Visiting Round Island Run Falls
Round Island Run Falls is one of the most beautiful and remote waterfalls I have had the pleasure of visiting recently. Getting there requires navigating approx. 11 miles of sometimes-rough State Forest roads through Clearfield, Cameron, and Clinton counties. The falls themselves lie in the Sproul State Forest, Clinton County, but the trip crosses portions of the Quehanna Wild Area and the Elk State Forest as well.
What I am going to do here is lay out my method of getting to the falls. I'm not saying this is the only way, but I have found it to be the "easiest", easy being subject to interpretation. A word of caution: a few stretches of the State Forest roads you must navigate are extremely rutted, leaving a high peak in the center of the road. I cannot in good conscience recommend you try this in a small car or anything without decent ground clearance. I get there no problem with my Ford Edge SUV, but I would not try this in a passenger car. Maybe people do it, and more power to them. But this is one of the most remote parts of Pennsylvania, cell phone reception is nil, and you've got a LONG walk to get help if you get stuck/break down. So be forewarned.
Round Island Run Falls Parking Area Map
Driving directions to the parking area are fairly straight-forward.
From the Quehanna Highway, turn onto Three Runs Road and proceed NE approx. 6 miles. Along the way you will pass some turn-offs onto smaller roads (Three Runs Tower Road, for example). Ignore them - keep going straight.
At the 6 mile mark you will come to an intersection with Lower Jerry Ridge Road. Go straight through the intersection and now Three Runs Road magically becomes Dutchmans Branch Road (actually I think this is the Clinton County line but I like to think it's magical).
You will continue to proceed straight on Dutchmans Branch Road for another 3 miles until you see Round Island Ridge Road.
Make a left onto Round Island Ridge Road and proceed approx. 2.2 miles until you come to a set of double power lines that cross over the road. Park on the left side of the road (you'll see parking area) as that's the side the falls are on.
NOTE: About 1/2 mile before you get to the double power lines you'll see a couple of hunting camps and a small marker that says "waterfalls". Don't park there - keep going the extra 1/2 mile and park under the power lines. It's a much easier place to park and to hike in from - trust me.
Parking Area GPS Coordinates:
N 41° 16'07.3", W77° 59'52.5"
if you prefer degrees/minutes/seconds.
Once you've reached the parking area and parked on the left side of Round Island Ridge Road, look to the right side of the power lines right-of-way. You'll see a service road/trail running along the edge of the forest (see picture below). That is the trail you want to follow to get to the falls.
Hike along the edge of the woods approx. 1/2 mile. You'll be ascending/descending 2 swales. At the bottom of the second swale you'll see the stream and the well-defined trail leading to the falls. Turn right and hike approx. 1/2 mile until you first hear and then see the falls.
Once you get to the falls you'll see the steep descent/trail leading to the base. Someone has strung rope/paracord between the trees to act as a handrail of sorts, and I would encourage you to use this trail if you are going to attempt the descent here. Alternatively, you could hike downstream a bit and descend the banks at a lesser grade, then hike back upstream. Your call - know your physical abilities and remember where you are. This would be near the top of my list for places you don't want to sprain an ankle. Or worse.
Map to Round Island Run Falls
GPS Coordinates of Round Island Run Falls
N41 16.308, W78 00.361
N41° 16'18.5", W78° 00'21.7"
if you prefer degrees/minutes/seconds.
Once you've made it to the falls, take advantage of all the angles and opportunities that exist here. Front view, side views, behind the falls view (please be careful if attempting this one!), downstream view. There really isn't a bad angle to view/photograph this one from, and odds are you'll be the only person/group here so take your time and enjoy it.
I've included a brief video clip below to give you a taste for what you are in store for, should you chose to visit Round Island Run Falls. I hope you find the information here useful, but if something is still unclear feel free to contact me through the website. I'm always happy to help out a fellow photographer/hiker/explorer.