Little Rocky Glen-Countryside Conservancy

Little Rockly Glen is a preserve owned by the Countryside Conservancy.  While it is small in size, it is big in beauty, featuring a gorge shaded with hemlocks and adorned with moss and ferns.  The South Branch Tunkhannock Creek flows through the gorge, creating rapids, deep pools, and unique erosional features.  Trout anglers enjoy the glen, as do whitewater kayakers in high water.

We parked in a lot along Lithia Valley Road and followed the trail above the creek.  The trails are not marked, but are easy to follow.  We hiked to the top of a mushroom rock outcrop overlooking the glen.  The views were beautiful.  We were able to descend to the ledge below the outcrop to enjoy the rapids and cascades, not to mention the unique potholes in the rock.  

We climbed back up and hiked the trail as it clung to the side of the glen, the creek roaring below.  We descended to a large pool, meadow, and a large picnic shelter.  The pool was beautiful as the deep waters swirled, and the meadow was adorned with wildflowers.  Swimming is not allowed in the glen as several people have drowned.

On the hike back out, we retraced our steps, enjoying the scenery of the glen.  The total hike was less than a quarter mile.  Little Rocky Glen is ideal for a quick visit to enjoy the beauty of nature.

We parked at 41.554341, -75.833674. There is parking for about five or six cars.


Waterfalls of Bull Run-SGL 36

Bull Run is a small stream that flows down a gorge to Schrader Creek in SGL 36.  Along the way, it tumbles through a beautiful red rock glen with several waterfalls and cascades.  This is a short hike, only about a quarter or third of a mile, but it is very scenic.  There are no signs or blazes.  Bull Run is a small stream that likely dries in summer.  The best flow is when the Towanda Creek USGS gauge is above 6 feet.  

From the pull off parking area, follow an old grade into the woods.  After a few hundred feet, reach Bull Run.  To your left, or upstream, see the smooth red bedrock with small slides and cascades.  Most of the action, however, is to your right, or downstream.  Hike along the edge of the glen to see a six foot falls that leads to the tallest falls, at about 12-15 feet.  Continue downstream with boulders and slides that leads to a beautiful series of cascades over red bedrock.  The red bedrock is striking and it was beautiful to see the water tumble over the ledges.  Bull Run then flows into private land.

Bull Run is just one of the highlights in the Schrader Creek valley, where there are many more waterfalls on its tributaries, not to mention vistas, giant rocks, ponds, and historical ruins from the mining era from over a century ago.  

Pull off parking is at 41.678621, -76.542346.  The game commission road is a little steep, but it can be driven by a car.

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Bull Run Falls, SGL 36.

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Bull Run, SGL 36.

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Bull Run Falls, SGL 36.

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Bartlett Mountain Balds in Summer-SGL 57

Our route. You can download a georeferenced PDF map below. Parking is the green dot. Pink dots traverse the balds and there is no trail. Map by Ben Van Riper.

There have been many posts on this blog about the Bartlett Mountain Balds.  This destination is unique due to its diversity, scenery, and isolation.  Despite my many visits to this place, I had never been there in the summer, fearing writhing masses of snakes.  Well, I went in early July with Ben and I was blown away by the scenery.  And, amazingly, we didn’t see a single snake (but we did come across a geocache).

I wish I was up there a few weeks earlier, in late June.  Then, the balds explode in blooms of white and pink from the mountain and sheep laurel.  Combined with the red spruce forests, this occurs no where else in Pennsylvania.  It really gives the appearance of being in the southern Appalachians, or a natural botanical garden.  The balds here are unique in that they are home to both spruce and laurel.  Usually, spruce forests create too much shade for laurel, but the bedrock balds give the laurel the sun it needs for amazing blooms.  I will be sure to get up there next June.

We began at the White Brook parking area, and hiked through some woods to the right, avoiding the meadows.  We hiked by some cottages, hiked up a steep grade through pine, and circumvented some private property.  We hiked off trail down to White Brook and crossed the creek.  We then reached a grade, and hiked upstream to see White Brook Falls.  We retraced our steps to hike up a grade Ben calls the “Shore Front Parkway” due to a road sign nailed to one of the trees.  

This climb is more scenic and gradual than the one up the White Brook grade, which would be our return route.  We reached the top and crossed some small streams with cascades.  At an intersection, there was a wet area and then we followed an old ATV trail (Bald Access Grade on the map) to the base of the balds.  This trail became faint, but the scenery was beautiful with fern meadows and spruce trees.  We then turned south and scrambled to the top of the balds (pink dots on the map).  

Hiking across the balds was amazing with white bedrock, deep green spruce trees, moss, lichens, and some lingering laurel blooms.  This is PA’s boreal forest wonderland.  We hiked long the edge of the balds, but then turned southwest into the interior which became thick with vegetation at times.  We also explored some rarely seen interior balds which again impressed me with its scenery.  We reached Big Deer Swamp and followed an old grade to the White Brook grade.  Keep in mind the hike across the balds is not blazed or signed; it is shown on the map with pink dots.  About 70% of the route is open, about 30% is bushwhacking through vegetation.

We followed the White Brook grade down the mountain and back to our cars.  This is an arduous, and very rewarding hike, about 11-12 miles in length.  Most of this hike follows established grades, but there are no signs and few blazes. As always, treat the balds with respect. Parking is at 41.496529, -76.132005.

Click here to download a geo-referenced PDF map of Bartlett Mountain. Map was created by Ben Van Riper. Download the free Avenza mapping app, upload the PDF map to Avenza. Then you can navigate this awesome area with your cell phone, even without service. As you can see on the map, Bartlett Mountain is incredible with spruce forests, balds, gorges, waterfalls, wetlands, and vistas.

Get out there and explore.

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Bartlett Mtn Balds, SGL 57.

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Loyalsock Backpacking Trail Medley

Purple is an unblazed path. Red dots are campsites. Yellow is Cold Run Trail. Blue is Canyon Vista Trail.

The Loyalsock State Forest has established itself as the premier backpacking destination in eastern Pennsylvania.  The forest is home to miles of trails that explore gorges, waterfalls, vistas, and rock formations.  A few months ago, I went on an overnight backpacking trip on a variety of trails through the state forest featuring some of its fine scenery.  Bryan, Dan, and Matt joined me on this trip.  This hike was about 17 miles.

We met at the Worlds End State Park office (located at 41.471808, -76.581784) and shuttled a car to a pull off along Coal Mine Road (located at 41.456752, -76.628380).  We hiked down the road a short distance and turned left onto the Loyalsock Trail (LT); much of our hike would be on this trail.  The LT brought us to impressive Alpine Vista as it looked down the Loyalsock Creek valley.  The trail descended steeply to Lower Alpine Vista and its equally scenic view.  There we saw two men hunting for snakes.  The trail continued to drop down to beautiful Ketchum Run.  We hiked up along the stream with its rapids and cascades.  We took a break a Rode Falls and climbed up its ladder.  We climbed up the gorge, under giant hemlocks as the water roared below.  Ketchum Run is such a beautiful place and is one of the gems in the state forest.  Next was Lee’s Falls and an impressive chasm upstream.  

The hike up Ketchum was a pleasure as we passed campsites under hemlocks.  The LT turned right and crossed the run, but we followed an unblazed trail upstream where we enjoyed two more falls and bedrock cascades.  We reached a blue blazed trail and followed the Ketchum Run Trail.  Our next turn was right onto the yellow Ketchum Run Nature Trail; this turn was discreet.  The trail returned us to Ketchum Run with its bedrock cascades, falls, and pools.  This was another great trail as it meandered along streams, ground pine, and hemlock forests.  We soon reached the parking area and took a break at a shelter.

Our hike continued by turning left onto Worlds End Road and a quick left onto a red/blue ski trail under more hemlocks with carpets of moss.  After turning left onto the red trail, it took us back to Coal Mine Road for a short road walk, we turned left off the road, on the red trail as it followed a narrow grade to the LT where we turned right.  We would follow the LT all the way to Canyon Vista.

The LT was a beautiful hike as we passed streams, hemlocks, meadows, and nice campsites.  The trail climbed to a ridge and then descended, passing some large rock outcrops.  We descended to the east branch of Double Run and saw the orange sulphur spring and enjoyed Mineral Spring Falls.  We found a nice campsite along the LT and settled in for the night with a campfire and conversation.  It was neat to see the foliage in the trees turn to yellow and orange in the setting sun. A small stream babbled through the night.

We were up early the next morning and the trail was beautiful, a thread through open forests and meadows of ferns.  We soon reached Canyon Vista and enjoyed the trail, as well as the mazes of the Rock Garden behind it.  Next was the blue Canyon Vista Trail which featured some giant rocks and passageways that everyone enjoyed.  I then took them on the new yellow Cold Run Trail, a highlight with its gorges, waterfalls, views, rock outcrops, and boulder arch.  We passed two women hiking who proclaimed this was their favorite hike and that they hike it every week.  We returned to the blue Canyon Vista Trail and dropped down to the Loyalsock Creek which we walked along enjoying the rapids and scenery.  A climb took us to Warren’s Window and then we descended to Double Run with its waterfalls and cascades.  We hiked back to the park office along the Link Trail.

Everyone enjoyed the diverse scenery of the Loyalsock, although they weren’t thrilled with the final climb to Warren’s Window.  This is such a beautiful area and I’m sure it will not be our last hike in the ‘Sock.

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Dan at Rode Falls, Loyalsock Trail.

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Loyalsock Trail.

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A Hike at the Woodbourne Forest & Wildlife Preserve

Established in 1956, Woodbourne Forest is one of the first preserves owned by The Nature Conservancy.  It covers 648 acres and features wetlands, meadows, streams, impressive rock walls, beaver dam, and an old growth hemlock forest.  Woodbourne is home to a remarkable diversity of plants and animals; it is an ideal place for birdwatching with its various habitats. Woodbourne is also a great place to bring kids for a hike.

There is a network of seven miles of trails at the preserve.  On this hike, we followed a three mile loop along the Swamp and Woodruff Hill Trails.  From the parking area (please note the parking area is located at the top of a hill and it can be difficult to see oncoming traffic) we followed the Swamp Trail down through fields and meadows with wildflowers.  We entered the forest as the trail meandered down to a large swamp with a viewing platform.  There were countless birds, lilies blooming in the water, and a chorus of frogs.  A muskrat swam in the water below us.  This place teems with life and is the perfect place to look for animals.  

The Swamp Trail meandered along the shore under hemlocks and then veered left over a boardwalk; this would be our return route.  We kept right onto the Woodruff Hill Trail as it crossed a meadow and entered the woods with some giant oak trees.  The trail was a bit wet as it explored the forest, but it was a pleasure to hike.  The trail turned left and followed a small stream to where it joined a larger one.  I enjoyed hiking along the creeks under large trees and across carpets of ferns.  The trail crossed the larger creek and meandered through impressive stone walls and beneath more large trees.  We soon reached the outlet of the swamp we were at earlier where there was a beaver dam.  We crossed the creek and rejoined the Swamp Trail through the beautiful old growth hemlock forest along the shore of the swamp. The sun reflected off the water and illuminated the hemlock forest from below.  This is a great section to hike.  We crossed the boardwalk and retraced our steps back to the car.

If you like hiking through forests, meadows, and along streams and rock walls, Woodbourne is the place for you.  The forests are scenic and isolated.  The swamp is a highlight with its wildlife.  The streams are relaxing and the stone walls will impress with their size and craftsmanship.  

We parked at 41.761158, -75.897911.  

Hiking Coalbed Swamp-SGL 57


As the numerous articles in this blog illustrate, SGL 57 is a place of incredible beauty and diversity. Just when I think I’ve seen all it has to offer, I discover someplace new. That happened to me this past Spring. I’ve long known of Coalbed Swamp, it is one of the most biodiverse places in the region and a favored destination for birdwatchers searching for rarer species.  I’ve explored the northern part of the swamp. But, I didn’t think much else was there. I was completely wrong.

Ben suggested a visit to Coalbed Swamp and we explored it over two hikes. This place blew me away. The rock formations, chasms, caves, and spruce forests with carpets of moss made this an incredibly beautiful destination. The isolation only added to its splendor. This place does not feel like Pennsylvania, but instead northern Maine.

Want to hike Coalbed? You should be an experienced and adventurous hiker. Keep in mind a few things. First, this is mostly an off trail hike. The hike roughly goes around the perimeter of the swamp. Second, the mountain laurel is very thick on the southern part of the hike along the boulders and ledges. Third, it is best to go when the game commission gate on the access road is open during hunting season, typically the in Fall, late September to early January, and mid-April to the end of May. When the gate is closed, hiking up Red Brook from the parking area near Stony Brook Lane makes for an incredibly satisfying round trip. Park at the coal mine, located at 41.472084, -76.205270. Fourth, expect wet areas and wet feet.

From the coal mine, the entrance is now gated, we scrambled to the top of it and walked to an eroded old forest road or ATV trail. We took this to the right and soon turned left onto a more obscure old ATV trail which entered a hemlock forest an a bog. We crossed the bog and continued on the old trail. (It is possible to hike to the left of the bog to bypass it.) It descended at the location of a second mine entrance, which was flooded. Do not enter this mine.

An off trail hike followed to the west as we followed a line of cliffs and ledges. In places the laurel and blueberry bushes were very thick. We dropped down to some large rocks which revealed an amazing rock maze and chasm a few hundred feet long and maybe 30 feet deep. The passages were awesome to explore. We hiked along a cliff wall and some overhangs. Soon, the laurel became very thick and we did our best to hike through it, staying close to the cliffs. It may be easier to hike the top of the cliffs to bypass the thick laurel below, as there is a somewhat overgrown bear path.

The laurel receded and we entered a spruce forest of amazing beauty with mist and carpets of moss. Truly amazing. We also saw some black spruce, rare for this area as it is usually found further north. We could not believe the sublime beauty of this forest. The rocks also amazed us with giant boulders and stacks that loomed through the trees. We came upon Arrowhead Rock, an impressive pedestal with a giant triangular rock on top, perched as if it were about to fall off. Behind Arrowhead Rock was a chasm and one of the larger caves in SGL 57. A couple hundred feet north is Underworld Chasm, a deep, sheer chasm into the bedrock, 30-40 feet deep, only a few feet wide, and was frigid cold despite it being a warm day on our hike. Springs dripped down the sides of the chasm, and part of Underworld Chasm was underground, capped with rock and trees.

On our first hike we continued along the southeast perimeter of the swamp which revealed more spruce, impressive rocks, and amazing habitats. We then reached the old forest road above the mine and returned to our cars.  On the map above, the route from Underworld Chasm to the coal mine is not shown.

On the second hike, we hiked around the west side of Coalbed Swamp, revealing more spruce, moss, and rock balds. The forests were incredibly scenic. It was difficult to get open views of the swamp. We reached the old forest road north of the swamp, took that south to Red Brook with more giant rocks, and back to our cars. You can easily hike 5-7 miles exploring the Coalbed Swamp area.

If you want to explore the swamp when the game commission road is gated, one idea is to hike up Red Brook from Stony Brook and Windy Valley Road.  Red Brook has a beautiful gorge and two waterfalls.  See the Red Brook Gorge Loop hike.

Be careful, bring a friend, treat it with respect and enjoy this special place.

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SGL 57 rocks, in the boulder mazes.

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SGL 57 has endless rock features.

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Forests of SGL 57.

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Thomas Run Falls and Little Schrader Creek-SGL 12


Black follows gravel or logging roads.  Red is off trail.  Yellow is an established trail up along Little Schrader Creek; it is not blazed or signed.

Southern Bradford County is home to SGL 12 and 36, vast public lands that feature remarkable natural beauty. Near the former logging town of Laquin, now a shadow of its former self with only a few homes and cabins, is an isolated hike to beautiful streams and waterfalls. Laquin was once home to 2,000 people, now, you will likely have this hike all to yourself.

From the game commission parking area, hike around the gate and simply follow the gravel road, which was once a railroad. After a half mile, cross Little Schrader Creek on a bridge and see a distinct path to your right crossing a small meadow. Remember this spot for your return from Thomas Run Falls, for it is the trail to the falls and cascades on Little Schrader Creek.

Continue hiking the road. Overall, it is a nice hike. One highlight are some large meadows which offer views, not to mention opportunities to see wildlife and birds. Reach a new logging road to your right (located at about 41.604664, -76.675140). Turn right and follow for a thousand feet until the road makes a sharp right turn. Here, go off trail to the left; there may be an old grade. You will soon reach Thomas Run. Hike off trail up the run. You will enter a gorge with cascades and boulders. Cliffs loom overhead. Thomas Run Falls soon comes into view and it is a beautiful setting. Counting the cascades just downstream, the height of the falls is 20-25 feet. What is unique is that you are gorged in, there is no safe way to hike above the falls as it is surrounded by cliffs. It is a truly beautiful, out of the way spot. The falls are located at about 41.606006, -76.681902. Return the way you came.

Back at Little Schrader Creek, take the path across the meadow, now on your left. The path has no blazes or signs, but it is well established. The path follows impressive old grades with huge stone retaining walls, some of which are collapsing. Enter an impressive gorge with rapids, cliffs, and cascades. The first falls is a narrow chute with overhanging ledges and a deep pool. The path continues across another meadow and into a second gorge with another falls and pool. It is hard to get good photos of both falls due to their position. Little Schrader Creek is very scenic and is well worth the hike. It is described in Hiking the Endless Mountains. Return the way you came.

Park at 41.624435, -76.659780. The hike is about two miles, one way, to Thomas Run Falls. No trails have signs or blazes.

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Thomas Run Falls, SGL 12.

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