After Work Hike to White Brook and Koerber Falls-SGL 57

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White Brook Falls-SGL 57

It had been a fairly wet spring and I knew some waterfalls would be running into the summer. I don’t hike much in SGL 57 during the summer, so most of my photos are in the autumn or winter.  SGL 57 has about thirty waterfalls and I knew they’d be beautiful surrounded by green foliage and moss instead of bare trees, ice, and snow.

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Since this was an after work hike, I decided to visit White Brook and Koerber Falls; each is less than a mile from the road.

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We began the hike up to White Brook Falls. The glen was beautiful with its towering trees and deep, clear pools. There was some stinging nettle, but we were able to pass through relatively unscathed. As we approached the falls, the scenery grew more beautiful with red bedrock slides, rounded boulders capped with moss, and more deep pools. I could see the white ribbon of the falls up ahead.

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We reached the falls and it was a beautiful sight. There was still plenty of water. White Brook Falls is known for its graceful spout and overhanging ledge. It is a very scenic and unique falls. The cool breeze at the base of the falls made it very comfortable, cutting the heat of the day and keeping the bugs away. I could have sat there for an hour, but there was another falls we wanted to see on the other side of the valley, so we walked back to Windy Valley Road.

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Our next destination was Koerber Falls, a smaller stream than White Brook, we hoped there would still be some water. We hiked up the gorge, exploring a mossy mini-chasm with a slide and deep pool and an eight foot falls. Up ahead was Koerber Falls. It still had some water; being under it was like a natural shower. The water descended in delicate threads from the moss above. The acoustics at the falls were incredible, as our voices bounced off the ledges creating a surround sound effect. We walked back to the Mehoopany Creek, waded across it in twilight, as storm clouds gathered overhead.

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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.

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Schrader Creek Valley Vistas-SGL 36

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View over Schrader Creek Valley, SGL 36.

The Schrader Creek Valley is one of PA’s best kept secrets. Here you will find towering waterfalls, gorges, huge rocks, Class III+ whitewater, ponds, rock climbing, vistas, and fascinating historical remnants from the coal and lumber eras. I recently went out to explore SGL 36 and find a vista overlooking the valley.

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I drove down Falls Creek Road and pulled off along the road (41.655855, -76.608576)before it became rutted and muddy. I then just walked down the road to a forest of pine trees, where I turned off the road followed a grade to the right (41.650738, -76.608228). This grade became a jeep or ATV trail as it followed the perimeter of a field with pine trees. In summer expect to see wildflowers.

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At the southern point of this field (41.645908, -76.611961), I followed a faint footpath that went southeast. This faint path went through laurel thickets and may be difficult to follow in summer as it is overgrown in places. This path is not blazed, but with some effort I was able to follow it through the laurel. The path went through open hardwoods, but then went through the laurel again, making a slight climb. I soon reached the edge of the plateau at some cliffs, where the path turned right (41.641404, -76.606739).

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This dramatic cliff line featured tremendous views over the wooded, isolated Schrader Creek Valley. Some views were 180 degrees, offering views up and down the valley. I enjoyed the rolling ridgelines and tiers of mountains between the glens and streams. The view of the valley to the southwest was particularly beautiful. I could clearly hear the roar of Schrader Creek’s rapids from hundreds of feet below. I could also clearly see the incline plane that once transported coal from Barclay to the valley below. Be careful along the cliffs as a fall would be fatal.

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I continued west and went off any trail, exploring massive boulders below the cliffs and ledges. I went through an open hardwood forest with some giant oak trees and soon reached the mountain laurel again. I made my way through the laurel and soon reached another cliff line, with more views and overhangs (41.641693, -76.613212). This cliff line was just as impressive with chasms and excellent vistas from exposed ledges. I was surprised by the extent of the cliffs and the high number of views. Someday, I’d like to explore these cliffs from the bottom.

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I found a trail that was used and cleared by people, not bears, which made the hiking easier. This trail dropped down and then climbed up, following a series of small cairns. This trail was in much better shape than the one to the first cliff. This trail brought me back to the same field I had left earlier (41.645564, -76.616109). I walked the jeep/ATV trail back to Falls Creek Road and my car.

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This is a truly beautiful hike with tremendous views. I was there in midday, so the bright sun washed out the features of the views. In the morning or evening I’m sure these views would be stunning. I hope to return in October for the autumn colors. I’m not sure if my route was the best. If I returned, I would follow the faint trail to the first cliff and vistas, retrace my steps, and then take the second trail to the second cliff line and vistas, and retrace my steps back to the field (the orange routes in the map below), avoiding the bushwhack in between.

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For the map above:

Yellow: Jeep/ATV trail along perimeter of field.

Orange: Faint trails, not blazed or signed.  The trail on the left is better established.

Red:  Bushwhack route.

 

 

Stony Run Hike-Loyalsock State Forest

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Rock shelters above Stony Run.

The Stony Run Trail is one of the Loyalsock State Forest’s little known trails. It is also one I’ve always enjoyed hiking. I returned recently to hike part of the trail and to do some off trail exploration in the Stony Run Gorge.

 

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I parked at the Hillsgrove maintenance/ranger station and followed the red blazed Old House Trail, which began a short distance down the road near the cabin. I crossed Dry Run, getting wet feet along the way. Dry Run does not have a bridge, so do not attempt to cross in high water. The Old House Trail, which is also a part of the bridle trail system, curved up into a scenic pine forest, and then I turned right onto the yellow Stony Run Trail.

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This trail crossed a rocky talus slope and then dropped into Stony Run, crossing the tumbling run without a bridge. The trail is faint in places and the blazes are faded, but the trail can be followed. The trail then followed a grade and went up the side of the gorge, above the creek. But I had a different way in mind.

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I decided to hike off trail and just go up Stony Run itself. I soon entered a gorge with non-stop cascades and pools, but no sizeable falls. The gorge narrowed as I climbed and I soon saw some bedrock cascades as cliffs rose above me. I reached a hemlock forest with more beautiful cascades and passed a nice campsite, where I rejoined the Stony Run Trail.

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The trail entered thick laurel, but there was a clear passage. This would be a great hike in June to see the laurel bloom. The trail became wet as I crossed Stony Run, and also more overgrown, but I was able to stay on the trail. The trail continued, left the laurel, and entered an open hardwood forest. However, I left the trail again, following a bushwhack along a cliff line.

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There are cliffs on the north rim of Stony Run Gorge. At first, the laurel was very thick, but became more open as I reached the cliffs. There were beautiful overhangs, a cave, and boulders. I found a way to the top of the cliffs, battling laurel, where there was a more open cliff line and nice hiking along a well established bear path. I also enjoyed three nice views across the gorge, but the views were not expansive. I continued west along the cliffs, but the trees blocked any further views. I dropped down a little into a drainage and explored some more outcrops. I then entered a beautiful, open hardwood forest with large, towering trees. I made a note to return in the summer.

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I dropped down to the red Old House Trail and followed the grade back to my car. On my drive out, I saw Andrea Falls and the rebuilt CCC era Dry Run picnic pavilions with its heavy timber beams, a beautiful spot for a get together.

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If you don’t want to bushwhack, just hike the Old House and Stony Run Trails Loop, it is a great hike with isolation, cascades, hemlocks, laurel, rock outcrops, and a nice campsite. The whole loop is almost five miles.  This loop is described in Hike No. 46 in Hiking the Endless Mountains.

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More photos.

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Cape Run Gorge and Waterfalls-Loyalsock State Forest

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Tallest falls on Cape Run, Loyalsock State Forest

The Loyalsock State Forest is known for its many beautiful streams and gorges. Hikers have long known of one of the forest’s crown jewels, Ketchum Run, and have even begun to explore Scar Run and its waterfalls, just to the east of Ketchum. However, there is a third stream worthy of checking out-Cape Run.

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Cape Run is to the west of Ketchum and the Loyalsock Trail explores the upper drainage of the run. Few hikers have ever explored it. I recently hiked all of Cape Run on state forest land, and it is a very beautiful place. A true hidden gem.

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I parked off of High Knob Road and walked a gated forest road back to the Loyalsock Trail, on which I turned left. The trail descended, crossed the east branch of Cape Run, and then continued to the west branch of Cape Run. Here there is a fifteen foot falls. I left the Loyalsock Trail and went off trail down the west branch of Cape Run.

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To my surprise I found an old grade that was in decent shape and made hiking the creek fairly easy, although there are some stream crossings without bridges. I was soon treated to cascades, pools, and boulders in the narrowing gorge. I then reached a 12 foot falls over a broad, mossy ledge that I called Notch Falls as the creek flowed through a notch in the ledge. Cascades and mossy grottos continued until I reached the point where the east and west branches of Cape Run met.

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This was a gorgeous spot as I looked up both glens and its cascades. I continued downstream on the grade, enjoying an incredible mossy forest. Moss covered the rocks and coated the trees, giving it a Pacific Northwest vibe. I’d love to see this forest on a misty summer day, the greenery must be incredible.

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I saw a 20 foot falls over two drops followed by a long slide. More slides continued with bedrock pools. Cape Run then entered a beautiful mini-glen with a broad seven foot falls into a beautiful pool. Another broad four foot falls was downstream. This section was very scenic. I reached the state forest boundary and turned around.

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I returned to where the two branches of Cape Run met and hiked up the east branch. This gorge was narrower and steeper and featured several smaller falls and one steep bedrock slide. Ledges loomed above to the right as club moss provided a deep green carpet. I left the creek and climbed up to the Loyalsock Trail and retraced my steps to my car.  Total length of the hike was about 3-4 miles.

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Cape Run is a truly beautiful place, a hidden realm in the Loyalsock State Forest.

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Jackson Trail Waterfalls-Loyalsock State Forest

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The second falls below the Jackson Trail, Loyalsock State Forest

Below the steep Jackson Trail in the Loyalsock State Forest is a deep, rugged gorge.  Within this gorge are three beautiful waterfalls.  I parked along PA 87 and made my way up the gorge and I was soon treated to a beautiful 15-20 foot falls over a broad ledge.  It almost appeared as if one could go behind this falls.

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I continued up the gorge.  It was very difficult climbing around the waterfalls, so I would climb to the Jackson Trail, get above the falls, and then descend back into the gorge.

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The gorge is very steep with loose rock, which it made it difficult to hike.  The second falls was probably my favorite as it was a graceful spout in a hidden grotto.  It was about 15 feet tall.

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I continued up the gorge and reached the third and final falls, about 20 feet tall in two drops, it appeared from a mini-chasm.

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I scrambled to the Jackson Trail and hiked back down.  Even though this trail was steep, it was far more forgiving then the hike up the gorge.

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This unnamed stream is not in view of the Jackson Trail, although you can clearly hear the waterfalls from the trail when the stream is running.  You must go off trail to see the falls, which are close to the trail, but well below it.  This stream is also seasonal.  The bottom falls is the most accessible and is a short walk from where the Jackson Trail ends at PA 87.

Another of the Loyalsock State Forest’s hidden gems.

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Chasm Arch, Bartlett Mountain Balds, and Burgess Hollow Vista-SGL 57

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Chasm Arch, SGL 57

We returned to SGL 57 to explore the Bartlett Mountain Balds, and the escarpment of cliffs and ledges west to Burgess Hollow Vista.  We made the obligatory climb up White Brook, but not before making the icy trek to White Brook Falls, which is well below the trail.  The climb went fine and we followed the trail north to the base of the balds.  A short bushwhack brought us to the base of the cliffs.

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SGL 57 has extensive areas of cliffs and ledges, usually not more than 50 feet high, but they offer excellent scenery.  We explored one huge chasm and soon realized there was a natural arch of fractured rock.  Pennsylvania has few natural arches, so this was a treat.  I called it Chasm Arch.

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We hiked north along the balds with the spruce and hemlock.  This is always a great place to visit and provides scenery that is so different than most places in the state.  Our off trail hike brought us west and we soon dropped down to explore the rock features.  There were incredible caves, chasms, and overhangs created by the separated bedrock.  Ice flows adorned the rock faces.  This is a beautiful, unique area as we followed the tracks of foxes and coyotes.

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We soon reached an old logging road, which we took to the right to see Burgess Hollow Vista and its fine view over the wooded ridges and rolling farmlands.  We could see for about 40 miles.

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The rest of our hike was on established trails, or old logging roads.  We explored scenic hemlock forests and glens of clear streams.  Our hike took us past rock ledges and thick forests.  The trails collected water in many places, but the ice provided easy passage.

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We completed the loop above White Brook and returned to Windy Valley Road.

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More photos.

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For the map above, yellow is the route that follows an existing trail (no blazes or signs).  Red is the off trail route.  Orange are other existing trails.  White Brook Falls is off, and below, the trail.