Adventurers looking for a one or two day hike in Quehanna Area won’t be disappointed by this loop! It is relatively flat which makes for easy hiking, with fantastic vistas and beautiful stream along the way.
Distance: 15-18 miles depending on your choices.
Access: Large parking area at the DCNR Forest Headquarters on the north side of Quehanna Highway. With a pay phone!
Begin your hike by heading south on the dirt road and cross the Quehanna Highway. The term 'highway' is a bit misleading, as this is a 2-lane blacktop road that you can walk along for miles and not actually see a car on it. However, when a car does come along, the sudden appearance of a 50+ MPH vehicle seems like a rocket ship through the otherwise tranquil plateau. So be careful when crossing - it may be deserted, or you may time it just right to be standing inches from a rocket ship that looks like a blurry pick-up truck.
Once you cross the infamous Quehanna Highway, keep walking south on the dirt road a few hundred yards to the yellow blazed Mosquito Creek Trail. Follow this delightful trail as it meanders through woods, meadows, blueberry bushes and fields of ferns for several miles. The trail is easy walking, and flat, as it traverses the high plateau across State Game Lands 34 and into the Quehanna Wild Area.
Keep a look out for wildlife in this area, as these State Game Lands and State Forest lands are managed to provide pristine habitat for several species including elk. The elk range over a vast territory and you never know when you may see a solitary animal or a herd grazing. The Mosquito Creek Trail follows a dirt road for a while before turning left on a yellow-blazed trail that shows an arrow indicating Meeker Run 3.5 miles away.
Mosquito Creek trail meanders alongside picturesque McNerney Run for a bit before crossing its namesake Mosquito Creek on a really nice, and really overbuilt, bridge. You get a sense of what this trail is like at high water!
A great campsite can be found on the east side of this bridge, just alongside this wonderful stream.
In a few yeards, sign in at the world's shortest trail register and continue north on Bridge Trail.
The highlights continue as the trail walks alongside the beautiful cascades of upper Mosquito Creek.
Bridge Trail eventually leads to the Quehanna Trail East Cross Connector (QTECC). Go left on this trail to enjoy more open meadows, another bridge crossing, and some forested areas.
East Cross Connector Trail almost reaches the Beaver Impoundment Pond, which is currently drained for repairs on the dam. You can take a few hundred yard hike towards the Beaver Run Dam Wildlife Viewing Area, but we're not sure what you'll find with the low water situation (as of summer 2018). It is a popular birding area so even with low water the wildlife may be plentiful.
Continue on the QTECC across the Quehanna Highway. If you want a quick side trip to find two of our favorite Lizards, take the Teaberry Trail on your right. (Read our blog on this trail.) The Teaberry Loop will bring you back to the QTECC, and after a short walk on a dirt road you'll meet the orange blazed Quehanna Trail.
It's a good idea to consult your Lizard Map on this section because there are a few side trails that are cross country ski trails in winter. The intersections are confusing along the dirt roads - remember this hike stays on the plateau, which is flat. If you find yourself dropping off the plateau and hiking down any steep drops, you took a wrong turn!
Take the first opportunity to follow the Quehanna Trail west - trail is on hikers left - and hike past the parking area on Mudlick Road, and stay on the trail until it reaches an intersection of dirt roads. Some of these roads lead to fracking wells, some lead to hunting camps, and the main one, Deible Road, on hikers left, leads back to your car.
Look at your Lizard map and you'll see a Lizard at the Deible Run Vista. You can opt to stay on the Quehanna trail to see this overlook, but the side trail that connects back to Deible Road is often overgrown. You may decide to backtrack on the Quehanna Trail to the intersection of dirt roads to follow Deible Road back to the Ranger Station and your car. Or you may enjoy a short bushwhack, or you may find a recently cleared trail. Hard to say since all of these trails are cleared by volunteers like yourself!One of the great aspects of this trail is the relative lack of elevation gain (or loss). It's hard to find trail loops in Central PA that don't involve steep climbs, and the allure of exploring the plateau is you get to wander through beautiful landscape and find vistas on the edge of the plateau, with no major scrambling to climb up to them. The world just drops away, along with, hopefully, any stress you had been carrying around.
You already know that spending time outdoors is fundamental for human happiness, health and well-being. As our modern lives present constant opportunities for distraction you realize that as we unplug from our screens and plug into the outdoors we are creating a powerful connection for ourselves, our communities and our planet. Your commitment to spending time in our beautiful public lands and enjoying real-world experiences is what makes our work special. Thank you for being a part of that connection and for sharing your love of the outdoors with Purple Lizard.