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 to Meyers Mountain Vista-SGL 307

This hike leads to a beautiful view on Meyers Mountain in SGL 307.  This view is from a cliff, and you can see for fifty miles.  It is ideal for sunsets.  Most of this hike follows a trail of some kind, but the last short section is off trail.  However, navigating the off trail section is easy since all you need to do is follow the private property line while staying on the gamelands.

From the parking area, simply hike up the game commission road up along the powerline and past the second gate.  Continue on the road as it enters the woods and begins to level off with a gradual incline.  Here, the woods are scenic.  The old road descends slightly and enters a large meadow, take the ATV trail to the left and climb steeply.  The trail bends left with a final short climb and reach a four way intersection, so straight.  The trail follows along the private property line, but then goes into private property.  Here, go off trail and follow the private property line, staying on the game lands.  Do not trespass. There are some ledges you will need to hike around, but the woods are fairly open and hiking is easy.  

You will soon reach the cliff and its fine views; the views are nearly 180 degrees and you can see the highlands of SGL 57 and 36, about fifty miles away.  You can also see into the Lackawanna Valley. After enjoying the views, retrace your steps.

Parking is at 41.525293, -75.567438.  The hike is about 2.5 miles, one way. For the map, black is the route with a road or trail of some kind, red is off trail, yellow are other trails.

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 Rusty Falls-Loyalsock State Forest and Eagles Mere Conservancy

I’ve hiked to Rusty Falls in the Loyalsock State Forest a few times, always along the red blazed bridle trails from Shanerburg Road (see Hike No. 40 in Hiking the Endless Mountains).  On this hike we did something different, we hiked to it from the Eagles Mere Conservancy via the Falls Path.  This was an enjoyable hike.  This route also makes the falls accessible in winter when Shanerburg Road may be impassable. 

We parked near the Outlet Pond and followed the old rail bed past the Conservancy Cabin.  We then turned right onto the Rainbow Path, blazed with rainbow placards.  The trail took us across a gravel road and into some hemlocks.  Next was a left turn onto the Falls Path, blazed blue.  This trail crossed small streams under a hardwood forest.  We crossed the Rainbow Path and soon entered a beautiful hemlock forest with some large trees, a highlight of the hike.  We reached a private property line where the trail turned right, under more scenic hemlocks.

We then entered the state forest with hardwoods.  The path reached a forest road, and turned right onto it, descending to the red blazed bridle trail.   We turned left, or straight, onto the red trail/forest road which took us down to Rusty Run.  Cross Rusty Run as best you can, there is no bridge and its not a very big creek.  The forest road turned left and then right.  At the right turn we followed an unblazed trail to the left, which was obscured by a fallen tree.  The trail took us to Rusty Falls.

The falls are not very big, the bottom drop is 10-12 feet tall, and there is also a 4 foot drop upstream.  But it is a very scenic and serene setting.  If you’re feeling adventurous, go off trail and head upstream.  Enter a narrow hemlock gorge with cascades and pools.  You will soon see Upper Rusty Falls, an 8 or 9 foot falls with a deep pool and a grotto with hemlocks.  I think it is the most scenic of the falls.  

Return the way you came.  Overall, this hike is fairly easy with some hills and gradual declines and climbs.  There are wet spots.  It is about 2.5 miles, one way.

Parking is at 41.410100, -76.574777.

Information about the Eagles Mere Conservancy.

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Upper Rusty Falls.

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Coyote Rocks and Bowmans Creek Loop-SGL 57 and Ricketts Glen State Park

This is an excellent dayhike in SGL 57 and Ricketts Glen State Park.  The trails are unblazed, but are pretty easy to follow.  Cairns mark some intersections.  You will see tumbling mountain streams, giant rocks, hemlock forests, a great view, peaceful woodlands, fern meadows, and a superb streamside hike along Bowmans Creek.  You will also see some ruins from the ice industry era.  The terrain is moderate with gradual inclines and declines.  There are some stream crossings without bridges and it will be difficult to navigate this hike in snow or heavy leaf cover.  This loop is part of an extensive system of unofficial trails in the isolated Bowmans Creek valley.

Start at the parking area along Wolf Run.  The road here is in decent shape and can be driven by a car, but a vehicle with some clearance is a good idea.  Avoid if there is snow or muddy conditions.  Look across the road from the parking area, notice a trail going into the woods.  Follow it.  The trail crosses Wolf Run and then proceeds upstream along Bowmans Creek.  The scenery is excellent along this pristine creek with laurel, rhododendron, pine and hemlocks.  The creek babbles over rocks and into pools.  This is an excellent streamside hike.  Keep in mind the trail is close to the creek in places, so do not hike it in high water.

Reach a large mound, an old railroad grade, and continue upstream in a hemlock forest.  Look for some metal beams crossing the creek; here, the trail turns right away from the creek and goes along a meadow with some stone ruins and foundations.  Reach a T intersection with an old grade, turn left, and then right onto another old grade and go up hill.  Reach a second parking area.  Turn right onto the road and walk to Bean Run.  The trail begins on the left before Bean Run, but notice a massive stone retaining wall for the railroad grade along Bean Run.  

The trail follows an old grade up Bean Run and it keeps its distance from the creek.   The trail turns right, it is easy to miss as a trail also continues straight.  If you cross a creek, you went too far.  Descend to Bean Run and cross it as best you can.  The trail continues up the grade with giant boulders along the trail.  Spruce trees also become more common, making for a scenic hike.  Climb away from the creek to the plateau with open hardwoods and ground pine.  A red blazed side trail joins from the left.  Descend along beautiful fern meadows.  Reach the top of Wolf Run and look for a trail to the left, the side hike to Coyote Rocks.  

Cross Wolf Run and cross the plateau with open woodlands and more ground pine.  Curve south and into a small valley.  Reach the edge of the plateau and Coyote Rocks.  Enjoy the expansive views over the Bowmans Creek valley.  This is a great view for sunsets.  Return to Wolf Run.  Descend along Wolf Run on an old grade for more pleasant hiking.  At the bottom, reach a meadow with some briars.  Reach the road, turn left to the parking area and your car.  

This hike is about 6-7 miles long.  Parking area from where description begins: 41.353013, -76.194238. Second parking area: 41.348599, -76.209527.

For the map above, yellow is this route. Orange are other trails or grades. All trails are unblazed but are pretty easy to follow. Watch for intersections; cairns mark some of them.

Another hike to Coyote Rocks.

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Coyote Rocks, SGL 57.

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Coyote Rocks panorama. SGL 57.

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Hiking along Bowmans Creek.

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Vistas of the Fish Dam Run Gorge-Russell P. Letterman Wild Area (Sproul State Forest)

“It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space.”  -Edward Abbey.

Abbey was a famous author, and a native Pennsylvanian, who spent most of his life in the southwest.  He was an ardent defender of the wilderness who was deeply critical of commercialism, political power, industrialism and development.  Or, at least, when those things are left unchecked.  

This hike reminded me of this quote-it is more important to enjoy the land, to experience it, to create a relationship with it.  By doing so, we are more likely to protect it, to see its value beyond dollar signs.  And to a large degree, that is why I am sharing it with you. It is not enough that I enjoy this place alone. You need to as well.

These views look over the rugged Russell Letterman Wild Area, a place not completely unlike the southwest that Abbey loved.  Both have plateaus and deep canyons.  While the southwest has bare red rock and towering cliffs, this wild area features pristine streams, meadows, and deep forests.  I’m sure Abbey would have loved this wild area, he’d only want it about a thousand times larger.  

This hike unveils the wild and rugged scenery of the gorges carved by Fish Dam Run.  These gorges reach a depth of over 1,200 feet.  The views are truly impressive and reveal the beauty of a state that even Abbey may have overlooked. 

Park at the intersection of Fish Dam and Jews Run Roads; there is space to pull off.  Jews Run Road is in good shape and can be driven by a car.  The hike begins by heading down Fish Dam Road.  You may be tempted to drive it, but don’t.  It becomes increasingly more rugged with little to no parking.  Walk the road instead.  Cross a pipeline.  After a half mile from Jews Run Road, Fish Dam Road goes straight.  However, turn right onto another road.  Follow for a quarter mile.  Reach a Y intersection.  The road on the right has a gate.  Turn left.  Follow this jeep road for about a mile and reach a small clearing where the road ends.  You will then see two obvious, but unmarked footpaths.  Take the one to the right.  This trail is easy to follow but a bit brushy.  It meanders through the woods.  Keep an eye for cut logs along the trail.

Notice a footpath to the right, but it fades out.  Continue straight, or left, as it meanders into a pine forest and up a small hill.  At the top, look for a side trail that drops to the left.  Take it.  It meanders down to a stunning 180 degree view where you can see for 30-40 miles.  The view over the gorge is incredible.  What I love most about this view is that you can see the entire length of a ridge as it drops down into the gorge.  Retrace your steps up the hill back to the “main” trail.

The next view is to the south, but the trail to it is a little harder to follow.  Look for cut logs and you’ll be on the trail.  It drops down to the second view which is also beautiful.  I could hear the creek roaring below.  The gorge is fairly narrow and I could see the white trunks of birch trees growing on the other side of the gorge. Down in the bottom of the gorge is the Chuck Keiper Trail, a fifty mile backpacking loop trail.  This view is surrounded by pine trees, making it very aromatic in the warm sun.  I enjoyed watching the shadows of clouds move across the canyons.

Take all the time you need to enjoy these stunning views, and this spectacular place.  I’m sure Edward Abbey would approve.

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This hike is about 2 miles, one way.

Pull off parking is at 41.227811, -77.851355.    The first view is at 41.241859, -77.838346.  The second view is at 41.240437, -77.838722.  

For the map below, brown are jeep roads. Yellow are unblazed footpaths. Red is a footpath, but it fades out as you head east.

Hiking the Florence Shelly Wetlands Preserve

The Florence Shelly Preserve is owned by the Nature Conservancy and features wetlands and glacial bogs, meadows, diverse forests, streams, stone ruins, and rock outcrops.  It is home to almost 400 species of vascular plants, not to mention diverse wildlife and birds.

There is also a system of interconnecting trails, totaling about 4-5 miles in length.  Being a wetland environment, you can expect the trails to be wet and muddy in areas.

The preserve is a nice place to hike, and the trails have improved greatly in recent years.  It could be more of a hiking destination if there was a simpler trail layout  that featured the scenic areas of the preserve along larger loops.

First we hiked the Observation Tower Trail.  Take the mowed, grassy route along the road as it is easier to follow.  This trail is not very well established, but can be followed.  It leads to an observation deck with fine views over the wetland, making it the perfect place to watch birds and wildlife.  There are also some beautiful pine forests.  Parking is at 41.892091, -75.521886.

We then drove to begin the hike on the Nature Loop Trail, which featured some pine forests and made it down to the Shelly Blue Trail, which we hiked counterclockwise.  We crossed a wet meadow with a small stream and began the loop as it climbed the hill passing some ledges and outcrops. Here, the trail was not well established.  We then descended to some larger rocks to the right; if you explore these rocks, there are some mazes and a boulder city.  Very beautiful.

Nearby was the best view of Weirs Pond and swamp, and a good place to watch for birds.  The blue trail featured more outcrops and hemlocks, making for a nice hike.  We continued on the Nature Loop Trail with pine and spruce forests, meadows, and a beautiful streamside hike with a massive pine tree.  The trail turned left onto an old road and we began to climb, reaching a meadow and some old stone ruins and foundations.  

We then turned right onto the purple Plew’s Swamp Trail.  This trail you can miss as it climbs up and down a hill to reach the swamp, but there are no views of it.  There is a spruce forest and a unique stone wall built on top of some ledges that you can see along the way.  We then continued on the Nature Loop Trail back to the car.

Parking is at 41.881135, -75.518563.

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Spruce forest sunlight.

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