Recently, an isolated gorge in the Loyalsock State Forest interested me. Located east of Bar Bottom Hollow, Big Cove Run tumbles down a gorge and appeared to have several waterfalls. Steep slopes surround the streams. Not knowing what to expect, I decided to check it out.
The first issue was which way to go in- the route from Bar Bottom Hollow was longer, but appeared easier. The shorter route from Barbours was undefined, would require crossing the sides of steep slopes and bypassing private property. I decided on the Bar Bottom Hollow approach.
I followed the route of my Bar Bottom hike from last year, until I reached a road to the left which climbed up the side of the mountain and passed in front of an isolated cabin. The old road re-entered the woods where I made a left on an unblazed old grade. This obvious grade crossed the top of the mountain and proved to be a beautiful hike through expansive hemlock forests. The grade became a little harder to follow, but dropped down into the drainage of Big Cove Run.
I was happy to see some water flowing and I left the grade, heading downstream into the deep glen. Cascades and waterfalls soon appeared over mossy rocks and under hemlocks. The creek unfortunately disappeared underground. There was damage from the flash floods of last year which may have affected the creeks ability to hold water. I reached two beautiful moss grottos which would hold beautiful waterfalls; now there was only a trickle. The surrounding forest had many large trees, including some massive hemlocks, which were struggling against the adelgid. From high above I heard the haunting calls of coyotes.
I then reached an impressive, multi-tiered falls over a series of bluestone ledges which I called Bluestone Falls. Again, it was a trickle, but when flowing it would be a great falls. A side stream joined with its own falls, again, a trickle. This was the heart of the glen and it was very scenic. The creek then entered a mini-gorge with more cascades. I had to do a little canyoneering; don’t attempt this part in high water. I then reached the top of a 30 foot cascade which had some water. I called it Travis Eberhart Falls after finding a gravestone in his memory on my hike out.
Another side stream joined down a steep glen. I hiked up it, but it had no distinct falls. I climbed to any area surrounded by ledges and rocks. Many large ash trees were dying. A nice spot, but not worth the climb if you are looking for waterfalls.
From here, it is best to just retrace your steps. While I hiked the north rim of the gorge, there were no views, but there were some good sized ledges.
Is Big Cove Run worth the effort? Yes, if there’s water. For some reason, this creek does not hold water well, whether due to the flash floods or it just happened to be dry. This surprised me since smaller creeks were flowing well in other areas of the forest. It should be flowing if the Loyalsock USGS gauge is 5-6 feet or above. When flowing, Big Cove Run has a beautiful assortment of falls and cascades in an isolated, rugged setting.
How to hike to Big Cove Run.
- Park at the gate of Dad Dad Chapman Road. This gate may be open during hunting season.
- Hike Dad Dad Chapman Road; be sure to continue straight where the gravel road bends left to a drilling pad.
- After about 2 miles, reach a logged area with forests of pine and spruce. Turn right onto an obvious grassy old forest road.
- After about another mile, turn right onto a forest/camp road.
- Follow for less than a quarter mile, turn left onto a jeep forest road. Follow it as it climbs the mountain. It levels and passes a cabin.
- The old jeep road re-enters the woods, turn left onto an obvious grade in a hemlock forest.
- Follow this beautiful trail through hemlocks for roughly a mile. Descend to the headwaters of Big Cove Run and leave the old grade.
- Follow the creek down into the gorge. Be careful. There are some steep areas. Retrace your steps.