Exploring a Hidden Waterfall Glen-SGL 134

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Yellow is a gated forest road.  Red is off trail.  Green is the easiest route, but may cross private property.

SGL 134 is a hidden gem, lying in the shadow of the Loyalsock State Forest. Here you will find beautiful vistas from cliffs over the narrow, rugged Loyalsock Creek valley. There is also Huckle Run, a small stream of stunning beauty with pristine water and a gorge with several waterfalls. The forests feature extensive hemlocks and large tulip poplar trees.

A few months ago I returned to SGL 134 to explore the gorge of an unnamed stream located north of Dry Run, near the village of Barbours. I suspected there would be waterfalls. Without a trail, I would have to bushwhack into the gorge. I parked along Proctor Road and hiked up a gate game commission road. I then began my off trail hike by climbing up the plateau to a ridge with many ledges and outcrops, including a unique stone pillar or pedestal. There were some partial views through the trees. I descended along the ridge and entered the gorge. Below me was a 15 foot falls in a scenic grotto.

Unfortunately, this is a small stream that does not hold water well. While it was running on my hike, it was low. I suggest the best time to see the falls is when the Loyalsock Creek is running at 6 feet or higher, as a rough approximation. I climbed up the gorge to see a 20 foot falls that tumbled over tiers of ledges. I couldn’t climb above this falls, so I backtracked down the creek and found an old grade on the west side. I climbed up the grade and saw a couple more scenic falls, about ten feet tall, often in grottos of sandstone. I continued my climb up the creek passing small cascades and slides under large hemlocks. Giant tulip poplars towered in the forest. I reached a deer fence and an old forest road with briars; I stayed in the woods. I followed a more open forest road and hiked around the deer fence. I descended to the game commission road and returned to my car.

My route wasn’t very ideal. It would be best to follow the green route on the map into the gorge, but it was not clear on my hike if that would cross private land. The ridge with the ledges was scenic, as was the gorge. Getting around the deer fence and logged area was a pain.

If you are looking for a new waterfall destination when all the creeks are high, I recommend this unnamed gorge. I also hope to explore nearby Dry Run sometime this year.

I parked at 41.411242, -76.804107.

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Rock columns.

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Huge tulip poplar and some beech.

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Hemlock woods.

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Exploring Sullivan Mountain and Buck Run-Loyalsock State Forest

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Red is off trail.  Yellow follows old grades or forest roads.

Back in December I went on a hike to see an off trail falls near Sullivan Mountain in the Loyalsock State Forest, and to explore Buck Run. I wasn’t going to post the hike because my route involved a lot of backtracking. However, this isolated area has some unique beauty that I realized was worthy of sharing.

I parked at a small lot near where Yellow Dog and Ellenton Ridge Roads meet. I followed the forest road to the west, which was often wet. The road passed through a logged area, but then entered more scenic forests, spruce groves, and a mossy wetland with blood red pitcher plants. I soon reached the Old Loggers Path at Buck Run; I would return to this spot later in my hike. I followed the OLP for a short distance, but then turned left onto the Crandalltown Trail, an unblazed grade. This obvious grade took me across the OLP and I continued to the right onto another unmarked, obvious grade. This grade took me along some giant boulders. One was adorned with moss and had trees growing out of it.

The grade was a very nice hike as it traversed the southern edge of the plateau, passing small fern meadows. Through the trees I could see over Pleasant Stream’s valley. I loved the isolation of this route. I soon reached a small, unnamed stream. My bushwhack began.

I suspected there was a waterfall down this creek. The terrain was very steep and I soon came upon a rugged grotto and a scenic 40 foot falls. The top part of the falls was framed by cliffs of fractured rock. I continued down the steep gorge where there were more boulders and cascades, but no more falls. If hiking to the falls, I would not suggest going further downstream below the falls due to the rugged terrain. I made the arduous climb out of the gorge and retraced my steps back to Buck Run.

The next part of my hike was an off trail exploration of Buck Run. It is a very scenic stream. The gorge has many large boulders and cascades. As I descended, the creek became a gauntlet of boulders and rapids. There were countless cascades. Large cliffs then rose on the north side of the creek, creating an impressive gorge. Scars of landslides from recent floods appeared in places. While Buck Run doesn’t have the sizeable waterfalls, it is still a very scenic place. I hiked out of Buck Run by climbing to the top of the cliff; there were some partial views. I made my way up Buck Run, returned to the OLP, and retraced my steps to the car in twilight.

I hope to return to this area to explore the giant rocks and cliffs that cover the top of Sullivan Mountain’s plateau.

I parked at 41.523299, -76.869160.

Hiking the Ziegler and Gardner Spencer Preserves-Countryside Conservancy

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Over the years, the Countryside Conservancy has protected land and established trails, primarily in the Tunkhannock Creek watershed.  Several of its preserves surround Lackawanna State Park, including the Ziegler and Gardner Spencer Preserves, which adjoin one another.

The small parking area is at the Ziegler Preserve.  The trails at both preserves are for hiking and mountain biking; be sure to give riders the right of way.  The trails are not named, and only the trails in the Ziegler Preserve are marked with occasional blue arrows.  However, all trails are well established.  One concern is that there is a web of interconnecting trails, which can make navigation difficult.  Thankfully, many trail junctures had laminated maps to show the location.

Our hike began along stone walls and small ledges as we gradually climbed.  We kept making right hand turns until we entered the Gardner Spencer Preserve, which featured meadows and some views.  The trails in the Gardner Spencer Preserve were professionally built for mountain bikes with sloped and banked trails.  We passed the foundation of a barn and descended the meadow into a hemlock glen.

The glen was very scenic with a babbling stream and ledges.  Hemlocks covered the canopy with deep green boughs.  A sign said there was a hiking only trail, but it was tough to follow with the snow.  After enjoying the creek, we retraced our steps to the mountain bike trail as it continued under hemlocks and climbed back up through the meadow.

We then followed trails to the left which led us into the highlight of our hike-Tunnel Vision.  Here, a trail was cut into a grove of spruce trees, creating a tunnel effect.  It was beautiful, and a nice change from the meadows and hardwood forests.  We left the spruce grove, crossed another stone wall and made a right.  Here, was the next highlight-a loop that descended into a beautiful hemlock grove above a small stream.  The forest was adorned with sandstone ledges.  A beautiful, serene place that should not be missed.

Our hike continued along some ledges and then descended to a series of interconnecting rock walls.  We continued to descend into the Ziegler Preserve and then climbed to hike along an impressively large rock wall under hemlocks.  We circled around, passing trails that went into the Lackawanna State Park, and descended to where we began.

This was an excellent hike and I will surely return to hike more of the trails in the summer and fall.  The diversity was great, with stately hardwood forests, stone walls, ledges, meadows, views, streams, and Tunnel Vision.  I’m sure there are a lot of wildflowers in summer throughout the meadows and the preserves looked ideal for birdwatching.

Thanks to all the volunteers who made these trails a reality.

Parking is at 41.582394, -75.693586.  Do not block the private driveway entrance.

Shingle Cabin Branch Falls-Ricketts Glen State Park

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Red are off trail routes.

Ricketts Glen is a very popular state park, known for its famous Falls Trail. But there is so much more to this large park. There are off trail vistas, secret gorges, and hidden waterfalls. Hopefully, the park will expand its system of hiking trails just as Worlds End has done.

On this hike, we did a loop of approximately five miles that went up the Old Bulldozer Road Trail, off trail to a vista, and then off trail down the rugged gorge of Shingle Cabin Branch. We then crossed chilly Kitchen Creek and hiked out along the Falls Trail.

The Old Bulldozer Road Trail is blazed red and follows an old grade or forest road up the mountain. It was a steady climb, steep in places, and featured primarily open hardwoods with laurel. The trail steepened as we neared the top and hiked along some ledges. At the top, the trail leveled and here we began our bushwhack to the east along the ridgeline. As we neared a private land boundary, there were some nice views to the south from ledges. If some trees were trimmed, the views would be spectacular. The views showed tiers of ridges to the south, and a water gap near Shickshinny. It was an impressive view of about thirty miles.

We returned to the Old Bulldozer Road Trail as it entered thick laurel and crossed the headwaters of Shingle Cabin Branch. Here, we left the trail and descended into the rugged, beautiful gorge with cascades, boulders, and ledges. As we descended, we stayed on the north side of the creek where we encountered more cascades and some large old growth hemlock trees. Other hemlocks succumbed to the woolly adelgid. We soon reached the top of the impressive Shingle Cabin Branch Falls and made a steep descent to the bottom. The falls are in a beautiful grotto with tiers of bedrock and are about 35 feet tall. It is a hidden gem in Ricketts Glen, and only about 500 feet from Kitchen Creek. In winter, the ice flows must be impressive.

We hiked along Shingle Cabin Branch and reached Kitchen Creek below Murray Reynolds Falls. After crossing chilly Kitchen Creek, we hiked out along the sublime Falls Trail in the bright morning light. Kitchen Creek tumbled besides us, adorned with icicles, as we hiked under towering hemlock trees. Other hikers passed us, unaware of all the beauty that lies just off the trail. We returned to our cars and headed home.

We parked at 41.300336, -76.273014.

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Shingle Cabin Branch was beautiful.

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Kitchen Creek.

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Hawkeye Trail, Flagstone Gorge, and Rock Run-Loyalsock State Forest

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Red is the on trail route. Yellow is off trail. Orange is on an unblazed grade. Purple is a suggested route.

North of the popular Old Loggers Path is a network of trails that hikers rarely visit. One trail is the Hawkeye Trail, a loop of about 7 miles. The Hawkeye Trail is primarily a cross country ski trail, but is also nice for hiking. My goal was to do a hike that combined the Hawkeye Trail, off trail hiking, old grades, North Branch Rock Run, and a scenic gorge. This loop is about 6-7 miles in length.

I began at the parking area for the Hawkeye Trail along Ellenton Mountain Road and followed this trail counterclockwise, or to the right. The trail was level and rolling as it explored hardwood forests. It followed an old grade or forest road. When I reached the first stream crossing, I left the Hawkeye Trail to begin the off trail section of the hike. I followed the creek downstream as it tumbled over rocks and boulders. I reached an obvious grade, which I crossed. I continued off trail along the creek. Here, a gorge began to develop with more cascades. Further downstream another creek joined from the left into a scenic gorge. Ledges, cliffs, and large hemlocks adorned the gorge where there were several slides and small falls. The gorge was only about 75-100 feet deep, but was quite steep. The tallest cascade was no more than 10-15 feet. Mist hung in the gorge. As I descended the gorge, there were rhododendrons, a rare sight in this area. There were also a lot of flagstone rock outcrops. As a result, I called it Flagstone Gorge.

At the bottom, the gorge opened up and I soon reached the North Branch Rock Run, which I followed downstream. This was a beautiful wilderness stream lined with reddish ledges and cliffs. It looked like a prime trout stream. Old grades accompanied the creek in places, but I still had to cross several times. The creek had rapids and deep pools along ledges. Large boulders dotted the stream bed as large hemlocks grew overhead. I then reached a long ledge against which the creek flowed; this red ledge had many springs flowing out of it. Some old ruins of stone were nearby, likely from the logging era. I really enjoyed my hike along the North Branch; the scenery and isolation made this a special place. There were many superb potential camping spots along the creek.

I soon reached the Chasms of Rock Run, where the North Branch meets Rock Run itself. What a glorious place with bedrock grottos, deep pools, rapids, slides, and large boulders. Hemlock, birch, and maple grew overhead. The roar of the water filled the gorge. At the confluence was an epic campsite where I took a break and got a bite to eat. I promised myself that I would camp there someday.

I then headed uphill, off trail. As I neared the top, I reached an unblazed grade, where I turned right. The grade headed east; I avoided any grade that went downhill. The grade went through hardwood forests. I soon reached the red blazed Hawkeye Trail; where I turned left. The route to the right is more scenic, but a little longer (purple on the map above). Due to time, I took the route to the left. The trail is well blazed and follows old grades through hardwoods, along logging cuts, and a grove of spruce. I crossed small streams and soon reached Ellenton Mountain Road. The trail parallels the road, but I had trouble finding it, so I just walked the road. I soon returned to my car.

If you are looking for a challenge and seeing places few others have visited, I recommend this hike. Flagstone Gorge was more scenic than I was expecting, North Branch Rock Run is sublime, and the Chasms of Rock Run are incredible. I also suggest taking the purple route on the map as it is a more scenic return route, although I did not follow it on this hike.

Parking is located at 41.564652, -76.830230.

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Epic campsite.

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Forests above Rock Run.

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Chasms of Rock Run.

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Misty spruce along the Hawkeye Trail.

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Hike to Colley Falls-SGL 66

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Near the tiny village of Colley is a beautiful falls in SGL 66, known as Colley Falls. This is a easy hike, although the trail is not blazed.

From the parking area, follow the edge of the field with some nice views. Enter the woods, there are red pine and spruce trees off to the left. A grade comes into view along the creek. The creek does not have a name. Follow the grade, which becomes more evident as you hike up the creek.  See the remain of an old fieldstone dam off to the right; the stones are covered in moss. The grade crosses the creek below a six foot cascade. The grade climbs a steep slope and levels off before reaching the top of the falls.

The falls are about 20-25 feet tall and tumble over tiers of bedrock. I was surprised by the beauty of the falls. A small side stream joins below the falls. Colley Falls is by far the largest and most scenic of the falls, so most people will choose to stop here. If you’d like to see the other falls and cascades, continue up the grade.

The grade crosses the creek above Colley Falls where there is another scenic 7-8 foot falls. The grade meanders up the slope, passing near a cascade on the side stream. The grade meets another old grade at the side stream. Here, turn right as the grade crosses the creek among cascades. Another grade turns left and goes up along the stream where it fades out. Above is a 15 foot falls, ledges, and a glen with rocks and boulders. While the 15 foot falls is nice, it is not really worth the off trail hike to reach it.

This is small stream that will often be dry in summer. It is best to see the falls when the Loyalsock Creek USGS gauge is at least 3.0 feet, as a general correlation.

The game commission parking lot is at 41.524003, -76.290486.

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Beautiful setting at Colley Falls.

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Colley Falls.

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Cascading side stream.

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Fairground Falls-Loyalsock State Forest

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The Loyalsock State Forest has many hidden waterfalls, and one happens to be behind the Sullivan County Fairgrounds. This unnamed creek attracted my attention with its steep gorge. Knowing that many surrounding streams had waterfalls, I suspected this creek might have one as well. I drove up Loyalsock Road and parked at a very sharp right hand turn where there was space at a pull off.

The small stream was very close by and announced itself with cascades. There were some nice cascades at the top, including one about 6 feet tall. I began to descend the creek into the gorge. I saw remnants of an old grade, but I did not take it. It may make for an easier descent. This is a small stream and you can expect it to dry up in summer. This falls should be flowing well when the Loyalsock Creek USGS gauge is 3.0 feet or higher.

The gorge was quite rocky and steep, but then the terrain eased up. I saw some more cascades over bedrock and boulders. I then passed a used jeep road or ATV trail above a striking 30-40 foot falls in a grotto of cliffs. A long, sinuous spring cascaded down the slope next to the falls. I was surprised by this falls and that it was unknown. There were two drops; the first was about ten feet and the second 25-30 feet tall. The terrain around the falls is very steep and I had to take care descending. Without a name, I simply called it Fairground Falls.

The ATV/jeep trail descended to the parking area of the fairgrounds. If the public is allowed to access the fairgrounds, this is by far the easiest way to the falls.

With my car at the top, I made the trek back up the gorge. There is so much beauty in all these hidden gorges and glens.

Parking is at 41.487172, -76.588080.

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Fairground Falls.

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