Hikers often ask us to provide suggestions on ways they can use the STS beyond simply thru-hiking the loop. The STS and surrounding forest are full of possibilities. Maybe you are looking for a way to break down the 84 mile loop into more manageable chunks for your Circuit Hiker Award. Maybe you wish to use the STS as a starting point to further explore into the Susquehannock State Forest. Maybe you need an idea for a weekend getaway or a simple day-hike. Here we have drawn upon the extensive knowledge of our club members to put together a collection of suggested hikes. We hope this page can help you plan your next adventure!
Below is a list of seven day hikes that can be hiked on their own or used to complete the whole STS. These are "end-to-end" hikes starting and finishing at a road crossing or parking area so that hikers can leave a vehicle at each end. Hikers that complete all seven of these hikes in any order over any period of time are eligible for the Circuit Hiker Award.
Park at the forestry gate behind the Denton Hill DCNR office (41.7687, -77.8686).
Follow the orange blazes for the 0.4 miles "Northern Gateway Trail," which connects you to the STS.
Sign in at the register box and follow Ridge Trail to begin your hike on the STS proper.
This is the longest of the suggested day hikes, and can be broken down further by parking along Lyman Run Road at mile 6.6 (41.7217, -77.7865). Section 1 has two significant climbs: one after crossing Lyman run Road and the infamous Cardiac Climb near Sunken Branch Road. Highlights of this hike include the Peeka-a-boo Vista of Lyman Lake, Dynamite Shed, and the Cherry Springs Fire Tower.
End at the Cherry Springs Firetower parking area (41.6456, -77.7964). Make sure to reward yourself with a stop at the Cherry Springs Vista along Route 44!
Start at the Cherry Springs Fire Tower on Route 44 (41.6456, -77.7964).
Sign the register box as you descend after leaving fire tower.
Section 2 is a pleasant hike that is mostly downhill, save for one moderate climb towards the end. Highlights include the Bolich Run Shelter, old B&S Railroad Grade, and Ole Bull Castle Vista just off the trail in Ole Bill State Park.
End at the Ole Bull State Park Southern Gateway parking area (41.5385 -77.7148).
Begin at Ole Bull State Park (41.5385, -77.7148).
Section 3 starts with one of the trail's biggest climbs, but is one of the most beautiful and rewarding parts of the STS. Features include the eerie Spook Hollow, Morgan Hollow--the STS's steepest descent, and a portion shared with the Donut Hole Trail.
End at Twelve Mile Road (41.4698, -77.693).
Start in the parking area in Cross Fork, PA (41.4821, -77.8183).
Section 5 features the most secluded woods of the entire STS: the Hammersly Wild Area, the largest area without a road in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Stop for a picnic at the Hammersly Pool on mile 54.3, the STS's only natural swimming hole.
End at McConnell road (41.567327, -77.891843). Check out the Hammersly Vista a short walk to the northeast of the MocConnell Road parking area.
Start at the McConnell Road parking area (41.567327, -77.891843) near the Gravel Lick Shelter.
Part of section 6 includes a smooth walk along the East Fork of the Sinnemahoning using a portion of the old Buffalo & Susquehanna Railroad Grade. Make sure to sign the register box near East Fork Road. You will also find the Wild Boy Shelter at mile 68.2, an excellent place for a picnic or camp overnight if you want to make this into a leisurely two-day hike.
End at Rock Ridge Road (41.644627, -77.902231).
The four hikes below are designed for “long weekend” hikes of three days each.
Backpackers who complete these hikes and submit their trail logs to the STC circuit hike committee will receive the coveted Circuit Hiker Certificate, patch, and wallet card!
Ole Bull State Park to Cross Fork, STS miles 26-49. (23 mile hike)
Day One: Drive to Cross Fork, PA. Park in forestry maintenance building parking lot.
Take pre-arranged shuttle about nine miles on Route 144 to Ole Bull State Park.
Hike about 5 miles to Spook Hollow Shelter to camp for the night.
Day Two: Hike about 12 miles to the Scoval Branch Shelter to camp for the night.
Day Three: Hike about 6 miles to Cross Fork to complete your hike and drive home.
This great hike utilizes two trail shelters, so small groups can do it without carrying tents.
Note that the 9’x12’ shelters sleep a maximum of six people.
Patterson State Park to Cross Fork, STS miles 77-49. (28 mile hike)
Day One: Drive to Cross Fork, PA. Park in forestry maintenance building parking lot.
Take pre-arranged shuttle to Patterson SP, maybe 20 miles north on Rts. 144 and 44.
Hike 8.5 miles to Wild Boy Shelter to camp for the night. (Best shelter site on the STS).
Day Two: You get a choice:
Take a short, easy day’s hike to Gravel Lick Shelter, about 7.5 miles – OR
Hike to the great Hammersley Pool, about 13.5 miles. Need tent to camp here.
Day Three: Short hike back to Cross Fork, about 6 miles, if you camped at the pool.
Have lunch (and a cold beer?) at Deb’s Restaurant in Cross Fork before driving home.
OR – Longer hike of about 12 miles if you camped at Gravel Lick Shelter and took
your lunch break at the pool. You’ll get home later, but by using two trail shelters,
you avoided having to carry a tent.
Patterson State Park to Patterson State Park, STS miles 77-11 (25 mile loop)
Day One: Drive to Patterson State Park. Hike to 3.3 miles to great stream-side campsite.
Day Two: Hike 4 miles, up Denton Hill to STS mile zero, and then hike down the other side,
about 11 miles to the historic CCC Dynamite Magazine shelter. You have carried your
tent anyway, for night one, and you may want to use it here as well. The refurbished
“D-Mag” will sleep a few people, and there’s a nice fire ring and campsite here, but the
accommodations are not like those at our Adirondack-style shelters.
Day Three: Go out to West Branch Road, turn right, go about half a mile to a camp at
1131 West Branch Road, and turn right onto the West Branch Trail back to the
STS and from there seven-tenths mile back to Patterson State Park – about 7 miles total.
You could eliminate the Day Three hike if you either left a car at the STS/West Branch Rd.
intersection, or parked there and got a shuttle to Patterson SP on day one.
West Branch Rd. to Ole Bull State Park, STS miles 11-26 (15 miles)
Day One: Drive to and park at Ole Bull State Park. Get shuttled about 15 miles to West Branch Rd.
Hike about 3 miles to the Cherry Springs Fire Tower and then
another mile down the hill from there to a nice campsite along Hogback Run.
Day Two: A very short hike of about 4 miles will take you to a great campsite along Bolich Run.
The STC hopes to erect a new trail shelter here in 2020.
Day Three: Hiking about 8 miles, STS miles 18-26, will get you back to your car at OBSP.
Following the West Branch of Pine Creek, this trail gives hikers the opportunity to experience the headwaters of one of Pennsylvania's most scenic waterways. The West Branch Tail is about 6 miles long with very little change in elevation. Beavers have created an extensive dam network throughout the valley, creating a more open feel than most trails in the Susquehannock State Forest. This openness makes the WBT somewhat brushy, so long pants are advised. However, hikers will be amply rewarded with gorgeous views of the many ponds of the West Branch Valley.
The West Branch Trail makes for a popular loop hike when combined with the northern portion of the STS. One hiking suggestion is to park at the DCNR office and proceed counter-clockwise as if hiking the regular STS loop. When reaching West Branch Road at mile 11, instead of heading up "Cardiac Climb," continue west along the road for about 1/4 mile to meet the WBT. The WBT then rejoins the STS at mile 77. This makes a loop of about 22.6 miles, perfect for a one or two night trip.
There are two shelters on this loop: The Dynamite House at mile 10.5 and the Sunken Branch Shelter at mile 78.4. There are several nice campsites as well as plenty of opportunities for dispersed camping.
The East Fork Trail is the more southern of the two connector trails. The EFT has a nice mix the of trail types found in North-central Pennsylvania. The eastern portion starts near the Cherry Springs Firetower and follows the path of an old railroad grade before transitioning to the hollows of the upper branches of the East Fork of the Sinnemahoning. The EFT also features the Boone Run vista, a short detour from the trail on Junction Road.
When used in conjunction with the northern portion of the STS, the EFT makes a loop a similar to the WBT loop, about 27 miles long. Possibilities for camping include one of three shelters: Dynatime Shed, Ford Hollow, and Sunken Brach. The trail also passes through Patterson State Park, and there are always decent campsites along the way as well as dispersed camping in most parts of the state forest.
The East Fork Trail and the West Branch Trail are both beautiful trails worth exploring in their own right. Using pieces of the STS as connectors they make a loop of about 20 miles, perfect for a long day hike or a relaxing overnight. One suggestion is to park at the Cherry Springs Fire Tower and head South, catching the EFT at mile 14.2. Walk east to west on the EFT, meeting back up with the STS at mile at 73.6. The Ford Hollow Shelter is just a short distance to the north from here. Catch the WBT at mile 77.3 and head east, meeting back up with the STS at mile 11. Then head south over Cardiac Climb and back to the Firetower.