The Rough Hill Trail is a relatively new two mile lollipop loop in the Loyalsock State Forest. This superb trail explores hemlock forests, ledges, cliffs, laurel, and features two fine vistas. The upper vista is particularly impressive. The trail was designed and constructed by Matt Crosbie, a recreational forester with DCNR. It is moderately challenging. Click here for a map and guide.
From the parking area at the Sandy Bottom Recreation Area, follow the yellow blazes down an old forest road. Watch for a discreet right turn off of the old forest road and into the woods. Hike through the woods with vernal pools, small fern meadows, and under some large tulip poplar trees. Begin to climb PA 87 and cross the road. Watch for traffic. The trail explores a pine forest and begins a larger climb up a slope with loose rock. The terrain eases with ledges and hemlocks. Take a short side trail to the lower vista, offering a fine view across the valley and the towering forested ridges.
Return to the trail and continue uphill under scenic forests. Reach the start of the loop. I usually go left, or straight, but this time we went right. The terrain was rocky followed by a steep climb to some ledges and cliffs. The trail turned left at the top and followed the escarpment of cliffs with laurel and pine. The pine was aromatic in the warm sun. We then reached the view.
The upper vista is stunning as it looks over the winding Loyalsock Creek valley with forested ridges and plateaus. The distinctive peak of Smiths Knob rises in the distance. The view is largely undeveloped and is one of the finest in the area. It is ideal for sunsets. We sat at the view for a while, and saw seven bald eagles soaring over the Loyalsock Creek. We continued on the loop, descended on an old skid trail, and then retraced our steps.
While at Sandy Bottom, hike out on the old forest road for views of the creek and the mountains that rise over one thousand feet above it, creating a canyon-like setting. This is a truly beautiful area. Want to hike to another nearby view? Check out Sandy Bottom Vista in the gamelands to the north, it is an easier hike, although it is off trail. There is a unique pedestal rock at that vista.
We parked at 41.397418, -76.759289.