Category Archives: Day Hike

Foggy day on Mt. Minsi

With the temperature expected to be close to 70 degrees in late December, I knew I had to get out to the woods somewhere. A quick text to Delia confirmed we’d be heading for the Delaware Water Gap to hike Mt. Minsi.

During our 90 minute drive to the Gap, it rained intermittently, and heavy at times. But the forecast only called for passing showers and we hoped that it would be dry by the time we got there.

Arriving at the parking area, the rain had stopped but we were greeted to wet conditions. Snow melt and some remaining snow made the bottom of the mountain a mix of snow, ice, slush and standing water.

My thermometer read 65 as we started our hike but the snow melt combined with the humidity made for some strangely local pockets of warm and cool air.

We made our way past Lake Lenape, where a cool breeze came off the ice covered lake. The humid air mass hovering over the icy lake created a dense fog that stayed stationary over the water.

Frozen Delaware and foggy Mt Tammany
Mt. Tammany obscured by fog, frozen Delaware River below

Soon enough we were trudging through mud and ice as we made our way up the mountain. There are a few vistas as you move higher in elevation. We soon reached the first, which usually contains a nice look at Mt. Tammany and the Delaware River. The icy river was visible below, but the NJ side of the Gap was almost completely obscured by fog and low lying clouds.  While unable to see the mountain, the view was still beautiful as the low lying clouds moved through valley.

We pushed on up the mountain. We arrived at Eureka Creek, the only official stream crossing of the hike. The stream was as high as I’d ever seen it, flowing heavy from the melting snow. We rock hopped gingerly across the swollen stream. The air temperature seemed to drop 20 degrees in the area around the stream.

But soon enough we were climbing more steeply up the mountain. The air became so warm, I was able to take off my long sleeve layer and hike in just a t-shirt.

Foggy Mt Tammany
Would be view of Mt. Tammany

We reached another would be vista – one that is usually a perfect view of Mt Tammany. But found the fog to be denser than at the lower elevations and the view to be nothing more than a think mass of grey.

We continued on to the top of the mountain where we ran into the only other hikers we would see that day. 

The view from the top usually showcases the Delaware River and the border between Pennsylvania and New Jersey looking south. But again, the view was obscured by the dense fog.

Ghost River
Delaware River through the fog from the top of Mt. Minsi

We took a short break and the fog moved out briefly. The icy river was visible for only a moment below. The fog gave the whole view a surreal atmosphere and the line between the river, the land, and the sky was obscured. 

We continued on down the A.T. for a short while. The trail is level and fairly flat for about another mile before reaching Totts Gap. We did not go as far as Totts Gap and turned around after a short walk down the foggy trail. 

A.T. Panorama on Mt Minsi
A.T. Panorama

Instead of taking the A.T., we decided to follow the fire road back to the car. The walk was fairly easy, with the gravel road gradually descending down the mountain. 

Toward the bottom, the trail became very wet with runoff and more and more snow started to appear. The last mile or so was very soggy. There was even a few fresh bear tracks in the snow, surprising with how cold the weeks before had been.

We made our way past Lake Lenape again just as a brief shower started to move in. The warm rain added even more fog over the lake. 

Lake Lenape fog
Lake Lenape
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Flat Top Vista

We actually set out to return to State Game Land 13 in Sullivan County, but changed course when we hit Route 80 and saw the pockets of color still left in some of the trees. Wanting to find a good view, we decided to head to a part of State Game Land 57 that we had not yet explored but wanted to for some time.

A slight mistake in navigation had us approaching the trail head along SR 3001/Windy Valley Rd from the west – something I do not recommend unless you have a car with 4 wheel drive. The road descends down to the Mehoopany Creek on an unpaved path through the heart of SGL57. It is very beautiful, but the road is quite precipitous. It is much easier to access this area from Rt 87 in Forkston.

We parked in the game commission lot just south of White Creek. The leaves that did have color stood out brightly amongst the greys and browns of the trees that had already lost their leaves.

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Beautiful late autumn foliage

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The trail meanders past a handful of cottages along White Creek following the boundary of the game lands. We headed steadily uphill for close to 3/4 of a mile. Many of the leaves were already down, but there were still some pockets of bright yellow, particularly at the lower elevations. The trails here are not blazed, but are fairly obvious as they move up the mountain.

We reached the point where the trail heading west continues on when a trail comes in from the left. A street sign (with plenty of bullet holes in it) that says “Watch for Stopped Vehicles” marks the turn. Seasonal views to the south and east appeared through the trees as we continued a steady climb to the top of Bartlett Mountain.shotgunsign

The unmarked trail switchbacks a few times before reaching a steeper section that juts up among bigger rocks. We reached the top of the mountain, where we cut through some low brush to a stunning view over the gorge of the Mehoopany.

With the exception of a small cottage at the foot of the mountain, the view is completely untouched. My photos don’t do the view justice, as I was shooting almost directly into the setting sun. The pockets of color stood out amongst the bare trees as the sun set over the valley. The cold wind rustling the trees was the only sound as we took in the view, reveling in the solitude of the setting.

Flat Top Vista-2

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We enjoyed the view for a few minutes before starting our descent back down the mountain. We were treated to more limited views as we descended steeply. The freshly fallen leaves covered slippery rocks and hidden crevices and both my hiking partner and I almost lost our footing a number of times.

Hiking on the leaves was quite the cacophony with two people and a 70 lbs dog, so I did not expect to see much wildlife. But we did see a turkey on the ascent and a white tailed deer on the way back down. I’ve read of bears and rattlesnakes both being active in this area.

We descended back down to the Stopped Vehicle sign and then even more steeply down the main trail as we returned to the car.

With limited light left, we drove quickly to the new bridge over the Mehoopany. The creek was ravaged by flooding during Hurricane Irene in 2011 and a large floodplain is still evident. Many large boulders line the creek.

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Mehoopany Creek

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I look forward to coming back to explore more of this area. It is a vast, wild space. The Mehoopany runs untouched for miles through the game lands and looks to have many rapids and cascades. There are reportedly more views to see on the top of Bartlett Mountain

Rock Run Bushwhack

On a hot July day, we set off to explore one of the most beautiful streams in Pennsylvania – Rock Run in the Loyalsock State Forest.

We were originally going to set out to explore the three main falls of Rock Run, but we stopped off to see another of the deep pools and started our hike from there.

We decided early on that our feet were going to get wet and didn’t even try to avoid walking in the stream. We specifically chose a very hot July day to hike the stream, knowing the water always runs cold (and it certainly lived up to that claim.)

Rock Run, Loyalsock State Forest
Deep pool

We were treated to many small rapids and a few deep pools as we made our way along the creek. As the creek made a turn to the left, a large boulder beach protected a pool of deep green water that appeared to be about 10 feet deep. It would be one of the deeper pool we came across.

We pushed on past the deep pool using an old grade that paralleled the creek temporarily on the left. The grade soon ran out and we found ourselves back in the water. The stream widened and became more shallow as it tumbled over rocks. Steep cliffs featured high above the run on the hillside.

We soon reached what would be one of the highlights of the trip. An unnamed run tumbled down on the right side of the creek straight into Rock Run. The waterfall was 15-20 feet high and splashed into the run over large rock tiers. There may have even been more to the falls out of site, but the rocks were too slippery to climb.

Rock Run, Loyalsock State Forest
Waterfall where an unnamed stream tumbles into Rock Run

We pushed on past the falls and reached another beautiful pool. The pool was just on the side of a small rapid and appeared to be 6-8 feet deep with clear-green water that sparkled beautifully in the sun.

A 6-8 foot pool sparkles in the sun
A 6-8 foot pool sparkles in the sun

Just past the pool we came upon another highlight of the hike, a beautiful chute where white water rushed through a narrow chasm. The white water was deafening and my friend and I had to shout just to hear each other.

Rock Run, Loyalsock State Forest
Chute with white water

We soon reached another beautiful rapid with a healthy rush of white water. We stopped and enjoyed the scenery for a while before finding a path back up to Rock Run Rd. A short walk back to the car followed.

Rock Run, Loyalsock State Forest

We descended the trail to the pool from where we started to take a quick swim. The water was frigid, but the pool was impressively deep, close to 10 feet it felt like.

We hope to return soon to explore the main named falls along Rock Run. But this was a fine bushwhack and we were glad to have done it.

Deep pool with cold water
Deep pool with cold water

Loyalsock Trail: Ketchum Run Gorge

This is one of the best day hikes I have done. With beautiful water features in the deep chasm of Ketchum Run and vistas along the Loyalsock Trail the scenery is superb. We were a bit past peak foliage for Sullivan County when we visited in late October, but the foliage that remained was excellent.

We started off following the Fern Rock Nature Trail as it meandered through wetlands with interpretive signs. We soon reached Ketchum Run and started our short bushwhack. There is no official trade that follows the run here, but there is a clear path through the woods for the most part as you keep the run on your left.

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First of the falls along Ketchum Run

The bushwhack features two very nice waterfalls. We reached the first, as a the stream slid over a long flat rock face at about 10 feet. Shortly downstream we reached an even more impressive falls, a 20 foot falls that tumbles into a nice pool. The setting was serene with the fallen leaves around the falls.

Largest falls along Ketchum Run
Largest falls along Ketchum Run

After less than a 1/4 mile of bushwhacking, we soon reached the Loyalsock Trail with its obvious red on yellow LT markers. There are some lovely campsites along Ketchum Run here.

Ketchum Run carves a deep gorge and the Loyalsock Trail follows the stream closely. Large cliffs emerge above the run. We took our time through this serene place. The creek gurgled below, impressive cliffs towered overhead, the colors in the forest featured yellows and reds and deep greens.

We reached the rim of Lee’s Falls, a large powerful falls. We skipped the RX-4 trail and stayed on the LT as it climbed away from the run temporarily. We soon came across the RX-5 trail, which we had to take to avoid the ladder that descends next to Rode Falls.

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Rode Falls

We soon linked back up with the LT and were forced to backtrack to see lovely Rode Falls. It was well worth it to backtrack the .4 miles though. The falls is lovely and tumbles into a scenic pool. Big cliffs feature on both sides.

From Rode Falls we trekked back up the LT to where it passed the RX-5 trail. From here we climbed out of the gorge. We reached Lower Alpine Vista with its lovely view out over the valley of the Loyalsock Creek. While we were hiking in mid October and the area had already seen its first frost, we learned on a subsequent trip that Lower Alpine Vista is often a haven for rattlesnakes. With the vista featuring a cliff that protrudes out over the valley, its no surprise it is a good place for a snake to sun itself. Be careful hiking on hot, sunny days.

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Lower Alpine Vista

We pushed on past Lower Alpine Vista as the LT followed an old logging road for a short time. But soon enough we were climbing on a rocky path again. After about 3/4 of a mile we came upon Upper Alpine Vista which featured the same view out over the Loyalsock Creek as Lower Alpine Vista, with just a little more elevation.

Just past Upper Alpine Vista, the LT reaches Coal Mine Road. We crossed the road and made our way along rolling terrain. We crossed the World’s End Trail and then descended steeply as the trail made its way back to SR 3009. We spent a little time at the intersection of the LT and SR 3009 as we were looking for a red blazed bridle trail. We eventually found the very overgrown trail and followed it.

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Beautiful forest

The trail met up with Coal Mine Road again which we forced to walk up for less than a 1/4 mile to stay on the trail. The bridle trail weaved in and out of a power line swath through very beautiful hemlock forests and eventually led us back to the parking lot from where we started.

We took the short drive up to Canyon Vista in World’s End State Park as the sun set.

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Canyon Vista, World’s End State Park

Waterfall Wonderland of State Game Land 13

Length: 8.2 miles

Date Hiked: August 30, 2012

Location: State Game Land 13

Trail Head: This map is not exactly to the trail head. From PA 118, turn on to Central Road (there’s a sign for Jamison City/Central Park Hotel). Drive about 2 miles and turn right just past the Central Park Hotel onto Jamison Road. Follow this for about 1 mile and turn onto Sullivan Falls Road. Follow Sullivan Falls Road for 2 miles to a small parking lot on the left.

Map: 

Highlights: This whole hike is a highlight with 17 waterfalls. Big Falls, Sullivan Falls, and the intersection of Shanty and Quinn Runs are probably the best of the best. But really, each waterfall is unique and beautiful in its own ways. There are other impressive geographic features as well, including: chutes, waterslides, large cliffs, and chasms.

Notes: This hike is immensely beautiful, but also extremely difficult. There is no trail except for the unmarked trail that crosses the plateau to connect the two streams. You will have to bushwhack extensively to get around the waterfalls on Heberly Run. We bypassed each waterfall by backtracking down the stream away from the base of each falls to a place on the hillside where we could scamper up. We passed each falls on Heberly Run on the left side (if you were looking at the falls). But there are probably multiple ways to pass each falls and weather and water levels will probably dictate what the easiest method will be. You can take the trail where it comes in just above Lewis Falls, but you will have to bushwhack down the hill to the intersection of Quinn and Shanty Runs, which is a beautiful place and worth seeing. We did not take the trail and hiked in the stream, which was no more difficult than any of the other stream walking you will do. The plateau trail is obvious for the most part, but stay alert. There are faded orange and blue blazes if you look closely. Sullivan Branch is a difficult descent. You will have to hike down many of the waterfalls in the water and on extremely slippery rocks. Assess each decent separately and try to decide if hiking down the falls, through the forest, or on the rocks is the best method. If you choose to do this hike, read the reports in the links below as they will be very helpful, especially the report from Mid Atlantic Hikes. Jeff Mitchell’s book, Hiking the Endless Mountains, also contains a lot of very helpful information. The difficulty of this hike cannot be underestimated. You should not attempt it in high water or if there is ice. And you should definitely not hike this solo.

Links: http://www.midatlantichikes.com/sgl13.htm  http://endlessmountains.wordpress.com/2012/06/26/waterfall-wonderland

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