Experience the Trails of Pennsylvania

Loyalsock Trail: A Day Hike to the Haystacks

The summer of 2012 was the year of waterfalls. I had a fascination with waterfalls and was interested in viewing the many falls we had in Pennsylvania. I was surprised to find a waterfall at the start of the Loyalsock Trail, the Dutchman's Falls. We had hiked this section of the trail a few years ago and apparently hiked right past it without knowing it was there. Back to the Loyalsock Trail I went, to view the falls, and to do a short circuit hike down to the Haystacks and back.

Trailhead: N 41° 26.90'
W 76° 27.21'
Total Elevation: 948'
Trail Length: 4.3 miles
Hike Time: 2.5 hours
Hike Type: Loop
Difficulty Rating: 62
Near: World's End State Park.

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The eastern terminus of the Loyalsock Trail, and the trailhead for this hike, is located at a large parking area just off Meade Road, along route US220. Traveling on route I-80, you will take the Muncy / I-180 exit and head north. Travel about 15.5 miles where you exit route I-180 at the route US220 exit. The rest of the trip will be on route US220, but you need to be observant of the road signs as this road twists and turns through a number of small towns. Once on route US220, travel approximately 30 miles north, and once you see signs for the town of Laporte, keep your eyes open for Meade Road and the trailhead. Meade Road will be on your left, and there is a sign indicating the parking area and trailhead for the Loyalsock Trail just prior to reaching the turn off. Once on Mead Road, which is a dirt road by the way, you'll travel less than 0.2 miles and you will see the parking area to your right. Park here and head to the northeast corner of the parking lot where you'll find the beginning of the trail and the starting point for this circuit hike.

This was a very hot day to be going for a hike. However, being a short hike, and on a level trail, in the woods, along a creek, we decided to give it a go; even if the temperatures were reaching the mid-90s. We parked at the Loyalsock Trailhead proper and began our hike on the Loyalsock Trail. From the trailhead the trail descended towards the creek, turning back on itself once. At a little over a tenth of a mile we came across the old railroad grade where the Loyalsock Trail turns left and follows the grade. From here we could here the falls and went to investigate.

From the point where the trail meets the old railroad grade and turns left, we continued straight, following the west bank of Dutchman Run. As the stream approaches Loyalsock Creek, the terrain becomes steep, and this is where the falls are located. The main falls is probably about 20 feet tall, with a smaller 6 foot fall above the main falls. Shari and I took some pictures of the falls before heading back up the hill to the Loyalsock Trail.

Once we were back on the the Loyalsock Trail, we followed it for its entirety until we reached the Haystacks. The Haystacks are named after the shape of the rocks that from a rapids area in Loyalsock Creek. The rocks in the creek are rounded and look like piles of hay in the middle of the stream, thus the name Haystacks.

Hiking east on the Loyalsock Trail after leaving the Dutchman's Falls, we turned off the old railroad grade at about 0.6 miles into our hike. The trail descended towards the banks of Loyalsock Creek. Once we reached the banks of the creek, we followed the trail as it progressed westward, with a few detours away from the creek twice during the westward hike. At 2 miles into the hike we came across a side trail coming in from the left. This is the Haystack Trail and would be the route that we would follow back to the trailhead.

About 0.2 miles past this juncture we came across the Haystacks. As I mentioned earlier, this was a very hot day and there were quite a few people enjoy the deep pools and the rapids of the Haystacks. Shari and I took a moment to look at the Haystacks, but with so many people around, it wasn't all that appealing. At this point the Loyalsock Trail turns to the left and climbs away from the Loyalsock Creek. Shari and I investigated a bit past this point, following the creek downstream a bit, but we didn't discover much interesting. We turned around, hiked back to the intersection with the yellow-blazed Haystack Trail, and started hiking that back.

The Haystack Trail climbed away from Loyalsock Creek and intersected with the old railroad grade at 3 miles into the hike. Once on the old grade we hiked it east for another 0.8 miles before the trail turned right and climbed up the hill. After a tenth of a mile the climb leveled out a bit and became more gradual. Now on single track trail hiking through the woods, we headed east for another half mile before we arrived back at the trailhead.

This hike was about 4.3 miles in length. A nice hike with some views of the Dutchman's Waterfall and the Haystacks. It was a bit hot during our hike, but if you are looking for a dayhike, perhaps during a cooler time of the year, then I'd suggest this one. With waterfalls and the unique Haystacks, this short and easy dayhike begs for a camera to be brought along. And from my observations during the hike, this hike seems to be a good one for your four legged friends as well.

At the trailhead, ready to start our hike.

Dutchman's Falls, one of the highlights of this hike.

Hiking down the old railroad grade.

A dry summer is visible in the levels of the Loyalsock Creek.

Coming upon the Haystacks.

The rapids at the Haystacks.

Heading back to the trailhead.

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