Trip Report: Finding Fall on the Loyalsock Trail

Back in 2016 when Karan and I first hiked the Loyalsock Trail, I remember remarking how nice it would be in the fall. We decided to confirm that this year with a Columbus Day weekend trip, and spoiler alert: we were not disappointed. 

On Friday afternoon, the DC crew (Logan, Dan, Dizzy, Greg, Karan, and I) assembled at Grosvenor and hit the road around 3:30 PM. We met up with DOC at the northern trail head just before 9 PM. Our shuttle driver was also waiting so we piled in and an hour later we were ready to start the hike.

The beginning of the trail doesn’t mess around. We ascended steeply and managed to lose the trail at the same point as we did during our 2016 trip. Once at the top of the climb, we found some flat spaces and made camp for the night. 

We woke up to a cloudy morning but luckily, the colorful leaves brightened up the scenery. The seven of us hiked together for most of the morning. It rained some but not enough to soak us. Once it stopped, we had lunch beside a stream. Considering what a dry few months we’ve had, we weren’t too surprised to find some empty stream beds but most were still running.

In the afternoon, the trail passed by Highland Lake Manor, a private veteran’s organization with a bar and restaurant. Past DCUL groups have had varying levels of success getting served there. Greg, Dizzy, and Logan opted not to try their luck. I was equally skeptical but waited for Karan, Dan, and DOC who all wanted to give it a shot. DOC got shot down but after we left with heads hanging, the waitress chased us down to invite us back. The food was pretty good! Karan even hauled a pizza to camp for the vanguard and Dan packed out an extra BLT for dinner. 

Photo credit: DOC

As we left the restaurant, the gray skies gave way to blue and it felt like a perfect fall day. The day finished with a climb up past Angel Falls. Greg, Dizzy, and Logan got there in sunlight but later crew skipped it as it was already dark. Luckily, Greg’s reflective orange vest and the fire made the campsite easy to find. Pizza was devoured and whiskey was passed around.

The next morning was chilly but pleasant while walking. A few miles in we enjoyed the nice view from Kettle Creek Vista. Then the waterfalls started. We were pleasantly surprised that they seemed to be flowing more than they were in September. Our group got a bit strung out around this point with Greg, Dizzy, and Logan up ahead but I think we all enjoyed the rolling morning and midday miles. We passed several scenic viewpoints, including the overlook at Worlds End State Park. At this point, it was obvious that the crew in the back was not going to make it to camp before dark but we did manage to complete the big descent and navigate the numerous crisscrossing trails at the bottom before the sun set. DOC and I pulled out our headlamps as we climbed the “rock stairs” up to High Rock Vista. About a mile later, we saw the shining of Greg’s vest and headlamps. Once again, the vanguard had a nice fire going for all of us to cook dinner around.

Photo credit: DOC

On Monday morning, we were up at 6 AM and on the trail at 7 AM for the third day in a row. I had been hoping to check out Logan’s new Tarptent Aeon but I never did have the chance to see it in the light. About a mile from camp, Greg realized he dropped his headlamp and went back to look for it. If I had realized that I lost my sunglasses at that point, I could have asked him to keep an eye out.

As the morning progressed, DOC, Karan and I made sure to keep our eyes peeled for the Porky Den. The sheer amount of poop at the entrance let us know that porcupines did indeed live there. A few miles later, we all took a break at Sones Pond. From there it was another handful of miles to the Haystacks. Some of us stopped there to hop around on the rocks and take pictures but others passed thinking that the rock formations would continue further up.

Eventually, the seven of us were all back at the terminus. We celebrated with an extremely leisurely (though not exactly voluntary) two hour lunch at the Rusty Rail Brewing Company in Mifflinburg.

Photo credit: Karan

View more photos from the trip here:

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