Hike to Boggs Run Vista-Sproul State Forest

Yellow is a jeep road. Red is off trail, although it does follow game or old hunting paths that become more defined as you near the vista. Dashed red route is for those seeking a longer walk on the jeep road.

Boggs Run has carved a canyon over 1,100 feet deep and several miles long into the Allegheny Plateau of the Sproul State Forest.  On the east side of this canyon is a vista of remarkable beauty, one of the most scenic vistas in the PA Wilds. This view was previously undocumented; I suspected it existed due to an opening in the forest I could see on Google Earth.  I decided to check it out.  Sproul is Pennsylvania’s largest state forest, covering over 300,000 acres.  It holds incredible hidden beauty with many off trail vistas, large rocks, gorges, spruce and pine forests, and waterfalls.

I parked along Grugan Hollow Road, where a jeep trail intersects from the north.  The spot was marked by a tree with a pink paint mark.  I then headed north on the jeep road, which is not blazed, or signed (yellow on the map).  To my surprise, there was no gate blocking the jeep road.  However, driving down it is not recommended.  The jeep road descended into a saddle along the ridge, and then began to gently climb.  Here, I left the road and hiked off trail to the left.  I waded through low blueberries and enjoyed some partial vistas.  I eventually picked up some old game or hunting trails, which made my hike easier.  I continued along the edge of the plateau.   The forest was mostly open, and there wasn’t any thick mountain laurel.  As I hiked, I followed a trail that became more defined.

Clouds were lifting from the canyons and the forests were within veils of mist.  I turned around to see the sun sending shafts of light, piercing through the forest.  It was so beautiful.  With my back to the sun, the light would illuminate the mist in front of me, creating an iridescent haze across the forest floor.  I had to rub my eyes to make sure I was seeing right.  

I reached a steep slope and descended; I had to watch for some loose rock.  I then reached Boggs Run Vista.  It was truly breathtaking.  The vista reveals a 180 degree panorama of this narrow, rugged gorge surrounded by towering plateaus, ridges, and buttresses as the plateaus descend.  Mist and clouds rose from within the canyon and then drifted away, revealing clear blue skies.  To the north I could see for twenty miles or so.  Far below I could hear Boggs Run flowing.  A hawk screeched within the canyon.  Monarch butterflies sailed south.  Across the canyon there appeared to be another vista.  I could see right up the canyon for several miles.  Since this vista looks west, it is ideal for sunsets.

I loved how this vista is so wild and untouched.  Hopefully, the Sproul State Forest will allow a trail be built to it to highlight the stunning beauty of the PA Wilds.  I then retraced my steps back to my car, off to find some more vistas in the state forest.

This hike is about 1.5 miles one way, with the first half mile being on the jeep road.  The terrain is easy to moderate; there are no huge climbs or descents.  The dashed red route on the map above is for those who want to hike longer on the jeep road.  The red route is off trail, but does follow old game or hunting trails, which become more defined as you near the vista.  

The vista is located at 41.312722, -77.703006.  Parking is located at about 41.295199, -77.689584.  It is pull off parking and very limited, with space for no more than one or two cars.  Do not block the jeep road; do not drive down the jeep road. 

Boggs Run Vista is an amazing view that should be on any hikers list.   

Photos and video:

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Sproul State Forest

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Return to Ricketts Glen-Hiking the Falls Trail

Ricketts Glen is where I started hiking, years ago.  Back then I was working two jobs, had no money, and found myself with an afternoon and nothing to do.  Since I needed to find something inexpensive, I decided to check out Ricketts Glen, not quite knowing what to expect.  I hiked up the Falls Trail and saw waterfall after waterfall.  I couldn’t believe a place so beautiful was so close to home.  I went back home, opened a map to look for my next destination.  A few weeks later I went to Worlds End State Park.

I haven’t stopped since.

As the years passed, I’ve spent less time at Ricketts Glen.  Years have gone by without me setting foot on the Falls Trail.  I guess I’ve changed, and so has Ricketts Glen.  Ricketts Glen has become a national, if not international, destination.  The park now sees tour buses and throngs of people hike the iconic Falls Trail.  I’ve turned to hiking off trail and seeing the state’s hidden beauty.

I returned this summer to hike the Falls Trail during an evening after work.  The conditions were perfect.  Lots of water in the creek, cool temperatures, no bugs, bright sun and no crowds.  I did see cars from Texas, Michigan, and Quebec, illustrating the reputation of this remarkable park.  

We parked at the Lake Rose parking area and soon hiked the trail under hemlocks.  Moss covered rocks adorned the forest floor.  We veered left onto the Highland Trail and enjoyed the giant rocks at the Midway Crevasse.  The trail descended and we passed a family of hikers speaking Russian.  The trail reached Glen Leigh where we turned right.  I love Glen Leigh due to its stunning scenery and how close the trail is to the waterfalls.  The numerous waterfalls were so beautiful.  Giant trees rose through the canopy as the sunlight shone on moss and lichens.  Despite it being a weeknight, we still passed several hikers, although the trail was not crowded.

We reached Waters Meet and headed downstream to see the three falls ending at Murray Reynolds.  We then returned to Waters Meet.

I was hiking with a man from Oregon, who often hikes to the waterfalls in the famous Columbia River Gorge.  He was thoroughly impressed by Ricketts Glen.  He exclaimed that everywhere he looked, there was a waterfall.

We made our way up Ganoga Glen to enjoy the waterfalls and deep gorges.  We took a break at deafening Ganoga Falls, almost 100 feet tall, as it roared down a precipice.  We continued our climb as the sun set, casting the gorge in twilight.  Falls seemed to dance through the trees.  The aroma of the water and deep hemlock forests was intoxicating.

We reached the car and drove to Lake Jean as the sun set, casting the skies into colors of amber and gold.

I will always return to Ricketts Glen from time to time.  It is truly one of nature’s great cathedrals.

We parked at 41.329862, -76.290824.

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Ricketts Glen State Park.

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The Eales Preserve at Moosic Mountain-The Nature Conservancy

The Eales Preserve has established itself as a premier destination for mountain biking and hiking.  For good reason.  The preserve protects some of the largest heath barrens in the eastern US, covering hundreds of acres.  The trails feature streams, ponds, rock outcrops, and non-stop views.  You can see for over thirty miles.  The Eales Preserve is owned by the Nature Conservancy.   It is surprising how much beauty surrounds Scranton and Wilkes-Barre.  

The trails were built by mountain bikers, so they tend to be curvy.  But hiking is also allowed.  Overall the trails are in good shape and have signs, but few blazes.  The trails also appear on Google Maps.

If you like views, the loop described below is my favorite.  I recommend hiking in late afternoon and save the Blueberry Trail for last, so you can see the sunset as you hike.  It will be an experience you won’t forget. The best time to see the preserve may be in early October when the meadows explode into fields of deep red.  It is incredibly beautiful.

This loop is 5-6 miles and is moderate in difficulty.  Climbs tend to be gradual and you will walk over and across rock slabs.  From the parking area, walked to the kiosk and soon thereafter turn left onto the Bruised Ego Trail as you get the first taste of some views.  Turn right onto the Conglomerate Loop and enjoy expansive views of the Lackawanna Valley.  Continue on the Stonehenge Trail, which is more wooded, but I like to include The View Trail.  As the name suggests, this one has some great views.  Return to the Stonehenge Trail with more woodlands and small streams.  Reach a powerline and continue on the Waterfall Loop, on which I have never found a waterfall.  This makes a gradual climb over ledges with some views, but then enters the woods.  Near the top, veer right onto the classic Blueberry Trail, which features non stop views that are breathtaking with some small pine groves.  Sunsets are incredible from this trail as it meanders across vast heath meadows.  As you descend enter a forest with a spring, but then return to the open meadows.  The trail drops down to the parking area.

All the trails at the preserve are worth hiking.  Another trail with superb views is High Voltage Trail.  Gene’s Trail is also enjoyable with streams and a pond.  

We are fortunate to have this beautiful place open to the public, for everyone to explore and enjoy.

Parking is at: 41.438408, -75.541067. 

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Sunset at Eales Preserve.

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Little Rocky Glen-Countryside Conservancy

Little Rockly Glen is a preserve owned by the Countryside Conservancy.  While it is small in size, it is big in beauty, featuring a gorge shaded with hemlocks and adorned with moss and ferns.  The South Branch Tunkhannock Creek flows through the gorge, creating rapids, deep pools, and unique erosional features.  Trout anglers enjoy the glen, as do whitewater kayakers in high water.

We parked in a lot along Lithia Valley Road and followed the trail above the creek.  The trails are not marked, but are easy to follow.  We hiked to the top of a mushroom rock outcrop overlooking the glen.  The views were beautiful.  We were able to descend to the ledge below the outcrop to enjoy the rapids and cascades, not to mention the unique potholes in the rock.  

We climbed back up and hiked the trail as it clung to the side of the glen, the creek roaring below.  We descended to a large pool, meadow, and a large picnic shelter.  The pool was beautiful as the deep waters swirled, and the meadow was adorned with wildflowers.  Swimming is not allowed in the glen as several people have drowned.

On the hike back out, we retraced our steps, enjoying the scenery of the glen.  The total hike was less than a quarter mile.  Little Rocky Glen is ideal for a quick visit to enjoy the beauty of nature.

We parked at 41.554341, -75.833674. There is parking for about five or six cars.

Hiking the Pinchot Trail South Loop-Pinchot State Forest

C = campsite, some are small in size. V= views over wetlands.

The south loop of the Pinchot Trail (PT) is a beautiful, and fairly easy, hike.  While the terrain is rolling and hilly, there is still a lot of great scenery and diversity.  The south loop is about 13 mile long, and the trail is blazed orange.  This loop is ideal as an overnight backpack, or a long dayhike.  Two years ago, several trail relocations were completed which greatly enhanced the scenery of this loop.  All road walks were eliminated (other than the one to complete the loop at the north end) and the new trails explored diverse forests, wetlands, and streams.  The new route also encompassed great creek walking along Choke Creek, and now includes Choke Creek Falls.  The reroutes have been popular with hikers.  The Keystone Trails Association helped build these new trails.

I decided to tackle the south loop as a dayhike, and I went counterclockwise, a direction I don’t usually take.  I parked at the trailhead where Tannery Road meets Bear Lake Rd. (SR 2016). There were spaces for about seven cars.  I walked the road to the west side of the loop and headed south.  The trail became wet and tunneled through thick laurel and rhododendron.  Spruce and hemlock grew overhead.  I crossed the headwaters of Choke Creek and passed a campsite.  I soon reached a nice view over a wetland.

The PT continued to meander through scenic forests of spruce, pine and hemlock.  The forests opened up with hardwoods and blueberry bushes.  I crossed a gated gravel road and entered one of my favorite places, a primeval forest of spruce, pine, moss, and hemlock near a swamp.  The PT is unique in having more native red spruce trees than most backpacking trails in PA.  The trail meandered through these beautiful forests, defined by a tread of bare earth.  I enjoyed hiking through the tunnels of rhododendron, which bloom in early July.  

One section of trail was inundated with laurel, but I soon broke free and descended to Choke Creek with its beaver dams, ponds, and beautiful campsites.  I really enjoy this section of trail due to its scenery and isolation.  The creek had been heavily impacted by beaver dams, but floods breached several dams and the trail was not as flooded as it had been in the past.  I took a break at one of the trail’s finest campsites, which sits on a ledge over the creek.  I then passed the yellow Choke Creek Nature Trail to the left; this trail makes an ideal dayhike loop.

I continued along scenic Choke Creek with views of the creek, meandering wetlands, and giant pine trees.  The PT moved away from Choke Creek to avoid wetlands and thick brush, but soon returned with fine views across a large wetland.    I soon reached stunning Choke Creek Falls, which is about 20 feet tall and tumbles into a deep pool lined with ledges.  A boy scout troop was swimming in the pool.  The trail continued up along Butler Run in a deep hemlock forest with great camping.  The next few miles featured rolling terrain with hardwood forests, small streams, and a pine plantation.  The trail became rocky after crossing Phelps Road and then I followed wide forest paths up to a hill with a fine dry campsite.  I dropped down to a vast meadow along Balsam Swamp with views of the spruce and fir trees.  The trail then returned to tunnels of rhododendron, scenic spruce and pine forests, before returning me to my car.  

Over the last twenty years, it is remarkable to see how popular the PT has become.  I enjoy the south loop because it is such a diverse and scenic route.  The trail threads through hemlock, hardwoods, spruce, pine, rhododendrons, and laurel.  There is always something different to see with the creeks, wetlands, and waterfall.  And the fine camping makes this hike that much better.  

I parked at 41.215358, -75.642310. The only real issues on the trail are some wet areas, possible beaver flooding, and some brushy areas. Enjoy the trail!

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Red pine forest, Pinchot Trail.

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Waterfalls of Bull Run-SGL 36

Bull Run is a small stream that flows down a gorge to Schrader Creek in SGL 36.  Along the way, it tumbles through a beautiful red rock glen with several waterfalls and cascades.  This is a short hike, only about a quarter or third of a mile, but it is very scenic.  There are no signs or blazes.  Bull Run is a small stream that likely dries in summer.  The best flow is when the Towanda Creek USGS gauge is above 6 feet.  

From the pull off parking area, follow an old grade into the woods.  After a few hundred feet, reach Bull Run.  To your left, or upstream, see the smooth red bedrock with small slides and cascades.  Most of the action, however, is to your right, or downstream.  Hike along the edge of the glen to see a six foot falls that leads to the tallest falls, at about 12-15 feet.  Continue downstream with boulders and slides that leads to a beautiful series of cascades over red bedrock.  The red bedrock is striking and it was beautiful to see the water tumble over the ledges.  Bull Run then flows into private land.

Bull Run is just one of the highlights in the Schrader Creek valley, where there are many more waterfalls on its tributaries, not to mention vistas, giant rocks, ponds, and historical ruins from the mining era from over a century ago.  

Pull off parking is at 41.678621, -76.542346.  The game commission road is a little steep, but it can be driven by a car.

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Bull Run Falls, SGL 36.

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Bull Run, SGL 36.

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Bull Run Falls, SGL 36.

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Hiking Cedar Run-Tioga State Forest

Cedar Run is a tributary of Pine Creek, it is known for its scenery and trout fishing.  Cedar Run flows through a deep canyon in the Tioga State Forest.  I’ve heard rumors of the beauty of this stream, and decided to check it out myself.  This hike comprised of walking up Cedar Run itself, often in the water, and then returning via Leetonia Road.  This hike is about 7 miles in total.

I found a place to pull off along Leetonia Road and simply walked off trail down to Cedar Run.  I encountered a steep cliff, but took a more gradual deer path down to the creek.  From there I simply walked upstream.  The water was clear and pristine, not to mention refreshing on such a warm day.  As I walked upstream, the scenery of Cedar Run revealed itself with deep, translucent pools, and towering grottos and cliffs.  There were deep forests of large hemlock and pine.  This section of Cedar does not have any waterfalls on it, or large rapids.  

Whenever the creek made a bend, there seemed to be cliffs and deep pools.  At times I walked along the bank above the creek when the terrain allowed.  As I walked up the creek, I saw a flock of fifteen mergansers.  I was pushing them up the creek, and they clearly wanted to go down.  I hiked up the bank, and let them pass downstream.  They scurried through the water, leaving a wake of bubbling foam.  

As I continued upstream, the scenery continued to impress.  Despite Leetonia Road being close by, I felt I was in the midst of a vast wilderness.  This hike was beautiful, and relaxing.  By the time I reached Straight Run on the right, the cliffs and grottos had largely receded to steep wooded hillsides.  I then hiked up to Tumbling Run, which featured a twenty foot falls and a cabin perched above it.  A truly beautiful spot.  

I continued upstream to Long Branch and left Cedar Run.  I hiked up Long Branch and scrambled up to the red blazed Long Branch Trail.  Up Long Branch was a beautiful ten foot falls.  I hiked the Long Branch Trail out to Mine Hole Road, turned left, and hiked a short distance to Leetonia Road, which I then walked back to my car.

This is an ideal summer “crick walk” when the water is low.  Do not attempt in high water.  Cedar Run is a beautiful creek that you will enjoy.

I parked at  or about 41.530243, -77.453171.