Barclay Mountain Vista and Waterfalls-SGL 36

This hike features a vista and a glen with waterfalls.  Trails, or forest roads, lead all the way to the top of the glen, but then an off trail hike down the gorge is required to see the falls and cascades.  This hike is located on SGL 36, on a plateau generally known as Barclay Mountain.

At the game commission road, it is best to park at the lower or top areas, which are really just places to pull off.  The lower parking area can be reached by a car, and Bull Run Falls is nearby.  The top parking area is at the gate and the road to it was in good shape, although a little steep in places.  A vehicle with some ground clearance is a good idea.   Just hike up the gated road to the top of the plateau.  Turn right at the first, second, and third intersections.  At the fourth, turn left and hike to a small meadow area.  Here, the forest road ends, but continue straight onto an ATV trail as it descends and then turns left.  You will soon reach a beautiful vista looking over the plateau escarpment, farms, hills, Mt. Pisgah and Armenia Mountain.  You can see for over thirty miles.

Continue on the ATV trail as it descends and crosses an unnamed creek.  Here, leave the trail and descend along the creek.  It is very steep in places.  Enjoy an assortment of waterfalls, cascades and bedrock glens.  Some of the falls are twenty five feet tall.  In Spring, expect to see many trilliums blooming.  It is best to hike out on the west side of the creek.  Retrace your steps back to your car.

For the map above, black is the game commission road, orange are the forest roads, yellow is the ATV trail and red is off trail. No trails are marked or blazed.

A nearby hike is the Lamoka Mountain Vista that you may want to include.  

This hike is about 3.75 miles one way from the lower (first) parking area.  Parking is at 41.678628, -76.542309 for the lower/first lot, or at 41.680715, -76.555526 for the top lot near the gate. The top of the waterfall gorge is at about 41.685427, -76.575632.

The waterfall gorge is a small creek and is likely dry in summer. As an approximate correlation, the USGS gauge on Towanda Creek should be at least 750 cfs for decent flow.

Hike the Eagles Mere Conservancy Trails

This hike explores trails on land owned by the Eagles Mere Conservancy.  This hike is easy to moderate in difficulty and the trails are generally well marked and easy to follow, although there are some turns you’ll need to pay attention to.  Highlights are a historic rail grade, rock outcrops and mazes, and beautiful hemlock forests with some old growth trees.  

From the parking area, follow the rail grade, the former Eagles Mere Railroad.  This railroad was built in 1892 for tourists and went to Sonestown, where it connected with a railroad to Williamsport.  It was abandoned in 1928.  The Susquehanna and Eagles Mere Railroad went west from Eagles Mere, down Kettle Creek, to Hillsgrove and over to Masten.  It was built for logging and was used from 1902 to 1930.

Upon entering the state forest, blue blazes appear.  Sections of the grade are muddy and wet, and the forest is largely open hardwoods.  Reach an intersection and turn right.  Reach a wetland and a sewage treatment facility.  A red trail goes right, but continue left on the grade.  Reenter conservancy lands where the scenery improves with hemlocks.  Turn left onto a yellow blazed trail and reach the end of a residential street.  Turn left onto a red trail and climb under giant hemlocks to Rock Labyrinth, a highlight of the hike.  Enjoy the chasms, mazes, and passageways in the gigantic rocks.

The trail proceeds through hardwoods and then reaches another grove of hemlocks at Fern Rocks, a more modest outcrop.  Enjoy more hemlocks as the trail crosses over a wetland and stream with some boardwalks.  Cross a road; the next section is a network of red trails, so you’ll need to keep an eye out for trail intersections.  Turn right at the first and reach Big Spring, a covered spring with stonework, it is the source of Rusty Run.  Turn right at the next intersection, and left at the third (if you reach the road, you went too far).  

Enjoy the beautiful hemlock forests with some large trees.  Climb up to some rock outcrops called Eagle Rocks, a very scenic spot.  At the top of the rocks, turn right onto the green trail and descend.  Pass some more rocks and enter a hardwood forest with some more outcrops to the right.  Climb a hill and turn left on the light green trail, and descend to a meadow.  Return to the rail trail and turn right back to the car.

Parking is at 41.410086, -76.574828. The hike is about five miles long.

Hike to Somer Brook Falls-SGL 57

Somer Brook Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls in the Endless Mountains, at roughly 80 feet in height as it tumbles down a rugged gorge.  It is also misnamed.  The falls is on an unnamed branch of Somer Brook, not Somer Brook itself.  Regardless, it is a beautiful place to visit and quite impressive when the water is high.  

The hike is short and begins from a parking area in SGL 57.  However, the road to the parking area is only open during hunting season.  While the road up the mountain to the parking area is in good shape, a vehicle with some clearance is recommended.

To hike to the falls, hike north on the road, around the gate, and into a scenic spruce forest.  Turn left at the next intersection and cross a creek, the falls is on this creek further downstream.  Continue on the road to the stone cabin, a landmark in the game lands.  Now, go off trail, heading east.  The forest isn’t too thick and you will soon reach a beautiful hemlock and spruce forest along the creek.  Cross the creek and head downstream.  Small falls and cascades soon appear before the creek plummets down the steep gorge.  Descend as best you can.  At the bottom, scramble to the base of the falls.  The terrain is rugged. The falls are beautiful, and feature towering ice flows in winter.  

I suggest you continue downstream, to 12 foot Mashed Potato Falls (so named for its appearance when frozen) and the confluence with Somer Brook.  This is a stunning gorge with slides, pools, cascades, and giant boulders.  It is well worth your time to explore.  Be very careful here in high water as this gorge becomes a fearsome whitewater torrent.

For adventurous hikers, an unnamed tributary to the north features a gorge, cascades, slides, and Atkinson Falls.  Between Somer Brook Falls and Atkinson Falls, Somer Brook features many rapids and boulders.  It is a truly scenic mountain stream.

Parking is at 41.418147, -76.163684. Somer Brook Falls is located at about 41.430347, -76.168810.  The hike to the falls is a little over 1 mile, one way.

Black is a gated gravel game commission road, red is off trail.
Atkinson Falls (old photo)

Lamoka Mountain Vistas and Waterfalls-SGL 36

This is an excellent hike that should be high on your list.  It involves very little off trail hiking, mostly following old grades, blazed trails, or gated game commission gravel roads.  The scenic highlights are many: waterfalls, vistas, old mines, gorge, and beautiful forests.  Hikers can also access isolated Cash Pond.  This hike is located in SGL 36 on a prong of the plateau known as Lamoka Mountain.

I feel the best access is from Bull Run Road since it is easier to reach.  The road is open and there are parking areas along it.  I parked at the lowest parking area, but it is possible to drive to the gate further up the mountain and park there.  The road is in good shape, but steep and narrow in places.  Do not attempt if there is snow, ice, or muddy conditions.

Simply hike up the road to the top of the plateau.  Turn left at an intersection and notice a red blazed trail from the left, this will be your return route.  Continue on the road, passing a beaver pond that flooded the forest.  After about .3 mile from the intersection, the road bends right at a small meadow located at 41.676176, -76.560805 .  An obvious ATV trail is to the left, take it.  This ATV trail is not blazed, but it is obvious as it explores laurel woodlands and old mining areas that have grown over.  There is one small mine opening.  After .4 mile on this ATV trail, reach an intersection, turn left.

This old grade/ATV trail is fairly easy to follow, but is not blazed.  Enjoy hemlock and laurel forests with small streams and springs.  As you hike, it may be a little grown over, but the route can be followed.  Near the edge of the plateau and drop down to an obvious red blazed trail.  If you want to see the waterfalls on Cash Pond outlet, turn right on the red trail.
The red trail explores scenic forests of pine, hemlock and laurel as it wraps around the top of the gorge.  If there is good flow, you can hear the water cascading far below.  Cross Cash Pond outlet, there is a glen and cascades just downstream.  Continue on the red trail.  Here is the off trail section, to see the falls, leave the red trail and drop down to the left towards the outlet.  Pick up an obvious grade and follow it down the gorge with its boulders and many cascades.  You will see the top of two falls from the grade, you will have to scramble down to see them.  One falls has three drops and is about 15 feet tall, the other is 30-40 feet tall.  Below here, the gorge and grade has a lot of fallen trees from what looks like a windstorm.  It is best to retrace your steps back to the red trail.

Now follow the red trail the opposite way you came, enjoying the scenic forests.  The trail meanders, but makes its way to the edge of the plateau.  Hike off trail a short distance to the ledges to enjoy the superb views.  The valley is broad and untouched as Schrader Creek’s rapids can be heard from a thousand feet below.  You will want to spend some time here.  The views are located at about 41.668260, -76.552391.

Continue on the red trail as it meanders along the perimeter of the plateau through thick laurel.  With so much laurel, this is one hike you’ll want to do when it blooms in June.  The woodland hike is very scenic, with some nice off-leaves views in winter.  The red trail makes its way back to the gated game commission road.  Turn right and retrace your steps back to the car.  Another beautiful place to explore in the Endless Mountains.    

I parked at 41.678632, -76.542308.  While here, you might as well check out Bull Run Falls, which is very close by.

For the map above: black is game commission gravel roads; yellow are unblazed ATV trails or old grades; purple is off trail; red is a red blazed trail.

View this post on Instagram

Beaver pond reflections, SGL 36.

A post shared by Jeff Mitchell-Outdoors Author (@hiking_mitch) on

Hike to Mythical Falls and Black Bear Falls-SGL 57

Mythical Falls is located in the wilderness of the upper Mehoopany Creek.  It is a beautiful and isolated place, set apart, that features gorges, waterfalls, giant rocks, and spruce.  As the name suggests, there is something special about it.  

And the name is rather odd.  “Mythical” wasn’t intended to be the known name of the falls, and it was named prior to being seen.  About thirteen years ago, my friend Jay, who kayaks whitewater, heard from an older boater about a thirty foot falls on the Mehoopany Creek.  He wanted to find it.  He went once by himself, but didn’t find it.  I joined him on the second excursion as we hiked downstream from South Brook.  Again, no luck, although we did find a gorge with a long ledge rapid and a deep pool.  He then asked me to join him on his third trip.  I told him the falls doesn’t exist and that it was mythical.  He insisted it existed and that the older boater would know what he was talking about.

So back to the Mehoopany Creek we went, heading upstream.  I told Jay we were just wasting time.  The valley seemed too open to have any falls.  It surely seemed like it was mythical.  It was summer, and it was hot.  We hiked up the creek, traversing cobblestones.  We saw some promise at a long ledge slide with a cascade and pool.  We then came upon a beautiful grotto with a deep amber pool and a seven foot falls.  Above the falls we saw a black bear.  Hence, the creative name of Black Bear Falls.  We continued on, I expected there to be nothing else.  Jay insisted, and quite frankly, I was surprised he was willing to hike this much so I decided not to put up too much of a fight as we continued upstream.

We rounded a bend and Jay got the last laugh.  There it was, Mythical Falls.   It was an awesome sight with the red bedrock, cascading water, warm sunshine and blue skies.  While the falls weren’t thirty feet, they were close enough.  Jay found his falls, and I, among many others, have been visiting it for years.  We used the names when talking about the locations to each other, and over time, the names have stuck.     

This time, I led a group of four hikers to see the falls.  Ryan met us along the way.  While some hikers come in from Splashdam Pond because it is shorter, I cannot recommend that way.  First, you must cross private property and there are wet areas and thick blueberry bushes to contend with.  

We hiked down the gated game commission road, and then dropped off trail to cross Bellas Brook, near where it meets the Mehoopany.  Bellas seemed wider than I remembered as it tumbled between boulders and one hiker fell in the water.  She was ok and continued hiking.  We continued off trail, generally heading upstream, and then Ryan found a faint path on an old grade above the creek which made the hiking easier.  We dropped down to see Black Bear Falls and its deep pools and grotto.  Everyone loved it.  We continued upstream.  The trail faded out and we descended a steep bank as Mythical Falls came into view through the trees.  Everyone was impressed by the sight.  We relaxed at the falls, taking pictures.   There was a small fire for the wet hiker.  It was awesome to be in wilderness, surrounded by the sound of falling water.  

We scrambled above the falls to see a wide four foot cascade and then we climbed to the plateau rim to explore the caves, chasms, overhangs, and boulder cities.  The scenery was rugged, and beautiful.  Next we saw Rockfall Cave and more overhangs.  We continued south to a stream I call Cascade Brook and descended along it as there were numerous 3-5 foot cascades and small waterfalls.  We reached Bellas Brook at a beautiful bend in the creek with spruce and hemlock.  We scrambled back up to the road and retraced our steps.

This was a beautiful hike that everyone enjoyed.  I’m glad that Mythical Falls does in fact exist.  It helps make SGL 57 the special place that it is.  This hike is 4-4.5 miles, one way.

Parking is at  41.387770, -76.276990.  Mythical Falls is at 41.418699, -76.253640.  Black Bear Falls is at 41.419604, -76.250781.  

For the map above: red is off trail; black is the gated game commission road; yellow is a faint trail on an old grade.

View this post on Instagram

Exploring Rockfall Cave, SGL 57.

A post shared by Jeff Mitchell-Outdoors Author (@hiking_mitch) on

Exploring the East Balds of Bartlett Mountain-SGL 57

The unique Bartlett Mountain Balds have become a destination for experienced hikers.  However, to the east are another series of balds, creatively called the East Balds.  The East Balds are not as large as the Bartlett Mountain Balds, but they have more exposed bedrock and spruce.  As is typical for SGL 57, there are also caves, chasms, and boulder jumbles along the cliff rim.  One of the unique features of the East Balds is the Slanted Cave.  
I had hiked some of the East Balds years ago, but I couldn’t remember much about that hike.  On this hike, I wasn’t expecting much.  It turns out I was blown away by the beauty; I love hike like that.  The East Balds easily rival the Bartlett Mountain Balds for beauty.  There is so much amazing scenery in SGL 57.

Park at White Brook, veer right into the woods, hike west to a mowed area along some cabins (this is still gamelands), hike straight up through pines with a steep climb.  Leave the pines, level off and veer left onto an old grade going up the mountain.  Veer right off the grade, taking a ridge down and across White Brook, and follow the grades as indicated on the map above.  At the top of the plateau, you will want to go off trail, heading north along rock outcrops, spruce groves, and fern meadows.  Reach the first part of the East Balds at 41.511090, -76.158543 with spruce.  Head north, through spruce, and then cross a fern meadow.  Here, notice the Orange Dot Trail, which appears to be a hunter’s trail marked with small reflective orange dots. It still appears to be used.  Continue north where the East Balds (41.513460, -76.157653) resume in impressive fashion with large areas of exposed bedrock, spruce, chasms, moss, and lichens with psychedelic colors.  

Take time to explore these balds as the beauty is impressive, as is the isolation.  Along the eastern edge are rock outcrops, caves, overhangs and chasms that are worth exploring.  Continue to 41.515151, -76.159097 to where there is a wetland with cottongrass blooms in early Fall.  Continue northwest along the balds to the Slanted Cave, located at about 41.516065, -76.159977 where there are impressive chasms, rock blocks, and a narrow slanted cave that ends in a dead end chasm.  

Continue northwest, but the balds decrease in size and the spruce begins to take over.  Turn around at about 41.516354, -76.160868 and retrace your steps back down the mountain.  Or you can continue your hike to the Bartlett Mountain Balds via the Orange Dot Trail.  Do a double header-why not?

Hikers who visit Bartlett Mountain are stunned by its beauty and isolation.  Some have compared it to the Adirondacks or New England.  It is a remarkably special place and I hope someday it will be protected for future generations.  You know there’s something there when hikers from Maryland and Ohio start showing up.  The East Balds, along with the Bartlett Mountain Balds, illustrate the stunning scenery that few would expect to find in Pennsylvania.  As always, treat this special place with respect and pick up any litter you may find.

Park at 41.496515, -76.132045.

For the map above, red is off trail.  Yellow are old grades that may be washed out at stream crossings.  For the red crossing of White Brook, use the ridge at 41.497574, -76.140553 to descend.  White Brook has a lot of steep slopes and flood washouts creating landslides.  There are no signs and no trails have blazes.  This hike is best for experienced hikers.  A GPS or navigation aid is recommended. This hike is about 4 miles, one way.

Red Brook and Stony Brook Wilderness Loop-SGL 57

This is a challenging and beautiful loop that explores the wilderness of SGL 57.  Only experienced hikers should attempt it, and a navigation device is strongly recommended.  This hike uses a series of old logging roads and grades, and off trail hiking.  No trails are blazed or have signs.  The old grades are in variable condition, from being easy to follow, to overgrown.  The grades are often washed out when crossing streams.  This hike also requires several stream crossings without bridges.  We did this loop over two hikes.

Why hike this?  The diversity is amazing.  You will see waterfalls, cascades, gorges, amazing spruce and hemlock forests, impressive rock outcrops and features, wetlands and streams.  The rocks here are very scenic, with caves, chasms, mazes, and giant boulders.

The parking has space for about four cars.  Walk up the road, away from Stony Brook, and turn right onto an old forest road and hike above Stony Brook.  Reach a hemlock grove and a massive boulder below on the right, here, jog up to a narrow grade on the left.  This grade is narrow and clings to the side of the slope, but can be hiked.  This grade joins a large one, continue straight.  Enter a hardwood forest with some large trees.  The grade is wet and washed out in places.  Look for the place where the grade continues straight, and begins to go downhill, and where another joins from the left.  Turn left.  Then turn right onto another grade, which will take you above Red Brook.

Red Brook is a highlight of the hike with its rugged gorge, boulders, waterfalls, spruce and cascades.  The first falls (Lower Red Brook Falls) is below the grade, so you will have to descend to see it.  It is about 25 feet tall over two drops and is very scenic with deep pools in the bedrock.  Continue up the grade into the gorge, which disappears as it crosses Red Brook.  Cross the brook and go upstream, off trail, passing a small runoff stream to the right (this will be the next leg of the hike).  Continue up Red Brook a short distance to the second falls (Upper Red Brook Falls), which is a long slide in a remarkable grotto of cliffs and large hemlocks. 

Retrace your steps to the runoff creek and hike up it, off trail.  Just follow the small stream.  Enter a beautiful forest of hemlock and spruce.  The trail levels off and you will be greeted with ledges.  Turn right/east along the ledges and explore the outcrops, chasms, and mazes in the beautiful forests.  Many are covered in moss and lichens.  It is worth exploring the top, and bottom, of the rocks.  Reach the impressive Boulder Caves, which are mansion sized boulders, angled and ajar, creating caves, chasms, and passageways.  Nearby, on the plateau, are some amazing moss covered chasms about 12 feet deep.  Continue along the edge of the plateau to enjoy the rocks, which recede in size.  Pass a unique, seven foot tall boulder standing on its end.  Enter a stunning spruce forest which is quite thick.  Reach more rocks and chasms, and a five foot falls.  There is another chasm in the spruce.  From there, we began to descend to Stony Brook.

Cross Stony Brook and hike upstream along an old grade.  We left the grade, heading north, crossing a meadow, and rejoining Stony Brook to some wetlands surrounded by hemlock and spruce.  The isolation was incredible.  We headed northeast to some rock outcrops and a cove with a unique rock maze, and then we followed the perimeter of the rocks, crossed some fern meadows, and reached another old road/grade that we take to Catlin Brook and Meadows.  We turned right onto this grade as it explored the top of the plateau with fern meadows, and a climb above ledges to where the spruce returned.  At the next intersection we turned right and then descended with a couple of stream crossings.  At the next intersection, we turned right, with a six foot falls nearby.  We walked down a glen of fractured rock and continued down Stony Fork.  This grade is washed out along Stony Brook, we picked our away along the creek.  We then passed an old gate and followed the old road to another washed out stream crossing, but a path guided the way.  We then followed the road back down to Mehoopany Creek and the cars.

We parked at about 41.466900, -76.161440. The loop is about 12 miles long.

For the map above: Red is off trail. Yellow are old grades/forest roads. Black dots are rock features, such as ledges, caves, chasms, or boulders.

View this post on Instagram

Exploring mossy chasms. SGL 57.

A post shared by Jeff Mitchell-Outdoors Author (@hiking_mitch) on

View this post on Instagram

Deep in the Boulder Caves, SGL 57.

A post shared by Jeff Mitchell-Outdoors Author (@hiking_mitch) on

View this post on Instagram

More crazy rocks, SGL 57.

A post shared by Jeff Mitchell-Outdoors Author (@hiking_mitch) on

View this post on Instagram

Within a temple of spruce. SGL 57.

A post shared by Jeff Mitchell-Outdoors Author (@hiking_mitch) on

View this post on Instagram

Boulder Caves, SGL 57.

A post shared by Jeff Mitchell-Outdoors Author (@hiking_mitch) on

View this post on Instagram

Deep in the wilds of SGL 57.

A post shared by Jeff Mitchell-Outdoors Author (@hiking_mitch) on

View this post on Instagram

Exploring a new rock maze. SGL 57.

A post shared by Jeff Mitchell-Outdoors Author (@hiking_mitch) on