 43.588
- Hike to a formation with deep passageways. Trail goes around this formation. N 41 23.340 W 78 43.672
- Trail reaches Devil’s Den. Obvious trail goes to the top with good views to the south and west. N 41 23.402 W 78 43.820
- Retraces steps to obvious woods road, turn left.
- Reach the four-way intersection. N 41 23.179 W 78 42.954
- Turn left and retrace steps back to the car.