Visiting Round Island Run Falls in the Sproul State Forest – 2017 Updated Directions
Round Island Run Falls is one of the most beautiful spots in the Sproul State Forest, Clinton County, PA. It can best be described as being in the middle of the middle of nowhere, which is part of its charm but also presents some challenges getting to it.
The "conventional wisdom" approach to getting there is to turn onto Three Runs Road off of the Quehanna Highway near Piper, then take that forest road 6 miles to Round Island Road. And while that looks great on a map, it ignores the fact that a 2 mile stretch of that forest road east of Jerry Run Road is basically undriveable unless you have a high clearance vehicle (Jeep/truck/etc).
So what I have set-out to do here is give you an alternate route to the falls that is accessible with a standard automobile. As I found out while mapping this out and test driving the route, it actually shaves 1 mile off the amount of dirt forest roads you have to drive on, and it is slightly quicker than the Three Runs Road route. Win win!
You will travel 7.6 miles east/northeast on (paved) Pottersdale Road until you come to a T in the road. To your right will be New Garden Road. To your left will be Keating Mountain Road (see sign above). Turn left onto Keating Mountain Road and travel 3.3 miles. Keating Mountain road could best be described as an improved dirt road, but certainly it is passable in a conventional automobile and infinitely better than the stretch of road you are avoiding on 3 Runs Road/Dutchman Road.
At the 2.4 mile mark on Keating Mountain Road you will see Birch Island Road coming in from the left. You don't turn here - I'm just giving you this as a landmark in case by this point you think I've gotten you totally lost. Don't fret - you're on the right path!
At the 3.3 mile mark on Keating Mountain Road (.9 miles past Birch Island Road) you will make a hard left onto Dutchman Road. Travel 1.6 miles on Dutchman Road to Round Island Road.
Turn right onto Round Island Road and drive 2.3 miles to a set of power lines. At around mile marker 1.8, just past the Liberty Bell hunting camp, you will see a small "waterfall" trail marker. Ignore it. You want to park under the power lines as I describe here. It's a much easier hike and much better spot to park.
Park under the power lines on the left hand side of the road.
Parking Area GPS Coordinates:
N 41° 16'07.3", W77° 59'52.5"
if you prefer degrees/minutes/seconds.
Staying on the left side of the road, you are going to be hiking along the edge of the woods, under the power lines, along what looks like an ATV trail for approx. 0.5 miles.
Just to be crystal clear - the woods will be on your right and the power lines will be on your left as you hike away from your vehicle.
At the bottom of the first swale on the ATV trail you will see a small stream and a few little pools of water (or not, depending on time of year). This IS NOT the stream you want. You will continue up the next hill and down the second, steeper swale to the larger Round Island Run (approx. 0.5 miles from where you parked).
Once you hit the stream, you will see the well-worn trail. You want to hang a right on the trail and hike downstream approx. 0.5 miles to the falls themselves. (If you were to hike upstream along the trail you would eventually come out at that little "waterfalls" sign post I told you to ignore).
You will probably hear the falls before you see them, but once you are near them there will be 2 obvious trails down to them. One approaches them from above, the other from below. I won't tell you which one to take - you can size them up and decide for yourself depending on current conditions. The trail below has a sort of rope handrail, but is longer and usually muddier. The trail from above is shorter but no ropes.
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.
This waterfall presents numerous of angles to shoot it from. Downstream is a favorite of mine, but up-close and even from behind the upper tier are equally nice (use extreme caution if going behind the upper tier).
To summarize the route:
- Turning off of the Quehanna Highway, take Pottersdale Road for 7.6 miles.
- At the T take a left on Keating Mountain Road and follow it for 3.3 miles
- Hang a hard left on Dutchman Road and follow it for 1.6 miles
- Hang a right on Round Island Road and follow it for 2.3 miles to the power lines.
- Park on the left hand side of the road, under the powerlines
- Follow the ATV trail away from the parking area for .5 miles (keeping the woods on your right and the power lines on your left).
- At the 0.5 mile mark/bottom of second swale, hang a right on the obvious trail and follow it downstream 0.5 miles to the falls.
I hope some of you find this information to be of use - feel free to shoot me an email or leave a comment here.
And enjoy your trip to Round Island Run Falls!