Exploring the Upper Mehoopany Creek-Waterfall Gorge and Mythical Falls

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Mythical Falls, SGL 57

The Waterfall Gorge and Mythical Falls illustrate just how beautiful SGL 57 is for those willing to explore it.  This area of the gamelands is particularly isolated and beautiful, with several waterfalls, gorges, and unique rock features.

 

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We began by walking down Southbrook Road for about 4 miles.  We left the road before reaching Opossum Brook and crossed the icy cold Mehoopany Creek.  We soon entered the Waterfall Gorge, one of the gems of SGL 57.  This narrow gorge features four waterfalls, and many smaller ones.  The tallest is about 50 feet.  It is remarkably beautiful.  At one point in the gorge, I looked up to see waterfalls leaping down over ledges.  This is a very steep gorge, so it is difficult to get around the falls, but the scenery is worth it.  It is possible to go behind the top two falls.

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We then hiked to the southern rim of the gorge to a large cliff with a partial view.  Here we found a well-used footpath, so we followed it.  This footpath took us to the next stream to the west, which we crossed near a private property line.  The trail continued, and we came upon some large cliffs and overhangs with a “rock house”, or a small room of rock with openings for windows.  Our hike passed some rock outcrops and chasms and then followed a ridge with thick, towering blueberry bushes.  It was a wonderful trail.

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This trail headed north, and we needed to go west, so we dropped down to Mehoopany Creek, where we came across another well used trail.  There appears to be a whole network of trails that I hope to explore someday.  This trail headed north along a stream, so we left it, crossed the Mehoopany Creek, and hiked upstream.

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I love this section of the Mehoopany Creek because it is so isolated and beautiful.  We enjoyed Black Bear Falls and its grotto and soon Mythical Falls came into view with its broad veil of water.

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A side stream cascaded down nearby.  It is such a gorgeous spot.  The trail system we discovered also accessed Mythical Falls, as we saw the trail approach it from the other side of the creek.

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We then explored some impressive boulders and cliffs above Mythical Falls and then hiked back out to our cars.

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This place should be a national park.

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More photos.

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For the map above, the yellow denotes established trails or gated roads.  Red is the off trail route.  It is 4.5 miles, one way, to the Waterfall Gorge.

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Chasm Arch, Bartlett Mountain Balds, and Burgess Hollow Vista-SGL 57

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Chasm Arch, SGL 57

We returned to SGL 57 to explore the Bartlett Mountain Balds, and the escarpment of cliffs and ledges west to Burgess Hollow Vista.  We made the obligatory climb up White Brook, but not before making the icy trek to White Brook Falls, which is well below the trail.  The climb went fine and we followed the trail north to the base of the balds.  A short bushwhack brought us to the base of the cliffs.

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SGL 57 has extensive areas of cliffs and ledges, usually not more than 50 feet high, but they offer excellent scenery.  We explored one huge chasm and soon realized there was a natural arch of fractured rock.  Pennsylvania has few natural arches, so this was a treat.  I called it Chasm Arch.

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We hiked north along the balds with the spruce and hemlock.  This is always a great place to visit and provides scenery that is so different than most places in the state.  Our off trail hike brought us west and we soon dropped down to explore the rock features.  There were incredible caves, chasms, and overhangs created by the separated bedrock.  Ice flows adorned the rock faces.  This is a beautiful, unique area as we followed the tracks of foxes and coyotes.

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We soon reached an old logging road, which we took to the right to see Burgess Hollow Vista and its fine view over the wooded ridges and rolling farmlands.  We could see for about 40 miles.

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The rest of our hike was on established trails, or old logging roads.  We explored scenic hemlock forests and glens of clear streams.  Our hike took us past rock ledges and thick forests.  The trails collected water in many places, but the ice provided easy passage.

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We completed the loop above White Brook and returned to Windy Valley Road.

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More photos.

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For the map above, yellow is the route that follows an existing trail (no blazes or signs).  Red is the off trail route.  Orange are other existing trails.  White Brook Falls is off, and below, the trail.

Gratitude Falls and Gorge-SGL 57

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Gratitude Gorge, SGL 57

This journey is for the intrepid hiker.  It features deep, rugged gorges, waterfalls, and big rocks.  It is virtually all off trail.  I’m sure few will ever attempt it, but at least you will have an idea what is there.

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We began from Windy Valley Road entering the gamelands and hiked east.  We then hiked on the north side of Scouten Brook until reaching a sidestream.  Here, two sidestreams joined before entering Scouten Brook.  We hiked up the west stream and soon entered a rugged gorge with countless cascades and large rocks.  The going was tough as we picked our way up the rocky, steep gorge.  Ahead was a narrow grotto with a 20-30 foot falls, called Gratitude Falls.  It was a beautiful spot due to its sheer isolation.  Hemlocks towered over the rock ledges of the grotto as the water danced down the falls.

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We were able to climb the falls and were treated to an assortment of cascades over ledges and boulders along a cliff of reddish bedrock.  The cascades and falls continued until the top of the plateau.  In higher water, this stream would be incredible.  In summer it is likely dry.  We then hiked the plateau west to the other stream which also had cascades, but none of the falls were as large as Gratitude Falls.

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We then ascended the plateau to hike the east rim and we were treated to incredible habitats and lots of bear activity, including fresh bear tracks.  This rim had many boulders and ledges under hemlocks.  It was beautiful, but tedious due to the deep snow.  I wanted to explore closer to the cliffs to see if there were any views, but the deep snow prevented that from happening.  We explored many large boulders and outcrops which offered partial views of the gorge below.

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A long descent followed, made more complicated by the snow and tiers of ledges over which we had to find a way down.  By the time we reached the bottom, my legs were aching from exhaustion.  We then retraced our steps back to Windy Valley Road.

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Another beautiful spot in SGL 57.

More photos.

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Emerald Forest/Scouten Brook Loop-SGL 57

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Emerald Forest, SGL 57

This is one of the most scenic loop hikes in Northeast Pennsylvania.  It features Scouten Brook, a tumbling mountain stream with cascades and waterfalls, an off trail hike to Cali Falls, and one of PA’s most scenic forests, the Emerald Forest, with its deep green canopy of hemlock and spruce, with carpets of moss.  Another short off trail hike will take you to a fine vista, great for sunsets, and massive boulders with passageways and overhangs.

This loop is approximately 7-8 miles long.

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The trickiest part of the hike is the very beginning.  The remainder of the hike follows well established old grades and logging roads, although there are no blazes or signs.  Of course, the hike to Cali Falls, Zion Rocks, and the vista are off trail.

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Drive down Windy Valley Road from Forkston, cross the bridge, and about .4 mile further reach Scouten Brook Road, a private road on the left.  Slow down.  Cross over Scouten Brook and pass a white cabin on the left.  The game lands touch the road just past the cabin at 41.483737, -76.133386.  Pull off as best you can, parking is very limited.  You may notice the white blazes on the trees, which are the game lands boundary.

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Enter the woods, there is no trail.  Some mobile homes are off to your right.  Walk back, slightly southeast, for about 1,000 feet, and reach an old forest road; turn left as it curves uphill.  Enter a forest with some pines and continue a climb before the grade descends.  There’s a grade on the left; take it.  The grade straight ahead is your return route.

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Reach views of Scouten Brook, and in winter, an old log cabin off to your left.  Reach another grade, turn right on it and follow it up Scouten Brook.  The grade stays above the creek and offers many views of it in winter.  There are cascades and small falls.  Some parts of the grade are eroded.  A side glen comes down on the north side of the brook; this is where Cali Falls is located.  It is a seasonal falls, so if Scouten Brook is low, Cali Falls will be dry.  The cascades and falls on Scouten become larger with some large boulders and pools.

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Reach where the two forks of Scouten Brook join.  The grade turns left, above Scouten Brook Falls, a wide ledge about 12 feet tall.  Now climb and veer right and hike across the other fork of the brook.  The grade soon levels and reaches another grade, make a sharp left.  This grade is often wet and makes a gradual ascent.  Reach a four way intersection; turn right.  You will soon reach another intersection, turn right.  The grade ascends slightly and soon enters a stunning spruce forest.  The terrain is rolling and the forest becomes more scenic the further you hike, this is the Emerald Forest.  There are wet areas.  This evergreen forest is comprised of hemlock and spruce, with some pine.  Moss covers the ground.  It is like hiking in Maine or Quebec.  This forest is very beautiful.

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Where the grade begins to descend, and before it leaves the Emerald Forest over some boulders and ledges, you can hike off trail to the south to see the vista and Zion Rocks.  The vista is a window opening through the trees to the vast plateaus to the west.  It is notable for its isolation, no sign of development, and the plateaus look particularly impressive here.  It is also a good sunset vista.  Below the vista are a maze of massive boulders.  About 500 feet north of the vista are the incredible Zion Rocks where huge mansion-sized boulders feature overhangs, caves, and crevices.

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Back on the trail, descend and leave the Emerald Forest.  The trail levels and then drops down the benches of the mountain.  Two other grades join from the left but continue straight.  The trail curves right and descends.  Reach another grade and turn left, continuing the descent, which can be steep in places.  Reach the point where you began the loop and retrace your steps.

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Please treat this special place with respect.  The Emerald Forest is unique in PA for its size, composition, and scenery; help make sure it will be there for generations to come.

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More photos.

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Hike to White Brook Falls-SGL 57

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White Brook Falls, SGL 57

White Brook Falls, with its graceful spout, is one of the most scenic waterfalls in SGL 57. It is about 20 feet tall. This is largely an off trail hike that is moderate in difficulty and has two stream crossings.  It is about .75 mile, one way.

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Park at the game commission parking lot along Windy Valley Road (41.496502, -76.132023) and hike across the meadow to the back right hand (northwest) corner (41.497371, -76.134595). Climb a bank with some pickers and then ascend along a mowed area near some cabins or homes (41.497745, -76.135801). Don’t worry, you’re still on the game lands.

White Brook Falls, near Forkston

Follow an obvious path straight up through the pines. The trail does become steep. Leave the pines and veer right to an obvious old forest road. White Brook is now below you on the right.

From here, follow the old forest road for about 100 feet and then leave it to the right. Hike to the top of the steep bank above White Brook. Continue to follow the bank upstream for a short distance until you notice a buttress of land descending gradually to the brook, now descend (41.497591, -76.140524). Cross White Brook and pass a tree with a large burl. Reach an old grade and turn left onto it for a short distance. Cross White Brook again.

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The falls should now be in view. It is best to hike the south side of the stream to the falls (41.497237, -76.143642).  The falls are beautiful and unique, with a deep pool and a beautiful spout in normal flows. In high flows, the creek also tumbles down a slide next to the falls. There are slides and smaller falls below the main falls.

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Above White Brook Falls there are smaller cascades, slides, and boulders, but also lots of fallen trees from flood damage. It may not be worth the effort to hike above the falls.

Return the way you came.

More photos.

Hike to Koerber Falls-SGL 57

 

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Koerber Falls, SGL 57

 

Koerber Falls is one of many waterfalls in SGL 57. Although there is no trail, it is a fairly easy to moderate hike.

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Drive south on Windy Valley Road and cross the bridge. There is space to park on the right (41.490850, -76.132825). Hike across the road and head east, you will soon encounter a steep bank. Scramble up the best you can, I usually go up at a ravine eroded by a seasonal stream.  This is the toughest part of the hike.

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Now just follow the top of the bank, heading east. You will soon be hiking above the creek itself with a gorge and several slides, cascades, and pools. Reach an old grade and follow it.  Below is a gorge with more slides and cascades, including an 8 foot falls.

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Cross the creek above the 8 foot falls. Leave the grade and simply hike up the creek, heading east. The north side is best.

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Koerber Falls soon comes into view. It is 15 to 20 feet tall in a red rock grotto. There is a pool and many dripping springs. It is a beautiful falls that has great ice flows in winter. In spring, this hike has wildflowers. This falls flows most of the year, but can dry up in summer.  The falls are located at about 41.489664, -76.123440.

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There are no sizeable falls upstream other than some slides and cascades. After enjoying the beauty and isolation of this falls, return the way you came.  This hike is about .6 mile, one way.

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More photos.

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Waterfalls of Somer Brook Gorge-SGL 57

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Somer Brook is located deep in SGL 57.  It has carved a deep gorge in the plateau featuring big rocks, rapids, pools, slides, and several waterfalls.  It is a place of rugged, dramatic beauty.  A few weeks ago, I decided to check out this gorge.  With recent rains, and the game lands road to the top of the mountain opened for turkey hunting season, it was an ideal time to do some exploring.

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I parked at the last parking area before the gate and followed the gated roads, which were flowing with water through the spruce forests.  The woods were incredibly aromatic.  I turned right on the next road and crossed Somer Brook, rushing with water.  I continued on the road as it went around the top of the plateau until I reached a discreet side stream.  My bushwhack began as I descended this stream.

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This small stream proved to be gorgeous with a slide and then a 15 foot falls over a cliff.  Below was a gauntlet of large boulders and nonstop cascades and pools.

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The scenery became even better.  Three stream joined at the same place among a slope of large boulders.  There were waterfalls and cascades everywhere as the water tumbled over the boulders.  It was breathtaking.

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These three streams converged into a larger one that continued with cascades until it disappeared over the edge of a grotto.  I descended into the grotto to see a place of great beauty.  A 20 foot falls with huge car sized boulders at its base, followed by more waterfalls.  Ferns covered some of the boulders.  I named this place Atkinson Falls.

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As I negotiated the tough terrain, there were many loose rocks that shifted under my feet.  I stepped on one rock, and the other end shot up, slamming into my shin.  It was very painful as blood oozed from my leg.  I had no choice but to keep walking.

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Below was an 8 foot falls with a long slide over red bedrock.  I could see Atkinson Falls above through the trees.  This unnamed creek continued with rapids and boulders until it joined a rain swollen Somer Brook.

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Somer Brook worried me- it was a raging whitewater river as it surged between boulders and swirled through pools.  I needed to find a safe place to cross.  I made my way up the creek and found a calm, shallow pool above some rapids.  With my poles, I made it across safely but the current was surprisingly strong.  I looked upstream to see Somer Brook choked with boulders and whitewater.  This place was wild, untamed.

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I found another unnamed sidestream and began the arduous hike up.  My legs shook with pain and exhaustion.  This sidestream was filled with cascades over boulders, but no distinct falls.  I then reached Southbrook Road.

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I followed the road a short distance and then saw an old, discreet grade to my left.  I knew this led to the base of Somer Brook Falls, the tallest of them all.  I reached the base of the falls, crossing the powerful creek again above a 15 foot falls.  The base of the falls was filled with natural foam from the reddish swamp water.   I reached the point where the two branches of Somer Brook joined- it was awesome.  The forest and gorge were filled with the roar of water.  Trees dripped with moisture.

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I made my way up to Somer Brook Falls and it was a stunning sight as a torrent plummeted 80 or so feet through a chasm.  This is an amazing falls.  I made my way up the top of the chasm through a forest of hemlock and spruce.  Above is a beautiful spruce forest with a 3 foot falls over pebbly conglomerate.   I made my way through the deep green spruce forest over the blood-colored water from the tannins in the spruce and hemlocks.  I returned to the road and made my way back to the car.

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This is an amazing place, a gem in not only SGL 57, but all of Pennsylvania.  I’m glad I was able to experience it.

Location of Somer Brook Gorge.

More photos and videos.

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GPS coordinates of the scenic places in Somer Brook Gorge:

Boulder Cascades (above Atkinson Falls):  N 41 26.376  W 76 09.646

Atkinson Falls:  N 41 26.383  W 76 09.678

Somer Brook Falls: N 41 25.834  W 76 10.123

Parking area:  N 41 25.087  W 76 09.817  (Road to parking area is only open during the fall and spring hunting seasons)

My route:

My route