The Quehanna Wild Area is an outdoors wonderland just waiting to be discovered. Jodi and Michael invited me along for a backpacking overnight to explore the Mosquito Creek Gorge. Hiking off trail up the gorge had been something I’ve wanted to do, so I was glad to accept. This gorge promised to have extensive rapids and house sized boulders.
I drove out, parked at Reactor Road and hiked in along the Meeker Trail. I reached the campsite at evening, and saw their tent in a grove of hemlocks. A beautiful site. Nearby, along Meeker Run, another group of backpackers were camping. We enjoyed a fire and the incredible display of stars above.
We got up the next morning, leaving our tents, and shouldered our packs for our hike, which would be about ten miles. We began by hiking down the Meeker Trail to Meeker Run, and then took the East Cross Connector south. This is a great trail with beautiful forests, big boulders, and some cascades in Meeker Run. We reached the road, hiked it south to Mosquito Creek, passing more hikers. Once we reached Mosquito Creek, we left the road, and began our off trail hike upstream.
We soon saw the remnants of an old splash dam, used by logging companies a century ago to release water to send the logs downstream. We hiked along meadows with flowers and avoided wet areas and beaver marshes. We soon noticed a distinct rock wall along the creek; it appeared some kind of water diversion dike for the splash dam. As we hiked upstream, the gorge began to close in with massive boulders and rapids. We also saw some deep pools. The terrain was tiring, but very beautiful. In high water, this creek will have a lot of rapids. As we hiked north, the gorge opened up, but the creek was as beautiful. Its streambed studded with sandstone boulders. We saw another rock wall; likely another diversion dike. Fern meadows and large hardwoods covered the slopes above the creek. We entered a grove with giant white pine trees above more rapids and giant boulders. This place felt so primeval.
We soon reached the Bridge Trail and took a break. We followed the Bridge Trail north across vast meadows with bleached white boulders in the distance. As we hiked we saw something odd-white meadows in the distance. We soon saw the reason why-incredible, vast blooms of cottongrass. Cottongrass grows in colder, wet areas and blooms in late summer. The blooms were impressive. We couldn’t believe it. (I mistakenly called it snowgrass in the pictures below).
We continued our hike along meadows with more cottongrass superblooms. We hiked under pine and tamarack, and through beech forests. We returned to our campsite, packed up, and hiked out to the cars.
The Quehanna is a special place and I’m looking forward to my next visit.
We parked at 41.228493, -78.213383. Do not hike along Mosquito Creek in high water as it becomes a powerful and dangerous whitewater river.