The upper watershed of Bowmans Creek in SGL 57 features an extensive system of trails that lead to vistas, cliffs, cascades, and spruce forests. These trails are not blazed or signed, but they are fairly well established. I believe they were initially created by mountain bikers and have been in existence for over twenty years. This system offers excellent hiking and is an ideal destination for those looking for something different, but do not want to bushwhack.
Over the year, I hope to explore the entire trail system. On this hike, I did a 9 mile out and back hike to Cider Run Ledges and Coyote Rocks vista. I began at the parking area at Beth Run. I walked the road to the east a short distance, to a small pull off on the left, and followed the trail. The trail entered a scenic hardwood forest with ground pine and then made a gradual climb along an old grade. I reached the top, where a small cairn marked a trail juncture. I took the trail to the right, which goes to Cider Run Ledges. This trail may be a little hard to follow but as I hiked it became more obvious. It reached the edge of the plateau for a scenic “ridge walk” as it explored the top of the ledges. There were no open views, but the difference in terrain made for a very enjoyable hike. The trail then meandered near some spruce and then headed north, passing a boulder maze which was off to the right.
The trail descended gradually along an old railroad grade and passed more spruce. I hiked near some small streams and entered a scenic spruce tunnel. I crossed more small streams and passed near a wetland. The trail continued in a hardwood forest as ledges became more prominent. I soon reached the top of the Cider Run Ledges with the white conglomerate rock and spruce forests. There are no open views, but the isolated setting, large ledges, moss, and spruce made for great scenery. The trail continued north and I believe it may connect to Opossum Brook Road or the High Knob Trail. I stopped at the Cider Run Ledges.
I went off trail to explore the base of the ledges, something that I recommend you do. The scenery is excellent with mossy chasms, giant boulders, rock overhangs, small caves, and narrow crevices. I then retraced my steps back to the trail juncture.
I then turned right on the trail to the base of some large cliffs. The trail went around the cliffs and scrambled up some ledges in a tunnel of laurel. I then crossed the bedrock top of the cliffs with some spruce. Another beautiful spot on this trail. There was a view to the east. The trail entered the woods and meandered until it reached the edge of cliffs with views. The views culminated at Coyote Rocks Vista, a breathtaking spot where I could look up the broad Bowmans Creek valley. Giant angled boulders were beneath the vista. This view has no development, feels wild, and is great for sunsets. I then retraced my steps back to Beth Run as the forests faded into the twilight.
Back at the car, be sure to hike to Beth Run and see its cascades and grotto where it flows into Bowmans Creek.
These trails are a pleasure to hike. They are easiest to follow from late Spring, when plant growth begins, to before when the leaves fall in Autumn. The trails will be hard to follow with heavy leaf cover or snow.
Parking at Beth Run: 41.361562, -76.165355
Where trail begins off the road: 41°21’46.16″N 76° 9’52.12″W
Cider Run Ledges: 41.387794, -76.169494
Cliff: 41.363398, -76.180046
Coyote Rocks Vista: 41.358615, -76.189458