Backpacking the Old Loggers Path (the northern section)-November, 2018


Tim and Dan at the Chasms of Rock Run, Loyalsock State Forest

Twice a year I meet up with some friends from college for a backpacking trip. This past Fall, we decided to hike a part of the Old Loggers Path (OLP). I had previously hiked the OLP in July. After years of not stepping foot on the trail, it was odd to be on it twice this year.

The OLP has become one of PA’s most popular backpacking trails due to its scenery, isolation, and moderate terrain. Despite it being a cold November weekend, there were still several cars at the trailhead in Masten, where we parked. Ian, Dan, and Tim came on this hike.

We decided to do the northern half of the trail, which is the most scenic. So, we had to shuttle a car, which we parked where Yellow Dog Road meets Ellenton Road.
From Masten, we hiked counterclockwise, following the old logging grades under hemlocks and across tumbling streams. After a very wet, and at times rocky, hike at Dolly Sods this spring with the group, it was nice to be on the more forgiving terrain on the OLP.

Wind whipped through the bare forests, with only beech providing the last of the Fall color. We made our way down to Rock Run as a thin layer of snow covered the ground pine. We hiked under hemlocks as Rock Run roared below. I then led the group off trail a short distance to see the striking Chasms of Rock Run, where the two branches of Rock Run joined among beautiful gorges, cliffs, cascades, and pools. Everyone was impressed by the beauty. The water roared over rapids and across the smooth bedrock into deep swirling pools. The place felt wild and primeval. Across the creek was an incredible campsite, where we all made a note to come back to in the Summer.

We got back on the OLP and descended to where Yellow Dog Run meets Rock Run, another place of great beauty. Yellow Dog tumbled over a falls into Rock Run’s bedrock chasm. Rock Run is so amazing. Great campsites were nearby, but our goal was the new shelter at Doe Run. So, we had to hike up a gradual grade. As we climbed, below us was a twenty foot falls on Yellow Dog Run.

After crossing Yellow Dog Road, we made our way to Rock Run Vista. Along the way, we passed two volunteers I know from the Keystone Trails Association (KTA) who were maintaining the trail. KTA is a great organization that does so much for trails in PA, please support them.

We enjoyed the view over Rock Run as a cold sun began to set. We were soon back on the trail to Doe Run Shelter. Thankfully, no one was using the shelter, which is set above the tumbling rapids and cascades of beautiful Doe Run. There are several campsites nearby, and one was occupied by another backpacker. We soon settled into the shelter and got a fire going. A panorama of stars spread across the night sky with a few shooting stars. After eating and talking, we went to sleep.

The next morning, the dark forest returned to light and I decided to set out and see Doe Run Falls, which is below the OLP. I followed Doe Run down into a rugged gorge and reached the falls, set in a striking chasm of bedrock with two drops. It was very beautiful. After I hiked back up, the others had their gear together and we continued on the trail. We crossed Buck Run with its large boulders and we made our way to the top of Sullivan Mountain to enjoy its series of vistas over the vast plateaus.

We then turned left onto the Crandalltown Trail to make a loop back to Buck Run. From there we hiked out along the Ellenton grade to the second car parked at Ellenton and Yellow Dog Roads. After a great meal at the Forksville Inn, we went our separate ways until the next trip.

(Note regarding photos: due to changes with Flickr, I will be linking photos from my Instagram account).


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Old Loggers Path

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Chasms of Rock Run

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Mist in the chasms, Rock Run.

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Yellow Dog Run tumbles into Rock Run.

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Upper part of Doe Run Falls.

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Views from Sullivan Mtn.

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PA Wilds Trail


Many beautiful views are along the PA Wilds Trail.  This one is over Slate Run on the Black Forest Trail.

The PA Wilds is a best kept secret in the eastern U.S.  While crowds descend on the White Mountains, Adirondacks, Shenandoahs, and Great Smoky Mountains, you can have the isolated natural beauty of the PA Wilds all to yourself.

Fork Hill rises over Blackwell

Here, in an area as large as Vermont, are 29 state parks, over 2 million acres of public land, hundreds of miles of trails, and thousands of miles of rivers and streams.  This area has some of the largest forests and darkest skies between New York and Chicago. The PA Wilds covers a vast area of elevated, forested plateaus with countless canyons and gorges. There are waterfalls, vistas, giant rocks, old growth forests, wilderness, dark skies, and wild elk. Mountain laurel covers the higher elevations, as jungles of rhododendron grow along the streams.

Slate Run

The PA Wilds offer incredible hiking opportunities, with the largest network of long distance backpacking trails of any place in the east. Amazingly, most of these trails link together, creating a continuous hiking route from Parker Dam State Park to the New York border near Cowanesque Lake. This remarkable hiking resource is unparalleled in the east.

Hikers taking it in

I’d like to propose the PA Wilds Trail (PAWT), a 171 mile route that crosses the PA Wilds along various trails. It is easily one of the most scenic and diverse hiking routes in the east. From west to east, it begins at Parker Dam State Park on the Quehanna Trail and ends on the Mid State Trail at Arnot Road, near the village of Arnot. The PAWT is not a trail in its own right, but rather a route that follows other existing trails, connecting them along a common thread.

Morning hike

I have hiked most of the trails along the PAWT, but I have not thru-hiked it. From my experience, this is the most scenic and feasible route within the vast system of trails in the PA Wilds.

Many of these trails are described in Backpacking Pennsylvania.

Photos from along the trail route.


Location of the PA Wilds Trail.


View on Teaberry Trail

PA Wilds Trail (PAWT)

Distance: A linear route of approximately 171 miles from Parker Dam State Park to Arnot Road on the Mid State Trail. All distances are approximate.

Sunrise over Mosquito Creek Gorge

Blazes: State forest hiking trails (Quehanna, Donut Hole, Susquehannock, Black Forest, West Rim, and Mid State Trails) are blazed orange. Connecting and side trails along the PAWT are usually blazed yellow, but blue or red are also used.  For the attached maps, only orange is used as that is the most common blaze color.

Trail conditions: Variable. Some trails are well-established, others less so. The Donut Hole and Old Sinnemahoning Trails are some of the least established sections. This route does not require any off trail bushwhacking. Expect many stream crossings without bridges.

Jerry Run Falls

Terrain: Moderate to very difficult. From Parker Dam, the route is moderate but builds in difficulty to the challenging Black Forest Trail section. Heading east from Blackwell, the terrain gradually becomes more moderate. Sections of the trail are steep and require ascents or descents exceeding 1,000 feet.

Parking: Main trailheads and parking area are designated as “P1”, etc , on the maps. The trail crosses many roads with pull off parking.

Highlights: Isolation, scenic streams, vistas, waterfalls, gorges, glens, canyons, meadows, wild elk, swimming holes, superb camping, historical ruins and remnants. Fall foliage is excellent and peaks in early to mid October. Mountain laurel is common along the trail and blooms in mid June. Rhododendron is common along some streams and blooms in early July.


Issues: Parts of this route are rarely hiked and isolated. Some sections of the route will be brushy and less established; blazes may also be infrequent, particularly on the Donut Hole Trail section. There is a period of roadwalking near Antrim.

Cascade and pool on Sanders Draft

Amenities: Parker Dam State Park has seasonal camping, showers, and snack bar. Kettle Creek State Park has seasonal camping and showers. There is one post office near the route, in Sinnemahoning, where there is also a restaurant. The route also goes through or near the villages of Slate Run and Blackwell where there are small stores or restaurants. The route goes through Antrim where there is a bar.

Red Run

Why hike this when I can hike more famous trails? No crowds, plentiful and available primitive camping, and remarkable diversity of scenery. The route is isolated, while introducing hikers to four rural communities. If you are looking for something different, this is the hike for you.

New bridge over Slate Run

Who maintains these trails?  Mostly volunteers, along with the Bureau of Forestry.  Please support the Keystone Trails Association, Mid State Trail Association, and Susquehannock Trail Club.  Help maintain trails as you hike by clipping back brush, picking up litter, or clearing sticks and tree limbs from the trail.

Choose your own adventure!  The PAWT is envisioned as a primary route through the PA Wilds that connects many other trails along which hikers and backpackers can choose alternate routes.   The PAWT enables alternate adventures along the West Rim, Susquehannock, Donut Hole, Quehanna, Mid State Trails, and the Bucktail Path.  It is even possible to connect to the Chuck Keiper Trail via the Garby Trail.  These possibilities are unparalleled in the east, if not the entire nation.

View north from Hemlock Mtn

The future.  Hopefully the PAWT will become an established hiking route- a conduit to introduce hikers to the PA Wilds, its beauty, and vast trail network.  Instead of hikers focusing on individual trail systems, the PAWT redefines what is possible and will  spread hikers across the entire system of trails.  The PAWT route will also be modified to ensure the most scenic and rewarding hike.

Red Run


Section 1: Parker Dam State Park to Caledonia Pike



Maps 1 and 2

Parking: P1 on map (Western Trailhead at Parker Dam State Park) 41.194414, -78.506488

Length: 13.6 miles

Amenities: Seasonal camping, showers, and snack bar at Parker Dam State Park

Description: This section follows the orange blazed Quehanna Trail. It follows the southern section of this classic loop as it is more scenic than the corresponding northern section. Hike old grades along scenic Laurel Run with rapids and pools. Hemlocks adorn the creek and there are some potential campsites. Cross some dirt forest roads and descend along Alex Branch with cascades, hemlocks, and camping. Expect wet areas.

There are some nice views from meadows and drop to Trout Run with more cascades, boulders, and hemlocks. Hike up a beautiful stream valley dotted with boulders and cross the top of the plateau. Descend along another stream with beaver meadows and climb gradually to Caledonia Pike. This section ends at Caledonia Pike.

Mosquito Creek


Section 2: Caledonia Pike to Hoover Road


Map 3

Parking: P2 on map (Beaver Run Shallow Water Impoundment) 41.261333, -78.258122

Length: 25 miles

Amenities: None

Description: This section follows the orange blazed Quehanna Trail, then follows a variety of yellow blazed side trails, to return to the northern section of the Quehanna Trail. With diverse scenery and great isolation, this section is a highlight of the route.

From Caledonia Pike, descend to beautiful Gifford Run at an old log splash dam. Cross the run and follow downstream with rapids and boulders. Climb up a side stream to some rock outcrops and ledges with views that are largely grown over. Cross Merrill Road and the top of the plateau with hardwood forests. Reach the yellow blazed East Cross Connector (ECC) at Lost Run Road, on which you will turn left, leaving the Quehanna Trail. Follow the road a short distance and then turn right, descending along a small stream and then above Mosquito Creek.

Return to Lost Run Road and cross Mosquito Creek on the road bridge. Hike up the road and follow the ECC to the left. Descend to Meeker Run with cascades. Good camping can be found further up the ECC. Turn left onto the Crawford Vista Extension, which leads to a beautiful vista over the Mosquito Creek Gorge. This is a great view for sunsets. Continue on the Crawford Vista Trail. Cross some meadows and a wet area. Descend along boulders to Mosquito Creek and a footbridge. There is camping here. Turn right onto the beautiful Bridge Trail.

Meadows on Bridge Trail

The Bridge Trail follows Mosquito Creek with its rapids and boulders, and then crosses vast fern meadows that are reminiscent of Dolly Sods. Look across the stream valley with large white boulders. Return to the ECC and turn left on it. Crossing more meadows along Beaver Run. Reach a large, beautiful pond, known as the Beaver Run Shallow Water Impoundment. Hike the ECC around it and then turn right onto the Marion Brooks Loop, also watch for signs for the Lincoln Trail. This section features beautiful pine and spruce forests. Follow the Lincoln Trail to P2.

Crawford Vista

Follow a grade to the east, this may be known as the Lincoln or Teaberry Trails. Cross the Quehanna Highway and another small meadow. Reach a nice vista from a cliff looking over Paige and Red Runs. Descend to Paige Run, a gorgeous place with giant moss covered boulders, cascades, and hemlocks. Ascend to more ledges with nice views. Return to the ECC at Roaring Run, on which you turn right. Follow the ECC to the Quehanna Trail and turn right.


Descend Porcupine Draft with cascades and then follow Red Run Road. Leave the road, cross Red Run on a bridge and reach a beautiful section of boulders, cascades, pools, and thick rhododendrons. Hike along beautiful Sanders Draft and climb to the plateau with more meadows and hardwoods. Reach Arch Spring and a narrow view of Little Fork Drafts deep gorge. Reach Hoover Road, where this section ends.

Little Fork Vista


Section 3: Hoover Road to Wykoff Run Road


Map 4

Parking: P3 on map. 41.278731, -78.140134

Length: 10 miles

Amenities: None

Description: Continue to follow the orange Quehanna Trail and cross some pipeline swaths, ideal places to see wild elk herds. Cross some small meadows and reach the top of Laurel Draft where there is a campsite. Descend scenic Laurel Draft. The trail stays well above the creek, but you can see the boulders and cascades in this beautiful gorge.


Cross Wykoff Run Road and reach P3. Cross Wykoff Run over a bridge and begin a climb up scenic Upper Pine Draft with small cascades. At the top, pass some meadows and reach the yellow Old Sinnemahoning Trail (OST). Leave the Quehanna Trail and turn left. Follow the OST, which is an old road, across the top of the plateau. Expect the trail to be not very well established and to see blowdowns. Hardwoods predominate along the trail. Descend to Jerry Run Road. Turn left and walk to Wykoff Run Road, where this section ends.



Section 4: Wykoff Run Road to Pfoutz Valley Road


PO=Post office


Maps 5 and 6

Parking: P4 on map. 41.317925, -78.083579

Length: 40 miles

Amenities: Post office in Sinnemahoning, about a mile off the PAWT. Willows Restaurant is on the PAWT, where Wykoff Run Road meets PA 120. Seasonal campground and showers at Kettle Creek State Park.

Description: Follow Wykoff Run Road, pass P5 and cross the large Sinnemahoning Creek. Willows Restaurant is just ahead and features good food at fair prices. Enjoy the surroundings, Sinnemahoning is beautiful with the giant creeks, towering plateaus, and railroad bridges. Appalachia at its best. Follow PA 120 East, pass PA 872 and cross a bridge over the First Fork Sinnemahoning Creek. Reach the non-existent village of Jericho and make a left on a road; notice the orange blazes. This is the start of the Donut Hole Trail (DHT), which the PAWT will follow to the T Squared Trail.


The DHT is a lonely trail and is one of the least hiked sections of the PAWT. Hopefully, the PAWT will bring more footsteps to it. The DHT is not well established and can be overgrown in places.


Follow the road and then hike up Ellicott Run, a steady climb of 1,000 vertical feet. Cross the top of the plateau, reach a pipeline swath and then Montour Road; follow the road for about a mile. Descend into a stream valley with a small creek and climb gradually back to the rolling plateau. Descend along another small stream to scenic Cooks Run. Hike up Cooks Run with some possible camping and climb to Crowley Road with a view. The DHT then reaches a highlight, Kettle Creek Vista, a stunning view over Kettle Creek Reservoir and the foothills to the north. Truly beautiful. Descend along a small stream into a gorge with rhododendrons. The Alice Trail joins from the left; this is a high water bypass in case Kettle Creek is too high.


Hike along Kettle Creek and then cross it below a low dam built by the CCC at the Lower Campground. This is a significant water crossing; do not attempt in high water. Reach the Lower Campground with seasonal showers and water. The DHT crosses through the campground, crosses Kettle Creek Road and a parking area, and begins to climb up along Summerson Run and its narrow gorge with pine trees.

The trail is rolling for a few miles across the top of the plateau. Descend and climb, in and out, of the Right and Left Forks of Hevner Run. Climb along the DHT up to the Tamarack Fire Tower, one of the few you can climb in the state, with excellent vistas. Descend to PA 144 and cross Drury Run. The DHT heads north along rolling terrain and small streams. Follow a pipeline swath and descend to Hensel Fork Road. Cross the road and climb over a low ridge to Sandy Run Road and its spruce forests. Leave the road and hike up scenic McNerney Run valley. Reach Pfoutz Valley Road and turn right (a beaver pond is just to the left, a little off trail). Follow the road for about a half mile.


Section 5: Pfoutz Valley Road to Black Forest Trail


IMG_0081 b.PNG

Map 7

Parking: No significant trailhead parking. Pull off parking possible at road crossings.

Length: 17 miles

Amenities: None

Description: This section follows the orange blazed DHT, which also follows the same route as the Susquehannock Trail (STS) for several miles, and then the yellow blazed T Squared Trail, to end at the famous Black Forest Trail (BFT). From Pfoutz Valley Road, the DHT becomes more challenging with steeper climbs in and out of valleys and gorges. Descend Merriman Hollow and hike up along Shingle Branch. Descend to Greenlick Run and continue the pattern of hiking up and down steep stream drainages. Stinging nettle also becomes an issue in summer. Cross Young Woman Creek Road and hike up Sevenmile Road. Cross the level plateau and descend to Cougar Run. Here, leave the DHT and turn left onto the T Squared Trail, where there is a steep, short climb.

The T Squared Trail then follows level and rolling terrain across the plateau through scenic forests and mountain laurel. It is regarded as an enjoyable trail. Make another descent to Baldwin Branch and the BFT, where this section ends. The BFT is blazed orange and the PAWT route turns right onto it.


Section 6: Black Forest Trail to Gamble Run Road


Map 8

Parking: P5 and P6 on map. 41.461756, -77.572520 (P5) and 41.471261, -77.502440 (P6)

Length: 26 miles

Amenities: Hotel Manor, a restaurant, and a small store at Slate Run.

Description: The BFT section of the PAWT is a highlight and the most rugged part of the route. Here you will find steep, challenging climbs of over 1,000 vertical feet, cascades, superb camping, and numerous stunning vistas overlooking the Pine Creek Gorge.

From the T Squared Trail, follow the BFT and climb to PA 44 and a parking area (P5 on the map). Rolling terrain follows to a view. A steep descent into Callahan Run features a gorge, falls, and campsite. Hike up the creek, turn right onto a ridge to Hemlock Mountain with three excellent views. An extremely steep descent follows the Naval Run with camping. Follow a grade above the scenic stream and cross the creek above a falls.

Another steep ascent follows to a ridge with more excellent views. There is a steep descent to Little Slate Run with more great campsites. Climb to the plateau, drop into Foster Hollow, pass a small pond, climb the plateau and then descend steeply into Slate Run with more phenomenal views. A nice, easy trail brings hikes to Slate Run Road and a restaurant, the Hotel Manor. The BFT passes behind the restaurant and crosses a footbridge over Slate Run.

A more gradual climb follows up a ridge to excellent views and old quarries with cliffs and unique sculptures people have made with the flagstone. Reach the top of the plateau with laurel and rolling terrain. Drop into a small valley with a good spring. Reach the juncture with the Algerine/Long Branch Trail, which is blazed red; you may also see yellow or blue blazes. Leave the BFT and continue straight on this trail. This is a great trail with scenic forests of pine, laurel, and some spruce. This section ends at Gamble Run Road.


Section 7: Gamble Run Road to Blackwell


Map 9

Parking: P7 on map. 41.556239, -77.381867

Length: 9.5 miles

Amenities: Small store in Blackwell, may be open seasonally.

Description: The Long Branch Trail (LBT) is a beautiful trail that helps make the PAWT such a special hiking route. Cross the top of the plateau through beautiful forests and then make a descent along a small stream with cascades and small waterfalls. Cross beautiful Cedar Run with slides and swimming holes and walk a short distance up the road (below is a beautiful gorge, cascades, and deep pools).

Follow the trail through beautiful forests and climb up scenic Long Branch with more cascades. The trail levels at the top and reaches the orange blazed West Rim Trail (WRT), on which you will turn left.


The WRT is a popular trail, and for good reason, it explores the west rim of the PA Grand Canyon, otherwise known as the Pine Creek Gorge. The WRT explores beautiful pine forests and features a fine view over Blackwell. Reach Bohen Run and turn right off the WRT, and follow the yellow Bohen Run Trail.


This trail descends above Bohen Run and the beautiful Bohen Run Falls. (At the time of this writing, there are reports that the Bohen Run Trail has been impacted by a landslide). A side trail descends to Pine Creek and some excellent campsites. The Bohen Run Trail curves into Jerry Run’s glen and passes above another falls. Descend to Blackwell and the parking area (P7) along Pine Creek.

Bohen Run Falls


Section 8: Blackwell to Arnot Road



Maps 10 and 11

Parking: P7 and P8 on map. 41.682660, -77.153075 (P8).

Length: 30 miles

Amenities: Bar in Antrim.

Description: The rest of the PAWT follows the orange blazed Mid State Trail (MST), the longest in the state. It stretches from Maryland to New York. This section is remarkable for its scenic and historic diversity. It also has the longest roadwalk on the PAWT.

This last section features vistas, waterfalls, incredible swimming holes, large rocks, superb camping, and historic ruins.


In Blackwell, hike on PA 414 to the Pine Creek bike trail and follow the MST’s orange blazes to the left. Follow the bike trail for over a mile and then turn right and climb up along Stone Quarry Run. At the top, the MST meanders along the east rim of the gorge, passing a side trail that leads to fine views. The MST explores scenic woodlands, passes a good spring, and features a lot of laurel. Cross Claymine Road near a small parking area and explore large rocks.


Descend along Mossy Run, a small stream with many waterfalls. Reach Stony Fork, a highlight, with its bedrock rapids and deep pools. This is a stream of great beauty. It features incredible swimming holes and bedrock grottos. The MST crosses this sizeable stream without a bridge, do not attempt in high water.

Climb along Roland Run, where nettle is an issue in summer, and enter beautiful hemlock and pine forests.  Reach the end of Tannery Hill Road. Descend into a glen of a small stream, but the MST maintains its elevation and passes the unique stone ruins of an incline plane, used to transport coal from the top of the mountain to the bottom. Cross Rattler Road, some small streams and ledges. Reach a unique rock area with deep crevices and chasms, watch your step. Next is the Haunted Vista from the old Anna S. Mine; the vista is from an old culm pile and is quite beautiful. Pick up a road, the start of a six mile roadwalk, and descend to PA 287.


The MST follows Sand Run Road and climbs to the small village of Antrim. Turn left onto Main Street; the Duncan Tavern is a block to the right. Main Street is SR 3009 and becomes a rural road, but with truck traffic. After about four miles, the MST leaves the road and enters the forest to the right. Here, the trail crosses private property so please stay on the trail, do not camp, or loiter. After rolling terrain, reach the Tioga State Forest and gorgeous Nickel Run, a side trail drops down to 30 foot Nickel Run Falls, a swimming hole, and campsite. The MST offers beautiful scenery above Babb Creek with hemlocks, moss, springs and small streams.


Cross Babb Creek in a stunning spot where a couple of grottos meet with cascades and rapids. Reach Sand Run Falls, about 20 feet tall, in a beautiful gorge with excellent camping. The MST follows Sand Run through scenic forests and reaches the parking area at P8, the eastern terminus of the PAWT at Arnot Road.

Deep pool

The MST continues north to Hills Creek State Park, Hammond Lake, and Cowanesque Lake. It features more roadwalks and private property that is closed during hunting season, so the PAWT ends at Arnot Road. However, the rest of the MST is beautiful with the large lakes and excellent pastoral vistas.

Backpacking the Old Loggers Path- July, 2018


View from Sullivan Mountain, Old Loggers Path, Loyalsock State Forest

The Old Loggers Path (OLP) is a classic backpacking loop that has grown in popularity over the years. I was surprised to realize that I last backpacked the entire trail in 2012, over six years ago. So I decided it was time to return and experience this trail once again. I was also looking forward to seeing the two new shelters that were built on the trail last year.


As a change, I decided to hike the trail clockwise, something I had not done before. I also decided to start at the new trailhead off of Krimm Road, instead of Masten, the traditional trailhead.


I arrived late morning, quickly got my gear together, and began hiking down the trail. It felt good to stretch the legs and hike on an actual trail, instead of bushwhacking, my more common pursuit. The trail followed old logging grades and crossed a small meadow. I hiked past a large campsite along a stream with damage from a flood in 2016. I soon reached Masten and continued on the trail as it made an easy, gradual climb through a forest of beech trees. I crossed a dirt road and entered a scenic hemlock forest where I took a break. The OLP doesn’t have a lot of forest diversity; most of the trail features hardwood forests, so it was nice to sit under the cool hemlocks.


I encountered patches of stinging nettle along the OLP, but it wasn’t too thick and I was able to pass through, with shorts on, without too much discomfort. I soon reached the side trail to Sprout Point vista and shelter. The shelter was near the vista which provided nice views over the valleys and ridges. It would be a great place to stay for the night, but there is not any water nearby.


The OLP then descended through scenic, open forests of hardwoods. I crossed another road and traversed a series of stream valleys with rolling terrain. Each stream had a little water, and a campsite. The OLP also passed along a logging cut. A steep climb followed up to the trail’s finest vista, Sharp Top. Up until this point I had only seen two other hikers, but there were about ten backpackers at the vista, enjoying the wide panorama of wooded lowlands and distant mountains. It is an impressive view so I was happy to take a rest for a few minutes.


The trail followed the edge of the plateau with a series of ledges and then entered brushy areas with plenty of blackberries. I then hiked into a mature forest above a stream with the sound of cascades that filled the air. As I neared the bottom, I passed the yellow blazed S&NY Trail, which is a cross connector trail to the OLP. I soon reached a campsite at Pleasant Stream.


Pleasant Stream suffered from a lot of flood damage with embedded trees and gravel, sand, and cobblestones everywhere. I crossed the stream easily, passed another campsite, and continued on the trail. This next section was re-routed due to the flood damage; the trail made a steep climb up to the road, followed it for a little ways, and then followed a grade to Long Run. I crossed Long Run and passed more hikers. A climb then ensued up Sullivan Mountain as I tried to move fast to see the sunset. I reached the first series of vistas with beautiful view of the mountains basking in the golden glow of the setting sun. It was breathtaking. I set up my tent at a small site near one of the vistas. I sat at the vista and watched the stars come out. Owls hooted in the distance, coyotes howled through the forest, and fireflies lit up the sky.


I was up early the next morning and enjoyed watching the rising sun through the misty trees. The trail passed large boulders and followed level grades over springs and small streams. I reached Doe Run and saw the new shelter, which was set close to the creek in a beautiful location. I made note to camp there on a future hike. I reached a view over Rock Run Gorge, where a couple were just getting up and I then hiked down to gorgeous Rock Run, passing above an unnamed falls on Yellow Dog Run. This is such a beautiful stream with its bedrock pools, chasms, and waterfalls. I sat there for a while to eat and enjoy the scenery.  While there I spoke to another backpacker.


I was surprised by the number of hikers on this trail. I saw almost 40 hikers, but the OLP did not feel particularly crowded.


I like the northern section of the trail because of the scenery and the hemlock forests. The rapids of Rock Run filled the air as I hiked up the trail, passing several other hikers. I crossed a few more streams and then returned to my car on Krimm Road.


It was great to be back on the OLP. Hopefully my return will not be in another six years.



More photos.

This trail is described in Hiking the Endless Mountains and Backpacking Pennsylvania.


Old Loggers Path

Location: Loyalsock State Forest at Masten.  Located between Shunk and Ralston.

Length: 28 mile loop

Blazes: Orange

Difficulty: Moderate. The trail often follows old grades with gradual changes in elevation, but there are steep areas near Sharp Top and Long Run.

Highlights: Rock Run, a stream of exceptional beauty, Sharp Top, Sprout Point, views from Sullivan Mountain, big rocks near Buck Run, two shelters at Sprout Point and Doe Run.

Vegetation: Mostly hardwoods with some laurel. There is some hemlock along Rock Run. Stinging nettle is an occasional issue in the summer.

Camping: Most streams have a campsite. There are two shelters. If you want to camp at a view, there are small sites at Sprout Point, Sullivan Mountain, and the view over Rock Run.

Water: Generally not an issue. In very dry years the only creeks that will have water are Pleasant Stream and Rock Run.

Concerns: There is no bridge across Pleasant Stream. In high water this is a dangerous crossing.

Go clockwise or counterclockwise? From Masten or Krimm Road, the trail is easier counterclockwise. Going clockwise saves the best scenery towards the end of the hike.

Where to start? Most people start at Masten, but Krimm Road is another ideal starting point, particularly if hiking the trail clockwise.  Krimm Road is located just off of Ellenton Road.

Trail worth hiking? Yes. The OLP is an ideal weekend loop that is usually well graded. There aren’t a lot of rocky areas. The terrain isn’t too easy, or hard and there are beautiful forests and scenic features.


Legend for the map above:

C: larger campsite, 3 or more tents

c: smaller campsite: 1 or 2 tents

V: vista

S: Shelter or lean-to

F: Waterfall









New York’s Best Backpacking Trails

New York has the most diverse scenery of any state east of the Rocky Mountains. The Empire State boasts vast lakes, canyons, alpine peaks, huge waterfalls, large rivers, pastoral countryside, beaches, and significant wilderness. It also has an extensive backpacking trail system. Which ones should you hike?

Most of the hikes below follow routes that include multiple named trails.  For more information, see Backpacking New York.

Western New York and the Finger Lakes

Allegany State Park
22 mile linear hike
Hike the North Country and Finger Lakes Trails across New York’s largest state park. Enjoy scenic forests, streams, and three shelters. While this hike doesn’t have standout natural features like waterfalls or vistas, the beautiful forests and good isolation make this an ideal backpack. Perfect for autumn colors.

Letchworth Trail
23 mile linear trail
This trail stretches across stunning Letchworth State Park, exploring the more isolated eastern rim of the famous gorge. There are views of two of the giant waterfalls and great views at the southern and northern ends of the trail. The trail passes many steep ravines carved by sidestreams with seasonal cascades. There are two shelters.

Morgan Hill State Forest
14 mile loop
This loop follows sections of the North Country Trail and a rural road. It features two ponds, scenic forests, streams, an incredible vista, and impressive Tinker Falls. You will also enjoy a gorge with cascades. There’s a lot of scenery along this small loop, which is strategically located in the central part of the state, south of Syracuse. There is one shelter.

Tinker Falls


Escarpment Trail
23 mile linear trail
A classic trail, enjoy stunning views, ledges, rock outcrops, a lake, boreal peaks, diverse forests, Blackhead Mountain, Windham High Peak, and famous Kaaterskill Falls, which is just off trail. The trail is known for being dry. There are two shelters.

View of North Lake

Windham High Peak and Blackhead Range Loop
18 mile loop
Summit four Catskill peaks with spruce forests and excellent views. There are beautiful spruce forests and two shelters. Water can be limited. There is a four mile roadwalk to complete the loop.

Hunter Mtn in distance

Devil’s Path
25 mile linear trail
Very difficult
One of New York’s most famous, and brutal, trails. The punishing terrain reveals incredible views, rock shelters, and outcrops. Trail is very rocky and steep in places. Enjoy the spruce forests. The eastern half is drier, has more views, and is more difficult. The western half is easier, has more water, and a waterfall. There are four shelters.

Wittenburg-Cornell-Slide Loop
16 miles (including Giant Ledge)
The classic Catskills backpack that summits three peaks, including the highest in the Catskills, Slide Mountain. The views are stunning from spruce covered summits. Be sure to include Giant Ledge with its own series of excellent views.

Misty view from Wittenberg

Southern New York, Hudson Valley and Taconic Mountains

South Taconic Trail
16 mile linear trail (trail has been extended further south)
The best trail that you never knew existed, put this one on your list. It features excellent vistas from grassy balds on mountain summits, cascading waterfalls, and just off trail, the stunning Bash Bish Falls. The trail straddles the New York/Massachusetts border. Alander and Brace Mtns. cannot be missed. It’s hard to believe this trail isn’t more popular.

Hikers on the exposed ridge

Harriman State Park-West
22 mile loop
Harriman is a very popular and surprisingly beautiful park that has a vast web of trails. I like this loop because of its diversity and relative isolation. It encompasses Island Pond, Lake Tiorati, and the Appalachian Trail. There are many vistas, ponds, cascades, rock outcrops, streams, gorges, and the famous Lemon Squeezer. There are three shelters.

Island Pond

Shawangunk Ridge Trail
28 miles (entire trail is 70 miles long)
This is the best section of the little-known Shawangunk Ridge Trail; it goes from NY 55 south to NY 171. As you’d expect for the Gunks, there are non-stop views from white cliffs. Highlights include Sam’s Point, Ice Caves, and towering Verkeerderkill Falls. The trail is very circuitous through Minnewaska State Park. Camping is a problem on this route and is prohibited along its northern half. South Gully is a scenic gorge. The southern half of this route is quite nice with many vistas, isolation, and camping potential. Watch for sun exposure on the northern half and water can be a problem in dry weather.


Lake George Wild Forest
21 mile loop
An excellent loop with beautiful ponds, cascades, and great camping. Enjoy views of pristine Lake George. The views from Sleeping Beauty, and Black Mountain in particular, are stunning. There are five shelters.

View from Black Mtn

Pharaoh Lake Wilderness
24 mile loop
A popular and beautiful destination, this loop offers gorgeous ponds, streams, a waterfall, incredible camping, and superb views. There are also mining remnants. Views from Pharaoh Mountain are excellent. There are eleven shelters, often in beautiful locations.

West Canada Lakes Wilderness Loop
23 mile loop
A great backpack to get away from it all in an isolated wilderness. There are beautiful lakes, wetlands, and streams. Boardwalks offer views over the water. There are eight shelters, often along scenic lakes and ponds. A side hike to the top of Pillsbury Mountain from the trailhead offers excellent views.

Bridge at South Lake outlet

Cranberry Lake 50
50 mile loop
New York’s premier backpacking loop, this trail has become increasingly popular. Enjoy views of beautiful lakes and ponds, traverse the top of beaver dams in wet areas, and revel in the isolation of woodlands and grassy meadows. Do not miss High Falls or the excellent views from Cat Mtn. There are also a few waterfalls and cascades. There are four shelters and many great campsites. The trail goes through the village of Wanakena and there are almost eight miles of roadwalking to complete the loop. For shorter loops, do the High Falls or Dog Pond Loops.

Northville-Placid Trail
135 mile linear trail
New York’s premier backpacking trail, this iconic trail stretches across much of the famous Adirondack Park. This is a lower elevation trail and mountain top vistas are rare, but there are numerous ponds, lakes, rivers, creeks, and some cascades. The trail crosses grassy meadows and isolated woodlands. Enjoy the stunning scenery, rapids, and pools of the Cold River. There are many shelters and campsites, often in stunning locations. The West Canada Lakes Wilderness and Cold River sections are generally considered the most scenic, but there is no bad section of the trail. Do not miss Wanika Falls. Piseco has a post office for a food drop and showers are available at Lake Durant Campground. Hiking this trail will be an experience you will never forget.

Cedar Lakes

Cold River-Seward Range Loop
30 mile loop
An isolated loop with great wilderness, this hike offers the stunning scenery of Cold River, scenic woodlands, streams, and great camping. Latham Pond is gorgeous with its views of the Seward Range. The Cold River has incredible rapids, cascades, and giant swimming holes. There are ten shelters. Side trails lead to the summits of the Seward Range.


Adirondack High Peaks

The stunning scenery of the High Peaks attract hikers from around the world. It also presents a challenge to traditional backpacking due to the punishing terrain and competition for campsites and shelters. If backpacking during the busy season, it is recommended you go mid-week. These routes follow a series of individually named trails.

Algonquin Peak-Indian Pass Loop
22 mile loop
Very difficult
See gorgeous lakes surrounded by towering mountains. A side trail leads to impressive Hanging Spear Falls. The arduous climb up to Algonquin reveals cascades and stunning views from an alpine peak. Hike by Heart Lake and up Indian Pass Brook to scenic Rocky Falls. Indian Pass is insanely rugged, and beautiful. There are seven shelters near or along the trail.

Rowing on Lake Colden

Mt. Marcy-Avalanche Pass Loop
21 mile loop
The “easiest” of the High Peak backpacks, this route has it all. There are lakes hemmed in by cliffs, scrambling, and alpine peaks. The Opalescent River is stunning with its chasms and rapids. Be sure to hike Skylight Mountain to its alpine summit. Hiking up the backside/southside of Mt. Marcy can be a little intimidating, but its is exhilarating. The top of New York’s highest mountain is stunning. Hike above Indian Falls and enjoy beautiful forests of birch and spruce. There are many shelters.

View from Mt. Marcy

High Peaks Loop
36 mile loop
Very difficult
The most difficult backpack in New York, this is an incredible and challenging loop with incredible views, waterfalls, ponds, lakes, chasms, and gorges. Take a rest at Johns Brook Lodge and tackle the Great Range with its incredible views. The views from Pyramid Peak may be the best in the High Peaks. Rainbow Falls is amazing and the classic view from Indian Head will take your breath away. The section along Nippletop and Dial Mtn. is more isolated, but still gorgeous. The section along Deer and Flume Brooks is surprisingly scenic with waterfalls and camping potential. If you finish this hike, pat yourself on the back. It is tough but so rewarding.


For more information, see Backpacking New York.




Hike to Alpine Falls-Loyalsock State Forest


Frozen Alpine Falls, Loyalsock State Forest

Alpine Falls is a beautiful spot in the Loyalsock State Forest, along the Loyalsock Trail. Alpine Falls is about 25 feet tall and is located in a scenic glen. There are campsites downstream from the falls, including another waterfall. Alpine Falls also makes for a great hike from Worlds End State Park and is notable for its beautiful hemlock forests. Thanks to a variety of trails, it is possible to do this hike as a dayhiking loop or as a quick overnight backpack.  The loop is about 8 miles in length.


We began at Worlds End by hiking the orange blazed Butternut Trail as it climbed behind the cabin area along an old grade. Turn right onto the Butternut Trail loop as it enters a glen of Butternut Run with some waterfalls. Climb along switchbacks over rocky terrain and below a ledge to a nice view looking down the Loyalsock Creek into the park. The Butternut Trail continues and soon meets a yellow blazed trail leading to Loyalsock Road, on the right (if you cross the creek again, you went too far). The yellow trail climbs to the top of the plateau and then levels before reaching Loyalsock Road; turn right onto the road.


Walk the road for about a mile until you see the Loyalsock Trail (LT); follow it to the right. The LT enters beautiful hemlock forests along a wetland and then crosses a stream. A deep gorge forms below the trail with rapids and a few campsites. The LT stays on a grade. The trail climbs under a scenic hemlock and pine forest and then descends steeply to another grade. Enter another gorge with a campsite; off trail and downstream is another falls near the state forest boundary. A short distance further a side trail is on the right and leads to the base of Alpine Falls.


The falls drop down a series of ledges into a pool along a large cliff. It is a beautiful, isolated spot and a great place to spend the night. When we were there, the falls were frozen over and the bright sunlight made it tough to take a good picture of it.


Now, retrace your steps on the LT back to Loyalsock Road. You can either retrace your steps back to the Butternut Trail, or hike a loop by continuing on the LT. The LT traverses hilly terrain with gorgeous hemlock forests and wet areas along an old grade. The beautiful forests have some ledges and extensive areas of ground pine. It’s a wonderful place to hike.


Cross Loyalsock Road a final time and turn left to descend along High Rock Run. This run has many cascades and waterfalls. Pass a yellow trail to the left (which leads to the Butternut Trail) and a campsite below the LT. The LT stays on a grade above High Rock Run’s deep gorge. The trail enters hemlocks, winds in between ledges, and descends to High Rock Vista with its great view of Worlds End. Continue on the LT as it traverses as rocky area and makes a rugged, rocky descent to High Rock Run. Below is High Rock Falls, although it is hard to get a good view of it. The LT descends into the state park and the hike ends at the cabin road, where your hike on the Butternut Trail began.


More photos.

Blue dots are waterfalls:


Pennsylvania’s Best Backpacking Trails


View from the West Rim Trail

Pennsylvania has the most extensive system of backpacking trails in the east, in fact, it’s trail system exceeds many western states.  These are the best of Pennsylvania’s many overnight trails.

Eastern Pennsylvania

Yellow and orange

Old Loggers Path.  This 28 mile loop has become very popular in the last few years, and for good reason.  It’s isolated, has two shelters, vistas, waterfalls, swimming holes, big rocks, and great camping.  Rock Run is a stream of exceptional beauty and Sharp Top has a beautiful view.  The OLP generally has moderate, gradual terrain.


Loyalsock Trail.  This 60 mile route was first established in the 1950s, making it one of the older backpacking trails in the nation.  The LT is famous for its diverse and beautiful terrain with gorges, waterfalls, vistas, big rocks, isolation, pond, whitewater rapids, and swimming holes.  There are many scenic streams and campsites, not to mention hemlock forests along its eastern half.

Loyalsock-Link Loop.  A great 14 mile loop for an overnight, beginning at Worlds End State Park, or from US 220 and include the Haystack Rapids.

Pinchot Trail.  A great easier trail for beginner or younger backpackers.  The south loop has been re-routed to include Choke Creek, Choke Creek Falls, meadows, wetlands, spruce forests, and cascades-dramatically increasing the scenic beauty of that section.


Appalachian Trail (Michaux State Forest).  Widely considered the best section of the AT in PA, enjoy historical remnants, great views, several shelters, rock outcrops, ponds, two state parks, and not to mention the Appalachian Trail Museum.

Evening mist

Appalachian Trail- Port Clinton to Wind Gap.  Yes, this section is known for its rocks.  But with rocks, comes views and this section of the AT has some excellent ones, such as the Pinnacle and Pulpit Rock.  The scrambling climb up the Lehigh Gap is a highlight as are the deep water gaps, shelters, and rock formations.  The section of the AT through the famed Lehigh Gap will be rerouted to offer more views and open ridgetop hiking.


Central Pennsylvania

Black Forest Trail.  One of PA’s premier trails, the famous 42 mile BFT is rugged and beautiful with stunning views of the Pine Creek Gorge, waterfalls, streams, meadows, and beautiful campsites.  This trail has some of the best views in the state.

West Rim Trail.  A popular 32 mile route on the west rim of the Pine Creek Gorge with several great views, scenic forests, small streams, and great camping.  There are also several off trail waterfalls.

Susquehannock Trail.  At 85 miles, the longest single-trail loop in the eastern US.  The STS offers deep woods immersion with isolation, streams, meadows, some views, and great camping.  There are now two shelters and one hut.  The highlight is the Hammersley Wild Area and its famous swimming hole.


Hammersley Wild Area.  PA’s largest and most isolated roadless area, the Hammersley is a gem.  A great loop is via the Susquehannock and Twin Sisters Trail with stunning views from the Hammersley meadows. (Hint: to return to the STS, hike off trail down the ridge from the north side of the meadows, it is an exposed ridge with several great views of the canyon).  More trails are planned in the wild area.  Hammersley Fork is a stream of great beauty.

Quehanna Wild Area.  PA’s largest wild area, the Quehanna is a hiking gem with many trails that feature open meadows, spruce and pine forests, gorges, vistas, huge rocks, pond, streams, and great camping.  Jungles of rhododendron and laurel fill the gorges.  One of my favorite areas.  What trails should you hike?  Check out the Quehanna, Bridge, Bellefonte Posse, Kunes Camp, Lincoln, Crawford Vista, David Lewis, Teaberry, East Cross Connector, Sevinsky, Meeker, and Big Spring Trails.

Mosquito Creek

Allegheny Front Trail.  A 42 mile loop west of State College offers superb streamside hiking, boardwalks, views, diverse forests, and rhododendron jungles.  There are some excellent campsites.  Trails offer a cross-connector and the eastern side of the loop is generally considered the more scenic.


Standing Stone Trail.  Nearly abandoned in the 1990s, the SST has evolved into one of PA’s finest trails.  Over 80 miles long and connecting the Mid State to the Tuscarora Trails.  It is a part of the Great Eastern Trail.  At times rocky and rugged, this trail has awesome views, old growth forests, rock formations, sinkholes, wildflowers, 1000 Steps, historical remnants, and one shelter.

Sausser's Stonepile vista

Mid State Trail-Little Juniata Water Gap to PA 45
The heart of the MST in the Seven Mountains, PA’s longest trail, features rugged ridgelines with excellent views, old growth forests, natural areas, several state parks, a tunnel, gorges, good isolation and campsites.

Mid State Trail-Woolrich to SR 2016 near Arnot
An excellent, rugged hike through the Pine Creek Gorge region that features superb vistas, waterfalls, gorges, rock formations, isolation, historical ruins, big rocks, and incredible swimming holes.

Western Pennsylvania

North Country Trail-PA 346 to Red Bridge Campground.  This trail explores the vast, beautiful Allegheny Reservoir with views over the water and great campsites.  Enjoy hemlock shaded glens, scenic streams, giant boulders, and wetlands.

North Country Trail – Guitonville Road to Highland Drive.  This section explore the stunning Cook Forest State Park and the Clarion River.  The towering old growth trees are beautiful, as is the serene Clarion River with its pristine water in a forested gorge with jungles of rhododendron.  Hikers love Maple Creek north of Cook Forest, and the waterfall on Henrys Run just south of the state park.

Morrison Trail.  An 11 mile loop with a cross connector.  Enjoy house sized boulders, streams, cascades, and views of the Allegheny Reservoir.  Be sure to include the cross connector, the most scenic part of the trail.

Minister Creek Trail.  A popular 7 mile loop is great for an overnight.  There are huge boulders, chasms, a views, streams, and great camping.

Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail.  The most popular trail in western PA, the LHHT is well known for its numerous shelters, big rocks, views, scenic forests, and streams.  Hike south to enjoy Ohiopyle at the end.

Quebec Run Wild Area.  A best kept secret, Quebec Run has a network of trails along streams filled with hemlock and rhododendron, making it feel like a jungle.  This is a diverse place, with off trail caves, and huge rocks and cliffs north of Tebolt Run, also off trail.

Oil Creek State Park  (Gerard Hiking Trail).  A 36 mile loop with cross connectors that meanders around Oil Creek State Park.  There are shelters, views, glens with waterfalls, and remnants of the oil industry, which began there.

Backpacking Pennsylvania for more trail info.

Appalachian Trail: Hike to Knife Edge and Bear Rocks

View from Knife Edge

We recently returned to the famous Appalachian Trail (AT) in PA to hike one of its more scenic, and rugged, sections.  We parked off of Route 309 and soon began hiking north on the AT, passing small campsites and thickets of laurel.  The trail was nice, but became increasingly more rocky.   There were some nice views to the south over the rolling farmlands and distant ridges.

View from Knife Edge

The trail crossed a powerline with views and a cairn.  From there, the rocks began to take over as we reached the crest of the ridge with a fine view.  Further up the cliffs was a lone vulture, looking quite large as it enjoyed the sun.

Rock hopping soon followed as we passed several other hikers.  Large outcrops were to our right.  We followed the trail as it scrambled up the rocky spine of the Knife Edge and its superb views.  I could see the Pinnacle and Pulpit Rock in the distance.  We sat and got a bite to eat in the bright sun.

Scrambling the rest of the Knife Edge was fun and we were soon back in the woods, which featured more hemlocks and another good view to the south as we hiked across the rocks.

Soon, Bear Rocks appeared to the left and I followed the blue trail to the top, which requires some scrambling.  This is one of the best rock outcrops along the AT in PA as it towers over the trees and provides several views to the east and north.  I followed the spine of the outcrop, enjoying all the views and the scrambling, finishing with a view to the west.  I dropped from the rocks and returned to the AT, retracing our steps back to the car under a setting sun.

Peeling bark on dead tree

This is an easy hike in terms of elevation gain, but challenging due to the rocks, Knife Edge, and Bear Rocks.  There are several fine views.  It is about 3.5-4 miles one way.

More photos.