Waterfalls of Maple Spring Run- Ricketts Glen State Park

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Porcupine Falls, Maple Spring Run, Ricketts Glen State Park

Ricketts Glen is one of PA’s most popular, and beautiful, state parks. The famed Falls Trail takes hikers under old growth forests and along many waterfalls. However, this large park has many secrets besides the popular Falls Trail. I decided to explore Maple Spring Run to see what hid in its deep, isolated gorge.

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I parked off of PA 118 and walked up the Falls Trail, passing several other hikers. This trail was not crowded, yet. After the third bridge, I went off the Falls Trail and began to bushwhack up Maple Spring Run. I soon encountered a maintenance trail to allow workers to access the Falls Trail for repairs. I continued up Maple Spring Run and was impressed by the towering trees and pristine stream that tumbled over mossy boulders. The stinging nettle made the hiking tedious, so I stayed close to the creek. A side stream joined from the left and I continued right. The gorge became steeper and I soon encountered the first falls, partially concealed by a fallen log. It was about 20 feet tall.

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I scrambled above to see a series of beautiful cascades that led to huge boulders, ledges and a 15 foot falls. This gorge was once home to some truly huge hemlock trees. Sadly, most are now dead. Regardless, the isolation and scenery made Maple Spring Run feel primeval.

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I climbed above this second falls and pushed upstream over the difficult terrain. I soon reached the finest falls on Maple Spring Run- Porcupine Falls. A truly beautiful sight with a column of water dropping straight off a cliff. There were additional 8 foot drops above and below. In total, this falls is about 40 feet tall; the two uppermost drops make the falls about 25 feet tall.

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Nearby were cliffs and ledges with rock overhangs. I scrambled to the top to see some partial views from the cliffs into the misty gorge below.

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I continued up the creek to see more cascades under hemlocks. I came to a final falls, about 20 feet tall in a glen. Another climb brought me to the Old Beaver Dam Road Trail, where I turned right. It seemed so easy to hike on a level, established trail as I sailed through beautiful forests of pine, hemlock, and laurel. I could hear the waterfalls of Kitchen Creek roaring far below.

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Another trail soon returned me to the Falls Trail in Ganoga Glen. After hiking alone in the rugged wilderness of Maple Spring Run, I had culture shock from being surrounded by so many people. The Falls Trail was impressive with the high water flow and tremendous, powerful falls. Each was impressive, particularly Ganoga Falls, but I tried to avoid the crowds. I began to miss the isolation of Maple Spring Run.

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I retraced my steps and returned to my car. I know there are more secrets in this famous park.

More photos.

When hiking Maple Spring Run, keep in mind it is rugged and stinging nettle is prevalent in summer.  This is a small stream that can disappear when it is dry out.  This is far more difficult than the Falls Trail and only experienced hikers should attempt it.

For the map below, the route along Maple Spring Run is off trail and not blazed.

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Waterfalls of Hemlock Run-SGL 13

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Hemlock Run, SGL 13

In the isolated western ramparts of SGL 13 is a stream called Hemlock Run.  I have long suspected it had waterfalls, so I went to find out.

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There is a parking area and a small sign identifying the creek, located at 41.318183, -76.506174.  The road leading to Hemlock Run may be gated outside of hunting season.  A car can negotiate this road, but it is a little rough and a vehicle with some clearance is a good idea.

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I parked at the parking area and there was a gated road to the west of the run.  Because this road climbed high above Hemlock Run, I decided not to take it.  Rather, I hiked up the run instead.

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There was a faint footpath that crossed the run a few times.  It was a beautiful area.  Hemlock Run doesn’t have many hemlocks, but there were plenty of spruce growing, enhancing the scenery.  Red trilliums dotted the ground.

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The faint trail I was on evaporated in brushy and wet areas, so I continued to follow the run as it tumbled over cobblestones.  The run turned west and entered a rocky gorge with moss and springs.  The rock was loose and shifted under my feet.  The first falls was about 6 feet, the second about 15, and the third about 12.  The isolation of this place was incredible.

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I bushwhacked south, over a ridge and down to a tributary stream of Hemlock Run, where there was a cool, little gorge.  I then retraced my steps back to my car under drizzling rain.

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I drove back down the road where I saw a sign for Deep Hollow.  Intrigued, I had to explore.  I found a trail on the west side of the creek and some small waterfalls.  I climbed up the gorge.  It featured open hardwoods with some large trees, but no more waterfalls.  Regardless, it was a beautiful place.

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SGL 13 is a waterfall paradise.  I have seen about forty waterfalls on these game lands.

More photos.

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Little Schrader Creek and Carbon Run-SGL 12

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Little Schrader Creek, SGL 12

Little Schrader Creek is a tributary of Schrader Creek in SGL 12 and it is a beautiful stream featuring bedrock gorges, waterfalls, and deep pools.

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I parked near Laquin at 41.626264, -76.656104 and walked the road up along Schrader Creek.  After crossing a bridge over Little Schrader Creek, I turned right onto an obvious, unblazed footpath.  This path crossed a meadow and entered the woods along an old grade above the creek.  Little Schrader Creek is very scenic with rapids and boulders.  I then entered a gorge with cliffs and a deep pool fed by a waterfall carved into the bedrock.  This was a very beautiful spot.  The falls weren’t very tall, maybe ten feet, but the power of the water and smooth, eroded bedrock made for an impressive sight.

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The trail continued upstream, crossing a small tributary and then another meadow.  The trail followed a grade that became eroded and narrow into another gorge with cliffs and fluorescent moss.  Again, the scenery was superb.  I soon reached another falls, a slide into a narrow chasm of smooth bedrock.  Some logs were embedded in the chasm.  There was a deep pool and some rhododendrons growing from the cliffs.  Upstream was a gorge with smooth, sculpted bedrock creating pools and flumes.

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I retraced my steps.  The hike to Little Schrader Creek is about 1.25 miles, one way.

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I also visited Carbon Run, a creek just to the east of Little Schrader.  I parked at 41.631031, -76.642714 and hiked up Carbon Run.  I soon reached an 8 foot falls into a deep pool.  Above was a scenic hemlock shaded glen with smooth bedrock, cascades, slides, and deep pools.  It was very scenic.  I found an old grade on the east side of the creek which easily returned me to the parking area.

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Little Schrader Creek is described as Hike No. 70 in Hiking the Endless Mountains.

More photos.

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Bar Bottom Hollow Waterfalls-Loyalsock State Forest

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Bar Bottom Falls, Loyalsock State Forest

Bar Bottom Hollow is one of the Loyalsock State Forest’s hidden gems, a deep gorge filled with beautiful waterfalls.  The hollow is located just to the east of Jacoby Falls, although the two are not connected by a trail.  I first hiked to the hollow a few years ago and this old post will help you navigate.

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I parked at Dad Dad Chapman Road and simply walked the road to a spruce forest and logged area, where I took an obvious grade to the right for a mile.  This grade descended and right before reaching some pine trees and laurel, I turned right for a quick off trail hike. I soon intercepted an old grade (red on the map below, all trails and grades are unblazed) and crossed the creek.  This red route is the most scenic entrance into the hollow; I did not follow it on my prior trip to the hollow, which is linked to the old post above.

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The red grade followed the creek downstream and soon passed a multi-tiered fifteen foot falls over mossy ledges.  I was able to go behind the falls, under the ledges.

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The grade continued, staying above the gorge.  I could hear a second falls deep in the gorge, but it was out of sight.  It is a 10-12 foot falls in a grotto with many tumbling springs, a beautiful sight.  The grade climbed through some laurel, descended to a sidestream, crossed it, and then descended along the small sidestream into a glen with small cascades.  It soon returned to the creek with more rapids and cascades.

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The glen continued downstream passing large mossy boulders and hemlocks.  It crossed the creek and continued with views of rapids, slides, and hemlocks.  I enjoyed a 12 foot slide falls and just downstream was Bar Bottom Falls, a stunning 20-25 foot falls in a grotto, with a second falls joining from a side stream.  The orange grade on the map joins the red grade near this falls.

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The beauty of this gorge with its waterfalls and mossy ledges is hard to describe.  Bar Bottom Falls is just so beautiful.

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There are more waterfalls downstream and the grade provides easy access.  However, due to rain and fading daylight, I did not venture any further than Bar Bottom Falls.

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Be sure to spend some time exploring Bar Bottom Hollow, it is a place you will not soon forget.

More photos.

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The red grade on the map is the most scenic.  Unfortunately, at its northern end it fades into laurel right before the orange grade, but this laurel is easy to bypass.

Paddy Run Falls-Sproul State Forest

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Paddy Run Falls, Sproul State Forest

Hidden deep in the vast Sproul State Forest is a place of great beauty-Paddy Run Falls. I recently set out to find it. I first heard of the falls from the Prowl the Sproul hiking weekends, organized by the Keystone Trails Association. It was one of the featured hikes, but I was never able to go.

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We drove in from PA 144, taking Sandy Run Road for several miles until it meets Hensel Fork Road. Here, there is a pipeline swath and a place to pull over and park, located at 41.409791,-77.788641 . The trail actually begins a few hundred feet further down Sandy Run Road, but there is no place to park. To start the hike, walk down the road to the trail sign, or just hike down the pipeline swath to where it crosses the trail. The hike is about two miles, one way.

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The trail is unblazed, but well established and very beautiful. It begins by staying fairly close to Paddy Run, a sizeable mountain stream, with pine, hemlocks, and laurel. The creek is pristine and features small rapids and slides. The trail curved through the glen of a side stream with moss covered rocks and more hemlocks. The forest became more open with hardwoods and the trail stayed high above Paddy Run. The trail follows an obvious old grade. We soon entered a narrowing gorge with hemlocks; Paddy Run was a hundred feet below us. The roar of water filled the gorge. We then reached two small cairns and an obvious trail descending sharply to the left over some stone steps.

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We took this trail down. It was a little steep, but manageable. We soon entered a stunning gorge with hemlocks, moss covered ledges and boulders, and rapids. I was immediately impressed, reminding me of the Pacific northwest. Just upstream was Paddy Run Falls, no more than ten feet tall, but surrounded by large, angled boulders with moss and ferns. The falls tumbled into a deep, translucent pool. The trail ended below the falls. Upstream was a large bedrock slide and another deep pool. The gorge continued upstream with ledges, boulders, slides, and pools under hemlocks. A truly beautiful place.

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We sat and enjoyed this isolated place, under hemlocks, surrounded by moss and the roar of water. It was a little tough to leave.

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If you want to see more of the Sproul State Forest’s secrets, check out Prowl the Sproul.

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More photos.

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Baldwin Point Trail-Tiadaghton State Forest

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View from the Baldwin Point Trail, looking up County Line Branch.  

The Baldwin Point Trail is about 2.4 miles long (one way) and is a linear trail; it is located in the Tiadaghton State Forest. The trail is blazed blue and stays on the top of the plateau, making it a fairly easy trail. We parked in a lot along PA 44 (located at 41.448746,-77.578036) and began hiking the trail through jungles of laurel and some groves of white pine. This would be a great trail to hike in late June when the laurel blooms.

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A gradual hill brought us to a scenic grove of hemlock and pine. A yellow trail joined from the left. The trail was level and explored a hardwood forest with extensive laurel. The trail was in good shape and well cleared. We encountered some brief rocky areas and some birch trees. The yellow trail left to the right as we continued along the flat plateau.

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We soon reached the vista, looking over County Line Branch almost 800 feet below with its gorges and canyons. There was some brush at the vista, but the view was very much worth the hike. There were no signs of development. This would be an excellent sunset vista and there was also a small campsite.

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This was a very enjoyable hike and connects to the state forest’s vast system of trails for those looking for a longer walk.

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More photos.

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Appalachian Trail- PA 191 to the Delaware Water Gap

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View of the Delaware Water Gap from the Appalachian Trail on Mt. Minsi, PA.

On a cool, windy day I met up with Bryan to hike the eastern end of the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania, from PA 191 to the Delaware Water Gap, a distance of about 7 miles. After shuttling cars, we began the hike along the ridgeline of bare trees with mist, passing showers, and a persistent wind. We took a quick break at the Kirkridge shelter and passed a nice view at a meadow, but it was covered in clouds.

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The trail became more rocky as we reached another vista from an outcrop. The clouds began to lift, offering more of a view of the ridges and farmlands. The trail featured rolling terrain with occasional rocks. Some of the forests were comprised of stunted oak trees, about 20 feet tall. We dropped into a rocky gap and climbed back out under a communication tower. The trail brought us back to the ridge where we followed a forest road, making the hiking easier.

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As we neared the top of Mt. Minsi there was a fine view to the south. The clouds had now lifted, offering a fine view as the Delaware River looked like a shining silver ribbon stretching off into the distance.

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The Appalachian Trail left the old road and descended into the Delaware Water Gap along a more rugged trail with thick rhododendron jungles. It was a beautiful hike. A ledge featured a fine view of the water gap, over a thousand feet deep, with tiers of cliffs on the New Jersey side.  It is an impressive place and was once a popular vacation destination over a century ago.

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The steep descent continued and there was another view of the gap. We crossed Eureka Creek with its cascade and pool in the rhododendron jungles. The roar of the small creek filled the forest and its series of small waterfalls appeared from within the rhododendrons. The trail left the rhododendrons and featured a more open forest with another view of the gap. Ledges rose over the trail. We veered onto an old road, passed a pond, and then soon reached the car.

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This was a beautiful hike and the Delaware Water Gap has a great system of trails in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

More photos.

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