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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Waterfalls of Trout Run along PA 42

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Last year I learned that much of Trout Run along PA 42 in Sullivan County is owned by the fish and boat commission. I always suspected there might be waterfalls in this watershed, so I decided to check it out.

I parked in a large pull off along PA 42 and began by going down Trout Run. It is best to go through some brush and hike down the east side of the creek. I saw some old grades, but they did not last very long. There were also some old stone structures that looked like they once carried pipes. In fact, water was brought down from Hunters Lake to Muncy Valley for electrical power decades ago. The power building still remains in the valley and there are plans to restore it. To my left a side creek joined, with its own 15-20 foot falls (the first falls). This falls marked my return.

I hiked down Trout Run with its numerous cascades, slides, boulders, and pools. There were no significant falls, but the scenery was excellent. I kept to the east bank as best as I could; it did get steep in places. As I descended, the valley opened up and a second side creek joined with a 10 foot falls. I considered turning around here, but then I saw some large boulders downstream, so I decided to check them out.

Large angled boulders adorned Trout Run with a cascade and a pool just below. The scenery was excellent. A third side creek joined with a 10-15 foot falls. I decided to walk up this side creek. I’m glad I did. I then saw a second 15 foot falls that I was able to walk behind. Further up was Sleigh Ride Rock, a unique boulder looking like a sleigh, or boot, and it actually was leaving a shallow trench as it slid down the slope. Above was a third falls with another overhanging ledge. I hiked up crossed an obvious grade, and saw a fourth falls in a hemlock grotto. This was a remarkable little waterfall glen.

I hiked the obvious grade to the northwest. It crossed a less obvious grade, on which I turned right. The grade was a little overgrown, but entered a small creek with some cascades. The grade continued along the contour of the slope until I reached the first side creek I encountered. A grade dropped to my left, crossed the creek above the first falls and then descended along it back to the grade I first hiked in along. My car was just ahead. I then decided to hike upstream along Trout Run. So I crossed PA 42 and hiked up the west side of the creek where there were several slides and cascades. Again, the scenery was superb. I retraced my steps.

Trout Run is a gem with some superb scenery hiding in plain sight. It combines natural beauty with fascinating history. It would be ideal if both could be highlighted with a trail system and displays of the historical water works.

Pull off parking is at 41.366343, -76.602863.  Total length of hike was about 2 miles.

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More waterfalls. Trib of Trout Run.

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Slide on Trout Run.

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Waterfalls of Dutchmans and Abbot Runs-McIntyre Wild Area

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Description below is clockwise on the loop depicted on the map.  Map created by Ben Van Riper.

The McIntyre Wild Are has long attracted the attention of outdoor enthusiasts. It features several gorges with waterfalls, vistas, diverse forests, small ponds, a cemetery and other historical remnants from the mining area. I really wanted to return to Dutchmans and Abbot Run; I had seen these streams years ago and was amazed by the rugged gorges and stunning array of waterfalls. The other month, I finally returned.  We explored the wild area over two hikes.

I met Ben at a small parking area along McIntyre Road. Because this area was once mined, it is filled with a web of old grades. We followed some grades down Dutchmans Run to see the first of its waterfalls where the gorge began to cut into the plateau. We came upon a twenty foot falls shrouded in hemlocks as a small side stream joined with its own cascade. There was also an impressive stone retaining wall and a culvert with thick wooden timbers. We continued down, following a grade on the north side of the creek. Above us was a culm pile, we climbed to it to see a fine view across the gorge of Dutchmans Run.

We continued down the grade until it crossed the creek. Only metal poles remained of the bridge. We crossed and entered thick hemlock. We wanted to see the creek and hiked to it. There was a stunning chasm and cascade. Below was a massive stone wall that was part of some kind of tram that would bring coal down off the mountain. The scenery was incredible as the water roared against the cliff walls. We returned to the grade and descended, only to be greeted with another falls from a side stream.

The grade dropped along the deep gorge, but it began to curve away from the creek, so we left it and descended. We made the rugged off trail hike up Dutchmans Run to see another thirty foot falls. A variety of ten foot falls were downstream. We headed downstream to see the final falls, and the most beautiful. A forty foot straight drop falls creating a veil of water.

We now wanted to head north to Abbot Run. We climbed above the final/bottom falls on Dutchmans Run and found an old grade that headed north. It was a little eroded in places, but we were able to follow it. It vanished for good and we descended to Abbot Run. Abbot Run was amazing, there was a thirty foot falls at the bottom with a pool. Towering cliffs loomed over the falls. We made the difficult scramble up into the chasm (not recommended) which was incredibly scenic. The creek was incased with cliffs as water tumbled over falls. A side stream joined with a falls and the chasm ended at a twenty five foot falls. We scrambled up the north side of Abbot Run to a grade.

To see Ben’s Vista, we walked down the grade to the side stream and then hiked north up along the side stream on a faint skid trail or grade. This faded out, so we followed the small side stream uphill to a series of ledges with cascades. In winter, a very impressive ice cave forms. From there, we hiked above the ledges to the west to Ben’s Vista, which is from an outcrop. It offers a great view looking down the narrow, twisting Lycoming Creek Valley. This is a dramatic cliff rim north of Ben’s Vista, where a bear trail provides some access, although the laurel is still thick in spots. The cliffs are exposed and offer great views, but the views are limited to looking across the valley, or south. As you head north, the cliffs offer views north into the rugged hills of southern Tioga County. These cliffs are on private land, but it was not posted. While the cliffs are very dramatic, the view from Ben’s Vista is just as good, if not better.

Back on Abbot Run, we headed up the grade and reached a place where the two forks of the creek met. What an amazing place. We could see waterfalls on both forks, creating a stunning view. One was about ten feet tall, the other about thirty. We hiked up the north fork, off trail, and entered a rugged, foreboding gorge as cliffs rose around us. We turned the corner to see another thirty foot falls featuring a drop and broad slide. We returned to where the two forks met and hiked up the south fork (Abbott Run on the map). We then headed south back to the car along old grades, an off trail hike, and through spruce forests.

One final unique spot is the source of Dutchmans Run, which is just off of McIntyre Road. We hiked up the creek to enter a trench of excavated area. There, a large pristine spring gushes from the earth. It was as if the spring was revealed while the land was being excavated.

This is a rugged, challenging hike perfect for the experienced hiker who is comfortable with off trail navigation. It follows a combination of grades and off trail hiking. No trails are marked or have signs. It is about nine to ten miles in length. The beauty and diversity of this hike is truly exceptional and the history makes it that much more fascinating.  PA is so beautiful.  Explore it.

Parking is at 41.530888, -76.932878.  It is pull off parking, not a formal parking area.

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Abbott Run, Loyalsock State Forest.

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In the gorge of Dutchman Run.

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Confluence of Abbott Run.

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Fern Rock Nature Trail-Loyalsock State Forest

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Cascades on Ketchum Run.

The Fern Rock Nature Trail is a two mile loop that is a joy to hike.  Along this route there are streams, wetlands, hemlock forests, ledges, and beautiful Ketchum Run with waterfalls and cascades.  This trail is fairly easy, with no big climbs or descents, but the trail is rocky and wet in many places.  This trail is also ideal for kids, who will enjoy the diverse scenery.

The trail has 31 numbered stations that correspond with a trail guide, making this hike an educational experience.  I tend to hike the loop counterclockwise, which follows the numbers in reverse order.

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From the parking area, the trail descends and skirts along a wetland with hemlocks.  Cross a bridge and turn right on the loop as it explores more hemlocks, small streams, and some ledges.  The streams have bridges across them.  The forest becomes more open with hardwoods as the trail passes a large boulder, left by the glaciers.  Cross the Ketchum Run Trail and reach Ketchum Run.

This sublime creek is the highlight of the hike with its bedrocks slides, pools, and waterfalls.  None are very tall, but they are beautiful nonetheless.  Kids will love playing in the water and exploring the creek.

The trail loops around and explores a hardwood forest.  The hemlocks return, creating a deep, green, mysterious forest.  Hike along the wetland with some views of it through the trees.  The trail tunnels through hemlocks and soon returns to the first bridge, completing the loop.  Return the way you came.

Fern Rock Nature Trail is the perfect place to introduce kids to nature and the beauty of the Loyalsock State Forest.

Parking is at 41.437715, -76.608181.   This hike is described in Hiking the Endless Mountains.

Sand Spring Trail and Devil’s Elbow Natural Area-Loyalsock State Forest

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Wetland in Devil’s Elbow Natural Area

The Devil’s Elbow Natural Area protects hemlock forests and a series of wetlands that are home to several rare and unique species, such as sundews, orchids, and pitcher plants. The natural area also encompasses some of the highest elevations in Lycoming County and is part of the headwaters of Rock Run. Through the natural area is a three mile loop, the Sand Spring Trail. The trail is blazed blue and is very easy with rolling terrain. It is a cross-country ski trail, so please do not walk in the ski tracks if hiking here in winter.

This hike is described in Hiking the Endless Mountains.

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The trail is well blazed and in fairy good shape. The only real concern is that it can be wet and muddy in sections. I like to hike the loop counter-clockwise as it saves the best scenery towards the end of the hike. The trail begins by following a wide old forest grade through hardwoods. As I turned north, there were some large rocks off to my right. The trail then entered deep hemlock forests with some large trees. The forests were very scenic, providing a deep green canopy.

The trail turned left and the deep hemlocks continued. Springs bubbled from the earth and moss and ground pine covered the forest floor. The trail narrowed as it tunneled through the hemlocks. The isolation and all the hemlocks made this hike very enjoyable, giving it a wilderness feel as if I were hiking in New England. I crossed the first stream and left the trail to the right to see a bog. Back on the trail, it descended along a hemlock forest to a larger stream crossing, this being the North Branch of Rock Run. Again, just off the trail, I enjoyed views across the wetland. It looked primeval with the rust red ferns and deep green hemlocks surrounding the edge of the swamp. I crossed the creek and followed a grade gradually back to where I began. If you like hiking among hemlocks, this is the trail for you.

There are a lot of trails here that have escaped the attention of all the hikers that visit Rock Run and the Old Loggers Path. The Hawkeye Trail connects to the Sand Spring Trail, and the scenic Sharp Shinned Trail connects the Old Loggers Path and the Hawkeye Trail.

Parking is at 41.564623, -76.830251.