Ketchum Run Gorge Loop-Loyalsock State Forest


Orange is the off trail route. 

Ketchum Run Gorge is one of the Loyalsock State Forest’s most beautiful places. Here, pristine Ketchum Run has carved a gorge into the plateau with four waterfalls, chasms, pools, and cascades. Old growth forests line the gorge and there are two beautiful views looking over it. Ketchum Run Gorge needs to be high on the list for any hiker.

Thanks to a network of trails, a hiker can make an excellent 7 mile loop that reveals the beauty of the gorge. I began at the Fern Rock Nature Trail parking area and hiked to my right, to the road and then followed the red and blue cross country ski trail into the woods. At a powerline swath, I followed the red trail to the right as it explored a beautiful hemlock and beech forest. I returned to the swath and reached Coal Mine Road, where I turned right. I hiked down the road a short distance and then turned left onto a blue and red trail that followed a narrow grade above Worlds End Road. I then reached the Loyalsock Trail (LT), where I turned left.

The LT climbed along a spruce forest. I recommend you explore this forest as it is a beautiful grove of spruce trees with some red pine. The LT crossed over the top of the plateau with rolling terrain and hardwoods. Soon, hemlocks became more common, creating beautiful forests. The LT passed near the bottom of some ledges and then climbed into more hemlocks. I then descended back to Coal Mine Road and crossed it. I soon reached the spectacular view at Alpine Vista. The narrow, winding Loyalsock valley was below, framed by ridges and mountains. The rugged Ketchum Run Gorge was below to my left. The LT descended steeply before leveling off where I reached the equally beautiful Lower Alpine Vista along some cliffs. A large ice flow was nearby.

I followed the LT as it reached a side trail to bypass the ladder at Rode Falls. I continued on the LT as it dropped steeply into the gorge and reached Ketchum Run, locked in snow and ice flows. It was so beautiful. I strapped on my microspikes and enjoyed the incredible ice flows in the grotto of Rode Falls. I climbed up the ladder and continued on the LT enjoying the beauty of the gorge. The LT climbed to avoid a landslide and met the other end of the bypass trail. Next were beautiful old growth hemlock trees along the edge of the gorge.  I passed a trail marked with blue discs, I presume it went out to Coal Mine Road.  The LT descended to Lee’s Falls, which was locked in ice. I continued up into the impressive chasms upstream from Lee’s Falls, happy to have the microspikes. The LT continued up the creek under hemlocks as the sound of the babbling water filled the forest. I then reached where the LT turned right to cross Ketchum Run.

Here I followed a short, easy bushwhack that has become more of a trail. I simply followed the run upstream, passing grottos and two more falls. It is such a beautiful hike and should not be missed. I then reached the red/blue trail where I turned left and then an immediate right. Next was a left turn into the Fern Rock Nature Trail marked with yellow blazes, and blue “FR” letters (It may be easy to miss). This is another beautiful trail with rolling terrain, streams, ledges, hemlocks and a wetland. It soon returned me back to my car, ending another amazing hike in the Loyalsock State Forest.

Where I parked: 41.437902, -76.607993.

This hike is described as Hike No. 43 in “Hiking the Endless Mountains”.


2 thoughts on “Ketchum Run Gorge Loop-Loyalsock State Forest

  1. I think I was there the same weekend (Friday-Sat) just before you! The ice formations just before the first waterfall look exactly the same in this pic

    I must have been just before you, since there were no footprints when I went in 🙂
    Did you see my tentsite at rode falls?

    Love the website by the way, what you’re doing documenting the trails and forests is a huge service to the commonwealth, I hope it inspires many others to realize how much is worth protecting in PA.

    (repost since links did not work properly)

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