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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Length: 27 miles
Date Hiked: October 24-26, 2010
Location: Loyalsock State Forest
Trail Head: Pleasant Stream Road is closed just west of Masten. You cannot take it from Rt 14. You can take Rt 14 to Ellenton Mountain Road to the village of Ellenton, where you can take Masten Road just before the road becomes State Route 1015.
Map: (respectfully stolen from midatlantichikes.com)
Highlights: The campsite at Rock Run/Yellow Dog Run is one of the nicest I’ve camped at with two gurgling streams and a waterfall. Nice views from Sullivan Mountain and Sharp Top Vista. Scenic streams: Doe Run, Pleasant Stream, and Long Run.
Notes: There are a number of ways you can do this hike and various places you can park. Masten is the traditional starting point and where we started. We hiked counterclockwise. We did roughly 6 miles the first day to the campsite at Yellow Dog Run/Rock Run, 11 miles the second day and camped on Long Run just before Pleasant Stream Road, and 10 miles the third day back to the car. Other possible campsites would be at Doe Run, Pleasant Stream itself (there are a few campsites here), Sharp Top Vista (dry), and Buck Run (which is possibly dry in the summer months/times of low water). There is a trail that bypasses Sullivan Mountain that would cut a mile or so off the hike, but the views are some of the nicest on the hike on the mountain so we did not take it. You will have to ford Pleasant Stream and your feet will most likely get wet.