I’ve long wanted to find a superloop hike around Worlds End State Park. It is one of my favorite places with excellent scenery. So, I thought of a loop that basically stretches from Cold Run to Ketchum Run. The diversity of scenery is stunning with views, rock formations, gorges, waterfalls, and hemlock forests. However, due to the circuitous nature of the trails, this is also the longest of the superloops- 25 miles with almost 4,000 feet of elevation gain. Don’t want to do the whole loop? It is easy to divide the loop, or even do it as a backpacking trip. This is the fourth of Pennsylvania’s superloops.
We began at a parking area along PA 154, marked as P1 on Map 1. We hiked the loop clockwise, which is marked orange on the map, although the trails have different blaze colors. There is one short, off trail section that is easy to navigate. An ideal shortcut is marked purple on Map 2.
From P1, we made our way up the blue Canyon Vista Trail and then onto the yellow Cold Run Trail. The waterfalls on Cold Run were flowing great and the ramps and wildflowers were stunning. I’ve never seen so many wildflowers in the Loyalsock, dotting the forest floor with white, blue, purple, and red. We hiked up Cold Run, enjoying all the falls and flowers. The trail meandered below and around the cascading water, and then climbed under impressive rocks, including the Boulder Arch. The giant, mossy rocks continued until we returned to the blue Canyon Vista Trail. We saw more large rocks, wildflowers, and a new view over the Loyalsock Creek, which roared far below.
We reached famous Canyon Vista and enjoyed the view. From there, the superloop follows the Loyalsock Trail (LT) through scenic woodlands and then to beautiful Mineral Springs Falls as it funnels down a large bedrock slide. The natural, orange, sulfur spring was below the falls and we crossed Double Run, climbing to some rocks, up to a ridge, and down to a stream with hemlocks and campsites. We crossed Worlds End Road and left the LT, turning left onto a bridle trail, followed right onto Coal Mine Road, and then at a swath, turned left onto another bridle trail, which took us to the Fern Rock Nature Trail parking area. We followed the nature trail under hemlocks and with views of the swamp. At the loop, we went left, enjoying more hemlocks and then descending to Ketchum with an assortment of slides and cascades. We turned left off the nature trail loop onto a red trail, and then a quick left again. Before crossing Ketchum Run, the off trail section began.
There is now a trail, unblazed, along Ketchum Run. It passes two beautiful falls, slides, a glen and pools. It was absolutely gorgeous as the water descended in white gowns over the glazed bedrock. We returned to the LT and continued down along Ketchum Run, passing some campsites. We entered a narrow, beautiful gorge with moss and more cascades. Below us was Lee’s Falls. The LT climbs up the rim of the gorge and then descends above Rode Falls with its iconic ladder. We took a break here, eating some food and taking some pictures. Along the mossy cliffs, spring water streamed out of cracks and crevices.
The LT climbed out of the gorge, passing the two Alpine vistas. At the lower one, there were several women hiking with their dogs. White wildflowers covered the slopes of the mountain. We continued on the LT to the Worlds End Trail, on which we turned left. We hiked to Coal Mine Road, passed through a beautiful pine forest, and returned to the road. We turned left onto a blue trail on an old forest road and followed it across the plateau under hemlocks. The trail left the road, descended across the meadow, and made a steeper descent down into the canyon with more wildflowers. I remember hiking this section years ago, it was barely an overgrown herdpath. Now it was a well established trail. This area has really become a hiking and trail running destination.
We passed some views created by a tornado and dropped down to the LT, on which we turned right, following it to the unblazed Pioneer Road. We then hooked into the blue Double Run Trail with its cascades and pools. Cottonwood Falls and all the other cascades were beautiful. Next was the Link Trail as it followed the other branch of Double Run with more falls in a scenic gorge. We crossed the road, hiked among rock outcrops and then turned left onto the blue Canyon Vista Trail. Next was a small boulder maze and the fine view at Warren’s Window. The hike then brought us down to the campground as we followed the Canyon Vista Trail along the Loyalsock Creek with its rapids. Nearby, campers were grilling hot dogs and hamburgs. We were hungry and tired, hoping someone would offer us one. The aroma was a cruel taunt. No such luck, we could only feast on our imaginations. We reached our cars, completing the loop.
If you’re looking for a real challenge that showcases the incredible beauty of Worlds End and the Loyalsock, this is it.
For the map: P=parking, V=vista, blue dashes across streams are waterfalls.
P1 is located at 41.469053, -76.563351
Other parking areas: Worlds End Rd.: 41.451133, -76.601863
Fern Rock Nature Trail: 41.437755, -76.608005
Double Run Nature Trail: 41.465866, -76.578629