Tag Archives: Ketchum Run

Loyalsock State Forest: Fern Rock Nature Trail and Ketchum Run

This will probably always be the hike that I remember more for the car breaking down on the turnpike on the way home. But a few hour detour in Lehighton did nothing to diminish the experience of our trek through the Loyalsock.

We started our hike from the parking lot along High Knob Rd where it meets World’s End Road. (High Knob Rd is closed to traffic in the winter, but the parking lot is accessible.) About 2 inches of soft, crunchy snow covered the ground. The weather was pretty mild for January in PA, almost 30 degrees. It was the Monday of MLK Day and there were no other cars in the lot and we saw no one all day.

We set out on the Fern Rock Nature Trail and soon crossed over the east branch of Ketchum Run. The creek gurgled under the bridge and snow and ice covered the banks. It was quite serene.

After about a mile of hiking, we reached beautiful Ketchum Run.  Thick ice covered the banks but the stream flowed quietly through the forest. We turned right and followed the stream north, still along the FRNT.

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Ketchum Run
Ketchum Run

We met up with a cross cross country ski trail for a few minutes before reaching a red blazed bridle trail. This trail crosses Ketchum Run and eventually meets up with the Loyalsock Trail. The trail crossing was impossible, with a layer of ice covering the entire stream. In some places, the stream tunneled under the snow, completely out of sight.

We continued along the bank of Ketchum Run. There is no official trail that follows the run, but a path through the woods is fairly obvious. We soon reached a 10 foot high waterfall. When we were here in the summer, you could hike all the way into the run and right up to the falls. Today, we were forced to take pictures from further away, as thick ice blanketed the falls.

Frozen falls

Further down the run, we came to the top of a 20 ft falls. The top of the falls was completely frozen over. We climbed down to the bottom. Large icicles encased flowing water at the base of the falls.

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More frozen falls

The Loyalsock Trail is only a short walk from the second waterfall and we hiked on to that spot. There is a nice campsite here, though it looked as if it had been some time since its last use.

From here, we retraced our steps (easy to do when yours are the only ones visible in the snow!) back to the FRNT. We took the north side of the trail on the return trip. The east branch of Ketchum Run flowed quietly nearby for the final mile.

Untouched cross country ski trail
Untouched cross country ski trail
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East Branch Ketchum Run

There was only one visible set of footprints in the snow outside of ours along the FRNT. We saw numerous animal prints though, including deer, what appeared to be hare, and even bobcat tracks near Ketchum Run.

My friend’s car is back running. He was even so kind as to supply the videos seen here. Check out his photography.

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