McIntyre Wild Area

Rock RunAfter a couple of weeks away on vacation and family business, I decided I needed to get out to the woods for a couple of days and I wanted to go somewhere different. Around here the dry summer has evaporated most of the streams and the autumn colors haven’t started yet. My usual haunts where I have been walking all my life are getting too well known which brings with it trash, cairns, and graffiti – very disheartening.

I headed down to Pennsylvania to the McIntyre Wild Area near the small town of Ralston.

StonesThis place is about three hours from where I live and it took me even longer since the directions that I had were not the best. The key factor is that Rock Run Road does not touch Route 14. You can not find it by driving back and forth through Ralston like I did. You need to turn on Thompson Road, follow it to the back of town, bear left, bear right across a bridge, and finally take a wild guess that the unmarked dirt road ahead is in fact Rock Run Road.

I finally arrived around 4:30 in the afternoon. I had planned to camp here, but there were lots of bright orange signs warning me that it was mandatory to get a permit first. Unfortunately to get a permit meant driving another thirty or forty miles south to a forestry office which I assumed was closed by now anyway.

Miner’s RunI decided to just scope out the area for tomorrow’s hike and then find a room somewhere. I drove up to a lookout at the end of McIntyre road. You can certainly see a long way from the overlook, but basically it is just a view of Route 14 running down the valley – not the greatest.

Rock Run Road gets its name because it follows Rock Run, a large-ish stream or a small-ish river depending on how you look at it. This is very pretty. The water is crystal clear. It doesn’t seem to have much pitch to it, but the water runs very fast and there are lots of channels, swirls, and small waterfalls all along it. There is so much water moving so quickly that I had to run up the ISO on my camera to keep everything from becoming just a solid white blanket in every shot.

I also checked out Miner’s Run, a stream that cascades down the hill and joins Rock Run at the bottom. I hear that the top of the hill was a coal strip mine years ago hence the name.

The morning brought typical Pennsylvania fog everywhere, but the sky above promised a sunny day. I parked at the bridge where Miner’s Run passes under Rock Run Road and headed up the hill. The stream is pretty nice. There was a little graffiti early on and some rock cairns at one point, but higher up it was relatively pristine, quiet, and with no one else around, I could take my time and stop often for a bit of reflection.

The higher I went the more I found lumps of coal along the stream. Once up to where the ravine leveled out a bit, it was everywhere. Even parts of the stream bed were solid deposits of coal with the water flowing over them.

The stream goes on for miles up on top of the hill in a relatively flat meandering channel. Eventually the ravine walls pull back opening onto a sunny plain covered with ferns. And I mean covered with ferns. There are fields of ferns running right from the stream bank to the eaves of the surrounding hardwoods. Sometimes they were up to my waist or better and I had to wade through them like water. They grow so thick that I couldn’t see my feet as I walked so I was always tripping over hidden logs or stumbling into unseen holes.

Miner’s RunA deer sprang up out of the ferns and bounded toward the wood. It stopped just inside the shadow of the trees and just watched me pass. If I hadn’t seen it run over there, I would never have noticed it standing still as a statue waiting to see if I was heading its way or not.

After a while slogging through the ferns in the hot sun, I decided to head back down stream. I got back to the car with some time left before sunset so I went for another walk along Rock Run. Mostly I could walk along the rocky edges of the stream and wade through the shallows. Once in a while I had to climb up the banks into the woods to get around especially large waterfalls with steep side walls.

Rock Run has rental cabins and campsites along it and they were starting to fill up toward dusk. People were bathing and playing in the water – lots of yelling and splashing. It got to be more like hanging out at the YMCA pool than hiking in the wild so I decided it was time to head home.

MDW

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13 Responses to “McIntyre Wild Area”

  1. Bernie Kasper Says:

    I just love stream and flowing water shots Mark, and yours definitely don’t disappoint, especially the second one really like the ss in that one. Great work.

  2. Jessica Says:

    iF YOU GO AND STAY ALL NIGHT, WELL YOU HAVE TO BREAK THE LAW BECAUSE THERE IS NO MORE CAMPING ALOUD, YOU M IGHT SEE SOME UNWANTED VISITORS LURKING AROUND YOU. IN CASE YOU DIDNT KNOW UP CLOSE TO THE VERY TOP USED TO BE AN OLD MINNING TOWN…IF YOU GO UNTIL YOU SEE THE BIG WOODEN CROSS YOULL KNOW YOUR THERE. IF YOU SEARCH AROUND THIS AREA IN THE WOODS YOU ARE LIKELY TO STUMBLE UPON THE OLD GRAVES AND SOME REMAINS OF CHIMNEYS AND FOUNDATIONS. THE TOWNSMEN WHO USED TO LIVE THERE ALL DIED OF A FEVER OF SOME SORT. BUT IF YOU WANT THE NAME OF THE ACTUAL SICKNESS JUST ASK ONE OF THE RESIDENTS IN RALSTON AND IM SURE THEY CAN TELL YOU MORE…

  3. Wade Says:

    Near the top of Miners Run are the remains of an old splash dam. You can notice the grid work of most the old logs that still remain there today. They also form a small falls. The people who lived at McIntyre didn’t all die of a fever. Most the townspeople abandoned the village and moved to another mining town called Peale around 1884. There are several children buried in the cemetery, they most likely did die of a sickness that often spread rampant through small towns back then. Children were affected the most and often died. Unfortunately, DCNR in Harrisburg has decided to close the only road that can easily take anyone to the top of the mountain where the town was. They say this is due it’s Wild Area designation. To bad for all the elderly who have enjoyed going up there for years. I suppose the people who have a legal right to visit the cemetery will have to walk the 4 mile road or climb the sides of McIntyre Mountain. Nice pictures. I could show you where many much larger falls or cascades are. You must be quite mobile on your feet, although you did drive to the vista. Soon you’ll have to walk. Thanks DCNR!

    • Andrea Says:

      The road is now open to McIntyre. We visted the cemetery this past weekend. It’s quite sad, very dilapidated…

  4. lanitrix Says:

    Rock Run is one of the most beautiful places on the planet for me…I live 3 miles away from there and I don’t visit it often enough.

  5. Wade Says:

    Over the winter months a petition was going around that basically stated the DCNR should re-open McIntyre Road. DCNR’s State Forest Resource Management Plan state’s that existing roads in Wild Areas should remain open if there is a public need. Well the petitioners gave them a public need. Thank You to all those that signed the petition and Thank You to Garth Everett and Gene Yaw for working with DCNR to re-open McIntyre Road. Once again, people of all ages and all abilities can access the top of the mountain.

  6. Andrew Says:

    I was up in this area this past weekend and Wade is corrent, the road is open again. We drove out to the Band Rock vista but didn’t see much evidence of the town from the road anyway. We did see the big wooden cross. Anyone know where I can find more info on the town? I haven’t had much luck. Great write up and pics!

  7. MDW Says:

    Thanks for the comments, everyone. I really need to get back down there this summer. It’s a beautiful place.

    MDW

  8. Cheryl Howard Hill Says:

    My Mom was born and grew up there. My Aunt Anna, who was the youngest just died at 80 years old. My grandfather came from Austria at 14, worked the mines also shoed the mules. My cousins are bringing their Mom home Memorial week-end. We were told you can no longer drive up. According to some posts the road was re-opened and you can get to the band rock again. Hopefully this is true.

  9. MDW Says:

    Thanks for visiting Cheryl. It’s always nice to hear from people that have a connection to a place – really gives it more meaning and depth.

    I see from my previous comment that wanted to get back to McIntyre last summer. Guess I didn’t make it. Maybe this year.

  10. Andrea Says:

    Can anyone lead me to more information on the cemetery there? I’m very interested in the history.

  11. Greg Oliver Says:

    The cemetery is at the location of the Presbyterian church on the corner of what was Carson and Langdon street the Methodist did not have their own church but met in the school house. this was a mining town and the cemetery is actually a lot larger than what you find left. when I say mining town all buildings and the store were owned by the mining company owned by Jervis Langdon also famous for being the father of Olivia Langdon Mark Twain’s (Samuel Clemmons) wife

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