Mythical Falls, Boulder Maze, Rockfall Cave, and Creveling Pond-SGL 57

 

DSC_0586.JPG

Mythical Falls, Mehoopany Creek, SGL 57

I returned to SGL 57 to explore around Mythical Falls. It had been a while since I was last at the falls, so I was looking forward to the hike. Google Earth also showed some unique rock features south of the falls that I was excited to explore.

 

I parked in a lot on Mountain Springs Road, off of PA 487 and began by hiking down gated Southbrook Road, passing some game commission buildings and scenic Wild Fowl Pond. I walked this road for about 4-5 miles as it descended along Bellas Brook. I then turned off the road and bushwhacked down to where Bellas Brook met Mehoopany Creek. From here, it was an off trail hike up Mehoopany Creek.

The creek is very beautiful due to its isolation, cascades, rapids, and pools. In places, the creek slid and tumbled over bedrock. Due to the low water, I was able to hike right along the creek or rock hop when necessary. Avoid this hike in high water as the Mehoopany Creek becomes a powerful and dangerous whitewater river.

After a mile and a half, I reached beautiful Black Bear Falls. While only 6-7 feet tall, it is a hidden gem with its grotto of ledges and deep dark pools.

I continued up another half mile to Mythical Falls. To my surprise, I saw a large group of hikers trekking to the falls. I’m sure they were equally surprised to see me. They had hiked in from nearby private property. The falls were beautiful as always, surrounded by cliffs and feeding a pool. I’ve always wanted to see this falls in high water when it becomes a stunning, broad sheet of falling water (and creates a tremendous amount of natural foam). The group of hikers eventually left and I had the falls to myself, deep in the wilderness, with no noises or traffic.

I pried myself from the falls to venture into unknown territory. I ascended the bank south of the falls and reached the cliffs and ledges at the edge of the plateau. From there I headed east, passing impressive overhangs, boulders, and ledges. I then reached a boulder maze, where house sized boulders separated, creating passageways. It was impressive. Next to it, were interesting square boulders and a formation that seemed to defy gravity.

I reached taller cliffs with more fractured rock. I climbed to the top of one of the cliffs to find a view, although it wasn’t very impressive. I returned to the bottom, marveling at all the huge rocks. I turned around to see a gaping hole in the cliffs, a tall cave I called Rockfall Cave since it looked to be barely held together with random, angled rocks.

I continued along the cliffs with more overhangs and boulders. I passed a rock with a spring at its base and worn earth for two feet-a watering hole for bears and other animals. They must come there often. I left the cliffs and descended through beautiful, stately hardwood forests with ferns. I reached Bellas Brook, crossed it, and climbed back to Southbrook Road, retracing my s

As I neared the game commission buildings, I followed a grassy road to beautiful Creveling Pond, its still waters reflecting the clouds of the evening sky, and the trees on the shore. Such a peaceful place. I then returned to my car.

Another beautiful spot in SGL 57.

More photos.

 

20171026_225204_LI.jpg

Route of hike

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Hiking the New Re-routes of the Pinchot Trail-South Loop

 

20171008_171240.jpg

New Pinchot Trail re-route along Choke Creek

The south loop of the Pinchot Trail has been re-routed in four places.  The trail has been removed from all roads and the scenic beauty has been greatly improved.  The south loop is now one of the most scenic, easy backpacking trails in the mid-atlantic.  It features incredibly diverse forests of hemlock, pine, spruce, laurel, hardwoods, and rhododendrons.  There are waterfalls and cascades, beautiful streams, beaver dams, and views of vast meadows and wetlands.  The terrain is forgiving, although rocky in places.

SR 2016/Tannery Rd. Re-route

20171023_193229

The first re-route is where Tannery Road meets Bear Lake Road/SR 2016.  Hiking the loop clockwise (south) from the parking area, the new route passes through spruce forests, fern meadows, blueberry bushes, a small stream, rhododendron, and mountain laurel before turning left on the pre-existing route.  If hiking counterclockwise, this turn can be easy to miss.  The old trail route along Tannery Road has been abandoned and the blazes have been painted brown.

Phelps Rd. Re-route

20171023_193249

The second re-route avoids a roadwalk on Phelps Road.  Hiking clockwise, cross Phelps Road and enter the woods, hiking along rhododendrons, laurel, and passing near a bubbling sand spring.  Cross a scenic, small stream with more rhododendrons and then reach the pre-existing trail route.  The old route has been abandoned and the blazes painted brown.

Tannery Rd. Re-route

20171023_193320

The third re-route is the second longest and avoids the prior tedious roadwalk on Tannery Road.  Hiking clockwise (west) the new route leaves the pre-existing route of the trail and meanders through beautiful forests of pine, hemlock, spruce, laurel, and rhododendron.  These forests are very diverse, stay green even in winter, and have some old growth trees.  The new route turns into a hardwood forest with blueberry bushes and ferns.  Turn right and cross a gated dirt road.  The new route continues under beech trees, meanders through ferns with occasional spruce, passes an open area with rocks, and then veers left along a deer fence.  Leave the deer fence and enter another beautiful spruce and hemlock forest with a stream.  Cross another small stream and reach a fine view of a large wetland.  The new route then follows the state forest boundary to the pre-existing route of the trail.  The old route along Tannery Road has been abandoned.  The old Pinchot Trail south of the Choke Creek Nature Trail parking area along Tannery Road is now blazed yellow to allow for a dayhiking loop.

Choke Creek Re-route

20171023_193307

The fourth re-route along Choke Creek is the longest, most scenic, and the wildest.  Hiking clockwise (west) from Butler Run, the new route goes through a beautiful hemlock forest, meadow along Butler Run, and reaches a jeep road at a log bridge.  Cross the bridge and turn left on a well-established trail to gorgeous Choke Creek Falls.  The new route now goes upstream along beautiful Choke Creek, going through forests of spruce, pine, hemlock, and hardwoods.  There are blueberries bushes and meadows.  Enjoy some cascades and slides along Choke Creek.  Hike above a beaver dam and swamp and then reach a superb view of a large meadow with Choke Creek meandering through.  Leave Choke Creek and cross rocky areas with a diverse forest.  The new route then follows a scenic, small stream under a grove of hemlocks.  Return to the hardwoods with some rocky areas and fern meadows.  Descend back to Choke Creek with beautiful meadows and meandering streams.  Continue up along the creek with beautiful scenery, diverse forests, and cascades.  A spruce grove with a cascade is a particularly beautiful spot.  Huge pine trees rise over the trail.  Reach another cascade and slide with a pool.  The new route passes another fine view of a wetland under hemlocks, a beautiful spot.  Continue up along the creek with fine scenery.  The new route moves away from Choke Creek, goes through a spruce forest, and reaches the pre-existing route of the trail.  This re-route is very beautiful, well-blazed, and large brush has been removed, but low brush remains in places.  Over time a tread will be established as more people hike it.  The old route of the Pinchot Trail is blazed yellow, creating an excellent dayhiking loop.

Enjoy these new re-routes!

Photos of maps and scenery of the re-routes.

20171023_193134

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

20170923_143618.jpg

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.

IMG_20170923_200336_341

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.

20170923_130801

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.

20170923_124443

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.

20170923_121234

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.

20170923_141827

More photos.

 

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

20170820_152905.jpg

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.

20170820_115537

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.

20170820_121301

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.

IMG_20170820_200611_858

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.

IMG_20170820_210527_205

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.

IMG_20170820_210753_013

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.

20171016_224626_LI

Lyman Run State Park

20170812_143407.jpg

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.

IMG_20170815_213803_166

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.

IMG_20170815_203536_205

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.

20170812_144216

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.

IMG_20170815_214215_943

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

 

20170812_210901.jpg

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

IMG_20170813_085016_985.jpg

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.

IMG_20170815_180018_845

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.

IMG_20170815_094605_136

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

IMG_20170813_084612_161

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.

20170811_193658

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.