Situated in the northwestern corner of Loyalsock State Forest, the Old Loggers Path (OLP) is a magnificent footpath for runners, hikers, and backpackers alike. Although there are a few steep climbs, this trail is well-known for its affinity to follow moderate old logging grades and roads through the forest. Numerous parking areas, campsites, and side trails offer a plethora of options for those going out for an afternoon stroll or a multi-day backpacking trip. Grab your Loyalsock Lizard Map and follow along as we explore this section of Loyalsock State Forest!
Finding The Old Loggers Path
The 28-mile Old Loggers Path trail loop does not cross, nor is it near, a paved road. It does cross several forest gravel roads; though, affording multiple access points throughout the forest. Currently there are two great options to reach several sections of this trail: from the west on Route 14 or from the east on Route 87. Have a look at your Loyalsock Lizard Map - the quickest option is to navigate through a couple small streets in Ralston along Route 14 and enter the forest via Rock Run Road (pictured above). This gravel road is very popular and usually in good condition over the spring, summer, and fall months. Follow Rock Run Road to Yellow Dog Road. Multiple access points to OLP exist on Yellow Dog Road and Ellenton Ridge Road - stop here to get on the trail or continue on to the main trailhead in the ghost town of Masten. Although it may seem a bit trickier to access the trail from Route 87 in Hillsgrove, this passage also provides a great forest gravel road drive! Don't forget your Loyalsock Lizard Map, since some roads in the forest are still gated closed from flooding events in recent years.
Highlights of The Trail
As mentioned above, there are numerous parking areas and forest road crossings along the main OLP. The main trail is blazed throughout with orange paint, and includes great signage at road crossings and trail crossings. Side trails are blazed with yellow, blue, or red paint. In addition, there are plenty of unblazed (and rarely explored) side trails and old forest roads that one may wander through if inclined to do so. In general, this part of the forest is full of backcountry camping opportunities, streams, and relaxing hardwood forests. Most of the main trail is a delight for those traveling on foot, but some places in particular are very special. How does one decide the best spot to explore? We'll break it down for you below in terms of particular trip goals.
If you're looking for a campground with bathrooms, showers, and wifi, turn to Sheshequin Campground along Route 14 and then plan day trips to Old Loggers Path via car. If, on the otherhand, you'd like to car camp within the forest, consider calling the forestry office to reserve a site in Masten (pictured above). Masten is a relic of a town, and many of these campsites are situated on top of foundations from the town itself. There's no running water or electricity, but the sites are right along Pleasant Stream (be sure to purify this water before use) and DCNR provides portable toilets (port-a-potty) in season.
Backpackers out for a multi-day trip may consider the mileage in between shelter areas in relationship to your starting point. Do beware, these shelters are first come, first served. There are a few tent sites near Doe Run Shelter, but there is less space (and no water) at the Sprout Point shelter area. Luckily, this trail is popular enough to have multiple back country tenting areas. The most popular backcountry camping destinations are Pleasant Stream, Rock Run, and a few small streams in between Sprout Run Vista and Sharp Top Vista.
Waterfalls and Streams
Rock Run is called the prettiest stream in PA for many reasons! The Old Loggers Path happens to go directly beside the upper portions of Rock Run, which includes spectacular cascades and flumes that are impressive no matter the water level. The trail leads to the confluence of Rock Run and Yellow Dog Run (pictured above). If finding beautiful water is your goal, park your car at the bridge over Rock Run (Yellow Dog Road) and follow the unblazed trail upstream to the exact point pictured above. You can also park further up the mountain on Yellow Dog Road and hike downstream on OLP along Yellow Dog Run down to this spot. Along the way, keep an eye out for an impressive off-trail set of falls along Yellow Dog Run.
Old Loggers Path has at least four impressive vistas. For a long one-day or two-day hike, park your car at Masten and hike clockwise to Sprout Point Vista. There is a new shelter here, along with an excellent view south towards Williamsport. Camp here for the night, or if the shelter is full continue on down the trail for some tent sites within the next two miles. After a short but steep climb, the OLP emerges at a gravel turn-around and the impressive vista pictured above. Sure you can drive your car here, but isn't it more rewarding to hike to this amazing spot? Once you're done, continue on the OLP towards Pleasant Stream, then follow the S&NY Railroad Trail on the south side of the stream back to Masten.
The third excellent vista on Old Loggers Path is Rock Run Vista, less than a mile from Yellow Dog Road. Park where the trail crosses Yellow Dog Road and hike counterclockwise to this impressive scene overlooking Rock Run Valley.
The fourth vista is actually a bunch of vistas on top of Sullivan Mountain in the northwest corner of the OLP. These views are most often visted by backpackers, but dayhikers can reach them by walking along Ellenton Ridge Road and taking some side trails/roads (in varying degrees of maintenance) to reach these spots.
Beautiful Single Track
This whole trail is a mix of beautiful single track and double track trails. You can't go wrong on any section if this is your goal. If you want to avoid steep climbs, then beware of sections of trail between Sprout Point Vista and Sharp Top Vista, Long Run, and Sullivan Mountain.
Of course the OLP is getting more popular every year. This is bound to happen with such a great trail. Luckily, some of this popularity is helping to re-establish forgotten side trails within this system. Sharpshinned Trail may be the perfect side trail for those looking to get away from it all and dive into a bit of a bushwhacking adventure. Cherry Ridge Trail on the other hand, is well blazed and signed. In addition, the trail runners leading the charge for the Sharp Top 25/50k challenges are diligently working to re-open Long Run Trail and Short Run Trail. These additions, found on our Loyalsock Lizard Map, will help to disperse human use throughout this area by giving folks more options for adventure rather than just the OLP. Contact the Sharp Top 25/50k event organizers to help with volunteer efforts along this trail!
While this trail may appear to be an easy walk through the forest, there are some real concerns to consider. Like most PA state forests, you are responsible for yourself and your party. Cell phone reception is limited at best, and wild animals do live here. Luckily, PA doesn't have any wild animals that prey on humans. A common hazard (pictured above), is the wet crossing of Pleasant Stream. Sometimes there will be a sketchy log across the stream, which some hikers walk or scoot themselves across. Other times the log is washed away from flooding events. This stream is very dangerous when the water is high and very cold most times of year. If you are unsure, do not attempt to cross the stream! You can scout up or downstream to find a better crossing, or retreat and use other trails or roads to return to your car or find a bypass route. Water levels change very quickly here and hikers need to be constantly aware of those conditions. If it's really wet, you can always put together a ridge top hike!
Check out the Loyalsock Adventure Guide to help you plan trips in this amazing forest!