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.

 

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The Keystone 49: Peakbagging in Pennsylvania (Climbing the Keystone State’s Beautiful Mountains and Vistas)

 

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Gillespie Point

 

Many people enjoy climbing mountains, or peaks, whether it be for a specific elevation or the view at the top.  This is common in New York and New England, and to a lesser degree, the southern Appalachians.

Pennsylvania is an odd state for “peakbagging”, because it doesn’t have many peaks.  Most of the terrain in this state is defined by ridges and plateaus with fairly consistent elevations.

Regardless, the views in Pennsylvania are still impressive, and the climbs can be very challenging.

This list is based upon mountains with features at or near the summit, such as a view, firetower, or rock outcroppings.

The focus is not on the high point itself.

There generally must be a vertical climb of at least 500 feet that is feasible for a hiker to do from a lower elevation.

Some climbs are off trail.

All climbs are on public land, or land where the public is allowed to hike.

Some peaks are reached by a road. Access via road does not count.

Summits or mountains close to each other and along the same route are described together.

Focus is on those mountains with significant views, as compared to narrow views through trees.

People may be surprised to learn that vertical climbs in Pennsylvania reach 1,600 – 1,700 feet, comparable to some mountains in New York and New England.

Summit elevations and vertical climbs are estimates.

For some off-trail or little-known vistas, GPS coordinates from Google maps are included.

 

Eastern Pennsylvania

 1.  Mt. Wismer

Elevation: 1,900

Vertical climb: 500

Route: Trails from T602, off of PA 447.  This is a conservancy property opened to the public.

Feature:  Views of Pocono foothills with view through the Delaware Water Gap.

Location:  North of Canadensis, Monroe County

Road to summit: No

See through Delaware Water Gap

 

2.  Camelback Mountain

Elevation: 2,100

Vertical climb: 800

Route:  Trails from North Rd.

Feature:  Extensive views from the summit

Location: Big Pocono State Park, Monroe County

Road to summit: Yes

 

3.  Mt. Minsi

Elevation:  1,400

Vertical climb: 900

Route:  Follow Appalachian Trail from Mountain Rd.

Feature:  Views of Delaware Water Gap

Location:  Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Monroe County

Road to summit: No

 

4.  Panther Hill

Elevation: 2,000

Vertical climb: 600

Route:  Off trail hike from Highbridge Rd.

Feature:  Expansive views to the northwest

Location:  Pinchot State Forest, Lackawanna County

Road to summit: No

GPS:  41.278315, -75.620957

View from Panther Hill

 

5.  Dunmore Pine Barrens/Gravity RR Preserve

Elevation: 1,900

Vertical climb: 700

Route:  Trails from Dunmore Reservoir No. 1.

Feature:  Expansive views from an exposed ridge and High Rock cliff.

Location:  Near Dunmore, Lackawanna County.  Located on a private preserve, but public hiking is allowed.

Road to summit: No

GPS:  41.407102, -75.576065.  High Rock cliff at 41.404844, -75.575886

 

6.  Mt. Pisgah

Elevation: 2,200

Vertical climb: 1,100

Route:  Trails from Mt. Pisgah State Park

Feature:  Good views to the west.

Location:  Mt. Pisgah State and County Parks, Bradford County

Road to summit: Yes

View from summit of Mt. Pisgah

 

7.  Kellogg Mtn.

Elevation:  2,100

Vertical climb:  1,000

Route:  Hike gated game commission road to the summit.  View is located almost a mile south of the summit.  Gate is open during hunting season.

Feature:  Superb view to the east from cliffs.

Location:  SGL 36, Bradford County

Road to summit: Yes, but not to view.  Road only open during hunting season, gated at bottom rest of the year.

GPS: 41.663149, -76.474702

 

8.  Pole Steeple

Elevation:  1,300

Vertical climb:  500

Route:  Trails from Pine Grove Furnace State Park

Feature:  View of Michaux State Forest

Location:  Pine Grove Furnace State Park, Michaux State Forest, Cumberland County

Road to summit: No

Michaux State Forest

 

9.  Sunset Rocks

Elevation:  1,400

Vertical climb: 500

Route:  Trails from Pine Grove Furnace State Park

Feature:  Views

Location:  Pine Grove Furnace State Park, Michaux State Forest, Cumberland County

Road to summit: No

 

10.  Chimney Rocks

Elevation:  1,900

Vertical climb: 900

Route:  Appalachian Trail, other trails from Old Forge Rd.

Feature:  Views

Location:  Michaux State Forest, Franklin County

Road to summit: No

 

11.  Lehigh Gap

Elevation: 1,400

Vertical climb:  900

Route:  Appalachian Trail from PA 248

Feature:  Extensive views with exposed climb and scrambling

Location:  South of Palmerton, Northampton County

Road to summit: No

The descent into the Lehigh Gap along the Appalachian Trail; the trail crosses the bridge

 

12.  The Pinnacle and Pulpit Rock

Elevation: 1,600

Vertical climb: 900

Route:  Appalachian Trail from Reservoir Rd.

Feature:  Extensive views over farmlands and mountain ridges.  Cave beneath the Pinnacle.

Location:  Northeast of Hamburg, Berks County

Road to summit: No

 

13.  Hawk Rock

Elevation: 1,100

Vertical climb: 700

Route:  Appalachian Trail from Inn Rd.

Feature:  View of deep gorge cared by Sherman Creek

Location:  Duncannon, Perry County

Road to summit: No

Duncannon

 

14.  Lehigh Gorge/Glen Onoko

Elevation:  1,500

Vertical climb:  900

Route:  Trail up Glen Onoko, at top turn right on forest road to view of gorge

Feature:  Waterfalls along Glen Onoko, views of the Lehigh Gorge

Location:  North of Jim Thorpe, Carbon County

Road to summit: No

GPS:  40.898021, -75.757914

 

15.  Flat Rock

Elevation:  2,000

Vertical climb: 1,200

Route:  Trails from Colonel Denning State Park

Feature:  Impressive view across Cumberland Valley

Location:  South of Colonel Denning State Park, Cumberland County

Road to summit: No

 

16.  Canyon Vista

Elevation: 1,800

Vertical climb: 700

Route: Trails from PA 87, loop hike is possible.

Feature: View of the Loyalsock Canyon and unique rock outcrops are behind the vista.

Location:  Worlds End State Park, Sullivan County

Road to summit: Yes

Canyon Vista

 

17.  High Knob

Elevation: 2,000

Vertical climb: 1,100

Route: Trails from Dry Run Road and the ranger station

Feature:  Impressive view.  Pass a pond on the hike up.

Location:  Loyalsock State Forest, Sullivan County

Road to summit: Yes

High Knob Overlook

 

18.  Bartlett Mountain

Elevation: 2,300

Vertical climb: 1,300

Route:  Mostly old forest grades (no blazes or signs) with short bushwhack

Feature:  Views, bedrock balds, spruce forests, rock features, boreal or subalpine-like setting

Location:  SGL 57, Wyoming County

Road to summit: No

GPS:  41.513064, -76.166374

The balds

 

19.  Flat Top

Elevation: 2,000

Vertical climb:  1,000

Route:  Old forest or logging grades, no blazes or signs

Feature:  Fine view looking up Mehoopany Creek gorge.

Location:  SGL 57, Wyoming County

Road to summit: No

GPS:  41.480635, -76.148518

View from Raven Rock

 

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View north from Hemlock Mtn

Central Pennsylvania

 

20.  Blue Knob

Elevation:  3,146

Vertical climb: Between 1,546 and 846 vertical feet depending on route taken.

Route:  Along various trails from Forest or Park Roads

Feature:  View at summit from ski area.  PA’s highest peak and second highest mountain.

Location:  Blue Knob State Park, Bedford County.

Road to summit:  Yes, but is gated before it reaches the top.

 

 

21.  Sharp Top

Elevation: 2,000

Vertical climb: 600

Route:  Use the Old Loggers Path from Pleasant Stream Road.  No bridge across Pleasant Stream, do not attempt in high water.

Feature:  Beautiful view that is largely undeveloped.

Location:  Loyalsock State Forest, Lycoming County

Road to summit: Yes

 

22.  Smiths Knob

Elevation: 1,900

Vertical climb: 1,000

Route:  Loyalsock Trail from Little Bear Creek Road

Feature:  Great views from a peak

Location:  Loyalsock State Forest, Lycoming County

Road to summit: No

 

23.  Allegheny Ridge

Elevation: 1,800

Vertical climb: 1,000 or 900

Route:  Loyalsock Trail from PA 87 or Little Bear Creek Road.

Feature:  Views of rolling farmlands to south with distant ridges

Location:  Loyalsock State Forest, Lycoming County

Road to summit: No

 

24.  Sullivan Mountain

Elevation:  2,100

Vertical climb:  900

Route:  Old Loggers Path from Pleasant Stream Road.

Feature:  Views to the south and west from cliffs.

Location:  Near Marsh Hill, Loyalsock State Forest, Lycoming County

Road to summit: No

 

25.  Big Mtn.

Elevation:  2,400

Vertical climb: 1,100 from Cowans Gap or 1,600 from PA 75

Route:  Trails from Cowans Gap State Park or PA 75

Feature:  One of PA’s finest views over valleys surrounded by rugged ridges

Location:  South of Cowans Gap State Park, Fulton County

Road to summit: Yes

 

26.  Throne Room Vista, Hall of the Mountain King, and Butler Knob

Elevation: 2,300

Vertical climb: 600 from Jacks Mtn Rd.  1,700 from Mapleton, a long, challenging hike along the Standing Stone Trail.

Route:  Along the Standing Stone Trail

Feature:  A series of remarkable views from talus slopes and ledges

Location:  South of Mapleton, Huntingdon County

Road to summit: No, but a rough road does reach Butler Knob

Throne Room Vista

 

 

27.  Jacks Mtn. and 1000 Steps

Elevation: 2,300

Vertical climb: 1,700

Route:  Standing Stone Trail from US 22

Feature:  Incredible staircases of rock steps, non-stop views, historical features.  Last view is at Shorb’s Summit.

Location:  Between Mapleton and Mt. Union, Huntingdon County

Road to summit: No

Shorbs Summit

 

28.  Sausser’s Stonepile (Stone Mountain)

Elevation: 2,100

Vertical climb: 1,100

Route:  Standing Stone Trail from Frew Rd.

Feature:  Extensive ridgetop vistas, finest is at Sausser’s Stonepile

Location:  South of McAlevy’s Fort, Huntingdon County

Road to summit: No

Sausser's Stonepile

 

29.  Stone Valley Vista (Stone Mountain)

Elevation:  2,000

Vertical climb: 1,000

Route:  Standing Stone Trail from Greenwood Furnace State Park

Feature:  Vista

Location:  Rothrock State Forest, Huntingdon County

Road to summit: No

Rising sun at Stone Valley Vista

 

30.  Broad Mtn.

Elevation:  2,380

Vertical climb:  1,400

Route:  Standing Stone Trail from Alan Seeger Natural Area or Greenwood Furnace State Park

Feature:  Firetower that has superb views if it is open.

Location:  Rothrock State Forest, Huntingdon County

Road to summit: Yes

 

31.  Indian Wells Vista (Tussey Mountain)

Elevation: 2,400

Vertical climb:  600

Route:  Trails from Bear Meadows Natural Area, including the Mid State Trail

Feature:  One of PA’s finest views

Location:  Rothrock State Forest, Centre County

Road to summit: No

 

32.  Mt. Nittany

Elevation:  1,900

Vertical climb: 600

Route:  Trails on the Mt. Nittany Conservancy

Feature:  View of State College

Location:  State College, Centre County

Road to summit: No

 

33.  Hyner View

Elevation: 1,950

Vertical climb: 1,200

Route:  Garby and Donut Hole Trails

Feature:  One of PA’s famous vistas

Location:  Hyner View State Park, east of Renovo, Clinton County

Road to summit: Yes

 

34.  Wolf Run Bald

Elevation: 2,000

Vertical climb: 1,300

Route:  Along the Bob Webber Trail

Feature:  Great views of Pine Creek Gorge

Location:  Tiadaghton State Forest, south of Slate Run, Lycoming County

Road to summit: No

 

35.  Ravenshorn (Raven’s Horn)

Elevation: 1,500

Vertical climb: 700

Route:  Golden Eagle Trail.  While the view is not near the top of the mountain, it is impressive.

Feature:  Impressive view of Pine Creek Gorge region.

Location:  South of Slate Run, Tiadaghton State Forest, Lycoming County

Road to summit: No

Ravenshorn

 

36.  Half Dome

Elevation: 2,000

Vertical climb: 1,300

Route:  Steep trail.  Use trails from Naval Run Rd.

Feature:  Views of Pine Creek Gorge.  Some claim to be one the largest drops from the mountain directly down to Pine Creek itself.

Location:  Slate Run, Tiadaghton State Forest, Lycoming County

Road to summit: No

 

37.  Hemlock Mtn.

Elevation: 2,100

Vertical climb: 1,400

Route:  Trails, including the Black Forest Trail, from Naval Run Rd.

Feature:  Summit features three vistas, one looking south is particularly impressive.

Location:  Slate Run, Tiadaghton State Forest, Lycoming County

Road to summit: No

 

38.  Gillespie Point

Elevation: 1,900

Vertical climb: 1,000

Route:  Mid State Trail from Blackwell

Feature:  A peak that features superb view of Pine Creek Gorge and Blackwell

Location:  Blackwell, Tioga State Forest, Tioga County

Road to summit: No

 

39.  Lookout Rocks

Elevation: 1,500

Vertical climb: 800

Route:  Use trails from Camp Susque.  Public is allowed to use trail from Camp Susque, but sign in first.

Feature:  Impressive view looking down the Lycoming Creek Valley.  View is not near the top of the mountain, but its impressive nonetheless. 

Location:  Trout Run, SGL 133, Lycoming County

Road to summit: No

GPS:  41.409228, -77.032117

 

40.  Rattlesnake Rocks

Elevation:  1,800

Vertical climb:  1,100

Route:  Trail from PA 14.  Most of this hike is in the Loyalsock State Forest, but check in with Camp Susque first.

Feature:  View of Lycoming Creek Valley

Location:  Trout Run, Loyalsock State Forest, Lycoming County

Road to summit: No

GPS:  41.425028, -77.034629

 

41.  Hammersely Meadows/Twin Sisters Vista

Elevation: 2,300

Vertical climb: 400 from Red Ridge Rd.  800 from Susquehannock Trail along Hammersley Fork; this is a bushwhack along a ridge with many impressive views.

Route: Easiest route is along Twin Sisters Trail from Red Ridge Rd.

Feature:  Mountaintop meadows with stunning wilderness vistas.  Stars are incredible at night.

Location:  North of Cross Fork, Susquehannock State Forest, Potter County

Road to summit: No

GPS:  41.551859, -77.847247

 

42.  Tuscarora Mtn (The Lockings)

Elevation: 2,000

Vertical climb:  1,400

Route:  Tuscarora Trail from Furnace Rd. to top of the ridge

Feature:  Several vistas from talus slopes and ledges, some are a short distance off trail

Location:  SGL 124, Franklin County, near Yeakle Mill

Road to summit: No

GPS:  39.762247, -78.060930

 

43.  Coot Hill

Elevation: 2,484

Vertical climb: 1,100

Route:  Bushwhack from Raver’s Gap Rd. up Ravers Run to summit. 

Feature: Vistas are from talus slopes near summit, looking north.  Vistas are undocumented.  Additional vistas on west flank of ridge.

Location:  SGL 73A, Bedford County, north of Yellow Creek

Road to summit: No

GPS: 40.169375, -78.318488

 

44.  Pine Island Vista

Elevation:  1,650

Vertical climb: 700

Route:  Established, unblazed trail from Pine Creek Rail Trail where it crosses Pine Island Run.  Very steep climb.

Feature:  Phenomenal vista of the PA Grand Canyon/Pine Creek Gorge.  Vista is not at the top of the gorge.

Location:  Tioga State Forest, north of Blackwell, Tioga County

Road to summit: No

GPS:  41.616002, -77.410153

 

45. Windy Vista (Jacks Mtn)

Elevation: 2,000

Vertical climb: 1,400

Route: Standing Stone Trail south from Mapleton

Feature:  Beautiful vista looking west over tiers of ridges

Location:  South of Mapleton, Huntingdon County

Road to summit: No

 

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Western Pennsylvania

 

46.  Rimrock Overlook

Elevation: 2,000

Vertical climb: 650

Route:  Trail from Kinzua Beach Picnic Area

Feature:  Views of the Allegheny Reservoir and National Forest.  Impressive cliffs and rock features.

Location:  Allegheny National Forest, east of Warren, Warren County.

Road to summit: Yes

 

 

47.  Mt. Davis

Elevation:  3,213

Vertical climb: 400Route:  Trails from South Wolf Rock Rd.

Feature:  Observation tower with views.  Highest point in PA. 

Location:  Forbes State Forest, Somerset County, west of Salisbury

Road to summit: Yes

 

48.  Baughman Rock

Elevation:  2,000

Vertical climb: 700

Route:  Baughman Trail from Ohiopyle

Feature:  Superb view of Youghiogheny River Gorge

Location:  Ohiopyle State Park, Fayette County

Road to summit: Yes

 

49.  Martin Hill

Elevation: 2,700

Vertical climb: 1,600

Route: trails from Sweet Root Natural Area, including the Mid State Trail

Feature:  Views, highest point in the ridge and valley region of PA.

Location:  Bedford County, PA, south of Rainsburg.  In the Buchanan State Forest.

Road to summit:  Yes

GPS:  39.835850, -78.545388