Waterfalls of the Briskey Brook Gorges-SGL 66

 

Map: 

SGL 66 has been a hiking enigma to me- few trails, isolated, and with limited road access. In all my years of hiking, I had never stepped foot into it. This year I finally did and it began to reveal its hidden beauty- waterfall glens, massive rocks, chasms, wildflowers, and diverse wetlands. We explored this area over two hikes. On the first hike our goal was a gorge on the northern slope of SGL 66 which promised to have waterfalls. Initially we named this unnamed creek the Trillium Gorge due to all the trilliums that were growing. We then changed the name to reflect the mountain from which it flows-Briskey Brook.  On the map it is referred to as the East Gorge.  Ben joined me on this hike.

I like hikes that begin with some mystery, not knowing what to expect. Will the hike be surprisingly beautiful or a waste of time? We followed a gated game commission logging road north for a half mile. Where the road turned left, we went right and crossed the creek, following an old railroad grade north. This grade was overgrown in places, and often wet, but it was followable. We circumvented a wetland and hiked through groves of hemlocks. One interesting spot was some metal ruins, possibly of a boiler of some kind. The metal was still as solid as the day it was made.

The grade continued north and as we neared the escarpment of the plateau, we left the grade and descended off trail, exploring massive rocks and chasms. We dropped down into the gorge, where we could hear waterfalls. At first we followed a small runoff stream, where we saw a small falls. At first, I thought that was Briskey Brook. But then Briskey Brook revealed itself as it descended a rugged gorge. The waterfalls were beautiful, and one reaching over 30 feet tall. I was also impressed by all the trilliums growing, including acres of dutchmans breeches. The wildflowers were beautiful. Ben and I were immediately stunned by this hidden gorge. We wondered if there were more falls downstream, but time wasn’t on our side. We made our way up the gorge, encountering falls after falls. Some were slides, other steep drops into pools. At the top was a beautiful grotto of fractured bedrock that we were able to climb into.  We eventually made our way back the way we came. 

On the second hike, our goal was the West Gorge, as shown on the map.  We hiked in on the old railroad grade, left it, and headed north to the top of the East Gorge.  We then descended to the bottom of the West Gorge.  From there we hiked up.  The best falls were at the bottom, at about 25 feet tall. There were many other falls and cascades, between 5-15 feet tall.  We encountered grottos of bedrock and moss covered boulders.  The top falls of the West Gorge featured another grotto and a beautiful 20 foot falls.  The West Gorge was very scenic, but not as scenic as the East Gorge.  The stream in the West Gorge is also smaller than the one in the East.

We then hiked south near some wetlands to some incredible rock features.  We explored massive boulders, mazes, and outcrops.  If you are hiking to see these falls, then you must also include a visit to these impressive rocks.  We then hiked south, off trail, back to the railroad grade and returned to our cars.

The map shows an ideal route that includes boulders and mazes, and both gorges.  It is best to go down the West Gorge, and then up the East Gorge since that is the more scenic one.  Be prepared for very steep terrain.  

The northern escarpment of SGL 57 and 66 is PA’s secret waterfall world with several streams featuring dozens of waterfalls.

For good flow, the Loyalsock Creek USGS gauge should read at least 2.0 feet. For the pictures below, Trillium Gorge has been renamed Briskey Brook Gorge.

We parked at 41.481973, -76.272910.

This hike as shown on the map is about 11 miles.

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Slot canyons in SGL 66.

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Thomas Run Falls and Little Schrader Creek-SGL 12

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Black follows gravel or logging roads.  Red is off trail.  Yellow is an established trail up along Little Schrader Creek; it is not blazed or signed.

Southern Bradford County is home to SGL 12 and 36, vast public lands that feature remarkable natural beauty. Near the former logging town of Laquin, now a shadow of its former self with only a few homes and cabins, is an isolated hike to beautiful streams and waterfalls. Laquin was once home to 2,000 people, now, you will likely have this hike all to yourself.

From the game commission parking area, hike around the gate and simply follow the gravel road, which was once a railroad. After a half mile, cross Little Schrader Creek on a bridge and see a distinct path to your right crossing a small meadow. Remember this spot for your return from Thomas Run Falls, for it is the trail to the falls and cascades on Little Schrader Creek.

Continue hiking the road. Overall, it is a nice hike. One highlight are some large meadows which offer views, not to mention opportunities to see wildlife and birds. Reach a new logging road to your right (located at about 41.604664, -76.675140). Turn right and follow for a thousand feet until the road makes a sharp right turn. Here, go off trail to the left; there may be an old grade. You will soon reach Thomas Run. Hike off trail up the run. You will enter a gorge with cascades and boulders. Cliffs loom overhead. Thomas Run Falls soon comes into view and it is a beautiful setting. Counting the cascades just downstream, the height of the falls is 20-25 feet. What is unique is that you are gorged in, there is no safe way to hike above the falls as it is surrounded by cliffs. It is a truly beautiful, out of the way spot. The falls are located at about 41.606006, -76.681902. Return the way you came.

Back at Little Schrader Creek, take the path across the meadow, now on your left. The path has no blazes or signs, but it is well established. The path follows impressive old grades with huge stone retaining walls, some of which are collapsing. Enter an impressive gorge with rapids, cliffs, and cascades. The first falls is a narrow chute with overhanging ledges and a deep pool. The path continues across another meadow and into a second gorge with another falls and pool. It is hard to get good photos of both falls due to their position. Little Schrader Creek is very scenic and is well worth the hike. It is described in Hiking the Endless Mountains. Return the way you came.

Park at 41.624435, -76.659780. The hike is about two miles, one way, to Thomas Run Falls. No trails have signs or blazes.

Photos and video:

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Thomas Run Falls, SGL 12.

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Waterfalls of Satterlee Run-SGL 36

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Yellow is the unblazed forest road down to Satterlee Run.  Short off trail hike is required to reach the falls.  Orange is an unblazed but established trail up to Split Rock Vista; the maze is nearby and just further to the west.

Satterlee Run carves a gorge down through Kellogg Mountain and where the two branches of the run meet, there are an impressive series of waterfalls.  In fact, you can look up both glens to see waterfalls.  This is a place of stunning beauty and a must visit for any waterfall enthusiast.

I first visited Satterlee Run a couple years ago, where I had an exciting bear encounter (click the link for other photos).  For that hike, I followed Satterlee Hollow Road from Kellogg Road, and then up an old woods road to the waterfalls.  While it was not posted on that hike, that route does appear to cross private land so it is not recommended.  This route is all on state game lands.

From Deep Hollow or Hatch Hill Road, follow the game commission access road to the first gate.  If the gate is closed, your hike will have to begin here.  If the gate is open, usually during hunting season in the Fall and Spring, drive to the next gate and parking area.  The road was in good shape during my visit and can be driven by a car.  From the second gate it is less than two miles, one way, down to the waterfalls.

Follow the road north where it can be grassy, and wet.  Where a road leaves to the left, take it.  It is a gravel road in good shape.  The road traverses the top of the plateau and then begins to wind down towards Satterlee Run.  As it descends, the road becomes more eroded.  Cross small streams along the way.

Once at the bottom, leave the road and hike off trail down to where the branches of Satterlee Run meet (the road does not directly pass or go near the falls).  This is place of great beauty.  Cross the creek as best you can and hike up the south branch first.  Be careful along the steep terrain.  The waterfalls are beautiful and there are four of them.  Even a small sidestream joins with waterfalls.

Return to where the two branches meet and hike up the main branch of Satterlee Run.  Generally, you will hike on the north side of the creek as the south side is steeper and higher.  There are four falls on this section, ranging from 15 to 30 feet tall.  Be careful along the steep terrain.  The third falls up has a unique stone retaining wall at the top, although part of it has been damaged from floods.  The glen is very scenic with moss, cascades, and smooth bedrock.  Above the third falls, the creek is mellow but as you go upstream a gorge forms again and there is a fourth falls, a steep and beautiful slide in an impressive grotto.  Return the way you came, back up the road and to your car.

SGL 36 is a beautiful place and I hope to explore more of it.  To the north are the impressive Kellogg Mountain vistas from cliffs of white rock.  I believe another vista may exist east of Satterlee Run.  Deep Hollow Falls and Split Rock are nearby and feature a view, rock maze, and a series of waterfalls.

I parked at 41.638086, -76.499098 (only accessible when gate is open).  If the gate is not open, this is as far as you can drive: 41.621888, -76.500854.

41.645424, -76.471889: where the two branches meet and where you will want to begin your exploration of the waterfalls.

Photos and video:

Waterfalls of Burgess Brook Gorge-SGL 57

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Red is off trail.  Orange is old ATV trail.  Yellow are grades or old forest roads.  There are wet areas on the top of the plateau.  SGL 57 boundary extends further down Burgess Brook than shown on this map.  There are no bridges across streams.  Map is modeled off of one prepared by Ben Van Riper.

Burgess Brook is another of SGL 57’s beautiful places. When I first started exploring SGL 57 over a decade ago, the vista at the top of the brook was one of the first places I visited. I never considered exploring the creek below, thinking there weren’t any waterfalls. As it turns out, there are several beautiful falls in this rugged gorge. The beauty of this area does not stop.

Private land blocks the bottom part of the gorge, so a long hike from the White Brook parking area is required. The hike down into, and out of, the gorge is steep and rugged, although an old grade does provide access. Only experienced hikers should attempt this trek. Ryan joined me on this hike.

Like so many hikes in SGL 57, begin at the game commission parking area at White Brook, along Windy Valley Road. Cross a field to the northwest corner, hike up past some houses, enter a pine forest where the trail became steeper, and then reach the old grade above White Brook, which you should followed up. This hike has choices. Route A on the map is the easiest to navigate, but the climb is relentless. Route C is the most scenic, as it stays close to White Brook with its large boulders and cascades, although the grade can be a little hard to follow after crossing the creek and proceeding north to Route B. Route B is a fine route, offering a more gradual ascent with views down into the gorge of White Brook and a stream crossing with cascades. A good idea is to take C up and return via B. When crossing White Brook, expect erosion and steep slopes from recent floods.

At the top, reach a wet area and follow an old ATV trail as it climbs to the base of the Bartlett Mountain Balds. There forests here are scenic with fern meadows and spruce trees. The old ATV trail fades out and an easy bushwhack is required through open woodlands with spruce and large hardwoods. Wet areas return and another ATV trail makes an appearance, which I followed down to an obvious old forest grade or road. Turn left here.

We hiked out to the vista. Grades also provide access down into the gorge. The top two falls are nice, but can be missed. The remaining falls should not be missed. It is best to hike down the steep grade to the east of Burgess Brook to the bottom where there is a stunning 15 foot falls in a beautiful gorge. We went behind this falls. It is then best to hike off trail up Burgess Brook to see the other falls. Reach a falls with three drops, totaling about 50 feet. Above was a 30 foot falls. There were nonstop smaller falls and cascades. The beauty was incredible. Above the 30 foot falls was an old grade you can use to hike back out. There are two more falls above, one was inundated with trees, and the top falls was unique as it tumbled over a broad ledge, we were able to hike behind this one as well. Overall, however, the falls in the bottom half of the gorge are more scenic.

While enjoying the falls, surrounded by the roar of water. Ryan told me to look downstream where we saw a mother bear and three cubs crossing the cascades on a log. An amazing sight. They didn’t hear us due to the roar of the water. They ambled into the woods as the cubs seem to bounce along, exploring logs and stumps.

We made our way back across the wilderness of the plateau, our legs exhausted from the long hike, as the sun began to set. Once again, we were amazed by the hidden beauty in our backyards. Pennsylvania is an amazing state.

Park at: 41.496512, -76.131986

Burgess Brook Gorge is at: 41.518219, -76.178261

The hike is about 6 miles, one way.  The Loyalsock Creek USGS gauge should read 2.0 feet or higher as an approximate correlation for good water flow.

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Cascades on Burgess Brook, SGL 57.

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Hike to Kelsey Falls-Loyalsock State Forest

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Yellow is a gated forest road.  Red is a bushwhack.  Blue is an old skid trail.

The Loyalsock State Forest is home to dozens of waterfalls. Some are well-known, others are virtually unknown. I recently went on a hike into a rugged gorge northwest of Worlds End State Park to see if such a falls existed. I parked at a pull off along Loyalsock Road and followed a forest road that was gated. The forest road crossed an area that had been logged. Where the road began to curve around to the right, I left the road to begin a bushwhack into a hemlock forest and down along some ledges.

I dropped down to a small stream that had carved a mini-glen with small cascades. I followed this creek down and entered a scenic area with several large car and truck sized boulders. The small creek flowed around some of them. I angled to the northwest and continued a moderate descent, crossed a seasonal run-off streambed, and came across a skid trail, marked by what looked like a shallow ditch that went straight down the mountain. These trails were used in the lumber era to skid or slide logs down to the valley.

The skid trail was fairly easy to follow as it descended into a beautiful hemlock forest. Off to my left was the deep, rugged gorge where I hoped to find a waterfall. The skid trail moved closer to the edge of the gorge as it continued its steep descent. Near the bottom, the skid trail crossed into private land, so I dropped down to my left. I soon reached the unnamed creek and a beautiful 20-25 foot falls set in a grotto. The falls featured some bedrock cascades, then a free fall, followed by a steep slide. It was a very photogenic falls and it was possible to walk behind the falls. The falls was in the state forest, although a private property line crossed downstream from it. It appeared no one really visited the falls as there were no signs of a path. I called it Kelsey Falls. The bright sun was less than ideal for photography, but this falls would be stunning with some long exposure shots.

There appeared to be no more waterfalls downstream. I retraced my steps back to my car. This hike is about 1.5 miles one way, and requires a 700 foot vertical descent down and back up the gorge. It is a scenic hike, but only experienced hikers should attempt it.  No trails are marked or blazed. Maybe someday a trail will be built from Forksville to the falls. It would make a nice tourist attraction for Forksville, and a much easier hike.

The falls are likely dry in summer. It is best to see it when the USGS Loyalsock Creek gauge is 3.5 feet or higher.

I parked at 41.487216, -76.588058 to begin the hike.  The falls are located at about 41.494702, -76.591438.

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Kelsey Falls, Loyalsock State Forest.

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Kelsey Falls, Loyalsock State Forest.

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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 a Hidden Waterfall Glen-SGL 134

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Yellow is a gated forest road.  Red is off trail.  Green is the easiest route, but may cross private property.

SGL 134 is a hidden gem, lying in the shadow of the Loyalsock State Forest. Here you will find beautiful vistas from cliffs over the narrow, rugged Loyalsock Creek valley. There is also Huckle Run, a small stream of stunning beauty with pristine water and a gorge with several waterfalls. The forests feature extensive hemlocks and large tulip poplar trees.

A few months ago I returned to SGL 134 to explore the gorge of an unnamed stream located north of Dry Run, near the village of Barbours. I suspected there would be waterfalls. Without a trail, I would have to bushwhack into the gorge. I parked along Proctor Road and hiked up a gate game commission road. I then began my off trail hike by climbing up the plateau to a ridge with many ledges and outcrops, including a unique stone pillar or pedestal. There were some partial views through the trees. I descended along the ridge and entered the gorge. Below me was a 15 foot falls in a scenic grotto.

Unfortunately, this is a small stream that does not hold water well. While it was running on my hike, it was low. I suggest the best time to see the falls is when the Loyalsock Creek is running at 6 feet or higher, as a rough approximation. I climbed up the gorge to see a 20 foot falls that tumbled over tiers of ledges. I couldn’t climb above this falls, so I backtracked down the creek and found an old grade on the west side. I climbed up the grade and saw a couple more scenic falls, about ten feet tall, often in grottos of sandstone. I continued my climb up the creek passing small cascades and slides under large hemlocks. Giant tulip poplars towered in the forest. I reached a deer fence and an old forest road with briars; I stayed in the woods. I followed a more open forest road and hiked around the deer fence. I descended to the game commission road and returned to my car.

My route wasn’t very ideal. It would be best to follow the green route on the map into the gorge, but it was not clear on my hike if that would cross private land. The ridge with the ledges was scenic, as was the gorge. Getting around the deer fence and logged area was a pain.

If you are looking for a new waterfall destination when all the creeks are high, I recommend this unnamed gorge. I also hope to explore nearby Dry Run sometime this year.

I parked at 41.411242, -76.804107.

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Rock columns.

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Huge tulip poplar and some beech.

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Hemlock woods.

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