Sandy Bottom Vista-SGL 134


Sand Bottom Vista in SGL 134.  Looking into the Loyalsock State Forest.

Pennsylvania has many vistas from isolated cliffs and meadows.  However, for some reason, trails rarely seem to go to them.  One such vista is in SGL 134 as it looks over Sandy Bottom in the Loyalsock State Forest.  We call it the Sandy Bottom Vista.


I drove up the game commission road from Hoppestown Road and parked at the lot.  Ben was there and we continued down the gated road to the left and entered the woods.  This is an off trail hike.  The hemlocks forests were beautiful and made the hike fairly easy.  We continued along the contour of the plateau above an unnamed stream, heading south.  We descended to some large ledges and soon reached the view.


The view was truly breathtaking, rising 700 feet above the Loyalsock Creek.  The vista is at the top of a towering cliff and offers a near 180 degree view.  We could see the bend of the creek below and the tiers of ridges and plateaus.  Hawks soared below us.


Nearby is a unique pedestal rock with its own superb view.  You do have to jump a couple feet to get to the rock.  If you are afraid of heights, do not go onto it.


The setting behind the view was beautiful with cliffs and ledges.  Hemlocks grew over carpets of moss.  It felt like an island in the sky.  There was one more view along the escarpment of cliffs.


From the view we descended to the unnamed creek to the east.  I would not recommend doing this as it is steep.  The creek is beautiful with an assortment of cascades and an old grade on the west side does provide access.  The east branch of this creek does feature many large cascades and a 15 foot falls.  There are also some large trees.  The east branch has the old grade, unique old stone retaining walls, and a spring cascade that pours out the ground.  If you want to explore the creek, I suggest taking the grade down from the top.  Keep in mind the grade fades out before meeting the road to Huckle Run.


The hike to the vista is about .75 miles, one way.  It is off trail.  The best approach is to the follow the rim of the plateau above the unnamed creek to the east, descend gradually, and curve right below some ledges to the vistas.

Park at 41.420963, -76.751659.  Vista is at 41.409875, -76.749178.

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Red is the off trail route to the vista.  Green is the old grade above the unnamed creek.


Rider Park


View of Smiths Knob from Rider Park

After enduring the vicious mosquitoes at Jacoby Falls, I decided to give hiking a second try at nearby Rider Park.  There I was met with pleasant conditions.  No bugs, and a slight breeze.  My enjoyment of hiking returned.


Rider Park is privately owned, but open to the public.  It was a gift of Thomas J. Rider to the local community.  It is a beautiful park with 10 miles of trails arranged in a variety of loops that go to vistas, explore forests, and cross meadows filled with wildflowers.  The terrain at the park tends to be moderate with gradual changes in elevation.

What trails should you hike at the park?  Do not miss the Katy Jane or Francis X. Kennedy Trails.  The Katy Jane Trail is a 2.5 mile loop that goes to two beautiful vistas that look south over foothills and farms to distant ridges.


The Francis X. Kennedy Trail passes along meadows, enters the woods, and reaches a beautiful view looking up the narrow Loyalsock Creek valley to the distinctive peak of Smiths Knob.  It is about a mile long.

The Meadow Loop, as the name implies, circles meadows and fields which are great for birdwatching and wildflowers.  Cheryl’s Trail explores the more isolated northern parts of the park with forests and small meadows.  This trail also connects to others in the Loyalsock State Forest.  In fact, it is possible to hike from Jacoby Falls to Rider Park.

Rider Park is a great place to take a hike.

Map and brochure.

The parking area is located at 41.347179, -76.936413.

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Marie Antoinette Lookout-Route 6


Sunset from the Marie Antoinette Lookout.

Between Wyalusing and Towanda, there are two lookouts along Route 6-Wyalusing Rocks and Marie Antoinette.  While I had been to the Wyalusing Rocks several times, I couldn’t recall when I had been to the Marie Antoinette Lookout.  After driving by a thousand times, I decided to stop by.  And I chose the perfect time, just as the sun was setting.


I pulled in and was immediately impressed by the view, which I think is even more beautiful than the Wyalusing Rocks.  Here, the lookout is over 400 feet above the Susquehanna River and offers a tremendous view of the sweeping river.  To the left, the river appears to enter a canyon as it becomes surrounded by steep, forested slopes.  In the distance are rolling mountains.


Below the overlook is a field and the French Azilum where the French nobility hoped to find refuge during, and after, the French Revolution.  It was hoped Marie Antoinette would join them.  While a few nobility did arrive, the settlement didn’t last long.


As I sat at the view, the sun began to melt into the clouds and disappear behind the horizon as twilight shrouded the Susquehanna River.

The lookout is located at 41.731054, -76.297383.

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Lambs Lookout-Tioga State Forest


View from Lambs Lookout, Tioga State Forest.

Lambs Lookout, also known as Lambs Vista, is a little-known vista in the eastern end of the Tioga State Forest.  For some reason, it is not shown on the state forest maps.  It is notable for its fine view to the east, and the fact you can see Elk Mountain on a clear day, an incredible distance of over 50 miles.  Vast plateaus rise to the southeast, as rolling farmlands spread out below the vista.


This is not a hike, as a road goes to the vista.  There is a field and a picnic table.  There are spruce forests near the field.  A trail does climb to the vista, I presume it comes from the road below.  I did not hike it.


This is an incredible view for sunrises.  The view is located at 41.690172, -76.866366.

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Rimrock Overlook-Allegheny National Forest


Rimrock Overlook, Allegheny National Forest

Rimrock is the most popular overlook in the Allegheny National Forest.  From the parking area, I hiked the trail down along large boulders to two vistas from the top of the cliffs.  Mist shrouded the Allegheny Reservoir far below.  I could see across the vast, forested expanse of the national forest.


A unique feature at the overlook is a staircase that goes down through a cave or chasm.  It is very narrow, a slightly slanted, making it a little awkward.  Due to the rain, drops fell from the cliffs and ledges.


I reached the bottom of the cliffs and explored them.  There were huge overhangs and sheer rock walls.  The massive rocks were separated by narrow cracks.  In hot weather, these cracks blow out cold air.  Moss and lichens adorned the rocks as the mist covered them in a glaze of moisture.


The Rimrock Trail, a fairly new trail, leaves the base of the cliffs and descends to the Kinzua Beach picnic area, it is a little over a mile long.


The vista is good for both sunrises and sunsets due to its southern exposure.

Rimrock also features a picnic area and restrooms.  When exploring the Allegheny National Forest, be sure to visit Rimrock.


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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.

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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.