Shingle Cabin Branch Falls-Ricketts Glen State Park


Red are off trail routes.

Ricketts Glen is a very popular state park, known for its famous Falls Trail. But there is so much more to this large park. There are off trail vistas, secret gorges, and hidden waterfalls. Hopefully, the park will expand its system of hiking trails just as Worlds End has done.

On this hike, we did a loop of approximately five miles that went up the Old Bulldozer Road Trail, off trail to a vista, and then off trail down the rugged gorge of Shingle Cabin Branch. We then crossed chilly Kitchen Creek and hiked out along the Falls Trail.

The Old Bulldozer Road Trail is blazed red and follows an old grade or forest road up the mountain. It was a steady climb, steep in places, and featured primarily open hardwoods with laurel. The trail steepened as we neared the top and hiked along some ledges. At the top, the trail leveled and here we began our bushwhack to the east along the ridgeline. As we neared a private land boundary, there were some nice views to the south from ledges. If some trees were trimmed, the views would be spectacular. The views showed tiers of ridges to the south, and a water gap near Shickshinny. It was an impressive view of about thirty miles.

We returned to the Old Bulldozer Road Trail as it entered thick laurel and crossed the headwaters of Shingle Cabin Branch. Here, we left the trail and descended into the rugged, beautiful gorge with cascades, boulders, and ledges. As we descended, we stayed on the north side of the creek where we encountered more cascades and some large old growth hemlock trees. Other hemlocks succumbed to the woolly adelgid. We soon reached the top of the impressive Shingle Cabin Branch Falls and made a steep descent to the bottom. The falls are in a beautiful grotto with tiers of bedrock and are about 35 feet tall. It is a hidden gem in Ricketts Glen, and only about 500 feet from Kitchen Creek. In winter, the ice flows must be impressive.

We hiked along Shingle Cabin Branch and reached Kitchen Creek below Murray Reynolds Falls. After crossing chilly Kitchen Creek, we hiked out along the sublime Falls Trail in the bright morning light. Kitchen Creek tumbled besides us, adorned with icicles, as we hiked under towering hemlock trees. Other hikers passed us, unaware of all the beauty that lies just off the trail. We returned to our cars and headed home.

We parked at 41.300336, -76.273014.

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Shingle Cabin Branch was beautiful.

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Kitchen Creek.

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Flat Top and Mehoopany Creek Gorge Vistas-SGL 57


Mehoopany Creek Gorge Vista, SGL 57

This hike is a classic in SGL 57 and is probably the most “popular” although that is a relative term for this isolated area.  It is unique as it mostly follows old logging roads and grades with little bushwhacking, making it a more traditional hike than others in SGL 57.  However, no trails have blazes or signs.  I had been to Flat Top Vista, also known as Raven Rock or Buzzards Peak, many times.  It is a beautiful view.  I suspected there might be another view further down the ridge, so we decided to investigate.

From the parking area, there is a field.  Sometimes there is a mowed path, sometimes there is not.  Work your way to the northwest/right hand corner of the field, there may be some pickers, go up a bank, and hike up a mowed area next to a house and cottage.  Don’t worry, you are still on game lands.  The obvious grade continues steeply up through a pine forest.  Out of the pine forest, the hike veers right onto another obvious grade and continues to climb.  Below you to the right is White Brook and a beautiful 20 foot falls, but it is off trail.  Continue to hike up the old, eroded grade.  Reach an area with a lot of vines and a grade to the left, turn left.  This grade is obvious and meanders up the plateau.  Climbs are separated by level sections.  On the final climb, hike up with large rocks off to your right.  Reach a T intersection, turn left.  


The trail is now level, and wet in places.  Reach an area with more laurel on the left and a trail, take it (if you continue on the grade you were on, you will cross a small stream, indicating you went too far).  The trail goes through the laurel and soon reaches Flat Top Vista with its commanding view up the Mehoopany Creek and over a steep gorge with an unnamed stream that has seasonal waterfalls.  We sat and enjoyed the view.

Now it was time for the bushwhack and we followed the edge of the plateau down, passing another view.  We had to go through the laurel, but a bear path along the edge made the hiking a little easier.  Just off the edge was a large round boulder, cracked down the middle; it is called Split Rock.  Soon, massive rocks and boulders covered the slope below us, offering more partial views as we negotiated the tough terrain.  We reached a fine view looking up the Mehoopany Creek Gorge and an even better view next to that one.  The view was stunning as it looked right up the gorge, as tiers of ridges and gorges sloped down to the bottom.  Thirteen miles away was the dome at Red Rock. 

We were impressed by the view, which was even more scenic than Flat Top Vista despite being a little lower in elevation.  So, we named it the Mehoopany Creek Gorge Vista.  The view rises 900 feet above the creek, and the gorge is over 1,100 feet deep.  Another view looks up the steep gorge of Kasson Brook.  I can’t wait to return to this view in the Autumn or on a Summer morning when the view is above the clouds and mist in the gorge.  SGL 57 has so many secrets.  

Parking is located at 41.496548, -76.132059.

This is described as Hike No. 14 in Hiking the Endless Mountains.      



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Canyons of rust and white.

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Split rock, SGL 57.

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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.

More photos.


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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