Waterfalls of Maple Spring Run- Ricketts Glen State Park


Porcupine Falls, Maple Spring Run, Ricketts Glen State Park

Ricketts Glen is one of PA’s most popular, and beautiful, state parks. The famed Falls Trail takes hikers under old growth forests and along many waterfalls. However, this large park has many secrets besides the popular Falls Trail. I decided to explore Maple Spring Run to see what hid in its deep, isolated gorge.


I parked off of PA 118 and walked up the Falls Trail, passing several other hikers. This trail was not crowded, yet. After the third bridge, I went off the Falls Trail and began to bushwhack up Maple Spring Run. I soon encountered a maintenance trail to allow workers to access the Falls Trail for repairs. I continued up Maple Spring Run and was impressed by the towering trees and pristine stream that tumbled over mossy boulders. The stinging nettle made the hiking tedious, so I stayed close to the creek. A side stream joined from the left and I continued right. The gorge became steeper and I soon encountered the first falls, partially concealed by a fallen log. It was about 20 feet tall.


I scrambled above to see a series of beautiful cascades that led to huge boulders, ledges and a 15 foot falls. This gorge was once home to some truly huge hemlock trees. Sadly, most are now dead. Regardless, the isolation and scenery made Maple Spring Run feel primeval.


I climbed above this second falls and pushed upstream over the difficult terrain. I soon reached the finest falls on Maple Spring Run- Porcupine Falls. A truly beautiful sight with a column of water dropping straight off a cliff. There were additional 8 foot drops above and below. In total, this falls is about 40 feet tall; the two uppermost drops make the falls about 25 feet tall.


Nearby were cliffs and ledges with rock overhangs. I scrambled to the top to see some partial views from the cliffs into the misty gorge below.


I continued up the creek to see more cascades under hemlocks. I came to a final falls, about 20 feet tall in a glen. Another climb brought me to the Old Beaver Dam Road Trail, where I turned right. It seemed so easy to hike on a level, established trail as I sailed through beautiful forests of pine, hemlock, and laurel. I could hear the waterfalls of Kitchen Creek roaring far below.


Another trail soon returned me to the Falls Trail in Ganoga Glen. After hiking alone in the rugged wilderness of Maple Spring Run, I had culture shock from being surrounded by so many people. The Falls Trail was impressive with the high water flow and tremendous, powerful falls. Each was impressive, particularly Ganoga Falls, but I tried to avoid the crowds. I began to miss the isolation of Maple Spring Run.


I retraced my steps and returned to my car. I know there are more secrets in this famous park.

More photos.

When hiking Maple Spring Run, keep in mind it is rugged and stinging nettle is prevalent in summer.  This is a small stream that can disappear when it is dry out.  This is far more difficult than the Falls Trail and only experienced hikers should attempt it.

For the map below, the route along Maple Spring Run is off trail and not blazed.




Waterfalls of Hemlock Run-SGL 13


Hemlock Run, SGL 13

In the isolated western ramparts of SGL 13 is a stream called Hemlock Run.  I have long suspected it had waterfalls, so I went to find out.


There is a parking area and a small sign identifying the creek, located at 41.318183, -76.506174.  The road leading to Hemlock Run may be gated outside of hunting season.  A car can negotiate this road, but it is a little rough and a vehicle with some clearance is a good idea.


I parked at the parking area and there was a gated road to the west of the run.  Because this road climbed high above Hemlock Run, I decided not to take it.  Rather, I hiked up the run instead.


There was a faint footpath that crossed the run a few times.  It was a beautiful area.  Hemlock Run doesn’t have many hemlocks, but there were plenty of spruce growing, enhancing the scenery.  Red trilliums dotted the ground.


The faint trail I was on evaporated in brushy and wet areas, so I continued to follow the run as it tumbled over cobblestones.  The run turned west and entered a rocky gorge with moss and springs.  The rock was loose and shifted under my feet.  The first falls was about 6 feet, the second about 15, and the third about 12.  The isolation of this place was incredible.


I bushwhacked south, over a ridge and down to a tributary stream of Hemlock Run, where there was a cool, little gorge.  I then retraced my steps back to my car under drizzling rain.


I drove back down the road where I saw a sign for Deep Hollow.  Intrigued, I had to explore.  I found a trail on the west side of the creek and some small waterfalls.  I climbed up the gorge.  It featured open hardwoods with some large trees, but no more waterfalls.  Regardless, it was a beautiful place.


SGL 13 is a waterfall paradise.  I have seen about forty waterfalls on these game lands.

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Little Schrader Creek and Carbon Run-SGL 12


Little Schrader Creek, SGL 12

Little Schrader Creek is a tributary of Schrader Creek in SGL 12 and it is a beautiful stream featuring bedrock gorges, waterfalls, and deep pools.


I parked near Laquin at 41.626264, -76.656104 and walked the road up along Schrader Creek.  After crossing a bridge over Little Schrader Creek, I turned right onto an obvious, unblazed footpath.  This path crossed a meadow and entered the woods along an old grade above the creek.  Little Schrader Creek is very scenic with rapids and boulders.  I then entered a gorge with cliffs and a deep pool fed by a waterfall carved into the bedrock.  This was a very beautiful spot.  The falls weren’t very tall, maybe ten feet, but the power of the water and smooth, eroded bedrock made for an impressive sight.


The trail continued upstream, crossing a small tributary and then another meadow.  The trail followed a grade that became eroded and narrow into another gorge with cliffs and fluorescent moss.  Again, the scenery was superb.  I soon reached another falls, a slide into a narrow chasm of smooth bedrock.  Some logs were embedded in the chasm.  There was a deep pool and some rhododendrons growing from the cliffs.  Upstream was a gorge with smooth, sculpted bedrock creating pools and flumes.


I retraced my steps.  The hike to Little Schrader Creek is about 1.25 miles, one way.


I also visited Carbon Run, a creek just to the east of Little Schrader.  I parked at 41.631031, -76.642714 and hiked up Carbon Run.  I soon reached an 8 foot falls into a deep pool.  Above was a scenic hemlock shaded glen with smooth bedrock, cascades, slides, and deep pools.  It was very scenic.  I found an old grade on the east side of the creek which easily returned me to the parking area.


Little Schrader Creek is described as Hike No. 70 in Hiking the Endless Mountains.

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Bar Bottom Hollow Waterfalls-Loyalsock State Forest


Bar Bottom Falls, Loyalsock State Forest

Bar Bottom Hollow is one of the Loyalsock State Forest’s hidden gems, a deep gorge filled with beautiful waterfalls.  The hollow is located just to the east of Jacoby Falls, although the two are not connected by a trail.  I first hiked to the hollow a few years ago and this old post will help you navigate.


I parked at Dad Dad Chapman Road and simply walked the road to a spruce forest and logged area, where I took an obvious grade to the right for a mile.  This grade descended and right before reaching some pine trees and laurel, I turned right for a quick off trail hike. I soon intercepted an old grade (red on the map below, all trails and grades are unblazed) and crossed the creek.  This red route is the most scenic entrance into the hollow; I did not follow it on my prior trip to the hollow, which is linked to the old post above.


The red grade followed the creek downstream and soon passed a multi-tiered fifteen foot falls over mossy ledges.  I was able to go behind the falls, under the ledges.


The grade continued, staying above the gorge.  I could hear a second falls deep in the gorge, but it was out of sight.  It is a 10-12 foot falls in a grotto with many tumbling springs, a beautiful sight.  The grade climbed through some laurel, descended to a sidestream, crossed it, and then descended along the small sidestream into a glen with small cascades.  It soon returned to the creek with more rapids and cascades.


The glen continued downstream passing large mossy boulders and hemlocks.  It crossed the creek and continued with views of rapids, slides, and hemlocks.  I enjoyed a 12 foot slide falls and just downstream was Bar Bottom Falls, a stunning 20-25 foot falls in a grotto, with a second falls joining from a side stream.  The orange grade on the map joins the red grade near this falls.


The beauty of this gorge with its waterfalls and mossy ledges is hard to describe.  Bar Bottom Falls is just so beautiful.


There are more waterfalls downstream and the grade provides easy access.  However, due to rain and fading daylight, I did not venture any further than Bar Bottom Falls.


Be sure to spend some time exploring Bar Bottom Hollow, it is a place you will not soon forget.

More photos.


The red grade on the map is the most scenic.  Unfortunately, at its northern end it fades into laurel right before the orange grade, but this laurel is easy to bypass.

Paddy Run Falls-Sproul State Forest


Paddy Run Falls, Sproul State Forest

Hidden deep in the vast Sproul State Forest is a place of great beauty-Paddy Run Falls. I recently set out to find it. I first heard of the falls from the Prowl the Sproul hiking weekends, organized by the Keystone Trails Association. It was one of the featured hikes, but I was never able to go.


We drove in from PA 144, taking Sandy Run Road for several miles until it meets Hensel Fork Road. Here, there is a pipeline swath and a place to pull over and park, located at 41.409791,-77.788641 . The trail actually begins a few hundred feet further down Sandy Run Road, but there is no place to park. To start the hike, walk down the road to the trail sign, or just hike down the pipeline swath to where it crosses the trail. The hike is about two miles, one way.


The trail is unblazed, but well established and very beautiful. It begins by staying fairly close to Paddy Run, a sizeable mountain stream, with pine, hemlocks, and laurel. The creek is pristine and features small rapids and slides. The trail curved through the glen of a side stream with moss covered rocks and more hemlocks. The forest became more open with hardwoods and the trail stayed high above Paddy Run. The trail follows an obvious old grade. We soon entered a narrowing gorge with hemlocks; Paddy Run was a hundred feet below us. The roar of water filled the gorge. We then reached two small cairns and an obvious trail descending sharply to the left over some stone steps.


We took this trail down. It was a little steep, but manageable. We soon entered a stunning gorge with hemlocks, moss covered ledges and boulders, and rapids. I was immediately impressed, reminding me of the Pacific northwest. Just upstream was Paddy Run Falls, no more than ten feet tall, but surrounded by large, angled boulders with moss and ferns. The falls tumbled into a deep, translucent pool. The trail ended below the falls. Upstream was a large bedrock slide and another deep pool. The gorge continued upstream with ledges, boulders, slides, and pools under hemlocks. A truly beautiful place.


We sat and enjoyed this isolated place, under hemlocks, surrounded by moss and the roar of water. It was a little tough to leave.


If you want to see more of the Sproul State Forest’s secrets, check out Prowl the Sproul.


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Coal Run Falls and Barclay Cemetery-SGL 12


Coal Run Falls, SGL 12

SGL 12 is filled with beautiful places and fascinating history.  I returned to check out a waterfall on Coal Run and the Barclay Cemetery.



Both were short hikes.  For the hike to the falls, it followed old ATV trails and grades, but were otherwise unmarked.  I parked at 41.654404, -76.627319 in a game commission parking area along Mountain Road.  I walked south on the road and then turned left onto an old ATV at the top of a culm bank.  This trail went back, crossed Coal Run, and promptly met a wide grade, where I turned right.  I could hear the creek and cascades below.  I followed the grade straight, avoiding another grade that veered left.  The grade I was on took me to a culm pile with a view to the south.




At the culm pile, I made a very sharp right turn through some pines and on another old grade.  This grade passed a series of stone retaining walls from the mining era.  The walls were still in excellent shape.  The grade ended at the falls.  




Coal Run Falls is 20 or so feet tall, with more cascades and slides above it.  It is a unique falls with several large boulders on top of it, directing the water in a variety of spouts.  I looked around the valley to see all the historical remnants, from old grades, stone walls, and old railways.  Coal Run valley is known for its wildflowers.  I then retraced my steps.  The hike to the falls is about .5 mile, one way.




The hike to the Barclay Cemetery is easier.  I parked at a lot on Cemetery Road, at 41.650829, -76.628290 and then just walked the road for about .4 mile.  There were spruce trees and the cemetery soon came into view.  The cemetery is a local landmark and has a kiosk with the history of the mining town of Barclay.  It is hard to imagine about 3,000 people once living in this wilderness with churches, schools, businesses, and shops.  The stones in the cemetery have inscriptions and prayers for those who died.  The number of young people in the cemetery was sad to see, including many children and infants.  Many were born in Ireland and Scotland, leaving their ancient and ancestral homes to live and be buried on a lonely Pennsylvania mountain.  Life was very hard back then and sometimes I think we forget how good we have it.  Some stones were cracked and fallen over, others were in good shape.  The cemetery was well maintained and almost seemed to blend in with the pine trees and surrounding forest.  The cemetery is well worth the visit to see how life was 150 years ago.  


More photos.


Slateford Creek Waterfalls-Delaware Water Gap Nat’l Recreation Area


Second, or middle, falls on Slateford Creek

The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is famous for its beautiful waterfalls and gorges, many of which are famous, such as Raymondskill, Dingmans, and Hornbecks. However, there is a creek on the southern edge of the park that is relatively little-known and is a waterfall gem-Slateford Creek.


This creek does not have an official trail system. It is best to park along National Park Drive at 40.946454, -75.116029, it is pull off parking. Where the road makes a sharp curve to the right, look for a trail that goes into the woods, it is obvious. Follow it. You will notice blue paint markings.


This trail goes upstream, above Slateford Creek. The first falls soon comes into view and you must descend steeply to see it. It is about 12 feet tall, with another 6 foot falls below it. Rhododendrons adorn the slopes above the creek.


Continue on the blue trail above the creek, which has many slides, pools, and cascades. This creek is unique for its black slate bedrock. Hike above a narrow chasm. You will soon reach the second, or middle, and most impressive falls. It is about 40-50 feet tall in a stunning black slate gorge. Black cliffs and ledges surround the falls as rhododendrons provide deep greenery. It appears a cliff on the other side of the creek, downstream from the falls, had peeled away and collapsed.


There is one more falls, and there is a faint trail to it, but it is a much more difficult hike. There is a washout on the north side of the glen at a break in the cliffs just downstream from the middle falls. Scramble up it. Notice a faint trail going upstream. Be careful as the faint trail is above steep slopes. The trail then reaches the creek above the middle falls and encounters a landslide, it is best to hike across it along the creek. The trail becomes easier along the creek as it enters another beautiful gorge with a tumbling stream, rhododendrons, and the creek’s second best feature, many towering tulip poplar trees.


Reach a breach, small old dam and the third falls comes into view, a 25 foot cascade between rhododendrons into a wide pool. An obvious trail veers right uphill to the road where there is pull off parking at 40.947093, -75.127214, and some more massive tulip poplar trees. For most hikers, it is best to avoid the faint trail, retrace your steps on the blue trail back to your car and drive to this second pull off, which is right before a small concrete bridge, and hike the obvious trail a short distance down to the third falls.


Slateford Creek is a beautiful and accessible hike that should be on any waterfall lover’s list.

More photos.