Lost Mine, Boulder Caves, and the “Model T”- SGL 57

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Boulder Caves, SGL 57

Last month we returned to do a hike to the Lost Mine and the Boulder Caves in SGL 57.  In order to protect these places, I will not reveal their specific location.

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We parked at the parking area for the well-known mine and hiked an old grade over Red Brook, a mere trickle.  We followed a series of old trails and jeep roads into a hemlock forest where we turned left to look for the rumored remains on a Model T.  We hiked this trail out through beautiful, and at times wet, forests.  We reached a trail to the right so we hiked down that for a bit as it passed near a wetland with spruce and snowgrass.  It felt like wilderness.

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We retraced our steps and as we did we saw the “Model T”.  I’m not sure if that is what it actually was, but it was an old car of some type with some rusted metal decaying in the woods and a surprisingly small engine block.

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We then made our way to the Lost Mine, embedded among ledges and cliffs.  It almost appears to be a natural cave.  It is possible to go back into the cave, but the low ceiling will require you to stoop, and then crawl.  We didn’t venture very far back in.  Hopefully the bats are getting good use of it.

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Our hike continued along the escarpment to the east, passing chasms, huge boulders, and boulder cities.  A gradual climb brought us to the impressive Boulder Caves, where 40-50 foot boulders have separated created chasms, caves, and passageways.  It is a unique, wild place.  Moss and ferns draped over the rocks under a forest of hemlock and spruce.  After enjoying nature for a different perspective, from within the ground, surrounded by rock, we retraced our steps back to the car.

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More photos.

 

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Wolf Run, Bowman Creek, Bean Run Loop-SGL 57

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View from Coyote Rocks over Bowman Creek

This 5ish mile loop in SGL 57 is a great hike that follows trails that are fairly well established.  The terrain is gradual, with some stream crossings that will be difficult in high water.  The trails do not have signs or blazes.  This isolated loop features superb streamside hiking, diverse forests, fern meadows, big rocks, and a great view.

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Begin at the parking area near Wolf Run, located at 41.352937, -76.194498. It is about 10.2 miles from Noxen.  Look across the road for a trail that goes into the woods; follow it.  It crosses Wolf Run and then proceeds upstream along Bowman Creek.  The scenery is excellent with pools, hemlocks, and rhododendrons.  Cross Bean Run and enter a deep hemlock forest.  Look for some metal bars across Bowman Creek; turn right here and leave the creek, following an old grade along a meadow with stone foundations.  Turn left on the next grade, and then right on another.  Climb up and this will bring you to the road.

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Follow the road to the right and hike it for .4 mile to Bean Run.  Do not cross the run.  Look for a trail on the left that enters the woods on a grade.  Follow it.  It goes up the grade above Bean Run for about .5 mile.  Turn right (if you continue straight, you will cross a creek and go too far).  The trail descends and crosses Bean Run.  The trail along Bean Run is very scenic as it enters a gorge lined with ledges and large angular boulders with some spruce trees.

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The trail curves right and ascends from Bean Run, meandering through the forest, a red marked trail joins from the left, but I’ve never hiked it.  Hike along scenic fern meadows and descend to near another stream, Wolf Run.  If you want to see the view, turn left at a small cairn and cross Wolf Run (if you begin to descend along Wolf Run, you went too far).  The side trail is about .5 mile and leads to a rock outcrop known as Coyote Rocks with views of Bowman Creek valley.  It is a fine view that feels isolated; it is also a great place to see the sunset.  Retrace your steps.

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Descend along Wolf Run which features some boulders.  The grade stays above the creek and descends to a meadow with pickers.  Work your way through and reach the road.  Turn left, cross Wolf Run, and reach your car.

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Much of this route is described in the White Gold Circuit hike in “Hiking the Endless Mountains”.

More photos.

Location of hike area on Google maps.

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Lyman Run State Park

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View of Lyman Run State Park

Our tour of the PA Wilds ends with beautiful Lyman Run State Park, a 595 acre park well known for its beauty and isolation, located near Galeton, PA.  It features a pristine 45 acre lake surrounded by mountains and even a small beach.  It is the perfect place to kayak or fish, and the mountains offer superb fall foliage.

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There are several hiking trails in the park that wrap around the lake, go along Lyman Run, or climb the mountains to views and large rocks.  The Susquehannock Trail passes just to the west of the park.  The park also has camping.  With more amenities than  nearby state parks, Lyman Run is the perfect weekend basecamp to explore the Susquehannock State Forest and PA Wilds.

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I’ve always enjoyed Lyman Run because it feels isolated and “out of the way”.   The views of the mountains and lake are truly beautiful.  The lake’s dam was reconstructed a few years ago and now features a unique spillway with angle concrete piers that has become a sort of architectural attraction.

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Our visit to the park was quick.  We took in the vista and drove down Wildcat Hollow which surprised me with its beauty- it was a steep glen with a stunning open forest of large hardwoods and fern meadows.  We could see the entire glen through the trees.  We stopped by the lake and enjoyed the fine scenery.  Afterwards we did a quick hike on the Susquehannock Trail and its swinging bridge across Lyman Run.

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Looking for a new weekend getaway?  Lyman Run State Park is the perfect place.

More photos.

Cherry Springs State Park- A Portal to the Universe

 

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Waiting for the show to start, the horizon at Cherry Springs State Park.

 

Cherry Springs State Park has emerged as one of the PA Wilds premier destinations, for reasons that aren’t even on the ground.  Cherry Springs has some of the darkest skies in the East and is famous with astronomers and star gazers.

It was the second International Dark Sky Park, and under ideal conditions, the Milky Way can even cast a slight shadow.  Over 10,000 stars can be seen with the naked eye.

The park has a campground, open fields for watching the stars, hiking trails, and even impressive architecture from the CCC era.  It is located at an elevation of about 2,400 feet and is close to the Susquehannock State Forest, Susquehannock Trail, and several other state parks.  A network of hiking and mountain biking trails surround the park.

We were fortunate enough to be in the area on a clear night during the Perseid meteor shower.  I was surprised by all the people who were there, from many different states, speaking a variety of languages, sitting close to each other looking up at the heavens.  It seems the dark, and stars, can bring people together.

As the sun melted over the horizon and the last light of the day drained from the sky, the stars began to make their appearance.  The sheer number of stars were amazing-layers after layers of stars as the cloudy band of the Milky Way stretched across the entire sky.  I don’t think I have ever seen so many stars.

Soon the meteors arrived, shooting across the sky.  Some were quick blasts, others stretched across the constellations.  Satellites also appeared, moving more slowly below the stars.  Planets in our solar system tried to hide among the countless stars in the galaxy.  Cherry Springs makes you realize just how vast this universe is.

Some tips about visiting Cherry Springs:

  1. It gets cool up there, so dress a little warm.
  2. Bring something comfortable to lay on and a pillow, it’s the best way to see the night sky.  Don’t want to lay down? Bring a chair where you can comfortably lean back.
  3. Limit the use of light, and only use a red light.
  4. Be prepared to be amazed.

A clear night at Cherry Springs State Park is an experience you won’t soon forget.

Vistas of the Susquehannock State Forest

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Cherry Springs Vista, Susquehannock State Forest

Want to take it easy and see some natural beauty in the PA Wilds?  Take a drive and see the various road-side vistas the Susquehannock State Forest has to offer.

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This state forest is vast, covering 265,000 acres, and it has about twelve different vistas on its network of roads.  Be sure to get a free public use map of the forest to help with navigation.  Contact the state forest office.

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The roads are usually in good shape and besides views they offer isolation, beautiful forests, streams, and opportunities to see wildlife.

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Some of my favorite vistas are along PA 44, particularly Cherry Springs vista.  Losey Run vista is excellent, as are the ones along McConnell and Junction Roads.

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The state forest is home to vast northern hardwoods that are stunning in the Autumn.  Colors tend to peak in late September to mid October.  As others crowd New England, you can have this whole place to yourself.

Our next stop on our PA Wilds tour will be the stars, Milky Way, constellations, and shooting stars of Cherry Springs State Park, home to some of the darkest skies in the east.

More photos.

Prouty Place State Park

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Prouty Place State Park

My tour of the PA Wilds continued with a visit to Prouty Place State Park, one of the smallest, least visited and isolated state parks in PA.

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There isn’t much to this park, it is basically a meadow, crossed by a dirt road, with a defunct hand pump well and a port a john.  The park is five acres in size.  It appears you can camp at the park at undeveloped sites in the meadow, or along scenic Prouty Run.   The park is located in a very isolated, wooded valley that makes it a rustic and beautiful getaway.

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A yellow trail from the park leads to the Susquehannock Trail.  It is a very nice hike along a small stream with beautiful pine forests.  It joins the Susquehannock Trail at a stream and small campsite.

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Prouty Place is ideal as a basecamp to explore the northern Susquehannock State Forest.  Coudersport, Austin Dam, Patterson State Park, Denton Hill State Park, Cherry Springs State Park, Lyman Run State Park, and Hammersley Wild Area are all a fairly short drive away.  This area of the state forest features a vast network of mountain biking and hiking trails, and if you don’t want to hike, the forest roads lead to many superb vistas.

If you want to escape civilization and the crowds for a few days, go to Prouty Place.

More photos.

Scenic Driving on Ridge Road, Elk State Forest

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Squaretimber Vista on Ridge Road, Elk State Forest

After hiking the Bucktail Path, my tour of the PA Wilds continued on Ridge Road in the Elk State Forest.  This road is locally well-known for its nine beautiful vistas, making it a miniature Blue Ridge Parkway, just on a dirt road and without the crowds.

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It is surprising just how beautiful the PA Wilds are, whether it be the isolation, endless trails, numerous state parks, vast public lands, dark skies, and breathtaking vistas.

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I’ve always driven north on Ridge Road, I don’t think it matters much which direction you take.  From US 120, south of Emporium, take Grove Hill Road to the top of the mountain.  This road becomes Ridge Road.

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The vistas soon begin off of both sides of the ridge.  My two favorite vistas are Squaretimber and Logue Run Vistas.

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Being a north-south ridge, the vistas offer both sunrise and sunset panoramas.

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There is even a picnic area along the road at the Whitehead Pavilion.

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Many people head back down Whitehead Road, but there are three more vistas to the north, one being only a half mile north of the juncture of Ridge and Whitehead Roads.  To see the remaining two vistas, continue north on Ridge Road for about fourteen miles.  The road was under construction when we drove it, and it was a bit rough, but I assume it is otherwise in good shape.

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Turn left onto Crooked Run Road for the final view.  The two northern views are not as dramatic and expansive as the others, but they are very nice nonetheless.  Drive Crooked Run Road down to scenic Sizerville State Park.

More photos.