Falling Springs Falls

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Located along Coxton Road, north of Pittston, is one of the areas most scenic falls.  Known as Falling Springs, or Falling Springs Falls, it features a creek that tumbles over a large cliff, about 40-50 feet tall.  The falls are a short distance from the road, but parking is very limited.

I’ve never seen the falls posted as private property.  A short trail from the road leads to the base of the falls.  There is some graffiti.  The falls are unique in that they plummet in a straight column, as compared to fanning out over a cascade.  The setting is impressive.

A trail to the left, if looking at the falls, leads to the top.  A short scramble in between a ledge is required.  The top features a broad cliff with views of the river and surrounding mountains.  Be careful along the cliff as a fall would be deadly.  No trespassing signs begin above the falls.

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Falling Springs is nice spot for a quick reprieve to enjoy some natural beauty.  The falls are below the famous Campbells Ledge.

Location of the falls.

More photos.

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Hiking at the Howland Preserve

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The Howland Preserve is the amazing gift of Ernest Howland, who donated his family’s 669 acre farm on the Vosburg Neck to the North Branch Land Trust to be conserved forever.  This is probably the largest donation of private land for public use in the history of Wyoming County, which had few sizeable parks or trails.

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The Vosburg Neck is one of the Susquehanna River’s highlights.  Here, the river flows around the neck, creating an oxbow loop, as mountains tower over 1,000 feet above the river.  Bald eagles have nested along the Vosburg Neck and herons, ducks, and many other birds are a common sight.  Giant silver maple and sycamore trees rise on the shore.

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I’ve been to the Howland Preserve many times.  Volunteers have been working on expanding the trail system, which is open to both hikers and mountain bikers.  There are about 8 miles of trails, and more are planned.   The trails explore the river, old canal, ravines, woodlands, and diverse forest types.

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We returned for a quick hike.  Our hope was to see Howland’s impressive dogwood blooms.  Due to recent rains, the trails were wet, but that did not deter us.  We began on the Vista Trail as it switchbacked up the slope under beautiful dogwoods in full bloom, and then through a pine and spruce forest.  The woodlands were gorgeous with large trees and hundreds of dogwoods in bloom throughout the forest.  It was truly beautiful.  I don’t think I’ve ever hiked a forest with so many dogwoods.  The forests were open in places with meadows of ferns.  We reached the vista, which is nice but just a small view through the trees, looking across the river to the farmlands on the other side.

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Next we hiked my favorite trail at the preserve, Howlin’ Down as it meandered between and along impressive rock walls and more dogwoods.  Springs bubbled from the ground and several sections of the trail were wet, resulting in mud-caked shoes.  The coolest section is where the trail is on the edge of a deep ravine shaded with a few hemlocks.  We were even treated to a small waterfall.  The trail dropped down, crossed a small stream, passed above an old spring house, and then we returned across meadows on the Old Farm Road.  The sweet smell of honeysuckle filled the air.

Whether you like to hike, ride, or paddle, be sure to visit the Howland Preserve, a best kept secret in Northeast Pennsylvania.

More photos.

Friends of Howland Preserve.

Trail map.

Map and location.

Nearby is the Endless Mountain Nature Center.

Stony Fork Waterfall Hunting-Tioga State Forest

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In the Tioga State Forest, the stunning Pine Creek Gorge gets all the attention, and crowds.  Want to see a place just as beautiful, but off the beaten track?  Look to the next creek to the east-sublime Stony Fork.

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I first experienced Stony Fork years ago while scouting a route for the Mid State Trail’s northern extension.  I was amazed by its beauty.  There were rapids, cascades, grottos, and deep pools.  Due to its beauty, I insisted the Mid State Trail include Stony Fork.  Thankfully, others agreed.

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I recently returned to Stony Fork to check out some of its tributaries and hunt for waterfalls.  First, I hiked up Black Run with its deep, rugged gorge.  Since there was no trail, I was forced to bushwhack.  I soon came upon a 20 foot falls next to a beautiful cliff.  Upstream the creek became even more beautiful with non-stop cascades and waterfalls over ledges and squeezing between mossy boulders.  Slides fed pools of water over reddish bedrock.  Already, my hike was worth it.

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I hiked down along the rim of the glen through thick laurel, passing a large rectangular boulder sitting on its end.

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I then headed down to the Mid State Trail for a short hike.  It was nice to see the route I scouted all those years ago now is a trail people use and enjoy.  I passed Paint Run and decided at the last minute to hike it.  I’m glad I did.

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Paint Run is probably the most scenic of Stony Fork’s tributaries.  This creek was very impressive, with a variety of falls, slides, pools, and rapids, often flanked by ledges and cliffs.  One slide was over 100 feet long.  In places it reminded me of the famous Rock Run.  The beauty of this creek was non-stop as it tumbled over smooth bedrock and around large ledges.  I particularly liked one slide with a series of large mossy boulders.  It carved a deep gorge through which echoed the sound of the rushing water.  Moss, hobblebush, and violets adorned the creek.

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I climbed up the south slope of Paint Run’s gorge and found an old grade which returned me to where I began, behind an old cabin along Stony Fork Road.

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I then hiked to the East Branch Stony Fork where there was an impressive grotto and slide in the sandstone bedrock, with deep, smooth pools shaded by hemlocks.  A beautiful spot.  It had the feel of a rainforest as hemlock logs had fallen over the creek, clothed in moss.  Slabs of rock had fallen from the sidewalls into the water.  Another smooth ledge was angled just right to create of perfect sheet of sliding water.

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I headed south to the next unnamed drainage and began the hike up it.  I was immediately greeted with more waterfalls and cascades with moss covered ledges, dripping with water.  There were four or five falls, with the tallest being about 30 feet.

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I descended the glen and crossed Stony Fork above a rapid before returning to my car. The hidden places are often the best and PA is filled with them Continue reading