Hiking Bloody Run-SGL 13

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Purple is the unblazed trail (Bloody Run Trail).  Yellow is the yellow marked trail.  Orange is a wide, obvious grade. P=parking.

SGL 13 is known for its waterfalls and gorges. Dozens of waterfalls are found throughout these game lands. One such falls is on a relatively unknown stream called Bloody Run. I had been to these falls a few years ago. My initial plan was to hike up Bloody Run, see the falls, and find out if there were any more falls further upstream. However, my hike would end up being something very different.

I parked at a game commission parking lot along Mountain Road (41.306036, -76.428336). I followed a faint, unblazed trail that crossed Bloody Run, and I then followed a more established grade. This went to a very well established, wide grade, which I crossed. A grade continued up, but I decided to follow Bloody Run itself. I hiked up the creek, seeing some large 5-6 foot falls and cascades. As I continued upstream, there was extensive flood damage with landslides and fallen trees. Bloody Run Falls soon came into view, a nice 10 foot drop into a pool. Above was a grotto with another 6-7 foot falls. I pushed upstream, but I did not see anymore waterfalls. A little frustrated with my hike and the terrain, I turned around.

I then noticed out of the corner of my eye a couple walking, seeming to sail across the terrain. They were hiking a trail up the gorge. I had to check it out. I climbed and soon reached a well established grade with a trail. This trail climbed steadily up the gorge, keeping above the creek. I could see all the cascades below. The trail, which was unblazed but well established, climbed more steeply and entered a hemlock forest. At the top of the climb was an old thermometer stuck to the tree, an odd sight. The trail leveled in a beautiful hemlock forest with some old growth trees. The trail was very enjoyable to hike with the big hemlocks and great sense of isolation. I had no idea where this trail went, and the mystery deepened when I saw a trail, marked with yellow lids, on the left. I hiked this yellow trail out a ways, but turned around (I later learned it ends at a game commission road). I continued on the unblazed trail as it explored the top of the plateau with hardwoods and small meadows. The couple I was following soon disappeared into the forest; they sure seemed to know where they were going. I decided to turn around.

I followed the trail all the way back down. At the bottom, where it turned left, I followed a rocky grade to the right that brought me to the start of my hike up Bloody Run. If hiking Bloody Run, it is worth going off trail to see the falls, which are not very large. Be sure to follow the unblazed trail up the gorge and into the hemlock forest. It is a unique spot with great isolation and the sounds of the tumbling cascades of Bloody Run below. Someday I hope to return to explore more of these trails.

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Ten foot falls on Bloody Run.

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Upper part of falls on Bloody Run.

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Exploring Blackberry Run Gorge-SGL 13

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Ryan behind Blackberry Falls.

SGL 13 is filled with places of rugged beauty. One such place is Blackberry Run Gorge where an off trail hike reveals waterfalls, giant trees, cascades, cliffs, and views. I had been there years before and always wanted to explore the entire gorge. Last month, I finally did.

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Ben and Ryan joined me on this adventure. We parked at the game commission building and walked up the steep slope. Private land blocks the easiest access. We then descended to Blackberry Run near Blackberry Falls. The falls are about twenty feet tall and are in a beautiful gorge. We even walked behind the falls, sitting behind the roaring veil of water.

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An old grade was on the west side of the creek, but it crossed the creek several times and eventually faded away. Above the falls were several gigantic tulip poplar trees, some of the largest I have ever seen. We continued to make our way up the creek, passing boulders, pools, rapids, and cascades. There was extensive flood damage with banks of cobblestones, small landslides, and fallen trees.

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We soon reached the next falls, a slide we called Blueberry Slide, in keeping with the “berry” theme. It was a steep bedrock slide into a pool. We continued upstream to the impressive two-drop Raspberry Falls, so named by Ben. This is the tallest of the falls and the red bedrock seemed to validate the name. The gorge then narrowed with hemlocks and many fallen trees. Landslides left scars on the side of the gorge. We made our way through the gauntlet as cascades tumbled beside us. It had a primeval, untamed beauty.

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We came upon a side stream to the right, but we took the creek to the left and enjoyed non-stop cascades, large boulders, and more hemlocks. It was very beautiful. We came upon an old grade which made the hiking easier out of the gorge.

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From here, we followed the rim of the gorge, passing outcrops with views as Blackberry Run roared below. There was no sign of civilization. We continued along the rim and hiked along the ledges through hemlock and beech. We could see the ridge we were hiking to, it was lined with cliffs.

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Our route crossed a cascading tributary and we climbed to the cliffs where there were a series of beautiful views of the expanse below. As we hiked we could hear the sound of water falling. Below us was a cascading waterfall, about fifty feet in total height. The water tumbled down a protruding ledge, and then down a cliff. A remarkable sight.

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Some views even looked over the farmlands to the south, thirty miles away. Each of us were impressed by the wild beauty of this gorge.  A descent then followed where we saw unique boulders and outcrops. The hike became steep, but then leveled when we reached a bench along the plateau. Our goal was a final view over Jamison City. A steep descent brought us to the cliff with the view. Although lower in elevation, it was no less beautiful. We followed the edge of the cliffs, passing another view looking across Fishing Creek Valley to the towering mountain on the other side.

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The descent we followed is not recommended. We found a crevice in a cliff and descended, then there was a steep, unforgiving descent over loose rock. It was relentless. The terrain is extremely treacherous. We reached the road and returned to the cars. A better way might be the purple route on the map below.

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For the intrepid hiker looking for a new challenge, I would highly recommend the wild, rugged, beautiful Blackberry Run Gorge.

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We parked at 41.315159, -76.348909.

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Hiking Quinn Run-SGL 13

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One of many falls on Quinn Run.

The proposed Endless Mountains Trail (EMT) is routed to follow beautiful Quinn Run in SGL 13, so I decided to explore it. I met up with Ben at the parking area next to Lewis Falls. Keep in mind the road to this parking area is only open during hunting season, generally from September to January. I had explored Quinn Run years prior, so I was excited to return.  This is in an area known as the Waterfall Wonderland.

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We first checked out impressive Lewis Falls as it roared into the gorge below. The creeks were high, so it took some time to cross. We were soon on an obvious, but unmarked and unblazed trail as it climbed from Heberly Run. Quinn Run was below us, filled with an assortment of cascades and falls. After a half mile, we left that trail, bearing left onto another old grade that was obvious, but had a fainter trail.

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This grade took us to where Quinn and Shanty Runs meet, a stunning place featuring bedrock gorges and waterfalls as the two streams join. We scrambled above to the flagged route of the EMT. We then proceeded to hike up Quinn Run, at times following the flagged route, and at times just following the creek. Quinn Run is a stream of incredible beauty with its assortment of waterfalls, cascades, deep pools, and grottos. It will surely be a highlight of the EMT.

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We entered a gorge to see the tallest of the falls, featuring three drops that totaled about 30 feet. Above were a series of bedrock slides and a final 7 or 8 foot falls over a wide ledge. We were amazed by the beauty of this creek. The water was crystal clear as moss clung to the ledges and springs seemed to drip from everywhere.

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For our return, we decided to avoid walking down the creek and instead try to find a grade above, on the west side of the stream. We scrambled up and soon found the grade. This grade was a blessing, and still in great shape, as it seemed to whisk us back to our cars. It was far above Quinn Run and the waterfalls were out of sight. Eventually, the grade came within view of some of the falls, offering impressive panoramas of the gorge. The grade continued its descent, passing outcrops and large trees. We soon reached Heberly Run, just below an impressive bedrock gorge and falls. The pool in the gorge looked incredibly deep. The grade ended at Heberly Run; finding this grade was a blessing and made our hike much easier.

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We crossed Heberly Run and reached our cars. This was a more mild, and shorter, bushwhack than I am used to, but it was beautiful and worthwhile nonetheless. There is so much beauty in these Pennsylvania highlands.

We parked at 41.337203, -76.363707.

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Waterfalls of Hemlock Run-SGL 13

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Hemlock Run, SGL 13

In the isolated western ramparts of SGL 13 is a stream called Hemlock Run.  I have long suspected it had waterfalls, so I went to find out.

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There is a parking area and a small sign identifying the creek, located at 41.318183, -76.506174.  The road leading to Hemlock Run may be gated outside of hunting season.  A car can negotiate this road, but it is a little rough and a vehicle with some clearance is a good idea.

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I parked at the parking area and there was a gated road to the west of the run.  Because this road climbed high above Hemlock Run, I decided not to take it.  Rather, I hiked up the run instead.

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There was a faint footpath that crossed the run a few times.  It was a beautiful area.  Hemlock Run doesn’t have many hemlocks, but there were plenty of spruce growing, enhancing the scenery.  Red trilliums dotted the ground.

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The faint trail I was on evaporated in brushy and wet areas, so I continued to follow the run as it tumbled over cobblestones.  The run turned west and entered a rocky gorge with moss and springs.  The rock was loose and shifted under my feet.  The first falls was about 6 feet, the second about 15, and the third about 12.  The isolation of this place was incredible.

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I bushwhacked south, over a ridge and down to a tributary stream of Hemlock Run, where there was a cool, little gorge.  I then retraced my steps back to my car under drizzling rain.

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I drove back down the road where I saw a sign for Deep Hollow.  Intrigued, I had to explore.  I found a trail on the west side of the creek and some small waterfalls.  I climbed up the gorge.  It featured open hardwoods with some large trees, but no more waterfalls.  Regardless, it was a beautiful place.

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SGL 13 is a waterfall paradise.  I have seen about forty waterfalls on these game lands.

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Exploring the Mountain Between Heberly Run and Sullivan Branch-SGL 13

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View high above Sullivan Branch, SGL 13

In the late Fall I explored a plateau of SGL 13 between Sullivan Branch and Heberly Run. This plateau appeared to have cliffs, views, hemlock forests, and possibly waterfalls. It would be a tough, off trail hike, but I was up for the challenge to explore an area few have seen.

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I parked at Sullivan Falls, but I spent little time at this popular landmark. Instead, I hiked down Sullivan Branch to where a small sidestream joined from the right. I crossed the icy creek and hiked up the sidestream. I was immediately presented with ledges, cool rock formations, and cascades over mossy ledges.

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I pushed uphill along this small, unnamed stream. The terrain was very steep as I ascended the glen. Soon, a 60 foot falls came into view, still flowing despite the dry weather; I called it Cliff Spring Falls. It was a beautiful falls surrounded by cliffs with springs dripping to the left. I had to get above the falls and a tough scramble over ledges followed as I clung to the steep slopes with by arms and legs. Above the falls was another 10 foot falls. Further up, the creek flowed under the rocks. I entered an area with ledges, boulders, and some large hemlocks. I then turned north to see some cliffs and a possible vista.

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I hiked along the top of cliffs with a well-worn bear trail. Hemlocks grew overhead. I soon reached a couple of scenic views looking into Ricketts Glen and down Sullivan Branch. There was complete isolation and wilderness as tiers of bedrock surrounded me under ancient hemlocks. I retraced my steps back to the small stream.

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I then headed south along the plateau escarpment with more ledges, boulders, and old growth hemlock. I also explored a few chasms. I reached the point of the plateau, and headed north along the escarpment with more old growth hemlocks. I dropped into a drainage and followed a line of cliffs with cascading seep springs, it was impressive. Springs just poured out of the ground above the cliffs, creating a dripping sound throughout the forest. I continued along the cliffs to the west where I reached a fine view looking down Heberly Run. All I heard was a breeze through the forest.

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I retraced my steps back to the cliff springs and followed the drainage down. A creek soon appeared with some falls and cascades about 10 feet high. This unnamed creek joins Heberly Run just above Twin Falls. I didn’t go to Heberly Run, instead I followed a well established old grade on the east slope above Heberly. It was a great hike through large hardwoods. I hiked above a landslide and near some rock outcrops. I then descended to Sullivan Branch into an area with pine and barberry.

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I crossed Sullivan Branch on some fallen logs and hiked up to the road, which I followed back to my car at Sullivan Falls.

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It was great to explore this wild, untamed place. My aching legs thanked me the following day.

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Waterfalls of Sullivan Branch-SGL 13

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One of many waterfalls on Sullivan Branch, SGL 13.

Sullivan Branch in SGL 13 is a stream known for its incredible beauty, carving a deep gorge with waterfalls, cascades, and deep pools.  This area is commonly known as the Waterfall Wonderland.  I returned to scout a route for the proposed Endless Mountains Trail; I wanted a route that would offer views of the waterfalls, but avoid the creek itself since such a route would infeasible due to the terrain and floods.

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I parked at Sullivan Falls and enjoyed the view of this impressive falls as it tumbles into a large amphitheater of the rock and a deep pool.  I then followed the current trail on an old grade up Sullivan Branch.  While this is a nice trail, it avoids the waterfalls on Sullivan Branch.  I stopped at Pigeon Run and enjoyed its many waterfalls.  I continued up the old grade, passing an unnamed creek with its own grotto and waterfalls.  I soon reached Ore Run (there’s another falls up that creek as well) and took a break as Sullivan Branch tumbled over boulders and ledges.

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I then hiked along the east bank above Sullivan Branch as the waterfalls soon appeared, as well as a long mini-gorge and slide.  I re-crossed the previous unnamed stream and found a great route for a trail on reasonable terrain.  The waterfalls continued, including one nearly 50 feet tall.  The scenery was impressive as I looked down the gorge to the crashing water below.  Such a beautiful place.

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I’d seen these falls before and it was great to see them from a different perspective.  I reached Pigeon Run and its own glen of waterfalls.  I then returned to the pervious grade I had hiked in on and returned to my car.

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As I walked to my car, I noticed a ridge on my left (east) that had some impressive rock outcrops.  Naturally, I had to check it out.  It was a tough climb under dying hemlocks, but I reached the top and explored unique ledges and giant angled, slanted boulders.  A very cool place.

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I made the steep descent, being careful not to break my ankles, and returned to my car.

More photos.

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Hiking Hunts and Pigeon Runs-Waterfall Wonderland (SGL 13)

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As many of you know, the Waterfall Wonderland in SGL 13 is a place of amazing natural beauty.  I love it for not only its waterfalls, but also its isolation, deep gorges, and large trees.  I returned a few weeks ago to explore two tributaries of Sullivan Branch-Hunts Run and Pigeon Run.  I explored each tributary on separate hikes.

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Hunts Run

First I hiked to Hunts Run.  Thanks to recent rains, Sullivan Branch and Sullivan Falls were flowing high.  I made my way up Sullivan Branch, enjoying the gorge, rapids, and cascades.  I saw Pigeon Run Falls with its plummeting sheet of water and continued up the creek, enjoying all the falls and deep pools.

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I crossed Sullivan Branch and hiked up the slope, reaching an old grade that brought me to Hunts Run.  The hike up Hunts Run was scenic, but there were no waterfalls, just non-stop cascades over mossy boulders.  This glen was scenic and isolated.  At the top I explored some large cliffs and overhangs.  What was most impressive was a forest of old growth hemlocks, with many large trees.

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I then made my way back down to Sullivan Branch, and returned to my car.

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Pigeon Run

My second hike took me up Pigeon Run, a stream well known for all its waterfalls.  This hike did not disappoint.  This creek had five or six waterfalls in beautiful grottos and overhanging ledges.  The last falls was a slide that spread out like a fan, just below a private property line.

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Pigeon Run became a gauntlet of steep boulders and more cascades in a very rugged glen.  Many trilliums grew on the boulders.  I followed the game lands boundary to a stunning place at the top of the gorge.

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Massive, ancient hemlocks surrounded this place, as cliffs and ledges rose over me.  At the top was a beautiful 40ish foot falls that tumbled down three or four drops.  I called it the Falls of the Hemlocks, located at N41 20.815 W 076 19.825.

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This felt like a wild, primeval place.  I followed the cliff rim west, back to Sullivan Branch.  This was a beautiful place with large cliffs crowned with more large hemlocks.  There were views of the gorge below through the trees.

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I made my way down the slope, passing boulders and rock outcrops back to the unblazed trail above Sullivan Branch, which I took back to my car at Sullivan Falls.

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Location of this place.