Beautiful creekside hike to start. The trails are all in stellar shape.
Start from the bottom of Little Bear Creek Access Road
just as you turn off from Route 87. There are a number of spots on the left to turn off and park.
Traffic is usually light or non-existent on this road depending on the time of day/year you are doing this, just be aware. You can also park at the Loyalsock Trail
lot just up the road and start/end there to shave off about 1.5 miles.
Travel up Little Bear Creek Access Road
is very pleasant as it runs right along the creek, very scenic and tranquil. If starting at the turnoff from Route 87, exactly at mile 4 you'll come to a bridge, with a cabin on the right hand side. Red Run Trail (Downhill)
is just there to your left right before the bridge. Some maps show this trail along the right side go up the holler, it's actually along the left side.
This trail is very similar in a sense to Painter Run Trail
, however it is much narrower and not as long. As you start on the trail, not far up, say 10-20 yards up, you'll see the split with Red Run Trail (Uphill)
. This route uses the Red Run Trail (Downhill)
portion with is a mild/gradual run/hike up until you get about 0.5 miles (4.5 miles from the start) where it hooks a sharp left and heads up the hill. If you are used to hiking in Loyalsock State Forest, this will be par for the course, just now it's a small steep section that you'll do.
One up the hill it flattens off as you are essentially up on the plateau. It joins Conly Access Road where you'll turn left onto that and follow it until it intersects the Loyalsock Trail
. Conly is a very smooth, easy to follow access road that is level to slightly downhill. Great for trail running and XC skiing!
At about 5.75 miles, you'll hook another sharp left and join the Loyalsock Trail
which heads downhill and across the creek. You'll also cross over the top portion of Painter Run Trail
near mile 6, so if you need to bail out, this would be a good place to do it and head back towards Little Bear Creek Access Road
. Continue on the Loyalsock Trail
where it widens again to pretty much an access road. You'll come to the junction with Smiths Knob Trail
that heads up to that peak if you'd like to add that on. I did not for this trip.
Before you hit mile 7.5, you'll see where the Loyalsock Trail
turns left back towards the parking lot. Again this can be another bail out for you as the "Loyalsock to Smith Knob" recommended route make a steady downhill trek for 1.5- 2 miles. This is a wide, doubletrack very easy to follow but again steep in sections. You are following blue blazes along this section where as the Loyalsock Trail
uses the blaze yellow circles with LT on them.
You'll hear and see Route 87 below you and after mile 9, keep an eye out for where the blue blazes/circles head up to the left. At this point you are on an old access road and if you miss the left, you'll walk out onto Route 87. Not a big issue, just backtrack.
This section of trail is the steepest by far, very steep in section with a few flat to moderate breaks...just be aware if you're doing this in the direction of travel I did and saving this for the end, you're quads will be burning after this long, steep climb...about 700' til you meet back up with the Loyalsock Trail
At this point, Loyalsock Trail
is downhill to the lot..and in some sections right above the lot, it's "toe jam" city as you'll be coming down very steep portions, just watch your footing as the trail can also be a little rutted. Under a few inches of snow, it's not too bad, but otherwise really watch your step. Once to the parking lot, you can either take the road out on your right to get back onto Little Bear Creek Access Road
, or continue straight across the lot near the Guidepost sign and follow the true trail back down to the road. Hook a right onto Little Bear Creek Access Road
and proceed back to you car.
Lots of Pennsylvania hardwoods, beautiful creeks, mountain laurel.