Scar Run Waterfalls and Gorge-Loyalsock State Forest

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Located north of the more well-known Ketchum Run Gorge, Scar Run Gorge is one of the Loyalsock State Forest’s hidden jewels.  My goal was actually to see a pine forest north of the gorge, but I ended up hiking Scar Run as well.

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I parked off of Coal Mine Road where it meets the gated Randall Road.  I followed the gated road and its yellow and blue blazes.  At a Y, I followed the road to the left, leaving the blazed trail to the right.  This road went through a series of four deer fences and ended at the edge of the pine forest.  From here, it was off trail hiking.

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The pine forest was quite beautiful, comprised mostly of red pine with some spruce, white pine, and random apple trees.  It had a dark, haunting quality to it, and would be a beautiful place to visit after a snowfall.  A small, marshy pond was embedded in the forest.  The ground was carpeted with thick layers of needles.  The southern part of the pine forest was at a lower elevation and featured thick white pine.  Pine forests of this size are rare in the area; this one covers roughly 80-100 acres.

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I hiked to the edge of the plateau to see meadow areas with thousands of mayapples growing.  I was going to retrace my steps, but then thought, why not return along Scar Run?  So I bushwhacked down to Scar Run, following some old grades.

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Scar Run is a stream of great beauty, featuring many waterfalls, pools, and green moss grottos.  It is described in Hike No. 42 of Hiking the Endless Mountains.  An old grade started on the south side of the creek, but then crossed to the north.  A variety of wildflowers were growing.  The grade is close to many of the falls, offering fine views of the scenic creek.  In some places, the grade is washed out.  I was particularly happy to see trout in Scar Run.  Ledges glistened with springs as large trees towered above ferns.  Moss seemed to cover everything near the creek, creating a ribbon of emerald.

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The old grade crossed the creek with more waterfalls to the left.  I simply followed the grade back to Randall Road and my car along Coal Mine Road.

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Afterwards I drove down Coal Mine Road to the Loyalsock Trail and hiked out to Alpine Vista.  The view was beautiful as shafts of sunlight penetrated the brooding clouds to the fresh leaves of the fluorescent forest below.

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If you love waterfalls, check out Scar Run.

More photos.

Location of Scar Run.

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Hiking Scar Run is fairly easy.  All GPS coordinates from Google Earth.

  1.  Park along Coal Mine Rd.  41°27’50.03″N  76°36’36.04″W
  2. Walk the gated road, bear left at 41°27’53.77″N   76°36’37.19″W
  3. Follow this obvious road, which becomes more brushy through a series of 4 deer fences.
  4. Pine forest is located at 41°28’36.90″N 76°37’22.50″W
  5. Want to just see Scar Run and its waterfalls?  Go to the old grade at 41°27’50.76″N  76°36’39.28″W.  Hike the grade down to Scar Run.
  6. Scar Run has lots of stinging nettle in summer.  Do not attempt in high water.

Hoagland Chasm and Weed Falls-Loyalsock State Forest

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South of Shunk, just within the Loyalsock State Forest, is a place of great beauty that is fairly easy to reach and that few know even exists.  Weed Creek and Hoagland Branch join among waterfalls, chasms, gorges, deep pools, and rapids.  Hemlocks shroud this special place.  I call it the Hoagland Chasm and Weed Falls.

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I parked along the road where Bear Wallow Road meets Dry Run Road.  I then hiked an obvious, gated old grade to the north as it curved through drainages and then began a long, gradual descent to Slaskey Run.  I noticed a faint footpath on the grade.  The forest was beautiful with many large hardwoods and countless spring wildflowers, not to mention many large areas of ramps.  At Slaskey Run there was a private property line so I followed an obvious grade to the right as it continued a gradual descent.

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Below Slaskey Run tumbled over small waterfalls and slides.  The largest falls is about 7 feet tall.  As I neared Weed Creek, another grade was to the left.  I took it.  It followed the top of Weed Creek’s gorge and then descended to the water.  From here, I walked in and along the creeks.

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Weed Creek promptly entered a hemlock shaded gorge with steep slopes and ledges.  The creek danced down slides and rapids with deep pools.  It was very beautiful.  The gorge opened up and I soon found myself on the top of Weed Falls, a scenic, curving 30 foot falls.  I was able to scrambled down the side of the falls and entered a stunning grotto as cliffs rose around me topped with hemlocks.

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I continued down Weed Creek with more rapids and slides.  I then reached a beautiful sliding cascade where Weed Creek joined Hoagland Branch.  The beauty of this spot was amazing with deep translucent pools as cliffs hemmed in Hoagland Branch.  The sounds of the rushing creek echoed against its rocky confines.  I was amazed by this place.

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I turned left and hiked upstream along Hoagland Branch; I was speechless.  I entered a spectacular chasm as red rock rose above me with angled buttresses.  The creek had carved into the bedrock deep pools and slides.  Hemlocks towered overhead.  As I hiked up the chasm, the cliffs grew taller, everything was deeper and darker as if I was entering a different realm.  There were no waterfalls, but several slides and rapids with deep pools.  It rivaled the famous Rock Run.  The floods from last Fall had scoured the sides of the chasm along the angled contours of the red bedrock.  The northern end of the chasm ended at a private property line.

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I retraced my steps back to Weed Creek, mesmerized by the scenery.  I explored more of Hoagland Branch below Weed Creek to see the deep pools glowing in the bright sun.  There were rapids and deep pools.  A cabin was further downstream on the left.  I saw the state forest boundary and turned around, retracing my steps back to the car.

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A place of remarkable beauty hidden in the shadows of gorges and hemlocks, I will be back to Weed Falls and the Hoagland Chasm.

More photos.

Map to Hoagland Chasm and Weed Falls

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Hiking to Hoagland Chasm and Weed Falls is easy.  The grade down to Weed Creek is obvious.  There are no marked trails or signs.

  1.  Park at the juncture of Dry Run Road and Bear Wallow Road.  Park along the road, space is limited.
  2. Follow the obvious, gated grade north of the road as it curves and then gradually descends through a beautiful hardwood forest with many spring wildflowers.
  3. Reach Slaskey Run and a private property line; turn right onto obvious grade.
  4. Small waterfalls along Slaskey Run below the grade.
  5. As you near Weed Creek, look for a faint grade that curves left.  Follow it above Weed Creek Gorge with views of the gorge.
  6. Descend to where Weed Creek and Slaskey Run meet.
  7. The rest of the hike follows the creeks.  You must hike in and along the water.  Do not attempt in high water.
  8. Hike Weed Creek downstream into a beautiful hemlock gorge.
  9. Reach the top of Weed Falls.  Possible to scramble down north side of the falls, be careful.  Otherwise hike around it.
  10. Beautiful grotto or gorge below Weed Falls.
  11. Reach juncture of Weed Creek and Hoagland Branch at a sliding waterfall.  Scenery is superb.
  12. Turn left and hike Hoagland Branch upstream into the stunning chasm.  Chasm is about 1,000 feet long and ends at a private property line.  Be careful hiking in the chasm and watch for the deep pools.  Again, never attempt in high water.
  13. Retrace your steps.
  14. Please treat this special place with respect.
  15. Hike is about 1.5-2 miles, one way.

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Hike to Rattlesnake Point-Loyalsock State Forest

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Many years ago I joined a guided hike with the Alpine Club of Williamsport up to Rattlesnake Point in the Loyalsock State Forest, across from Camp Susque.  After getting a recent map, and hiking to the nearby Lookout Rocks last year, I decided to return.  My original plan had been to find some waterfalls in the state forest near Wallis Run, but with several roads closed, I ended up on PA 14 and decided to check out Rattlesnake Point instead.

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The hike begins along PA 15, right where Susque Road meets.  There are some places to pull off and park along Susque Road.  Camp Susque is unique in that it allows the public to hike the trails on camp lands, just sign in first at the camp office.  The beginning of the hike is on camp land, but most of it is on state forest.

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I crossed PA 14, turned right onto a mowed path and reached a trail sign and trail, marked with grey blazes.  The footpath is fairly evident, comprised of narrow sidehill, as it went below some ledges and into a stream valley with laurel.  I crossed the seasonal stream, flowing on my hike, and was soon greeted with a gorgeous twenty foot falls and an overhanging ledge.  The ledge was broad and springs cascaded on the other end.  The trail continued up the steep glen with tulip poplar trees and other hardwoods.  The switchbacks soon began.

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This trail is filled with switchbacks that climb steeply up the glen.  The trail comes close to a second falls, but you must go off trail to see it.  It is an odd falls, flows out of the ground at the top and then disappears at the bottom over a ledge of moss with a large pine tree growing on the top.  The switchbacks continued over rocky slopes, along some ledges, through some laurel, and then reaches the vista.

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It is an impressive view, about 1,000 feet above the valley floor.  Steep mountainsides surround the valley, through which the Lycoming Creek twists and turns.  I was also able to look almost straight down on my car through the bare trees.  I could see for about 20-25 miles.  The length of the trail is about 1.5 miles.  And no, I didn’t see any snakes.

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This is a beautiful and challenging trail, made even more scenic when the creek is flowing.

More photos.

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Hiking to Rattlesnake Point is easy.

1.  Register at the Camp Susque office.

2.  Park on Susque Road, before it meets PA 14.

3.  Cross PA 14 and bear right onto a mowed path.

4.  The trail begins at a trail sign.  It climbs about 1,000 vertical feet in a mile and a half.

5.  Trail is blazed grey, so it can be a little hard to see some blazes, but the path is noticeable.

6.  Trail crosses a small creek twice.

7.  Trail follows many narrow switchbacks and the terrain does get rocky.  Rocks are loose.

8.  View is beautiful, but be careful, it is at a cliff.

9.  Return the way you came.

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Angel Falls and Ketchum Run Gorge-Loyalsock State Forest

Ketchum Run

I recently met up with Mike and Dani to do some hiking in the Loyalsock State Forest.  The plan was to see Angel Falls and Ketchum Run Gorge with their waterworks.  Brunnerdale Road was a fairly easy drive despite some packed snow and ice and we soon began our hike to Angel Falls along the Loyalsock Trail.  It had been years since I hiked to the falls, and it was great to revisit.  Angel Falls was one of the first hikes I did in the state forest many years ago and it made me realize how special this place was.  The trail provided a steady climb and then crested the top of the plateau.  We turned left on a blue side trail to the falls.  I immediately saw all the huge tulip poplar trees growing above the falls, something I had not noticed before.  Some were truly massive.  Tulip poplars are the tallest of the eastern hardwoods, reaching 200 feet.  In several decades these trees will be true giants like those at the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest near the Great Smoky Mountains; hopefully they will never be cut.

Angel Falls

We hiked to the top of the falls to enjoy the view and then walked to the bottom to see the cascading water in its splendor.  Icicles framed the falls.  Angels Falls is a beautiful place, cascading about 70 feet, with more waterfalls below.  Cliffs surround the falls.  Nearby, someone installed a rope swing from a tree with a view of the falls.  Angel Falls flows most of the year, but is reduced to a trickle in Summer, and can dry completely during drought.  After taking lots of pictures and enjoying the scenery, we hiked back to the car.

Ketchum Run

Next we drove to High Knob Road and parked to hike down Ketchum Run, one of the state forest’s crown jewels.  The trail had more snow than our hike to Angel Falls, and it was noticeably colder.  We spoke to a few backpackers as they reached their car.  The creek had several small cascades and some hemlock forests as we walked on a ski trail.  We went off trail and hiked along the creek to see its two beautiful off trail falls, including one that slid off an angled boulder.  Snow covered the glen as ice draped the exposed rock.  We continued down Ketchum Run, passing campsites, in the isolation and beauty of the gorge.  We carefully hiked into the narrow gorge, but it was slow going with the ice and snow.  This gorge is truly beautiful.  Waterslides tumbled beneath us.  We reached the top of Lee’s Falls, but decided to turn around due to the slick conditions and fading light.

Back at the car, we decided to drive to High Knob Overlook to see the sunset as the light filtered through the passing clouds.  We could see distant snow showers across the horizon.  It was bitter cold but the view made up for it.  A drive home in the dark followed.

More photos.

 

Allegheny Ridge and Graff Woolever Loop (Loyalsock Trail)

 

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View from the Allegheny Ridge, Loyalsock Trail

 

One hike I’ve always enjoyed was the Allegheny Ridge loop along the Loyalsock Trail.  It offers a good view, ridgetop walking, small streams, and beautiful forests.  If you begin from PA 87, there is also a killer climb with some big rocks and a view, although I did not hike that section on this trip.

White pine tree, Loyalsock Trail

I returned to do a variation of the hike no. 52 in “Hiking the Endless Mountains”.  I decided to do a loop, beginning from the forestry buildings along Little Bear Creek Rd., and then returning via the Graff Woolever Trail.  I hiked part of the Graff Woolever Trail years ago and always wanted to complete it.

Loyalsock Trail up Pete's Hollow

I reached the new and very large trailhead parking area, where I followed the Loyalsock Trail (LT).  The morning sun was rising, sending shafts of light through the still forest and across the white snow.  The trail steadily climbed up a hollow with a small stream.  Large pine and tulip poplar trees towered overhead.  The trail steepened and the snow and ice made it slow going.  Again, the forests were beautiful with lots of birch, pine, and hemlock.  The trail leveled and veered right onto a snowmobile trail.  After a short climb, the LT turned left, leaving the wide snowmobile trail, and followed the crest of the ridge.  I was soon treated to a superb view looking south from the ridge.  Fields adorned rolling foothills as ridges rose in the distance.  It was a beautiful view in the bright winter sunshine.  I took a break to watch the cars and homes far below.  A campsite was nearby.  The trail continued along the ridge and then dropped into a valley, only to return to the ridge with some rock outcrops.  It was a great walk with some nice views through the trees.  The LT veered right and dropped from the ridge, following another snowmobile trail.  Hemlocks filled the dark forests as small streams meandered across the trail.

Graff Woolever Trail

The LT left the snowmobile trail to the left, I continued straight.  After a quarter mile or less, I turned left onto the Graff Woolever Trail, marked by a “GW Trail” sign and blue blazes.  The trail was in good shape although it may be brushy in summer.  It was a glorious woodland trail as it parsed laurel, pine, and hemlocks.  I soon heard a stream to my right.  The trail bent right at a triple blaze (avoid the footpath to the left) and dropped into a beautiful stream valley with more hemlocks and some large trees.  The blue trail continued downstream to a campsite with stone furniture and an elaborate fire ring.  What an awesome place to spend the night, I thought.

Cascades along Graff Woolever Trail

But the blue blazes came to a sudden end and I was unsure where the trail went.  I thought I saw some old footprints in the snow, which followed the creek.  I did the same.  The creek tumbled off the side of the mountain with many small cascades and the “trail” simply followed the creek.  There was no sign of the trail with the snow, and I began to wonder if I was following human, or bear, footprints.  The terrain was quite steep.  I began to wonder if I missed the trail somehow.  Then an obvious old skid trail appeared; it was clearly the trail with cut logs, but still no blazes.  While steep, it was a great trail as it closely followed the tumbling stream with many small waterfalls.  I could see the distinctive peak of Smiths Knob through the trees.  Near the bottom there were two stream crossings as rhododendrons crowded the trail, a nice treat since rhodos aren’t that common in the Loyalsock.  I reached the bottom a little ways behind a cabin.  The trail was indistinct, but I was close to the cabins and Little Bear Creek Rd.  The trail veered right and crossed Little Bear Creek without a bridge, but I used the footbridge for one of the cabins.  There was a sign for the Graff Woolever Trail along the road.  I then walked a short distance along the road back to my car.

Graff Woolever Trail

This was an excellent loop, 5-6 miles in length.  Scenic campsites at the vista and the Graff Woolever Trail make this a great little overnight loop.  The GW Trail is blazed and established well on the plateau, but its fairly steep along the creek, without blazes.  Except for a short section, it follows an obvious old skid trail along the creek.  Next time you are hiking this area of the Loyalsock State Forest, be sure to include the Graff Woolever Trail.

Graff Woolever Trail

Map of the state forest which shows the Graff Woolever Trail on the left side of the map:

http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/cs/groups/public/documents/document/dcnr_20027227.pdf

Keep in mind the Graff Woolever Trail is on the east or south side of the stream, not the west side as on the state forest map.

Bottom of Graff Woolever Trail

More photos:

https://flic.kr/s/aHskNMjUGf

Trail map

Loyalsock-Link Loop

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Loyalsock Creek

 

I love the Loyalsock.  The Loyalsock State Forest is 115,000 acres of Appalachian bliss with its gorges, waterfalls, ponds, streams, vistas, whitewater, swimming holes, big rocks, numerous trails, deep woods, and superb camping.

One of the best weekend or overnight backpack loops in Pennsylvania is the Loyalsock-Link Loop.  I never get tired of this trail.  Along its 17.5 miles, it packs in so much scenery.  One of my favorite features are the forests.  This hike offers extensive hemlocks forests with moss, ground pine, mushrooms.  It is dark and mysterious with every shade of green imaginable.

I parked along Rock Run Road and began hiking the Link Trail, marked with Red Xs.  The trail followed the beautiful Loyalsock Creek with its rapids and deep, clear pools.  This loop is a great summertime hike with all of the swimming holes.  I passed two young men heading the other way and one asked about where to camp, I told them about Alpine Falls or Mary’s Bridge and we soon parted ways.

The trail climbs up to PA 154, but I like to follow a fairly well established side trail, which is the old route of the Link Trail.  It stays close to the creek and crossed the base of a cliff with springs and a wet-weather falls.  Here, the Loyalsock Creek is rugged and beautiful with its boulders.  This side route soon returns to the Link Trail.  The base of the cliffs is slippery.  Do not attempt this side route in high water or when there is ice.

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Canyon Vista, Worlds End State Park

 

The hike continued along the creek, passing more campsites and I soon reached Flat Rock, another large swimming hole.  I crossed PA 154 and made a steep climb up the plateau.  Miles of beautiful woodland hiking followed with extensive hemlocks.  The northern hardwoods smelled sweet in the moist air.  I reached Canyon Vista and explored the Rock Garden.  With lighter gear, I was making good time.  I followed the Link Trail along Double Run with its waterfalls, slides, and moss covered boulders.

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Rock Garden, Worlds End State Park

 

I then saw two older women hiking with what appeared to be overnight backpacks.  They asked if the trail headed back to the park office, I told them it did.  One lady said they bit off more they could chew and were heading back.  Regardless, they should be proud for getting out there on the trail, especially on National Trails Day.

I passed some kids fishing in the creek and one yelled hello.  I soon reached the park office and took a break to have a snack.  Two other backpackers were loading their gear in the car.

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On the Loyalsock Trail

 

I pushed on with a steep climb out of the state park.  The trail meandered among more hemlocks, ferns, and ground pine.  I reached Alpine Falls in the dark forest.  Above were some people camping.  We exchanged a hello and one asked about the rain that was supposed to come tomorrow.  I began to think about just hiking the whole loop in a day, but would see if any sites were available at Sones Pond.

I reached the top of the plateau and the woods were brighter.  The beautiful woodland walk continued with mushrooms and wildflowers dotting the forest floor.  The forests were becoming darker as I made my way under more hemlocks to Sones Pond.  The pond was beautiful in the deep twilight, offering perfect reflections as frogs croaked and an owl hooted in the distance.  However, all the campsites were taken.  I decided to finish the hike that night.

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Sones Pond at twilight

 

I returned to my car in darkness surrounded by the sound of the Loyalsock Creek.  A great day in the woods.

Photos.

Map and brochure.

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  1. The Loyalsock-Link Loop is a superb hike.  The Loyalsock is marked red and yellow, the Link with Red Xs.  The trails are well-marked and established.
  2. While I hiked clockwise, counterclockwise may be best since the climbs are more gradual, but the descents will be steeper.
  3. You can park at the park office at Worlds End State Park, or on Rock Road Road before it crosses the Loyalsock Creek located at 41.459690, -76.509617 with space for about 6 cars.
  4. On my hike, the bridge on Rock Run Road was closed to vehicles for repairs, but can be crossed on foot.
  5. Campsites are located here:  Link Trail:  Cold Run (small sites), Vinegar Run (small sites), Loyalsock Creek (larger sites).  Loyalsock Trail: High Rock Run north of Worlds End State Park, Big Run (below the trail), Alpine Falls (both above and below the falls), Tamarack Run/Mary’s Bridge, Sones Pond.
  6. The loop alone is about 17.5 miles.  The loop plus the out and back to the Haystacks is about 22 miles.  Doing the Haystacks and the loop from US 220 (a lollipop loop) is about 25 miles.
  7. Don’t plan on camping at Worlds End State Park, there are no primitive, backcountry campsites and the developed campground is about a mile from the trail.

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Gear review:

I rarely do gear reviews, but I thought I’d offer some thoughts about two pieces of gear I had.  Lighter gear helps, I found myself moving faster than I normally do with less strain on my body.

  1. REI Flash Backpack (last year’s model).  I’m gravitating towards lighter gear and I was looking for a reasonably priced lightweight pack.  The Flash is light and held the load well while offering some back ventilation.  It was comfortable, although some of the straps dug into me a little, maybe I had it too tight.  It was roomy enough for my gear and could probably be used for up to 3-4 nights for a summertime trip.  The small pouch on the shoulder strap doesn’t seem usable.  I liked the mesh netting on the outside for stuffing items.  The internal hydration sleeve is only attached at the top, so I found it easier getting my bladder back into the pack among the gear, although I may end up keeping the bladder on the outside of the pack anyways.  Overall, I recommend this pack.
  2. Nevados Compass Low.  I was looking for some trail runners, but didn’t want to pay $130 for a pair if I didn’t like them.  “Generic” brands rarely get reviewed since they don’t pay for ads in magazines.  I found them to be comfortable with excellent traction.  My feet breathed well and the trail runners dried quickly.  I did not have any hot spots during my hike.  Toe protection is good with a rubber protected toe box; my toes were comfortable.  Support was good; I didn’t roll an ankle once on the hike.  Aside from typical foot fatigue, my feet felt fine at the end of the day and surely no worse than my Merrills.  For a half to a third of the price of name-brand trail runners, this is a very good option.  I would recommend them.

Rock Run Summer

Bubble Pool panorama

Bubble Pool panorama

It was years ago.  I drove up along a narrow, dirt road, not sure if my old Saturn sedan even belonged on such a road, so deep in the woods.  I had heard of this place, Rock Run it was called.  The stream was masked by trees, hidden deep in a gorge.  I wondered if the drive was really worth my time.  I found a place to park and a dirt path that threaded its way down to the water.  I walked down, not sure what to expect.  The path parsed some saplings and revealed Rock Run.  As I saw the crystalline water flow over sculpted bedrock, only to disappear over a cascade into a chasm surrounded by ledges, I quickly realized it was more than worth my time.  It captured my time.

I have been back many times since and unlike other places, Rock Run never grows old, or tiring, or boring.  It is a place set apart, harboring a natural beauty that is becoming more rare.  While Ricketts Glen, Ohiopyle, or the Pine Creek Gorge are considered Pennsylvania’s “gems”, Rock Run is more than deserving of that title as well.  And like the others, it is not protected.  Pennsylvania, or maybe Pennsylvanians, has/have a poor track record when it comes to protecting our state’s superb natural beauty.  Despite all of our public land, despite all of our “gems”, virtually none of them are truly protected.  Not even our heralded state parks are safe.  Everything has a dollar sign, because we allow it to be, and at times, demand it to be.   Budgets cannot be balanced.  Services cannot be cut.  Taxes cannot be raised.  Our votes demand dollars.

Or maybe it is because we do not believe the places in our state truly deserve protection.  After all, we can go out west, or down south, or to New England, or overseas.  Is it the beauty in our backyards can be destroyed because it can be replaced by the amazing beauty in some other state or country?   And this is where Rock Run proves us all wrong.

I’ve been across the country.  I’ve hiked in the typical famous places.  Yet, Rock Run remains one of my favorite places.  It illustrates the superb beauty in our backyards, the hidden beauty of Pennsylvania that only we can protect if we had the courage and pride to do so.

Will we, finally, stand up for ourselves?

Beautiful Rock Run

Beautiful Rock Run

 

A few weeks ago, I returned to Rock Run.  And with me I brought others, because my appreciation alone is no longer enough.  We took the same path I did many years ago.  We ate lunch on a bedrock island surrounded by water so clear it seemed invisible.  They were all converted.

Incredible water

Incredible water

The water dashed down a cascade into an aquamarine pool carved into the rock.  Electrified ripples danced across smooth stones several feet below.  The creek separated towering cliffs that rose over us and tumbled along boulders before surging through a narrow bedrock channel with deep, oblong pools.  We reached what I call the “Bubble Pool”, where a narrow, powerful current  creates a shower of bubbles into the crystal clear pool.  It was like looking at sparkling water.

We were mesmerized by this simple wonder.  Rock Run is famous for its pools, sculpted into solid bedrock.  There are dozens of them.  Backpacker magazine once noted Rock Run as having some of the best swimming holes in the country.  Rock Run is special because its beauty lingers for miles, with constant pools, slides, cascades, channels, and chasms.  Cliffs and ledges often rise up and over the creek.  Springs pour from cracks in the rock.  Side streams join with tumbling waterfalls.

Our hike lead up upstream, passing popular pools were people swam and relaxed.  Despite being July, the water was frigid and people did not seem to stay in the water long.  Trout lingered in the depths.

We passed boulders that were smooth to the touch, rounded by eons of floods.  In places, the bedrock was eroded with wavy fins and potholes you could step across, but not stand up in and still have your face above the water.

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The gorge narrowed as cliffs encased the creek.  We were able to walk on a wide ledge just above the water, but this ledge gradually disappeared until it stopped at a fractured cliff.  We had reached a chasm.  I scrambled up to the top and helped the others.  Despite their trepidation, everyone  scrambled up the cliff and to the top of the chasm.  A trail brought us to a waterfall that fed a deep pool, completely embedded within cliffs.  This amazing pool held light deep into its depths.

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We returned to the cars, passing tributaries with waterfalls and gorges of their own.  The green hardwood forest rose above with the last emerald light of the day.

I decided we should drive up to Band Rock in the McIntyre Wild Area.  The rock is so named because bands would play there and the people in the valley could hear the music.  It is also the site of McIntyre, an abandoned mining town.  Despite almost a century of time, you can still tell this place had been mined.  Nature has done a valiant job healing this landscape, but the old cuts, culm piles, tailings, and grades are not so easily erased.  The coal once brought jobs, money, and opportunity, but like all booms, it ended.  However, its consequences remained for generations.  Ironically, all that now remains of McIntyre is its cemetery hidden in the forest, invaded by trees.   Each generation does not learn enough from the one prior.

Band Rock

Band Rock

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If you visit Rock Run, please treat it with respect.  Rock Run has grown in popularity, which may be the primary reason why there is now an effort to protect it.  Camping is not allowed along most of the stream.

Do not limit your exploration to Rock Run alone.  Miners Run is incredibly beautiful with many waterfalls, a narrow gorge, and huge boulders.  Hounds Run also has a waterfall, as does Doe Run.  Rock Run’s amazing beauty continues all the way up to where the run’s two branches meet.

Various Rock Run area hikes are described in hike numbers 57 – 66 in Hiking the Endless Mountains.

Rock Run is unique for all of its incredible recreational qualities.  People come here to rock climb, hike, whitewater kayak, fish, swim, and hunt.  The Old Loggers Path, one of the state’s most beloved trails, explores a section of Rock Run.

An ideal weekend trip is to car camp at the primitive campground in Masten and then hike a section of the Old Loggers Path, or drive a short distance to Rock Run.  Masten is the site of an old logging town, now reduced to a few cabins.  The primitive campground is located in a spruce grove that was the site of a Civilian Conservation Corps camp.

This is one of Pennsylvania’s most beautiful places, and there are many more.

More pictures.

How to get to Rock Run.

Save the Loyalsock State Forest (home to Rock Run)

View from Band Rock

View from Band Rock