Hike to the Sinnemahoning Canyon Vista and Sinnemahoning Spine-Elk State Forest

The PA Wilds are a special place, and one that I enjoy visiting.  Its isolation, rugged terrain, countless trails, parks, streams, and wild elk make it an ideal destination.  One of the most scenic places in the PA Wilds are around Sinnemahoning and Driftwood.  Here, towering plateaus and deep canyons rise above the large Sinnemahoning Creek.  This hike leads to one of the most stunning vistas over the Sinnemahoning Creek, and one of the finest views in all of the PA Wilds.

I first did this hike over a year ago, when I looked for a view that turned out to be quite nice.  Little did I know a really spectacular view was on a ridge just to the west.  Suspecting there was such a view, I returned to explore more.  I parked at a pull off along Montor Road and walked around a gate, heading south on an old forest road.  No trails have blazes or signs.  The old road soon joined a grassy pipeline swath, which I followed for several hundred feet.  Watch for a discreet turn to the left through some pine trees.  Follow the old road through laurel and open hardwoods with ferns.  The old road is easy to follow, although it is a little brushy in places.  I hiked on a bright sunny day, which illuminated the forest with a fluorescent green.  Ferns waved in the wind, just turning yellow as Autumn approached.  

The old road descended gradually and ended at an open meadow.  I headed west, off any trail, crossing some springs and walked through the open woods at the edge of the plateau.  A strong wind blew down the canyon.  I then reached an area, several hundred square feet in size, of uninterrupted moss carpeting the forest floor.  I then dropped down this ridge, which became steep over some ledges.  The ridge leveled and brought me to a stunning, incredible view of the Sinnemahoning Canyon.  This was a 180 degree view of the 1,300 foot deep canyon, with ridges, plateaus, and gorges.  The view would be incredible for sunrise or sunsets, and would be amazing above the mist and clouds in the morning.  The view is from a towering, reddish rock outcrop.  One rock at the view looked like an anvil.  I sat here for a while, amazed by the beauty.  The shadows of clouds sailed across the mountains.  I could see up the gorge of another creek, where a long, sloping ridge looked ribbed from the drainages of small side streams.  I called this view the Sinnemahoning Canyon Vista.  

I then headed west, off trail, along some old deer paths through the laurel.  I hiked to the next ridge to the west to look for another rock outcrop.  I found it, but the view was largely overgrown.  I retraced my steps and hiked down to the Sinnemahoning Spine, a very narrow ridge with views, ledges, overhangs and outcrops.  It is a unique and beautiful feature.  Wooded slopes plummeted from both sides of the narrow ridge.  The ridge had small grassy meadows and twisted pine trees.  The spine ended at a nice view and some large rock overhangs.  The spine would be beautiful when the leaves are off the trees. 

I then hiked over to the “original” vista from my first hike here; noted as “vista” on the map above.  The view and rock pedestals make this a beautiful spot.  From there, I returned to the meadow and hiked back out to Montour Road.  Montour Road is in good shape and a car can handle it.  However, do not drive on it if there is snow or ice.  This hike is about six miles long.

Parking is at  41.325439, -78.042667. Sinnemahoning Canyon Vista is at 41.302421, -78.051076. The other vista is at 41.300120, -78.048657. Sinnemahoning Spine is at 41.296699, -78.044167.

For the map above, red is off trail. However, the woods are open and walking is fairly easy, although steep down to the vistas. Brown is an old forest road. No trails have blazes or signs.

Enjoy this incredible place! Pennsylvania is beautiful.

2 thoughts on “Hike to the Sinnemahoning Canyon Vista and Sinnemahoning Spine-Elk State Forest

  1. Are the steep descents to the vista’s at all dangerously steep? I wouldn’t want anyone sliding half way down the mountain side.

    Dennis

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