Loyalsock Trail
Mile 0.00 to 3.00 Mile 4.81 to 9.10 Mile 3.00 to 4.81
Mile 9.10 to 13.53       Mile 13.53 to 15.45       Mile 15.45 to 18.25       Mile 18.25 to 22.08       Mile 22.08 to 25.24
Mile 25.24 to 28.42       Mile 28.42 to 30.57       Mile 30.57 to 34.54       Mile 34.54 to 39.59       Mile 39.59 to 43.27
Mile 43.27 to 46.11       Mile 46.11 to 49.25       Mile 49.25 to 53.60       Mile 53.60 to 56.00       Mile 56.00 to 59.28

Revised October 29, 2006

Mile 4.81 to 9.10, hiked west to east returning via RX-2, September 29, 1996
Mile 4.81 to 7.28, hiked west to east returning via RX-2, October 7, 2002
Mile 4.81 to 9.10 bypassing Smiths Knob via RX-2, hiked east to west continuing from mile 15.45, October 8, 2006
Little Bear Creek Road past Smiths Knob to RX-3 junction at Red Ridge
Maria completes the Loyalsock Trail on her own two feet in 2006!

(Note: The Red X side trail system was revised in 2004-05.  The Red X trails described on this page are still blazed, but the numbering in the latest LT guide may differ.)

This was the second of three consecutive weekends in fall, 1996 that we did an LT hike. Having about 12 miles left to complete the trail, we were hoping for good weather to allow us to finish most of it that fall. We drove about a mile beyond the LT trailhead on PA Route 87, from which we had begun our Sock Rock hike the previous weekend, then turned right onto Little Bear Creek Road and traveled about another mile to park at the ranger station at mile 4.81.

The LT started by doubling back along the road for a few hundred feet, then turned right and began a sharp ascent of about 200 ft in about 0.1 mile, moderating into a continuous climb of an additional 600 ft until we reached a junction with White Trail W-1 at mile 5.54. The scenery must have been of some interest, as Mike snapped the shutter on the camera about seven or eight times. By this point, we had reached Laurel Ridge. This ascent was equal in elevation to climbing Sock Rock, but it was spread over a longer distance.

The ridge top meant flat hiking for the next 2/3 mile. At mile 6.16, the LT turned right on a woods road as Blue Trail B-1 intersected from the left. At mile 6.24, the LT turned left and steeply uphill to begin climbing Smiths Knob as Red X Trail RX-2 continued along the road. The summit of Smiths Knob was at 1912 ft, near mile 6.60, and the Smiths Knob Vista at mile 6.65 gave a view of Loyalsock Creek to the north and east.

It took us a minute or so to find the trail markers for the descent immediately following the vista. The trail dropped so suddenly that we almost thought we were heading over a cliff instead of following it. We descended 250 ft in 0.29 mile to DER View at mile 6.94, but the first 100 to 150 ft of descent must have come in no more than 300 to 400 ft. Mike thought this was the most difficult descent in terms of steepness along the entire LT. It wasn't as long as the descent from Sock Rock, for example, but it was extremely steep. We don't know how we would have gotten back up this segment if we had needed to double back. (Fortunately, RX-2 allowed us to bypass Smiths Knob on the return.)

We had relatively flat, slightly downhill hiking from DER View, past the RX-2 junction at mile 7.28, down to a crossing of Painter Run at mile 7.92, past intersections with White Trail W-2 and Red X Trail RX-3, then a recrossing of Painter Run at mile 8.15, elevation 1480 ft. The trail began to climb again, reintersected the other end of W-2 at mile 8.19, and followed an old woods road that moderately ascended along the headwaters of Painter Creek for most of the remaining distance to mile 9.10, where we stopped for lunch at the RX-3 junction. The return trip followed the same route, but substituted a flat 0.73 miles along RX-2 for the 1.04 mile segment up and down Smiths Knob. Considering that we'd hiked up 1140 ft, down 480 ft, then up again 570 ft to get to our turnaround point, we needed a break! 

On their 2002 fall break vacation in Pennsylvania, Mike and Maria hiked a portion of this segment, as far as the RX-2 junction after the descent from Smith's Knob vista.  The total distance for the roundtrip circling back via RX-2 was about 4 1/2 miles.  Combined with the nearly 6 1/2 mile hike the previous day near World's End, Maria completed about eleven miles on her own two feet in two days.  That's a pretty good effort by a just over 7-year-old.

In 2006, Mike and Maria again hiked this segment.  This time they did it in the east to west direction at the end of a 10.3 mile hike which began at mile 15.45 at Mountain Road.  The cause for celebration occurred when they reached mile 7.28, the junction of RX-2, which was as far as they had gotten on the 2002 hike.  At this point, Maria had finished the last segment she needed to complete the entire LT on her own two feet -- a pretty good accomplishment for an 11-year-old.  She did it on a series of nine day hikes between 2001 and 2006, beginning with a 6 1/2 mile hike from Double Run Road to World's End State Park when she was only six.

On a beautiful sunny fall day of hiking close to six hours on the trail, surprisingly we encountered only three other hikers -- a solo hiker near mile 8 and a couple near mile 5.

One thing we did notice on this trip was that the segment between mile 8.1 and mile 7.3 was quite affected by an ongoing logging operation.  The trail meandered on and off a logging road that Mike did not recall from the prior hike.

Footnote: On the 1996 trip, Aimee commented that the camera sounded strange when Mike and Maria posed for a photo at mile marker 5. Shortly after that, Mike concluded that we had been pressing the shutter but there was no film in the camera. We were in no position to return to the car to get any, since we had already climbed several hundred feet. Mike did get his wish to return to take the missing photos on the 2002 hike with Maria.  Aimee got her wish as well; she stayed in Williamsport.

Maria with trail register Left:  Maria eagerly poses with the trail register we encountered just after beginning our ascent from Little Bear Creek Road, near mile 4.85.  We had just begun our October 7, 2002 hike at the Little Bear Creek Ranger station a few minutes earlier. 

Below right: The last line of Mike's entry in the register concludes, "Maria is 7 years old and hiked 6.4 miles at World's End yesterday."  Following this is Maria's own signature in the D'Nealian style she'd been learning in 2nd grade.

Trail register entry
Right:  Maria poses at mile marker 5, which we encountered part way up the approximately 800 ft elevation gain between Little Bear Creek at mile 4.85 and Laurel Ridge at mile 5.60.

Below:  This vista at mile 5.54 faces nearly due north and overlooks the beginning of a bend in Loyalsock Creek below.  The white trail W-1 descends steeply down from the LT in the direction of the vista.  The LT continues to the east along the top of Laurel Ridge.

Maria at mile 5.54 vista
Maria at mile 5
Maria at Smith's Knob Vista
Left:  Here, Maria stands a few feet from the edge of the overlook at Smith's Knob vista, mile 6.65.  The creek and road in the valley below lie about 1100 ft down from this point.

Maria gave Mike a real scare just before posing for these photos. She was so excited about posing by the vista that she started running toward the edge.  Mike literally had to tackle her to stop her momentum!
Maria at vista near mile 5.54


Right:  A closeup of Maria with the dropoff just behind her.

Right:  Mike even managed to get into the photography action at the vista.  Maria was unwilling to take the picture; fortunately, Mike succeeded in getting the automatic timer to work.  Of course, the exposure and focus are left to chance, and as you can see, he crouched down to make absolutely sure he stayed in the field of view.

Below left: The descent from Smith's Knob vista is one of the most difficult on the LT due to its steepness.  By this point it was already beginning to moderate -- from almost impossibly steep to just very steep.  We had just picked our way down the rock formation in the left background.
Descent from Smith's Knob Vista
Mike at Smith's Knob Vista
Maria at mile 9Maria at mile 8Maria continues to make progress en route to completing a 10.3 mile hike on October 8, 2006 -- first passing mile marker 9 (photo on left) and then mile marker 8 (photo on right).  She's looking pretty good for an 11-year-old who has covered over seven miles with about three more miles to go.
Maria completes the LT at mile 7.28!Maria crossing Painter Run at mile 7.92Left:  Maria uses stepping stones to cross Painter Run at mile 7.92, less than 2/3 mile from her goal of completing the LT.

Right: Here's the moment we've been anticipating for the last five years!  When we reached the junction of RX-2 and the LT in the westbound direction at mile 7.28, Maria had completed hiking the entire LT.  We had previously reached this point on a 2002 hike from Little Bear Creek ranger station up to Smiths Knob Vista.  Like that hike, and the 1996 hike made by all three of us, we chose not to try to climb to the vista in the east to west direction, but continued via RX-2.

On previous hikes when we finished the LT and the Black Forest Trail, Mike and Aimee had celebrated with champagne.  This time, he and Maria shared a chocolate bar.
Witch hazel flowers in bloomDon't say we never show any nature photos!  Here's a closeup of witch hazel (hamamelis) flowers blooming on a branch.  We saw this while hiking the RX-2 segment that bypasses Smiths Knob Vista, but it's relatively common along the LT and easy to spot in the fall.
11-year-old Maria at mile 5.54 vista"Everything old is new again!"  Maria returns to the mile 5.54 vista overlooking Loyalsock Creek, four years after her first visit made here on her own two feet, and ten years after Mike carried her up here at the ripe old age of not quite 15 months.
Maria at mile 5I'd say Maria looks to be in pretty good shape and also pretty happy -- considering she's been hiking about 5 1/2 hours and has covered just over ten miles at this point where she poses next to mile marker 5.  This was already a good distance down the hill from the ridge heading toward Little Bear Creek where our car was waiting near the ranger station at mile 4.81.

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