Scenic views, pine and hemlock forests, waterfalls, picturesque streams, a historic frontier road and old logging roads are just some of the sights you’ll encounter on this trail.
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 41° 28′ 17.277″ N, 76° 34′ 54.627″ W
Elevation Change: 841′
Estimated Time To Complete: 5 – 7 Hours
Trail Length: 12 Mile Loop
Required Equipment: Sturdy Hiking Boots, water (at least 2 liters), snacks, trekking poles, sunscreen.
Difficulty: Moderate – Trail is steep and rocky in places and can be covered with water in others, 10+ stream crossings.
Facilities: Bathrooms at the Visitor Center and Canyon Vista.
World’s End State Park suffered extreme damage in many areas during record flooding in September 2011, some portions of this hike have been rerouted or may no longer be passable.
This trail begins across Route 154 from the World’s End State Park Office & Visitor Center parking lot and then ascends several hundred feet up the side of Loyalsock Gorge to World’s End Vista and Pioneer Road. At this point you leave the Loyalsock Trail (LT) and continue up the gorge past a switch back with a steep ascent to the plateau above. The trail narrows in some places to as little as 16” – 18”, the edge of the trail is soft and easily crumbles if you step to close to the edge.
As you near the top of the plateau you’ll begin to notice large rock ledges and outcropping which you’ll notice throughout the day along the trail. Take a break at the top if you need before continuing on through small clearings of tall ferns and bushes until you reach a cross-country skiing trail. Turn right and follow this trail for nearly 2.5 miles including over a small stream which should be dry except in spring or other periods of significant rainfall. At this point the trail does become a little tedious because of very little change in scenery, also it is important to note that horseback riders also use this section of trail so you may want to watch where you’re walking.
After merging with Randall Road you soon leave the skiing trail to cross the headwaters of Scar Run, the first two streams you cross have small wooden platforms which even in late July were nearly covered with water. The third stream you cross looks relatively shallow until you poke a trekking pole into it and realize there is about 5” of waterlogged pine needles under the water, cross carefully on the rocks and small logs that cross the stream. As you follow the trail through a pine plantation take time to look for the yellow trail blazes that mark the way as it is very easy to lose your way in this section.
Cross Coal Mine Road and rejoin the skiing trail for a little more than a half mile until you reach an intersection with the LT. At the sign post turn left and continue following the trail. Jeff Mitchell in Backpacking Pennsylvania mentions that this area you now pass through was previously mined so it may be a good idea to just stick to the trail. In about a mile and a half you’ll reach first a forest road and then Double Run Road, cross the road and begin the steep descent to the West Branch of Double Run, the trail down from the road is very steep, narrow, slippery and rocky in many areas and looks like it is more stream than trail during thunderstorms. Following along the stream for a while you’ll hike through a Hemlock forest crossing three small streams which run nearly dry for most of the year.
The trail than begins an ascent to Winner Knob eventually topping out and continuing along the edge where you’ll find several small views which are mostly overgrown. The trail along the knob is deceptively easy becoming very rocky in the tall grass right off of the trail and a steep drop awaits anyone who wanders too far to right of the trail. It is important to be careful and take your time as you make your way downhill off of the knob as this section is steep in many places and losing your footing is easy to do. As you follow the trail downhill you’ll notice more rock ledges and outcropping around you with a stone-walled shelter built along the cliff in one section. Soon you reach the East Branch of Double Run and Mineral Springs, I don’t know if I’d drink any water here as there is a strong sulfur smell coming from the spring and the rock is stained orange.
After crossing Mineral Spring Road you immediately come to Mineral Falls with barely a trickle of water running down the falls during dryer months. Follow the stream until you reach an old logging path and where you make a left hand turn and begin the mile or so gradual ascent along a fairly decent trail to Canyon Vista. The Vista which overlooks Loyalsock Creek and its gorge is a great place to stop and rest for a bit and the Canyon Vista Rock Garden lies directly behind you past the parking area and up a small trail. At times you’ll notice hawks and other large birds passing through the canyon riding thermals at the same altitude as you and just 25’ or so from the viewing area. Next it’s your choice whether you descend down the LT or the Link trail, I chose the link trail as it follows along the scenic Double Run.
The trail down to the stream is narrow, rocky and steep crossing over seasonal streams and rock outcroppings. After crossing several wooden bridges you make your way along Loyalsock creek on the rock ledges that form the edges of the creek and dried up sections of the creek. In the spring and other rainy periods you won’t be able to take this trail but instead will have to follow Route 154 back to the trailhead. After reaching the road follow the blazes for the LT back into the State Park Office and Visitor Center.