Loyalsock State Forest in the PA Wilds of Pennsylvania is one of the more remote areas you can explore in the Mid-Atlantic Region. It is a forest that really does offer something for everyone.
You can find breathtaking peaks and valley views on some of the best long distance backpacking trails in the state, or head out on a shorter but exquisite day hike to find waterfalls and cascades. You can have a fun family day in the beautiful and historic World's End State Park, head out to ride some beautiful gravel routes on gorgeous backroads, or just sit by a mountain stream and find some peace and inspiration. Whatever you seek, this forest has the gift you are looking for.
Here at Purple Lizard, we love it when all the work is done and we get to just go hang out (or chase some lizards) in the areas we map. So we ventured out to Loyalsock to enjoy some summer adventure.
Loyalsock is Unplugged Adventure at its Best
Loyalsock is one of our go-to choices when we are looking for somewhere to unwind away from the world. There is something magical about this forest. Perhaps it is the fact that "Worlds End" is literally a place name in this forest, or perhaps it's the fact that in the era of overstimulation with technology and news and. . . well everything, this is one of those rare, beautiful places where for the most part you won't have cell service.
Whatever the reason, Loyalsock has a way of melting the fast paced vibe of modern life away almost instantly and welcoming you into the here and now, and what there is right in front of you when you arrive fully in Loyalsock is really something worth writing home about.
Loyalsock has Views to Inspire
It's an easy drive to High Knob Overlook
This area isn't referred to as the "endless mountains" for nothing. When you find yourself at one of the countless mountain overlooks along many of the trails in Loyalsock (or drive to the High Knob Overlook if you are feeling a bit less ambitious), you will be treated to views that inspire.
Sunset at High Knob Overlook can be stunning!
The Loyalsock Trail has lots of long valley views like this one.
Camping in Loyalsock
We often grab a motorized campsite for a few days when we visit this forest, which are available (free) by reservation from DCNR. You can call the office and they will help you pick a site. There is also a state park campground at Worlds End State Park, as well as former CCC cabins in Worlds End State Park that can be reserved (plan WAY ahead if you want these). Of course, if you want to really connect to Loyalsock, there is no better way than to dive in deep and do a backcountry campsite. The backcountry sites in Loyalsock really are something worth checking out - whether you are in the forest for an overnight or two or choose a longer journey.
Motorized Campsites are designed for car camping. Some are better for tents, others for trailers - but they all offer a more remote feel than park campgrounds because you are not next to other campers.
Hiking in Loyalsock
While Loyalsock offers hiking of all kinds, this trip we decided to focus on water based hikes - we did several day hikes chasing Lizards and waterfalls. Here are a few shots from our visit to one of the falls along the way.
This is one of many falls you will find along sections of the Loyalsock Trail
On day two, we decided to change it up a bit and do a bit of a longer adventure. We got waylaid though when we encountered this beautiful stream and couldn't leave. This is Kettle Creek, along the Loyalsock Trail in the Kettle Wild Area. After spending an hour or so just sitting in the cool water, enjoying lunch and snapping some photos so we could remind ourselves that places like this are real, we eventually managed to move on. When we did, we were treated with a few more fantastic places.
Karma is sooo happy in the 'Sock!
On our third day, we decided explore a section of the Loyalsock Trail that brought us to Alpine Falls, a fantastic spot where once again, we had difficulty moving on so we spent a couple hours there.
Alpine Falls spills out beside an impressive overhanging cliff band.
On our final day, even though home and work were calling, we decided to put off reconnecting for just a bit longer. We went for a short hike near our campsite to a beautiful outcropping of rocks (Split Rock on the Loyalsock Trail) and spent some time exploring there before heading out. We decided to take the slightly longer way out so we could stop for a swim at Middle Falls on Rock Run.
Split Rock is a great place to explore!
Middle Falls at Rock Run is one of Karma's favorite swimming' holes.
Venturing out of Loyalsock
Venturing out of the forest depths to explore the neighboring small(est) towns is a must do on any trip. We decided to make our way out and stop in a couple of our favorite local spots. McCarty Mercantile and the Tannery Cafe is a historic building that houses the Hillsgrove, PA Post Office and the general store/restaurant. Cindy McCarty has long family roots in Loyalsock, and she cooks up a lot of great food for hungry travelers who stop in. On weekends you might even find a band playing in the back.
Everything you need is at McCarty Mercantile
Big Mike's Steaks and Hoagies at the old Forksville General Store is truly legendary in these parts. And beyond! The Forksville General Store is a world class eatery tucked away in Forksville, PA. Just look for the covered bridge by the intersection of routes 154 and 87, you can't miss it!
You'll usually find Big Mike himself behind the counter at Big Mike's.
If you need a Lizard Map, Big Mike has you covered - they are up front right by the register.
As always, we were sad to say goodbye to our escape to Loyalsock, but we left knowing that we still have so much more to enjoy and discover in this forest and we look forward to coming back soon!
Planning your own Loyalsock Adventure?
We would love to see where your adventures take you. Connect with us on Instagram @purplelizardmaps and share your photos with #purplelizardmaps so we can all enjoy your Loyalsock adventures.