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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.