Eagles Mere Conservancy
This hike explores trails on land owned by the Eagles Mere Conservancy in Sullivan County. This hike is easy to moderate in difficulty and the trails are generally well marked and easy to follow, although there are some turns you’ll need to pay attention to. Highlights are a historic rail grade, rock outcrops and mazes, and beautiful hemlock forests with some old growth trees.
From the parking area, follow the rail grade, the former Eagles Mere Railroad. This railroad was built in 1892 for tourists and went to Sonestown, where it connected with a railroad to Williamsport. Over a hundred years ago, Eagles Mere was a popular tourist destination. The railroad was abandoned in 1928. The Susquehanna and Eagles Mere Railroad went west from Eagles Mere, down Kettle Creek, to Hillsgrove and over to Masten. It was built for logging and was used from 1902 to 1930.
Upon entering the state forest, blue blazes appear. Sections of the grade are muddy and wet, and the forest is largely open hardwoods. Reach an intersection and turn right. Reach a wetland and a sewage treatment facility. A red trail goes right, but continue left on the grade. Reenter conservancy lands where the scenery improves with hemlocks. Turn left onto a yellow blazed trail and reach the end of a residential street. Turn left onto a red trail and climb under giant hemlocks to Rock Labyrinth, a highlight of the hike. Enjoy the chasms, mazes, and passageways in the gigantic rocks.
The trail proceeds through hardwoods and then reaches another grove of hemlocks at Fern Rocks, a more modest outcrop. Enjoy more hemlocks as the trail crosses over a wetland and stream with some boardwalks. Cross a road; the next section is a network of red trails, so you’ll need to keep an eye out for trail intersections. Turn right at the first and reach Big Spring, a covered spring with stonework, it is the source of Rusty Run. Turn right at the next intersection, and left at the third (if you reach the road, you went too far).
Enjoy the beautiful hemlock forests with some large trees. Climb up to some rock outcrops called Eagle Rocks, a very scenic spot. At the top of the rocks, turn right onto the green trail and descend. Pass some more rocks and enter a hardwood forest with some more outcrops to the right. Climb a hill and turn left on the light green trail, and descend to a meadow. Return to the rail trail and turn right back to the car.
Parking is at 41.410086, -76.574828. The hike is about five miles long.
Jeff Mitchell is the District Attorney of Wyoming County, and author of ‘Hiking the Endless Mountains,’ ‘Backpacking Pennsylvania,’ and ‘Paddling Pennsylvania.’