Hike to Blue Run Rocks-Tioga State Forest

Blue Run Rocks

Length: About 1.9 miles, one way

Difficulty: Moderate

Highlights: Giant sandstone boulders with chasms, creekside hiking

Blazes: Red

Issues: Blazes becomes sporadic on climb up to the boulders, turn up to the boulders can be easy to miss. Blazes also sporadic around the boulders, particularly the west side of the loop.

Parking: Pull off parking is at about 41.818924, -77.529522.

Description: If you like giant rocks, this is the hike for you. Blue Run Rocks are over forty feet tall with chasms. These rocks also attract climbers. This hike also features a scenic stream, hemlocks and pines, and good isolation. This is not a particularly popular hike, so you will likely be alone.

The trail is in “followable” condition. However, the trail up to and around the rocks have sporadic to non-existent blazing, although there are trails to follow.

From the road, follow the level trail with scenic forests of beech, pine and hemlock. Begin a gradual descent along a creek, which is often in view. Hemlocks often grow over the trail. The trail crosses a side stream. Continue the gradual descent, but keep an eye out for a campsite along the creek below. This marks where the trail turns left and begins to climb. This turn can be easy to miss. The climb is somewhat steep and will get your heart pumping, but it is not very long. Reach the top with mountain laurel, pass another campsite, and descend to the bottom of the rocks.

Take your time exploring these giant outcrops. You can go in between and around some of the boulders. It is a beautiful place and used by rock climbers.

The trail goes around the base of the rocks, but the blazes became non-existent. We were able to follow the trail due to the cut logs on the forest floor. We completed the mini-loop and retraced our steps.

More info about Blue Run Rocks on MyHikes.

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Hike Cheryl’s Trail-Loyalsock State Forest

Length: About 1.5 miles one way (this hike is from the Jacoby Falls trailhead to the Pipeline Vista)

Blazes: Blue

Parking: 41.376762, -76.920109. Jacoby Falls trailhead.

Highlights: View, cascades, meadow, beaver pond, hemlock forests, unique rocks

Issues: The trail is lightly hiked and may not be well established. There is no bridge across Wallis Run, a sizeable creek. Blazes are hard to follow in places, particularly the meadow which will be overgrown in summer.

Difficultly: moderate

Description: Cheryl’s Trail goes from Rider Park to Jacoby Falls, but this hike is only at the northern end of that trail. While plenty of people hike to Jacoby Falls, most ignore the sign for Cheryl’s Trail. That’s too bad, because this is a fun hike with some challenges along the way. It is a true diamond in the rough. In fact, overall, I think this hike is more fun and diverse than Jacoby Falls.

From the parking area, cross the boardwalk and enter the woods. Turn left onto the blue Cheryl’s Trail. As you will immediately see, this trail is not well established and the blazes are far apart in places, but they are there. Hike under the pine trees and descend back to the road. Cross the road.

Now you are faced with the first challenge, crossing Wallis Run. Expect your feet to get wet as it is a sizeable creek. Do not attempt in high water. Reach the other side and notice some beaver ponds and dams to the left. Now is the second challenge, the meadow. There are blazes on posts, but expect this to be overgrown in summer. On the plus side, enjoy the wildflowers. To cross the meadow, stay on top of the bank above the floodplain; this might be an old grade. Enter the woods with some large ironwood trees and then enter a scenic pine and hemlock forest. Again, blazes are a bit hard to follow, but there is more of a tread here. The trail angles right and then turns left on an old grade.

Hike into a glen with a beautiful series of small falls and cascades over mossy bedrock. The trail crosses the creek and climbs. I did hike up this creek, off trail on an old grade, it was scenic with many cascades. There was also a large ledge with a porcupine cave.

Back on Cheryl’s Trail, climb until the trail levels in a hemlock forest. Notice rock outcrops to your right. These are what I call Cheryl’s Rocks and they are the highlight of the hike. Go off trail and explore them from the bottom. There are overhangs, chasms, grottos, and caves. The rocks are very colorful with moss and lichen. In one cave, there are springs dripping, it must be an amazing place when frozen. These are some of the most beautiful rock ledges in the Loyalsock State Forest.

Back on the trail, follow a grade in a beautiful hemlock forest. The trail is much easier to follow. Ascend gradually and then level again under hemlocks. Reach the pipeline swath and enjoy the view. A better view is further up the bank on the pipeline swath. Retrace your steps.

The trails on Blessing Mountain between Rider Park and Jacoby Falls can use more footsteps to help keep them open, so please hike there.

Blessing Mountain trails map.

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Hike the Big Rocks-Sproul State Forest

This short hike explores large boulders and cliffs in the beautiful Sproul State Forest. The trail is blazed yellow, was well maintained when I hiked it, and is a loop not more than a half mile long. It is an ideal trail for kids.

The trail is on a side road off of Barney Ridge Road, about a mile from PA 144. The dirt road is narrow, but in good shape. The side road to the trail is a little rockier, but a car can handle it. Park at 41.253144, -77.785947.

I hiked the trail counterclockwise. The trail passes massive boulders and climbs between some cliffs. It then follows the top of the cliffs, with a partial view. The trail then makes a rocky descent and meanders among some more gigantic boulders. It is worth going off the trail to experience the rocks. The trail completes the loop at the parking area.

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Explore Falls Creek and Long Valley Run-SGL 36

This hike explores impressive waterfalls and giant rocks.  It is largely off trail and should only be attempted by experienced hikers.  The Schrader Creek valley is a remarkable place to explore, with many waterfalls, views, giant rocks, mines, and other ruins from the mining era.  Schrader Creek itself has many whitewater rapids and attracts paddlers when the water is high.  It is a special, and relatively unknown, area.

For this hike, park near Long Valley Run, as that parking area is larger.  If you don’t have two cars for a shuttle, walk Schrader Creek Road to Falls Creek.  Cross the bridge over Falls Creek and continue on Schrader Creek Road for a short distance.  Turn right onto an old forest road (brown on the map) with an established footpath.  Hike up it.  Cross a side stream and reach a meadow.  Leave the old forest road and follow a trail down to Falls Creek.  Enjoy all the falls and cascades.  It is a beautiful creek.  Hike up the creek to see more waterfalls.  Enter a gorge and reach Bradford Falls, about 70 feet tall.  This is an incredible falls.  The old logs and stones that once cluttered the base of the falls have mostly washed away, making the falls even more scenic.  

Now you must get around Bradford Falls; you can scramble up either side, but I usually go on the west side.  Be careful as the terrain is steep.  Above Bradford Falls is a gorge and scenic Barclay Falls, about 30 feet tall.  Continue upstream to a gorge with cliffs and cascades.  Reach Lamoka Falls, and above that, Laquin Falls.  The hemlocks enhance the scenery along this already beautiful creek.  Falls Creek is one of the finest waterfall gems in the Endless Mountains. 

At the top we saw and old mine and headed west along the escarpment of the plateau, following a grade.  There were large cliffs, rocks, and remnants of old mines.  The graded faded into laurel and we turned around, returning to Falls Creek.   We crossed the creek and walked through a hemlock forest, heading towards the escarpment.  The laurel was moderately thick in places, but overall was not bad.  We reached the escarpment, enjoying some large rock outcrops.  We continued on, exploring more rocks and ledges, while finding passage through the laurel.  I saw some large rocks above us, so we hiked up.  There were giant boulders, and a cave we scrambled through.  The scramble was a ton of fun.  We explored more rocks and then went closer to the escarpment to enjoy a view through the trees.  

Next was a hike on top of an impressive cliff line, it was beautiful with the pine and hemlocks.  A bear path offered easier passage on top of the cliffs.  I hope to return to explore the base of the cliffs.  We reached another outcrop with a partial view, but three beautiful yellow phase rattlesnakes claimed it for themselves.  We gave them a wide berth and moved on along the cliffs.  The cliffs revealed some unique formations and chasms.  We continued on, but the rocks became smaller and the laurel began to take over.  We battled some laurel and saw more large rock outcrops and boulders.  We reached an unnamed tributary of Long Valley Run and descended, passing small cascades.  We reached a grassy road along Long Valley Run and walked down it.  While this section was scenic, I’m not sure it was worth the effort.  As a result, you might want to consider the yellow route on the map as a shortcut to the Long Valley Run Cascades.  

Where the forest road crossed Long Valley Run, we went off trail and followed the creek downstream.   While Long Valley Run does not have towering waterfalls, it does have an assortment of beautiful, unique cascades with bedrock that almost seems sculpted and polished.  It was a highlight of this hike.  The water was also a unique shade of translucent blue.  The car and parking area were nearby.  This hike is 6-7 miles long if you also hike the road.

Falls Creek and Long Valley Run are described separately in Hiking the Endless Mountains.

Parking is at 41.650020, -76.568232 for Long Valley Run, or  41.641295, -76.593426 for Falls Creek.

For the map above, brown is an old forest grade, red is off trail, black dots are large rocks and boulders.  V is for vistas, which are partial views.  


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another hike to Coyote Rocks.

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Coyote Rocks, SGL 57.

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Coyote Rocks panorama. SGL 57.

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Hiking along Bowmans Creek.

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Fork Hill Boulder City and Cliffs-Tioga State Forest

I enjoy exploring giant rocks and cliffs.  Such places have a primeval feel with the draperies of moss, lichens, and ferns, and they often harbor unique ecosystems and habitats as they tend to hold or trap colder air.  An area of these giant rocks came to my attention in the Tioga State Forest, above Stony Fork, on a mountain called Fork Hill.  I parked off of Clay Mine Road to check them out.  I then walked down the road as it began to descend to Stony Fork.  Where some large rocks abutted the road, I first headed to the north, or my left.

I walked along some giant rocks that grew into the size of cliffs.  I really enjoyed a 30 foot tall monolith capped with ferns and some hemlocks.  Nearby were giant cliffs and a cave-like overhang.  North of here the rocks appeared to recede in size, so I retraced my steps south back to Clay Mine Road, crossed it, and headed south along the rocks.

I was soon treated to some mossy passageways between some lower ledges.  Heading south, the rocks grew in size, creating impressive boulder cities and mazes.  These rocks towered 30-50 feet.  It was fascinating to walk between the giants and explore the various passages.  I continued south with some large cliffs and overhangs with small caves and crevices.  This stretch of giant rocks is one of the most impressive in the PA Wilds. 

I then reached a valley of sorts where the rocks were smaller and broken down.  I crossed a small runoff stream and stayed above the ledges to avoid some thick laurel.  I reached a pine forest and more giant rocks, included a massive overhang with a pointed ledge.  My exploration ended with an impressive long chasm with a passageway about a hundred or so feet long.  From here, I hiked off trail in a westerly direction through the woods to a forest road.  While there was some laurel, the woods were mostly open and the hiking was fairly easy.  I reached a dirt forest road.  I turned right and headed back to my car.

I parked at  41.596717, -77.367790.  Keep in mind this parking area is not accessible when there is snow or ice, and there is no bridge where Clay Mine Road crosses Stony Fork.  On the map, the dashed black lines are the smaller or broken down rocks.  Solid black lines are the larger cliffs and boulders.   

Exploring Flat Top-SGL 57


Corner Room, Flat Top, SGL 57

Flat Top is a prong of the plateau in SGL 57.  It is notable for its scenic and ecological diversity.  There are vistas, gorges, caves, chasms, overhangs, waterfalls and bedrock balds.  Flat Top is home to hardwood, spruce, hemlock, and pine forests, not to mention wetlands, streams, and bogs.

I’ve been to Flat Top many times, but on this hike we decided to explore the base of the extensive cliffs.

If you want to hike to Flat Top, you should be an experienced hiker with a GPS or other navigational aid.  There are some old forest roads and grades to help with navigation, but there are no marked or signed trails.  Begin at the game commission parking area at White Brook (41.496555, -76.132024), cross the field (no mowed trail) to the northwest corner, climb a bank with some pickers, hike up along two homes, and follow the steep grade into a pine forest.  Leave the pine forest and follow an obvious grade just to the right and hike up it.  White Brook, and its falls, are far below on the right.

We reached an obvious grade to the left and followed it to near the top of the plateau.  We reached a T intersection, turned right, and then left off the trail to begin the bushwhack part of the hike.  We hiked west to the rim of the plateau and reached Conglomerate Cave, a massive overhang with a distinct layer of conglomerate rock.  From here, we followed the rim around.

We were treated to incredible overhangs, mazes, chasms, and caves.  We crossed some small streams and the rocks returned with Skylight Chasm.  We squeezed through the slot at the back of Skylight Chasm to enter the Rock Room, a fascinating overhang and cave feature with ice flows.  Amazing.


P=Parking. B=Bald. Black dots are rock features.  Red is off trail.  Yellow are old grades or forest roads, or other unblazed trails.

The rocks continued along the edge of the rim.  We went up through a rock maze, crossed a bald and reached a cliff.  As we made our way toward Spruce Ledge, there was very rugged terrain and giant jumbled boulders.  We reached the base of Spruce Ledge and marveled at the giant, orangish cliffs.  A quick climb up to Spruce Ledge provided fine views and forests shimmering in a coat of ice.

We returned to the base, to see more caves, overhangs, and giant boulders.  Heading north, we hiked below Preachers Rock and explored more chasms.  Soon we were at the base of a bald where Ryan saw a weasel, which ran under a log, and something rolling down in the snow.  It was a mouse it had just caught, but released after seeing us.  We quickly moved on so the weasel could get its meal.

Giant boulders and passageways loomed in the forest.  We reached the next highlight, the Corner Room, and incredible overhang and cave.  A narrow roof of rock stretched over a giant house sized boulder.  We climbed to the bald, and followed a faint trail to an even larger bald.  Our off trail hike continued as we hiked to two balds, that we had not seen before.  We went off trail through hemlock forests, saw a small rock maze, and dropped down to an existing trail, which we took back down White Brook to complete our hike.

SGL 57 is such a special place and is PA’s best kept secret.  Sometimes I think it should be a national park.  Experienced hikers will want to spend some time here.

Part of this hike is described as Hike No. 14 in Hiking the Endless Mountains.

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Bedrock mazes, SGL 57.

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Views from Spruce Ledge, SGL 57.

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Spruce Ledge, SGL 57.

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Cave hunting. SGL 57.

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Candyland Rocks and Rock Maze of Middle Top-SGL 57


Rock Maze, SGL 57.  

Last winter was the first time we explored Candyland Rocks, a place that thoroughly impressed us with its caves, chasms, boulders, and habitats. The rocks were covered in moss, hemlocks, and spruce. The ice flows coming off the rocks were stunning. I always wanted to return, and in October, we did.  Our hike was not limited to Candyland Rocks, but the entire escarpment of a plateau we call Middle Top. Middle Top was a destination for a hike from several years ago, and the primeval isolation of the place has always stuck with me.

We began at the small parking area near Stony Brook and Mehoopany Creek. We followed a jeep road up along Stony Brook, which offered views of the beautiful creek and valley. The road was in fairly good shape until the first stream crossing where it was obliterated by floods and covered in stones. A faint trail threaded the sapling before returning to the road. The road climbed embankments high above Stony Brook with more views of the rugged creek with its boulders and rapids. The floods created huge landslides. The road disappeared again in another washout, but we soon found it as we followed it up the mountain. Below us were beautiful cascades and small waterfalls with large boulders and deep pools. We then entered a glen framed with cliffs and cascades. A seven foot falls followed and then a fern meadow on the right. The trail to the left goes out to Burgess Hollow Vista; the trail straight ahead goes to the top of White Brook. But we were going somewhere else.



We left the trail and crossed the meadow, heading in a southeast direction. We climbed the forested slope and soon reached Candyland Rocks, which were so beautiful with the moss and ferns. We explored the chasms and caves. As amazed as we were from our prior hike. Our hike continued along the rim of the plateau, passing massive boulders and outcrops. A scrambled up a ledge brought spruce and a remarkable rock maze that was several hundred feet long, and even continued through a cave. Truly amazing. Our hike continued with an arch and countless boulders and ledges. We passed a small cascading stream with hemlocks. Next was the Endless Wall, a long cliff that stretches for a few hundred feet.

Our route took us north along the east rim of Middle Top where the terrain became much more rugged. But the scenery distracted us with several impressive rock shelters and overhangs, not to mention some small rock mazes. Across the valley the cliffs of Spruce Ledge loomed. The terrain eased as we headed north and reached a small bald. Here, we cut southeast, crossing fern meadows and reached a stream. We crossed the stream and picked up the existing ATV trail and descended along cascades. The trail faded out in a hemlock forest but we simply kept close to the creek and soon picked up another grade. We dropped down to a glen with a 12 foot falls and a long slide. So beautiful. The grade descended along a deep and rugged gorge that was filled with the roar of water. This trail returned us to the original jeep road, where we retraced our steps.

This was a strikingly beautiful hike that a fit hiker with good navigation skills can accomplish. The scenery and diversity was stunning.

Parts of this hike are described in Hiking the Endless Mountains.

We parked at 41.466863, -76.161761.

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More rock shelters in SGL 57.

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Rocks, moss, and birch.

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Jakes Rocks-Allegheny National Forest


View of the Allegheny Reservoir from Jakes Rocks.

Jakes Rocks is one of my favorite places in the national forest.  It features impressive cliffs, overhangs, crevices, and vistas.  It is also home to a premier mountain bike trail system, called the Trails at Jakes Rocks.


While Rimrock Overlook is more popular, I actually think Jakes Rocks are more beautiful.  The views are more interesting and the cliffs are larger.


From the parking area, take the paved trail to the right of the restrooms.  This paved trail continues straight to a vista which provides a view to the backside of the Kinzua Dam.  Right before the vista, look for an obvious, unblazed dirt trail to the right; this is the Indian Cave Trail and descends to the bottom of the cliffs.  This trail does not have a sign.  Be sure to hike this trail when visiting Jakes Rocks.


The Indian Cave Trail descends over stone steps and explores the base of the massive cliffs, colored with springs and moss.  The cliffs are truly impressive as they rise through the trees.  Reach a massive overhang with a huge boulder.  This overhang is interesting to explore.  The trail continues along the base of the cliffs and reaches a deep crevasse through which I hiked with dripping moss.


From the crevasse, the path is much narrower.  It winds its way along the base of the cliffs and climbs to the second vista.  It is narrow and steep.  I did not hike this trail; I turned around at the crevasse and retraced my steps to the paved trail.


The paved trail at the top of the cliffs explored large boulders and some unofficial side trails that went to the edge of the cliffs.  I soon reached the second and more impressive vista as it looked down on the Allegheny Reservoir with all its bays and coves.  The reservoir curved off into the distance.  A remarkable view and probably the finest in the national forest.


The paved trail looped around and returned me to the parking area.   Jakes Rocks is a beautiful place that is a highlight of the Allegheny National Forest.


Jakes Rocks is described in Hiking the Allegheny National Forest.

More photos.



Schrader Creek Valley Vistas-SGL 36


View over Schrader Creek Valley, SGL 36.

The Schrader Creek Valley is one of PA’s best kept secrets. Here you will find towering waterfalls, gorges, huge rocks, Class III+ whitewater, ponds, rock climbing, vistas, and fascinating historical remnants from the coal and lumber eras. I recently went out to explore SGL 36 and find a vista overlooking the valley.


I drove down Falls Creek Road and pulled off along the road (41.655855, -76.608576)before it became rutted and muddy. I then just walked down the road to a forest of pine trees, where I turned off the road followed a grade to the right (41.650738, -76.608228). This grade became a jeep or ATV trail as it followed the perimeter of a field with pine trees. In summer expect to see wildflowers.


At the southern point of this field (41.645908, -76.611961), I followed a faint footpath that went southeast. This faint path went through laurel thickets and may be difficult to follow in summer as it is overgrown in places. This path is not blazed, but with some effort I was able to follow it through the laurel. The path went through open hardwoods, but then went through the laurel again, making a slight climb. I soon reached the edge of the plateau at some cliffs, where the path turned right (41.641404, -76.606739).


This dramatic cliff line featured tremendous views over the wooded, isolated Schrader Creek Valley. Some views were 180 degrees, offering views up and down the valley. I enjoyed the rolling ridgelines and tiers of mountains between the glens and streams. The view of the valley to the southwest was particularly beautiful. I could clearly hear the roar of Schrader Creek’s rapids from hundreds of feet below. I could also clearly see the incline plane that once transported coal from Barclay to the valley below. Be careful along the cliffs as a fall would be fatal.


I continued west and went off any trail, exploring massive boulders below the cliffs and ledges. I went through an open hardwood forest with some giant oak trees and soon reached the mountain laurel again. I made my way through the laurel and soon reached another cliff line, with more views and overhangs (41.641693, -76.613212). This cliff line was just as impressive with chasms and excellent vistas from exposed ledges. I was surprised by the extent of the cliffs and the high number of views. Someday, I’d like to explore these cliffs from the bottom.


I found a trail that was used and cleared by people, not bears, which made the hiking easier. This trail dropped down and then climbed up, following a series of small cairns. This trail was in much better shape than the one to the first cliff. This trail brought me back to the same field I had left earlier (41.645564, -76.616109). I walked the jeep/ATV trail back to Falls Creek Road and my car.


This is a truly beautiful hike with tremendous views. I was there in midday, so the bright sun washed out the features of the views. In the morning or evening I’m sure these views would be stunning. I hope to return in October for the autumn colors. I’m not sure if my route was the best. If I returned, I would follow the faint trail to the first cliff and vistas, retrace my steps, and then take the second trail to the second cliff line and vistas, and retrace my steps back to the field (the orange routes in the map below), avoiding the bushwhack in between.


More photos.


For the map above:

Yellow: Jeep/ATV trail along perimeter of field.

Orange: Faint trails, not blazed or signed.  The trail on the left is better established.

Red:  Bushwhack route.