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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Exploring Sullivan Mountain and Buck Run-Loyalsock State Forest

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Red is off trail.  Yellow follows old grades or forest roads.

Back in December I went on a hike to see an off trail falls near Sullivan Mountain in the Loyalsock State Forest, and to explore Buck Run. I wasn’t going to post the hike because my route involved a lot of backtracking. However, this isolated area has some unique beauty that I realized was worthy of sharing.

I parked at a small lot near where Yellow Dog and Ellenton Ridge Roads meet. I followed the forest road to the west, which was often wet. The road passed through a logged area, but then entered more scenic forests, spruce groves, and a mossy wetland with blood red pitcher plants. I soon reached the Old Loggers Path at Buck Run; I would return to this spot later in my hike. I followed the OLP for a short distance, but then turned left onto the Crandalltown Trail, an unblazed grade. This obvious grade took me across the OLP and I continued to the right onto another unmarked, obvious grade. This grade took me along some giant boulders. One was adorned with moss and had trees growing out of it.

The grade was a very nice hike as it traversed the southern edge of the plateau, passing small fern meadows. Through the trees I could see over Pleasant Stream’s valley. I loved the isolation of this route. I soon reached a small, unnamed stream. My bushwhack began.

I suspected there was a waterfall down this creek. The terrain was very steep and I soon came upon a rugged grotto and a scenic 40 foot falls. The top part of the falls was framed by cliffs of fractured rock. I continued down the steep gorge where there were more boulders and cascades, but no more falls. If hiking to the falls, I would not suggest going further downstream below the falls due to the rugged terrain. I made the arduous climb out of the gorge and retraced my steps back to Buck Run.

The next part of my hike was an off trail exploration of Buck Run. It is a very scenic stream. The gorge has many large boulders and cascades. As I descended, the creek became a gauntlet of boulders and rapids. There were countless cascades. Large cliffs then rose on the north side of the creek, creating an impressive gorge. Scars of landslides from recent floods appeared in places. While Buck Run doesn’t have the sizeable waterfalls, it is still a very scenic place. I hiked out of Buck Run by climbing to the top of the cliff; there were some partial views. I made my way up Buck Run, returned to the OLP, and retraced my steps to the car in twilight.

I hope to return to this area to explore the giant rocks and cliffs that cover the top of Sullivan Mountain’s plateau.

I parked at 41.523299, -76.869160.

Shingle Cabin Branch Falls-Ricketts Glen State Park

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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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Waterfalls of Dutchmans and Abbot Runs-McIntyre Wild Area

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Description below is clockwise on the loop depicted on the map.  Map created by Ben Van Riper.

The McIntyre Wild Are has long attracted the attention of outdoor enthusiasts. It features several gorges with waterfalls, vistas, diverse forests, small ponds, a cemetery and other historical remnants from the mining area. I really wanted to return to Dutchmans and Abbot Run; I had seen these streams years ago and was amazed by the rugged gorges and stunning array of waterfalls. The other month, I finally returned.  We explored the wild area over two hikes.

I met Ben at a small parking area along McIntyre Road. Because this area was once mined, it is filled with a web of old grades. We followed some grades down Dutchmans Run to see the first of its waterfalls where the gorge began to cut into the plateau. We came upon a twenty foot falls shrouded in hemlocks as a small side stream joined with its own cascade. There was also an impressive stone retaining wall and a culvert with thick wooden timbers. We continued down, following a grade on the north side of the creek. Above us was a culm pile, we climbed to it to see a fine view across the gorge of Dutchmans Run.

We continued down the grade until it crossed the creek. Only metal poles remained of the bridge. We crossed and entered thick hemlock. We wanted to see the creek and hiked to it. There was a stunning chasm and cascade. Below was a massive stone wall that was part of some kind of tram that would bring coal down off the mountain. The scenery was incredible as the water roared against the cliff walls. We returned to the grade and descended, only to be greeted with another falls from a side stream.

The grade dropped along the deep gorge, but it began to curve away from the creek, so we left it and descended. We made the rugged off trail hike up Dutchmans Run to see another thirty foot falls. A variety of ten foot falls were downstream. We headed downstream to see the final falls, and the most beautiful. A forty foot straight drop falls creating a veil of water.

We now wanted to head north to Abbot Run. We climbed above the final/bottom falls on Dutchmans Run and found an old grade that headed north. It was a little eroded in places, but we were able to follow it. It vanished for good and we descended to Abbot Run. Abbot Run was amazing, there was a thirty foot falls at the bottom with a pool. Towering cliffs loomed over the falls. We made the difficult scramble up into the chasm (not recommended) which was incredibly scenic. The creek was incased with cliffs as water tumbled over falls. A side stream joined with a falls and the chasm ended at a twenty five foot falls. We scrambled up the north side of Abbot Run to a grade.

To see Ben’s Vista, we walked down the grade to the side stream and then hiked north up along the side stream on a faint skid trail or grade. This faded out, so we followed the small side stream uphill to a series of ledges with cascades. In winter, a very impressive ice cave forms. From there, we hiked above the ledges to the west to Ben’s Vista, which is from an outcrop. It offers a great view looking down the narrow, twisting Lycoming Creek Valley. This is a dramatic cliff rim north of Ben’s Vista, where a bear trail provides some access, although the laurel is still thick in spots. The cliffs are exposed and offer great views, but the views are limited to looking across the valley, or south. As you head north, the cliffs offer views north into the rugged hills of southern Tioga County. These cliffs are on private land, but it was not posted. While the cliffs are very dramatic, the view from Ben’s Vista is just as good, if not better.

Back on Abbot Run, we headed up the grade and reached a place where the two forks of the creek met. What an amazing place. We could see waterfalls on both forks, creating a stunning view. One was about ten feet tall, the other about thirty. We hiked up the north fork, off trail, and entered a rugged, foreboding gorge as cliffs rose around us. We turned the corner to see another thirty foot falls featuring a drop and broad slide. We returned to where the two forks met and hiked up the south fork (Abbott Run on the map). We then headed south back to the car along old grades, an off trail hike, and through spruce forests.

One final unique spot is the source of Dutchmans Run, which is just off of McIntyre Road. We hiked up the creek to enter a trench of excavated area. There, a large pristine spring gushes from the earth. It was as if the spring was revealed while the land was being excavated.

This is a rugged, challenging hike perfect for the experienced hiker who is comfortable with off trail navigation. It follows a combination of grades and off trail hiking. No trails are marked or have signs. It is about nine to ten miles in length. The beauty and diversity of this hike is truly exceptional and the history makes it that much more fascinating.  PA is so beautiful.  Explore it.

Parking is at 41.530888, -76.932878.  It is pull off parking, not a formal parking area.

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Abbott Run, Loyalsock State Forest.

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In the gorge of Dutchman Run.

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Confluence of Abbott 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.

More photos.

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