Sandy Bottom Vista-SGL 134

30533039587_5fd490738a_z.jpg

Sand Bottom Vista in SGL 134.  Looking into the Loyalsock State Forest.

Pennsylvania has many vistas from isolated cliffs and meadows.  However, for some reason, trails rarely seem to go to them.  One such vista is in SGL 134 as it looks over Sandy Bottom in the Loyalsock State Forest.  We call it the Sandy Bottom Vista.

20180929_161408

I drove up the game commission road from Hoppestown Road and parked at the lot.  Ben was there and we continued down the gated road to the left and entered the woods.  This is an off trail hike.  The hemlocks forests were beautiful and made the hike fairly easy.  We continued along the contour of the plateau above an unnamed stream, heading south.  We descended to some large ledges and soon reached the view.

20180929_162653

The view was truly breathtaking, rising 700 feet above the Loyalsock Creek.  The vista is at the top of a towering cliff and offers a near 180 degree view.  We could see the bend of the creek below and the tiers of ridges and plateaus.  Hawks soared below us.

20180929_164353

Nearby is a unique pedestal rock with its own superb view.  You do have to jump a couple feet to get to the rock.  If you are afraid of heights, do not go onto it.

20180929_164235

The setting behind the view was beautiful with cliffs and ledges.  Hemlocks grew over carpets of moss.  It felt like an island in the sky.  There was one more view along the escarpment of cliffs.

20180929_164358

From the view we descended to the unnamed creek to the east.  I would not recommend doing this as it is steep.  The creek is beautiful with an assortment of cascades and an old grade on the west side does provide access.  The east branch of this creek does feature many large cascades and a 15 foot falls.  There are also some large trees.  The east branch has the old grade, unique old stone retaining walls, and a spring cascade that pours out the ground.  If you want to explore the creek, I suggest taking the grade down from the top.  Keep in mind the grade fades out before meeting the road to Huckle Run.

20180929_163356

The hike to the vista is about .75 miles, one way.  It is off trail.  The best approach is to the follow the rim of the plateau above the unnamed creek to the east, descend gradually, and curve right below some ledges to the vistas.

Park at 41.420963, -76.751659.  Vista is at 41.409875, -76.749178.

More photos.

IMG_0096.PNG

Red is the off trail route to the vista.  Green is the old grade above the unnamed creek.

Advertisements

Hiking the Wonders of Huckle Run and Camp Mountain-SGL 134

44799452472_0b54b96f7e_z.jpg

Gahonga Falls on Huckle Run, SGL 134

Pennsylvania is unique for all its hidden gems, places that few know exist. One such place is Huckle Run in SGL 134, near Hillsgrove. Huckle Run carves a gorge of incredible beauty through the plateau, creating six waterfalls, grottos, pools, and old growth trees. There are countless cascades and the water is incredibly clear. Huckle Run is like a smaller version of the popular Rock Run near Ralston in the way it has sculpted the bedrock.

IMG_20180901_221004_861

Please note that while most of this hike is on SGL 134, three falls are on private land, which was not posted on our hike.  One falls is along the border with the game lands. I believe this was land that once belonged to Camp Lycogis, a girls scout camp that is now closed. If the land becomes posted, please do not trespass. There is also an old grey blazed trail system. The blazes are faded, the trails are largely overgrown, but they can be followed with some effort. The GPS indicated this hike was 13 miles, which seemed too long, but it is a rather circuitous route.

IMG_20180905_170803_408

We began at the parking area and took the gated road to the left, which curved left passing meadows and hemlock forests. A small creek soon joined this gated forest road and descended into the gorge. Where the gated road veered left, or north, we turn right into the woods at a cairn and descended. This part of the hike was off trail. It was easy to traverse the forest due to the hemlocks.

IMG_20180901_221733_301

We soon came Huckle Run and a five foot falls. Upstream was a ten foot falls and an impressive gorge with cliffs. The beauty was outstanding. We then climbed the north rim of the glen, where there was a grey blazed trail. We looked down into the stunning gorge. A 15-20 foot falls came into view, the tallest on the creek. It tumbled into an inaccessible gorge. Oddly, we entered this gorge by descending the falls itself as the bedrock offered good traction. We explored this gorge with its pools and cliffs.

IMG_20180902_152327_261

We climbed back up the falls and continued upstream to a unique falls set in a narrow chasm with a deep, translucent pool. We then followed the grey trail south through scenic forests. We reached a four-way intersection that was a little confusing, but we soon found a trail heading south that followed along the top of ledges. We descended to the Loyalsock Creek at a bedrock ledge and a deep pool. The trail then climbed to the Lower Vista, which offers a good view from a cliff across the valley. While nice, it is not a must-see on this hike.

IMG_20180905_203213_607

The trail then stayed level across the contour of the mountain, featuring more hemlock. We reached a Y intersection and followed left as the climb steepened through some brushy areas. It leveled and reached an intersection; be sure to turn left to see the High Vista, which is a must see on this hike. This trail was more overgrown as it ascended through scenic forests and veered right along the rim of the plateau, passing the top of a possible seasonal falls in high water. The trail dropped to the edge of the plateau at a dramatic cliff and a superb view of the narrow, rugged Loyalsock Creek Valley. Smiths Knob looms in the distance. The view is about 700 vertical feet above the creek. This is a real cliff, so be careful at the edge. A fall would be fatal.

IMG_20180903_143223_714

We retraced out steps and continued on the hike as it dropped down the Huckle Run with more hemlocks. The trail turned right above the run, following an old grade down to the last falls we saw. Another trail, following an old grade, turned sharply upstream. However, we just hiked up the creek, passing stunning bedrock pools and slides over layered sandstone. We reached a twelve foot falls and continued hiking along the creek, even though the grey trail was just above us.

IMG_20180903_090121_960

We entered an incredible gorge with ledges and giant boulders clothed in moss and ferns as the creek tumbled over beautiful tiers of bedrock. I found this spot to be uniquely beautiful.

IMG_20180903_111022_642

Fallen trees in the creek slowed our hike. There was some flood damage with small landslides and washouts. We turned a corner and reached the final falls, which I call Gahonga Falls. This is the most beautiful falls on Huckle Run at its is so graceful and has carved into the bedrock with oblong pools and mossy ledges. We saw trout at this falls, which is named after invisible nature spirits in Iroquoian mythology that lived in caves along streams and would test their strength against each other. A fitting name since there is a small cave at the top of this falls.

IMG_20180903_095754_975

Our hike continued up the creek. We noticed a grade ascending to our right/north. We took it and returned us to the original gated road we hiked in along. This juncture makes this hike easier, and is marked by a cairn. A washout is also nearby. From there, we retraced our steps.

IMG_20180903_115535_540

Huckle Run is a place of stunning beauty. Please treat it with respect. Even if the private land becomes posted, this is still an excellent hike with three falls you can see (including Gahonga Falls), hemlock forests, gorges, big trees, ledges, and the High Vista all located on the game lands.

IMG_20180903_123432_392

Keep exploring the beauty of Pennsylvania.

The parking area is at 41.420913, -76.751686.

More photos.

IMG_20180904_122531_525

IMG_0092A.PNG

Thanks to Ben Van Riper for his help with this map.  Routes and trails on private land not shown.

 

Hike to Jacoby Falls-Loyalsock State Forest

42312514020_1ba8f7b59b_z.jpg

Jacoby Falls, Loyalsock State Forest

Jacoby Falls has become a popular hiking destination in the Loyalsock State Forest.  A linear trail, 1.6 miles long, reaches the falls.  I had been to the falls several times, but decided to explore the creek above the falls to see what might be there.  There looked to be a gorge and possibly some waterfalls.

IMG_20180818_211124_443

I parked at the trailhead and crossed the boardwalk as purple ironweed was in bloom.  The trail is blazed yellow and I made good time through the hemlock forests.  The creek soon joined the trail and it was flowing well.

IMG_20180818_211124_418

But this beautiful hike also had swarms of mosquitoes.  I had not encountered such oppressive bugs for many years.  I tried to hike fast.  I crossed a small side stream and descended to a narrow pipeline swath.  To the left was another side stream that features its own waterfall in high water.

IMG_20180818_202441_356

The trail followed the pipeline swath as it crossed the creek a few times.  It then veered left into the woods and climbed up the rocky glen to Jacoby Falls.  This falls is so beautiful, in a grotto of cliffs with veils of falling springs.  It is possible to hike behind this falls, which is about 30-35 feet tall.  In winter there are incredible ice flows.

IMG_20180818_202748_729

My hike did not end here as I intended to bushwhack upstream.  I scrambled above the falls to the right and followed the creek with smooth bedrock slides and ledges.  I followed the pipeline swath for a little ways, but returned to the creek.  I hiked through scenic hemlock forests and reached a beautiful cascade about ten feet tall.  I continued up the creek, off trail, as the gorge narrowed.  There were no more waterfalls, just some small cascades near the edge of the plateau.  Springs flowed down the steep slopes as a mist hung along the creek.

20180818_122404

I retraced my steps and sped through the forest, trying to evade the mosquitoes.  As luck would have it, the bugs abated as I neared my car.

IMG_20180819_084446_914

While a hike to Jacoby Falls, and the cascades and ledges immediately above it, is very enjoyable, I would not recommend hiking up the gorge in its entirety.

Trailhead is located at  41.376850, -76.920176.

More photos.

IMG_0091.PNGIMG_0090.PNG

Whitewater Kayaking on the Loyalsock Creek- Rock Run Rd. to Worlds End State Park

42251568190_cc0a04514a_z.jpg

At the take out, Worlds End State Park.

My two year hiatus from whitewater kayaking recently came to an end, thanks to this wet summer. Rains brought up the Loyalsock Creek, one of the region’s finest whitewater creeks and I asked my friend Jay if he wanted to go. Jay in turn invited Alan and his brother Jeff. We met at Worlds End State Park, where we would take out. As we got our gear together, the park ranger drove by and asked if we knew what we were doing. The creek was running fast. Jay told the ranger we were fine. We then drove to the put in at Rock Run Road.

IMG_20180812_191735_929

The creek was at 5.1 feet on the gauge, a rather high level. It was the highest I have ever paddled the Loyalsock. The rocks I typically see were covered in a deep, glassy current. The creek soon whisked us downstream as we passed a backpacker on the Loyalsock Trail. The Loyalsock features many rapids, mostly over cobblestone and boulders creating wave trains and some small holes. Peaceful pools separated the rapids, but the current kept us moving. Paddling through the powerful waves was a lot of fun.

The Loyalsock Creek is also known for its beauty, in fact it was once considered to be a national scenic river. The creek is almost completely undeveloped, with no signs of people. It feels like a true wilderness. It flows down a deepening canyon with ledges and side stream waterfalls.

The creek made a turn to the left into a particularly beautiful section. Cliffs towered overhead as we paddled over a deep pool with a beach. Ahead was a narrow gorge and the most difficult rapid of the day, called S Bend Rapid. We paddled to the shore, got out of our boats, and scouted the first part of the rapid which featured a slide into a series of towering waves. We all paddled this part fine and got out of our boats to scout the second part which was a more violent rapid that had a pinning rock on the left. The current blasted into a boulder, creating a huge, surging wave. We decided to portage this part.  The beauty of the gorge at S Bend Rapid always impresses me.

IMG_20180812_191735_932

The creek continued with its non-stop rapids as the trees towered overhead. We had to keep an eye out for holes that could flip us. As we entered Worlds End State Park, we waived to families and kids on the shore. The gradient picked up over smooth ledges and waves under the towering cliff and waterfall at High Rock. We took out in the park, ending our journey on the incredible Loyalsock Creek.

Worlds End and the Loyalsock are among my most favorite places.

The rapids on this section are fairly straightforward, just watch for trees and some small holes.  The creek is generally graded as Class III rapids, although S Bend is Class III+.  For levels above 6 feet, the creek becomes very fast and pushy, and you should be a very experienced kayaker.  At such levels, the creek has Class IV rapids.

The line at S Bend Rapid is center right for the first part and enter an eddy on the right.  The more challenging line is center or center left down a glassy tongue into a series of huge waves.  For the second part, the line is again center right, but left of the large pour-over rock at the bottom.

To portage S Bend, go on river right for the first part, and either river left or right for the second, although river left is easier.

IMG_0055.PNG

Backpacking the Old Loggers Path- July, 2018

43331611091_ffdc52c6b5_z

View from Sullivan Mountain, Old Loggers Path, Loyalsock State Forest

The Old Loggers Path (OLP) is a classic backpacking loop that has grown in popularity over the years. I was surprised to realize that I last backpacked the entire trail in 2012, over six years ago. So I decided it was time to return and experience this trail once again. I was also looking forward to seeing the two new shelters that were built on the trail last year.

20180707_144221

As a change, I decided to hike the trail clockwise, something I had not done before. I also decided to start at the new trailhead off of Krimm Road, instead of Masten, the traditional trailhead.

IMG_20180707_151508_758

I arrived late morning, quickly got my gear together, and began hiking down the trail. It felt good to stretch the legs and hike on an actual trail, instead of bushwhacking, my more common pursuit. The trail followed old logging grades and crossed a small meadow. I hiked past a large campsite along a stream with damage from a flood in 2016. I soon reached Masten and continued on the trail as it made an easy, gradual climb through a forest of beech trees. I crossed a dirt road and entered a scenic hemlock forest where I took a break. The OLP doesn’t have a lot of forest diversity; most of the trail features hardwood forests, so it was nice to sit under the cool hemlocks.

IMG_20180707_145823_681

I encountered patches of stinging nettle along the OLP, but it wasn’t too thick and I was able to pass through, with shorts on, without too much discomfort. I soon reached the side trail to Sprout Point vista and shelter. The shelter was near the vista which provided nice views over the valleys and ridges. It would be a great place to stay for the night, but there is not any water nearby.

20180707_171115

The OLP then descended through scenic, open forests of hardwoods. I crossed another road and traversed a series of stream valleys with rolling terrain. Each stream had a little water, and a campsite. The OLP also passed along a logging cut. A steep climb followed up to the trail’s finest vista, Sharp Top. Up until this point I had only seen two other hikers, but there were about ten backpackers at the vista, enjoying the wide panorama of wooded lowlands and distant mountains. It is an impressive view so I was happy to take a rest for a few minutes.

20180707_171129

The trail followed the edge of the plateau with a series of ledges and then entered brushy areas with plenty of blackberries. I then hiked into a mature forest above a stream with the sound of cascades that filled the air. As I neared the bottom, I passed the yellow blazed S&NY Trail, which is a cross connector trail to the OLP. I soon reached a campsite at Pleasant Stream.

IMG_20180708_192237_108

Pleasant Stream suffered from a lot of flood damage with embedded trees and gravel, sand, and cobblestones everywhere. I crossed the stream easily, passed another campsite, and continued on the trail. This next section was re-routed due to the flood damage; the trail made a steep climb up to the road, followed it for a little ways, and then followed a grade to Long Run. I crossed Long Run and passed more hikers. A climb then ensued up Sullivan Mountain as I tried to move fast to see the sunset. I reached the first series of vistas with beautiful view of the mountains basking in the golden glow of the setting sun. It was breathtaking. I set up my tent at a small site near one of the vistas. I sat at the vista and watched the stars come out. Owls hooted in the distance, coyotes howled through the forest, and fireflies lit up the sky.

IMG_20180708_205229_891

I was up early the next morning and enjoyed watching the rising sun through the misty trees. The trail passed large boulders and followed level grades over springs and small streams. I reached Doe Run and saw the new shelter, which was set close to the creek in a beautiful location. I made note to camp there on a future hike. I reached a view over Rock Run Gorge, where a couple were just getting up and I then hiked down to gorgeous Rock Run, passing above an unnamed falls on Yellow Dog Run. This is such a beautiful stream with its bedrock pools, chasms, and waterfalls. I sat there for a while to eat and enjoy the scenery.  While there I spoke to another backpacker.

20180708_074708

I was surprised by the number of hikers on this trail. I saw almost 40 hikers, but the OLP did not feel particularly crowded.

IMG_20180709_190506_880

I like the northern section of the trail because of the scenery and the hemlock forests. The rapids of Rock Run filled the air as I hiked up the trail, passing several other hikers. I crossed a few more streams and then returned to my car on Krimm Road.

IMG_20180709_190506_877

It was great to be back on the OLP. Hopefully my return will not be in another six years.

IMG_20180709_190506_882

 

More photos.

This trail is described in Hiking the Endless Mountains and Backpacking Pennsylvania.

*************************************************************************

Old Loggers Path

Location: Loyalsock State Forest at Masten.  Located between Shunk and Ralston.

Length: 28 mile loop

Blazes: Orange

Difficulty: Moderate. The trail often follows old grades with gradual changes in elevation, but there are steep areas near Sharp Top and Long Run.

Highlights: Rock Run, a stream of exceptional beauty, Sharp Top, Sprout Point, views from Sullivan Mountain, big rocks near Buck Run, two shelters at Sprout Point and Doe Run.

Vegetation: Mostly hardwoods with some laurel. There is some hemlock along Rock Run. Stinging nettle is an occasional issue in the summer.

Camping: Most streams have a campsite. There are two shelters. If you want to camp at a view, there are small sites at Sprout Point, Sullivan Mountain, and the view over Rock Run.

Water: Generally not an issue. In very dry years the only creeks that will have water are Pleasant Stream and Rock Run.

Concerns: There is no bridge across Pleasant Stream. In high water this is a dangerous crossing.

Go clockwise or counterclockwise? From Masten or Krimm Road, the trail is easier counterclockwise. Going clockwise saves the best scenery towards the end of the hike.

Where to start? Most people start at Masten, but Krimm Road is another ideal starting point, particularly if hiking the trail clockwise.  Krimm Road is located just off of Ellenton Road.

Trail worth hiking? Yes. The OLP is an ideal weekend loop that is usually well graded. There aren’t a lot of rocky areas. The terrain isn’t too easy, or hard and there are beautiful forests and scenic features.

IMG_0043

Legend for the map above:

C: larger campsite, 3 or more tents

c: smaller campsite: 1 or 2 tents

V: vista

S: Shelter or lean-to

F: Waterfall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bar Bottom Hollow Waterfalls-Loyalsock State Forest

41525722312_95ec34796a_z.jpg

Bar Bottom Falls, Loyalsock State Forest

Bar Bottom Hollow is one of the Loyalsock State Forest’s hidden gems, a deep gorge filled with beautiful waterfalls.  The hollow is located just to the east of Jacoby Falls, although the two are not connected by a trail.  I first hiked to the hollow a few years ago and this old post will help you navigate.

IMG_20180417_120513_263

I parked at Dad Dad Chapman Road and simply walked the road to a spruce forest and logged area, where I took an obvious grade to the right for a mile.  This grade descended and right before reaching some pine trees and laurel, I turned right for a quick off trail hike. I soon intercepted an old grade (red on the map below, all trails and grades are unblazed) and crossed the creek.  This red route is the most scenic entrance into the hollow; I did not follow it on my prior trip to the hollow, which is linked to the old post above.

IMG_20180417_160952_191

The red grade followed the creek downstream and soon passed a multi-tiered fifteen foot falls over mossy ledges.  I was able to go behind the falls, under the ledges.

20180416_155028

The grade continued, staying above the gorge.  I could hear a second falls deep in the gorge, but it was out of sight.  It is a 10-12 foot falls in a grotto with many tumbling springs, a beautiful sight.  The grade climbed through some laurel, descended to a sidestream, crossed it, and then descended along the small sidestream into a glen with small cascades.  It soon returned to the creek with more rapids and cascades.

IMG_20180416_223002_410

The glen continued downstream passing large mossy boulders and hemlocks.  It crossed the creek and continued with views of rapids, slides, and hemlocks.  I enjoyed a 12 foot slide falls and just downstream was Bar Bottom Falls, a stunning 20-25 foot falls in a grotto, with a second falls joining from a side stream.  The orange grade on the map joins the red grade near this falls.

IMG_20180416_222438_159

The beauty of this gorge with its waterfalls and mossy ledges is hard to describe.  Bar Bottom Falls is just so beautiful.

20180416_155649

There are more waterfalls downstream and the grade provides easy access.  However, due to rain and fading daylight, I did not venture any further than Bar Bottom Falls.

IMG_20180416_221747_356

Be sure to spend some time exploring Bar Bottom Hollow, it is a place you will not soon forget.

More photos.

IMG_0036

The red grade on the map is the most scenic.  Unfortunately, at its northern end it fades into laurel right before the orange grade, but this laurel is easy to bypass.

Painter Hollow Falls-Loyalsock State Forest

38962636580_433a357d78_z.jpg

Painter Hollow Falls, Loyalsock State Forest

This is a hike to one of the state forest’s least known waterfalls. It is also odd in that the falls is fairly close to a road, but access is blocked by private property, so a 4 mile hike (one way) is required. This entire hike follows forest roads or old grades. None of the trails have signs or blazes, except for some old red faded blazes.

 

IMG_20180310_174054_215

I parking my car along Hoagland Branch Road; ahead it was closed due to severe flood damage. I first walked a little along Hoagland Branch, which was devastated by floods in 2016.  It was still a beautiful stream with its bedrock rapids and deep, clear pools.  I began my hike up the gated Middle Hill Rd. The old road gradually climbed up the mountain, passing small seasonal streams and a few hemlocks. After two miles, I encountered a deer fence at a “Y” in the trail. I turned left and went through a gate in the fence.

IMG_20180310_174241_750

The trail now featured some deep hemlock forests and rock outcrops; I was now hiking within the fence. I reached another “Y”, passed outside the fence, and turned left. The trail descended slightly and soon reached a small open area that was overgrown. Here, I followed an obscure grade to the right, blocked by a fallen tree.

IMG_20180310_204728_930

The grade was easy to follow, although there was some brush and fallen trees. I avoided any grades to the left. The grade crossed a stream and continued downhill, entering the gorge of Painter Hollow. The grade steepened and the creek soon came into view with a red rock gorge and a ten foot falls. The grade crossed the creek with red bedrock cascades and slides. Just below was Painter Hollow Falls.

IMG_20180310_181404_054

I scrambled down to see a beautiful 30 foot falls over red bedrock into a deep pool. Icicles draped the ledges and springs dripped. Downstream was a large boulder and more red bedrock slides. The creek then entered private land and some more falls, which appeared to be lower than Painter Hollow Falls. This creek is small and is likely dry in summer or dry weather.

IMG_20180311_105005_369

I then retraced my steps back to my car.

More photos.

IMG_0027A