Smiths Knob is one of the rare forms of mountains in Pennsylvania as it is actually a symmetrical peak that is extremely steep on all sides. As a member of PA's Endless Mountains, Smiths Knob offers a big mountain feel with low elevation, but very stunning views. Located on the south rim of the very rugged and scenic Loyalsock Canyon only about ten miles from Williamsport, Smiths Knob offers dramatic views of over 1,200 feet down to Loyalsock Creek at the base of the mountain.
Also, an ascent of Smiths Knob requires a little more effort than most PA mountains. If you ascend via the west ridge you'll gain over 1,100 feet in elevation in less than a mile and a half. That's pretty steep for being in Pennsylvania. A descent of the rugged east ridge of this mountain can also be exciting, especially in winter conditions. It is extremely steep and narrow and I advise making sure that you have the correct equipment for certain snow conditions before attempting a descent.
The Loyalsock Creek and Canyon are a great place to experience Pennsylvania's great outdoors. This rugged area is home to the famous Loyalsock Trail which spans the entire length of the Canyon. The region holds challenges for novice and experienced hikers alike. The views here are breathtaking and there are plenty of them. One of Smiths Knob's most famous vantage points is called Helens Window as you look over a thousand feet, nearly straight down to the Loyalsock Creek below. Smiths Knob and the entire region has something to offer everyone.
From Harrisburg, PA:
Head north on PA 22/322 and cross the Susquehanna River on the Clarks Ferry Bridge. At the exit for US 15 take 15 north towards Selinsgrove. Stay north on 15 all the way to Williamsport, over Bald Eagle Mountain. Once you cross the river and are in downtown Williamsport, take expressway 110 east towards Montoursville until you reach the exit for PA 87. Take the exit and head north for 9.3 miles until you reach the turn off for Little Bear Creek Road on your right. Follow this road until you reach the Forest Service Headquarters where there is plenty of parking. You'll see signs for the Loyalsock Trail and Smiths Knob.
From Williamsport, PA:
Take expressway 110 east towards Montoursville until you reach the exit for PA 87. Take the exit and head north for 9.3 miles until you reach the turn off for Little Bear Creek Road on your right. Follow this road until you reach the Forest Service Headquarters where there is plenty of parking. You'll see signs for the Loyalsock Trail and Smiths Knob.
There are no permits required to use the Loyalsock Trail or park at the headquarters, but please be aware of your surroundings and respect it. Basically this means follow the “LEAVE NO TRACE” program and you will be fine.
When To Climb
This mountain is climbable any time of the year, but be aware that a descent of the east ridge in winter conditions can be quite arduous and a wrong slip can be dangerous. I would recommend at least snow shoes and possibly even crampons for a descent of the east ridge depending on snow conditions.
The views from this mountain are year round so in terms of a best time, I would probably say fall would be amazing with the turning leaves. At the same time you'll want to find out the hunting season dates before hitting the trail so you're not hit by a hunter.
This mountain is great in all times of the year though and has something to offer in every season.
The Loyalsock Trail is one of the most scenic footpaths in the state of Pennsylvania running for 59.3 miles from just north of Montoursville to Ringdale, PA all the while following the Loyalsock Creek and Canyon. This famous trail also heads through Worlds End State Park with its famous canyon vistas, most popular to tourists in the entire Endless Mountains Region.
The Trail is named for the Loyalsock Creek which it follows coming from the indian words, "Lawi - Saquick", which means middle creek. The Loyalsock Creek empties into the Susquehanna River on the east side of Williamsport, about 10 miles southwest of the start of the trail. The trail was started as two trails created by earlier settlers to traverse the rugged mountains and canyons of the region. Becoming accustomed to heavy foot traffic, the trails have been in use ever since.
Camping is permitted in certain areas but check below for the guidelines. There are also a number of campgrounds in the area to choose from with Best Beach Campground being the closest to Smiths Knob.
PA State Forest Guidelines:
Primitive campers spending no more than 1 night at a campsite do not need a Camping Permit. However, a Camping Permit is required if:
- you desire an emergency point-of-contact;
- you stay at a campsite more than one night;
- a campfire is desired during spring or fall fire seasons;
- you camp using a vehicle for storage or transportation;
- you are “group camping”; or,
- you camp within the Pine Creek Gorge / Canyon in Tiadaghton or Tioga State Forests.
Group Camping is defined as more than 10 people in a unit, overnight motorized or primitive camping. A Letter of Authorization must first be obtained from the District Forester. A Camping Permit and Letter of Authorization are issued to the group.