Hounds and Hawk Runs-McIntyre Wild Area

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Red is off trail.  Yellow is an old skid trail.

The McIntyre Wild Area has acquired a reputation for its scenery and historical significance. The wild area features old mines, ruins, cemetery, vistas, and beautiful gorges with waterfalls. A few weeks ago, I decided to head out and explore the isolated eastern section of the wild area, along Hounds and Hawk Runs. Most of this hike was off trail, but there were many old grades.

I parked along Yellow Dog Road, right before it crosses Rock Run. I then hiked down the road until I reached Hounds Run. I hiked up the run. There were some old grades, but they didn’t last long and I simply followed the creek, crossing where I needed. I entered a deeper gorge with a unique rock outcrop on the right and some cascades. Ahead, the gorge opened up to reveal a broad seven foot falls over a ledge. I hiked upstream to see impressive Hounds Run Falls. I had not been to this falls in about ten years and I forgot just how beautiful it was. It is over thirty feet tall and set in a scenic gorge with boulders and smooth bedrock. I climbed up to the left of the falls.

I continued upstream and soon reached a scenic glen with slides and smaller falls. A beautiful spot. I continued up along the east side of Hounds Run, staying above the creek. At the two forks, there were some cascades on the west fork, but I continued on the east fork, again following grades where I could. After hiking through some hemlocks, the forest opened into hardwoods. I crossed more grades and saw a small, unique stone culvert. I followed the creek to the east and stopped at a wetland, with rocks to the east, or my right. I then headed right, reaching a small rock bald, and below, an impressive boulder maze coated with wet moss. Truck and cottage sized boulders adorned the forest floor. On one boulder, trees were growing out of the draperies of moss. I angled slightly southeast and reached an old skid trail, which provided a convenient descent to Hawk Run.

I then hiked down Hawk Run, crossing wherever I needed. I soon reached a stunning gorge, about 100 feet deep with cascades and slides. Large boulders rose over the water. It was incredibly beautiful and rivaled any spot on Rock Run. Downstream was a glen, smaller in size, but with a ten foot falls and a deep pool. An old stone retaining wall was across the creek, but part of it had collapsed. The glen, like the gorge upstream, was very beautiful. I continued downstream, passing slides and pools. I reached a cabin with a wooden footbridge. I then hiked the road out, back to my car, surrounded by the roar of Rock Run in the deep gorge below me.

This was an excellent hike for the experienced hiker who has GPS or other navigation app. There are many stream crossings, so do not attempt in high water. The isolation, waterfalls, slides, cascades, and boulder maze make it a very unique and beautiful hike. Overall, the terrain is moderate, but the skid trail descent is a little steep.

Entire loop is about 4.5 miles.

Some GPS coordinates:

Parking: 41.535103, -76.891830

Hounds Run Falls: 41.537340, -76.898199

Boulder maze: 41.554078, -76.885617

Gorge on Hawk Run: 41.549866, -76.879359

Glen on Hawk Run: 41.547986, -76.879141

Photos:

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Hike to Kelsey Falls-Loyalsock State Forest

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Yellow is a gated forest road.  Red is a bushwhack.  Blue is an old skid trail.

The Loyalsock State Forest is home to dozens of waterfalls. Some are well-known, others are virtually unknown. I recently went on a hike into a rugged gorge northwest of Worlds End State Park to see if such a falls existed. I parked at a pull off along Loyalsock Road and followed a forest road that was gated. The forest road crossed an area that had been logged. Where the road began to curve around to the right, I left the road to begin a bushwhack into a hemlock forest and down along some ledges.

I dropped down to a small stream that had carved a mini-glen with small cascades. I followed this creek down and entered a scenic area with several large car and truck sized boulders. The small creek flowed around some of them. I angled to the northwest and continued a moderate descent, crossed a seasonal run-off streambed, and came across a skid trail, marked by what looked like a shallow ditch that went straight down the mountain. These trails were used in the lumber era to skid or slide logs down to the valley.

The skid trail was fairly easy to follow as it descended into a beautiful hemlock forest. Off to my left was the deep, rugged gorge where I hoped to find a waterfall. The skid trail moved closer to the edge of the gorge as it continued its steep descent. Near the bottom, the skid trail crossed into private land, so I dropped down to my left. I soon reached the unnamed creek and a beautiful 20-25 foot falls set in a grotto. The falls featured some bedrock cascades, then a free fall, followed by a steep slide. It was a very photogenic falls and it was possible to walk behind the falls. The falls was in the state forest, although a private property line crossed downstream from it. It appeared no one really visited the falls as there were no signs of a path. I called it Kelsey Falls. The bright sun was less than ideal for photography, but this falls would be stunning with some long exposure shots.

There appeared to be no more waterfalls downstream. I retraced my steps back to my car. This hike is about 1.5 miles one way, and requires a 700 foot vertical descent down and back up the gorge. It is a scenic hike, but only experienced hikers should attempt it.  No trails are marked or blazed. Maybe someday a trail will be built from Forksville to the falls. It would make a nice tourist attraction for Forksville, and a much easier hike.

The falls are likely dry in summer. It is best to see it when the USGS Loyalsock Creek gauge is 3.5 feet or higher.

I parked at 41.487216, -76.588058 to begin the hike.  The falls are located at about 41.494702, -76.591438.

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Kelsey Falls, Loyalsock State Forest.

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Kelsey Falls, Loyalsock State Forest.

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Ketchum Run Gorge Loop-Loyalsock State Forest

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Orange is the off trail route. 

Ketchum Run Gorge is one of the Loyalsock State Forest’s most beautiful places. Here, pristine Ketchum Run has carved a gorge into the plateau with four waterfalls, chasms, pools, and cascades. Old growth forests line the gorge and there are two beautiful views looking over it. Ketchum Run Gorge needs to be high on the list for any hiker.

Thanks to a network of trails, a hiker can make an excellent 7 mile loop that reveals the beauty of the gorge. I began at the Fern Rock Nature Trail parking area and hiked to my right, to the road and then followed the red and blue cross country ski trail into the woods. At a powerline swath, I followed the red trail to the right as it explored a beautiful hemlock and beech forest. I returned to the swath and reached Coal Mine Road, where I turned right. I hiked down the road a short distance and then turned left onto a blue and red trail that followed a narrow grade above Worlds End Road. I then reached the Loyalsock Trail (LT), where I turned left.

The LT climbed along a spruce forest. I recommend you explore this forest as it is a beautiful grove of spruce trees with some red pine. The LT crossed over the top of the plateau with rolling terrain and hardwoods. Soon, hemlocks became more common, creating beautiful forests. The LT passed near the bottom of some ledges and then climbed into more hemlocks. I then descended back to Coal Mine Road and crossed it. I soon reached the spectacular view at Alpine Vista. The narrow, winding Loyalsock valley was below, framed by ridges and mountains. The rugged Ketchum Run Gorge was below to my left. The LT descended steeply before leveling off where I reached the equally beautiful Lower Alpine Vista along some cliffs. A large ice flow was nearby.

I followed the LT as it reached a side trail to bypass the ladder at Rode Falls. I continued on the LT as it dropped steeply into the gorge and reached Ketchum Run, locked in snow and ice flows. It was so beautiful. I strapped on my microspikes and enjoyed the incredible ice flows in the grotto of Rode Falls. I climbed up the ladder and continued on the LT enjoying the beauty of the gorge. The LT climbed to avoid a landslide and met the other end of the bypass trail. Next were beautiful old growth hemlock trees along the edge of the gorge.  I passed a trail marked with blue discs, I presume it went out to Coal Mine Road.  The LT descended to Lee’s Falls, which was locked in ice. I continued up into the impressive chasms upstream from Lee’s Falls, happy to have the microspikes. The LT continued up the creek under hemlocks as the sound of the babbling water filled the forest. I then reached where the LT turned right to cross Ketchum Run.

Here I followed a short, easy bushwhack that has become more of a trail. I simply followed the run upstream, passing grottos and two more falls. It is such a beautiful hike and should not be missed. I then reached the red/blue trail where I turned left and then an immediate right. Next was a left turn into the Fern Rock Nature Trail marked with yellow blazes, and blue “FR” letters (It may be easy to miss). This is another beautiful trail with rolling terrain, streams, ledges, hemlocks and a wetland. It soon returned me back to my car, ending another amazing hike in the Loyalsock State Forest.

Where I parked: 41.437902, -76.607993.

This hike is described as Hike No. 43 in “Hiking the Endless Mountains”.

Exploring a Hidden Waterfall Glen-SGL 134

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Yellow is a gated forest road.  Red is off trail.  Green is the easiest route, but may cross private property.

SGL 134 is a hidden gem, lying in the shadow of the Loyalsock State Forest. Here you will find beautiful vistas from cliffs over the narrow, rugged Loyalsock Creek valley. There is also Huckle Run, a small stream of stunning beauty with pristine water and a gorge with several waterfalls. The forests feature extensive hemlocks and large tulip poplar trees.

A few months ago I returned to SGL 134 to explore the gorge of an unnamed stream located north of Dry Run, near the village of Barbours. I suspected there would be waterfalls. Without a trail, I would have to bushwhack into the gorge. I parked along Proctor Road and hiked up a gate game commission road. I then began my off trail hike by climbing up the plateau to a ridge with many ledges and outcrops, including a unique stone pillar or pedestal. There were some partial views through the trees. I descended along the ridge and entered the gorge. Below me was a 15 foot falls in a scenic grotto.

Unfortunately, this is a small stream that does not hold water well. While it was running on my hike, it was low. I suggest the best time to see the falls is when the Loyalsock Creek is running at 6 feet or higher, as a rough approximation. I climbed up the gorge to see a 20 foot falls that tumbled over tiers of ledges. I couldn’t climb above this falls, so I backtracked down the creek and found an old grade on the west side. I climbed up the grade and saw a couple more scenic falls, about ten feet tall, often in grottos of sandstone. I continued my climb up the creek passing small cascades and slides under large hemlocks. Giant tulip poplars towered in the forest. I reached a deer fence and an old forest road with briars; I stayed in the woods. I followed a more open forest road and hiked around the deer fence. I descended to the game commission road and returned to my car.

My route wasn’t very ideal. It would be best to follow the green route on the map into the gorge, but it was not clear on my hike if that would cross private land. The ridge with the ledges was scenic, as was the gorge. Getting around the deer fence and logged area was a pain.

If you are looking for a new waterfall destination when all the creeks are high, I recommend this unnamed gorge. I also hope to explore nearby Dry Run sometime this year.

I parked at 41.411242, -76.804107.

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Rock columns.

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Huge tulip poplar and some beech.

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Hemlock woods.

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Exploring Sullivan Mountain and Buck Run-Loyalsock State Forest

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Red is off trail.  Yellow follows old grades or forest roads.

Back in December I went on a hike to see an off trail falls near Sullivan Mountain in the Loyalsock State Forest, and to explore Buck Run. I wasn’t going to post the hike because my route involved a lot of backtracking. However, this isolated area has some unique beauty that I realized was worthy of sharing.

I parked at a small lot near where Yellow Dog and Ellenton Ridge Roads meet. I followed the forest road to the west, which was often wet. The road passed through a logged area, but then entered more scenic forests, spruce groves, and a mossy wetland with blood red pitcher plants. I soon reached the Old Loggers Path at Buck Run; I would return to this spot later in my hike. I followed the OLP for a short distance, but then turned left onto the Crandalltown Trail, an unblazed grade. This obvious grade took me across the OLP and I continued to the right onto another unmarked, obvious grade. This grade took me along some giant boulders. One was adorned with moss and had trees growing out of it.

The grade was a very nice hike as it traversed the southern edge of the plateau, passing small fern meadows. Through the trees I could see over Pleasant Stream’s valley. I loved the isolation of this route. I soon reached a small, unnamed stream. My bushwhack began.

I suspected there was a waterfall down this creek. The terrain was very steep and I soon came upon a rugged grotto and a scenic 40 foot falls. The top part of the falls was framed by cliffs of fractured rock. I continued down the steep gorge where there were more boulders and cascades, but no more falls. If hiking to the falls, I would not suggest going further downstream below the falls due to the rugged terrain. I made the arduous climb out of the gorge and retraced my steps back to Buck Run.

The next part of my hike was an off trail exploration of Buck Run. It is a very scenic stream. The gorge has many large boulders and cascades. As I descended, the creek became a gauntlet of boulders and rapids. There were countless cascades. Large cliffs then rose on the north side of the creek, creating an impressive gorge. Scars of landslides from recent floods appeared in places. While Buck Run doesn’t have the sizeable waterfalls, it is still a very scenic place. I hiked out of Buck Run by climbing to the top of the cliff; there were some partial views. I made my way up Buck Run, returned to the OLP, and retraced my steps to the car in twilight.

I hope to return to this area to explore the giant rocks and cliffs that cover the top of Sullivan Mountain’s plateau.

I parked at 41.523299, -76.869160.

Hawkeye Trail, Flagstone Gorge, and Rock Run-Loyalsock State Forest

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Red is the on trail route. Yellow is off trail. Orange is on an unblazed grade. Purple is a suggested route.

North of the popular Old Loggers Path is a network of trails that hikers rarely visit. One trail is the Hawkeye Trail, a loop of about 7 miles. The Hawkeye Trail is primarily a cross country ski trail, but is also nice for hiking. My goal was to do a hike that combined the Hawkeye Trail, off trail hiking, old grades, North Branch Rock Run, and a scenic gorge. This loop is about 6-7 miles in length.

I began at the parking area for the Hawkeye Trail along Ellenton Mountain Road and followed this trail counterclockwise, or to the right. The trail was level and rolling as it explored hardwood forests. It followed an old grade or forest road. When I reached the first stream crossing, I left the Hawkeye Trail to begin the off trail section of the hike. I followed the creek downstream as it tumbled over rocks and boulders. I reached an obvious grade, which I crossed. I continued off trail along the creek. Here, a gorge began to develop with more cascades. Further downstream another creek joined from the left into a scenic gorge. Ledges, cliffs, and large hemlocks adorned the gorge where there were several slides and small falls. The gorge was only about 75-100 feet deep, but was quite steep. The tallest cascade was no more than 10-15 feet. Mist hung in the gorge. As I descended the gorge, there were rhododendrons, a rare sight in this area. There were also a lot of flagstone rock outcrops. As a result, I called it Flagstone Gorge.

At the bottom, the gorge opened up and I soon reached the North Branch Rock Run, which I followed downstream. This was a beautiful wilderness stream lined with reddish ledges and cliffs. It looked like a prime trout stream. Old grades accompanied the creek in places, but I still had to cross several times. The creek had rapids and deep pools along ledges. Large boulders dotted the stream bed as large hemlocks grew overhead. I then reached a long ledge against which the creek flowed; this red ledge had many springs flowing out of it. Some old ruins of stone were nearby, likely from the logging era. I really enjoyed my hike along the North Branch; the scenery and isolation made this a special place. There were many superb potential camping spots along the creek.

I soon reached the Chasms of Rock Run, where the North Branch meets Rock Run itself. What a glorious place with bedrock grottos, deep pools, rapids, slides, and large boulders. Hemlock, birch, and maple grew overhead. The roar of the water filled the gorge. At the confluence was an epic campsite where I took a break and got a bite to eat. I promised myself that I would camp there someday.

I then headed uphill, off trail. As I neared the top, I reached an unblazed grade, where I turned right. The grade headed east; I avoided any grade that went downhill. The grade went through hardwood forests. I soon reached the red blazed Hawkeye Trail; where I turned left. The route to the right is more scenic, but a little longer (purple on the map above). Due to time, I took the route to the left. The trail is well blazed and follows old grades through hardwoods, along logging cuts, and a grove of spruce. I crossed small streams and soon reached Ellenton Mountain Road. The trail parallels the road, but I had trouble finding it, so I just walked the road. I soon returned to my car.

If you are looking for a challenge and seeing places few others have visited, I recommend this hike. Flagstone Gorge was more scenic than I was expecting, North Branch Rock Run is sublime, and the Chasms of Rock Run are incredible. I also suggest taking the purple route on the map as it is a more scenic return route, although I did not follow it on this hike.

Parking is located at 41.564652, -76.830230.

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Epic campsite.

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Forests above Rock Run.

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Chasms of Rock Run.

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Misty spruce along the Hawkeye Trail.

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Fairground Falls-Loyalsock State Forest

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The Loyalsock State Forest has many hidden waterfalls, and one happens to be behind the Sullivan County Fairgrounds. This unnamed creek attracted my attention with its steep gorge. Knowing that many surrounding streams had waterfalls, I suspected this creek might have one as well. I drove up Loyalsock Road and parked at a very sharp right hand turn where there was space at a pull off.

The small stream was very close by and announced itself with cascades. There were some nice cascades at the top, including one about 6 feet tall. I began to descend the creek into the gorge. I saw remnants of an old grade, but I did not take it. It may make for an easier descent. This is a small stream and you can expect it to dry up in summer. This falls should be flowing well when the Loyalsock Creek USGS gauge is 3.0 feet or higher.

The gorge was quite rocky and steep, but then the terrain eased up. I saw some more cascades over bedrock and boulders. I then passed a used jeep road or ATV trail above a striking 30-40 foot falls in a grotto of cliffs. A long, sinuous spring cascaded down the slope next to the falls. I was surprised by this falls and that it was unknown. There were two drops; the first was about ten feet and the second 25-30 feet tall. The terrain around the falls is very steep and I had to take care descending. Without a name, I simply called it Fairground Falls.

The ATV/jeep trail descended to the parking area of the fairgrounds. If the public is allowed to access the fairgrounds, this is by far the easiest way to the falls.

With my car at the top, I made the trek back up the gorge. There is so much beauty in all these hidden gorges and glens.

Parking is at 41.487172, -76.588080.

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Fairground Falls.

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