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Susquehanna Life

Hiking Havens: Twin Sisters Vista, Susquehannock State Forest

The strong interest in hiking, and the need for information about how to access the best hikes, has prompted us to start this new column. We will start off with an easy-to-moderate hike that leads to spectacular mountaintop meadows and beautiful views across the Hammersley Wild Area—a truly unique place in Pennsylvania.

Start the 2.5-mile hike (one way) from Red Ridge Road, in Austin, Pa. (41°34'21.8"N 77°50'52.8"W). Parking is at 41.572678, -77.847954.  Red Ridge and Windfall roads are in good shape; avoid McConnell Road as sections are in poor shape.  

Follow the yellow blazed trail; you’ll also notice new orange blazes.  The terrain is hilly as the trail goes through hemlock groves and under forests of some huge hardwoods. This is a beautiful forest hike.  The trail crosses the side of the valleys and gorges, allowing you to look down through the open forests with glades of ferns.  In one place, the trail follows an old grade with original stonework.

Along the way

You will reach a sign indicating the meadows were created by a fire in the 1960s. The trail crosses what I call the north meadow.  Enjoy the stunning views, with the ridges, knobs and peaks over deep gorges and valleys.  In the valley below is the Susquehannock Trail.  The trail continues across the north meadow and then reaches the corner of the south meadow before entering the woods. The Twin Sisters Trail continues south and eventually meets the Susquehannock Trail.

I suggest you go off trail to explore both meadows (red on the map).  I really enjoy the expansive views from the south meadow, which is an ideal place for sunsets.  In spring, you will see many painted trilliums growing in the meadow. For the north meadow, climb to the top for 30 to 40-mile views.  Keep in mind that pickers grow in parts of the north meadow.  If you want more of an adventure, descend along the northern edge of the north meadow along a ridge to more meadows with views down the canyon of Hammersley Fork.

Stop for a while

This is a place where you will want to linger and enjoy.  On our visit, some people were camping at the meadows and I was a little bit jealous.  Beautiful clouds swept across the horizon and I could see distant rainstorms drifting across the wild area.

The Hammersley Wild Area is a special place, a sanctuary in Northern Appalachia.  Explore and enjoy it.  

Jeff Mitchell is an outdoors writer whose Endless Mountains blog chronicles his travels and depicts the special and unique quality of the Endless Mountains region, and the need to protect it.  

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