Overlook from Smith's Knob to Loyalsock Creek is spectacular and worth the climb, just be careful on the climb up and down via either direction. There is a steep drop-off at the vista, just use common sense and "mind your surroundings". Trails are well marked and easy to follow, overall very well maintained.
Large parking lot available.
For the most part, this trail is "runnable". By that I mean. the trail 'tread" isn't terribly rock or rooted, however you'll come across sections where you defiitely need to either slow down or walk through them to avoid turning an ankle. The trail up Loyalsock Trail
from the lot includes a fair amount of that and with the incline, was not very runnable on the way up for me. On the way down, not as bad but definitely had to slow my pace. Up on the plateau, super runnable and very enjoyable. The pitch up and down from Smith's Knob, from either direction, is too steep to run so choose that as your powerhiking sections. The section downhill once back on the Loyalsock Trail
from Smith's Knob, is easily runnable...just know it's somewhat steep so you'll have to brake going down a chunk of it...very enjoyable though and super scenic!! Once you bottom out and head back parallelling Route 87 back up to the LT, it's a mixed back, I had to mostly powerhike.
This trail is marked from where the Loyalsock Trail
crosses over Little Bear Creek Road, however just up to the left from where it crosses, there is a large lot for parking with a map. Shortly after heading up this section of trail there is a register. Recommend you sign in and out even if just trail running or day hiking vs. doing the thru-hike of the Loyalsock Trail
The first part of the Loyalsock Trail
up from the lot is well marked, clear and easy to follow. The grade is somewhat steep and you'll certainly get winded and work up a good sweat. It's not as difficult of as the start of the Loyalsock Trail
a few miles over directly off Route 87 if you've done that portion...no hand/foot climbing whatsoever.
This is a beautiful run up in classic Pennsylvania hardwoods. You'll come to a trail coming up from the right (blue blazes) at about 0.6 from the lot. If you follow the route described here, you'll be coming back up that trail towards the finish.
Continue on the Loyalsock Trail
, which is blazed with yellow disks having red LT letters in the center, or a yellow stripe with red mark. One you'd hit the plateau, it's very easy running, the trail is easy to follow like classic Central Pennsylvania trails.
You'll come to a junction at near 1.2 miles where you'll turn right. This section of the trail is very wide and could be used for horse travel as the portion you just came from is listed as no horse allowed so I would deduce the section you just arrived at allows horses. This is flat to slightly downhill.
Just ahead on your left at 1.3 miles approximately, you'll see the trailhead up to the left...this leads up to Smith's Knob. Heading up this way is slightly easier with less climbing over roots, rocks and it's less steep. It is still steep in sections so take your time and watch your footing. For the purposes of this route, pass this junction as you'll be coming back down that way in a few miles.
Continue on the Loyalsock Trail
where it will soon open up to the left to a deer fence/management area on your right and it will become more of a logging or maintenance road. At approximately 2.2 miles, you'll see a trail coming off from the left. I believe that is the Loyalsock Trail
proper as you'll note it goes back to a more traditional "singletrack" trail it parallels the section of "road" you just traveled. Again trail is in good condition here, well marked but does become more of a true trail.
At approximately 2.5 miles, it begins to steepen and you'll soon see Smith's Knob ahead in the distance. That's not the "summit" of it, a false one, once you reach that, the Knob itself is a little further up. This section up to the Knob is quite steep, uses switchbacks and has a fair amount of rocks, roots and the trail slopes down following the contour of the hill.
This is a lung burner but worth it. You'll arrive at the vista around 2.9 miles which overlooks to the Loyalsock Creek and nearby range. You can get a good view from here and it's flat, but you'll notice it drops off about 40' so just be careful as you catch the view. If someone is afraid of heights, they'll feel it here...but they can get a good view relatively far back from that outcropping itself.
Continue upwards and your'll reach a plateau which is actually Smith's Knob. You'll note there is a fire ring, logs cut for benches. A relatively easy run in from the trailhead for an overnight stay. Pass through this area and you'll start down the backside. Not as steep as what you came up, but nonetheless, watch your footing and take your time. It still is relatively steep.
You'll rejoin Loyalsock Trail
around mile 3.2, then shortly thereafter you'll pass the No Horses sign as you go straight and head down a very long, fairly steep but no rocks/roots trail that winds down towards Route 87 and parallels it as you make a slow/steady climb back up to the Loyalsock Trail
. From there, head back down the trail you came.
Classic Pennsylvania hardwoods, deer, small critters, birds.