Sunday, January 29, 2012

Tohickon Valley, PA: Ralph Stover State Park and Tohickon Valley Park

Ralph Stover State Park - Pennsylvania Department of Conservation
Tohickon Valley Park - Bucks County, PA

GPS Coordinates 40.434401, -75.097524

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Parking at Ralph Stover State Park

Ralph Stover State Park - Pennsylvania Department of Conservation
Tohickon Valley Park - Bucks County, PA
Neither map is of much use.  No map exists showing the trails available.  There are many informal trails that shoot off of the more defined trails.  Between High Rocks Vista and the campground at Tohickon Valley Park there are 3 trails that run parallel on different levels:  Yellow (highest level), Red dot on white (middle level), unmarked (lower level).  Knowing this helps make more sense of the layout of the trails.

Most of the trails are accessed by crossing the red bridge from the parking lot and following the paved road uphill through a residential area.  The trails start in about .4 miles from the parking lot.  If you reach Tory Road, you missed the trails but not by much.  Alternatively, parking with trail access is available at High Rocks Vista (40.44127, -75.10060) and Tohickon Valley Park (40.43819, -75.07700).
40.44127, -75.10060
40.44127, -75.10060
  • YELLOW TRAIL:  Starts on the right side of the paved road about half way up the guardrail which is on the left side of the paved road.  This trail seems to be very well blazed (fresh blazes) the entire length.  The yellow trail follows the highest level along the rim of the valley and seems to be the most heavily used.  It runs for about 2.4 miles to the campground at Tohickon Valley Park.
  • WHITE TRAIL:  Starts on the right of the paved road a short distance from the start of the yellow trail.  Not well blazed and blazes are old and faded.  This trail meets up with and joins together with yellow trail in under 1/10th of a mile.  Terminates at High Rocks Vista parking area when yellow continues on as yellow only before joining with red dot on white.
  • UNMARKED LOOP TRAIL:  Starts to the left directly opposite the start of the white trail on the paved road.  This is a 1.5 mile loop trail.  The trail forks a few steps in.  Right follows the higher contour then descends to creek level and meets back up at the fork to complete the loop.
  • UNMARKED FENCE TRAIL:  At High Rocks Vista an unmarked trail follows along the safety fencing a level lower than and somewhat parallel to the yellow-blazed trail.  This trail ends merging back with the yellow trail when the safety fencing ends. 
  • UNMARKED LOWER LEVEL TRAIL:  Beyond High Rocks Vista after safety fencing has ended watch for a fork where a double yellow blaze indicates a left turn of the yellow trail.  It is the only yellow double turn blaze I saw in that direction.  At this fork the red dot on white trail veers right.  A few steps before this fork, watch for an unmarked trail leaving to the right.  This trail descends to a lower level and continues for about 1.3 miles terminating at the red dot on white trail.  Several unmarked trails branch off of this trail but keep to the right following along the contour of the creek to stay on the trail.  This trail seems to be the most lightly used but is the most scenic.
  • RED DOT ON WHITE TRAIL:  Starts at the Cedar Overlook sign and runs with the yellow-blazed trail (although only yellow blazes visible after the Cedar Overlook sign) until the double blazes indicating the yellow trail is turning left.  Turn right at this fork and eventually there will be a red dot on white blaze but they are faded and very infrequent initially.  Blazing becomes better towards the end of the trail.  This trail runs about 1.8 miles and ends at the campground at Tohickon Valley Park.  The red dot on white trail runs between the lower unmarked trail and the higher yellow trail.
  • UNMARKED TOHICKON VALLEY PARK TRAIL:  From behind the park pool an unmarked trail to the left comes out at Cafferty Road in .3 miles.  Turn right on another unmarked trail before Cafferty Road and this trail leads back to the narrow paved park road to park cabins in .25 miles.  Continue beyond cabin 3 then cabin 4 following an unmarked trail that ascends and terminates at the red dot on white trail at the campground in .6 miles for a total loop of about 1.15 miles.
From the parking lot before crossing the bridge:
  • UNMARKED TRAIL TO DOAN'S CAVE:  Turn right before the bridge and walk towards picnic pavilion with the restroom building beyond.  Unmarked trail starts behind pavilion and crosses a bridge.  Rustic trail loops around following creek through rocky area where Doan's Cave is located.  After steep incline, trail terminates at gravel road which is private property but best to retrace from Doan's Cave and before steep incline for total of about .6 miles out and back.
CLICK HERE for my notes where I have referenced the voice recorder track number with the corresponding pictures below if this is of any help in planning a hike without a proper map.

I hiked 12 miles exploring the trails but it is definitely possible to put together loops of various lengths.

The pictures do not do this hike justice at all.  I was shooting into the sun so the pictures are not the best.  The scenery is FABULOUS and it's definitely a hike worth doing.  Ralph Stover State Park and Tohickon Valley Park are next to each other and sort of intermingle - hard to tell where the boundaries are.
TRACK #1:  Access trails by crossing the bridge with the covered sides from the parking lot.
TRACK #2:   Paved State Park Road from bridge ascends with Tohickon Creek to the left through residential area to trails.
TRACK #8:  Unmarked loop trail that starts to the left of paved road opposite white-blazed trail.
TRACK #19:  Unmarked trails follows along left bank of Tohickon Creek.
TRACK #26:  White-blazed trail starts on right from paved road opposite unmarked loop trail.
TRACK #27:  Yellow merges in from right; trail continues as white/yellow to High Rock Vista.
High Rocks Vista parking lot with porta potty left before bridge; yellow continues across bridge or right goes to unmarked trail along safety fence at views.
The yellow-blazed trail branches off to the High Rocks Vista parking lot.  This is a view coming from the parking lot.  Turn left on yellow to cross small bridge, keep straight to unmarked trail at safety fence for views, came in from the right on white/yellow.
TRACK #32:  Chain link safety fence at views.
TRACK #34:  Argillite Overlook.  There supposedly 4 named overlooks but the only signs I saw were for the Argillite and Cedar Overlooks.
TRACK #36:  Wrought iron safety fence.
People walking on unmarked trail along safety fence as seen from the yellow trail.
One of the valley views at High Rock Vista.
TRACK #37:  At Cedar Overlook, a red dot on white blaze with a yellow blaze indicating from this point both trails run together but red dot on white blazes will be sporadic along this section.
At the overlooks, turkey vultures fly by at eye level.  This is how close they come and the level of detail visible.  You almost look each other in the eye.
If you get there early before other visitors have scared them off, the turkey vultures might even put on a show for you.  They let me get closer than I have ever been to a turkey vulture.  Maybe they know that safety fence was keeping me and my dog (who could have cared less about them) from getting too close.
It was incredibly awesome to be able to hang out with them for a while and take pictures!
Turkey vultures hanging out on the cliffs by the chains the rock climbers use.
To give you a better idea just how high up those chains are.
A rock climber going down the cliff face.
TRACK #39:  Turned right on an unmarked trail just before the double left turn blazes for the yellow trail at a fork where the red dot on white trail goes right.  This unmarked trail starts high but descends gently to a lower level running parallel to Tohickon Creek.
TRACK #47:  In a hemlock grove, a trail goes downhill to the right for a short out and back to the bank of Tohickon Creek.
TRACK #56:  Lower level unmarked trail follows along the bottom of rock walls.
TRACK #59:  One of the many rock hops over a feeder creek.
TRACK #60: The unmarked lower level trail terminates at the red dot on white middle level trail.
TRACK #63:  The red dot on white trail terminates at two posts with blazes on each at a camping/picnic area.  Pit toilet on right open in winter.  From this point if you look to the left, you see where the yellow trail terminates at the campground.
TRACKS #73 and #85:  If you take the loop that starts behind the pool in Tohickon Valley Park, watch for the turn just before paved Cafferty Road where my dog is standing.  This brings you down to a bend in the paved park road at the cabin area - turn left following the park road as it curves to the right towards cabins 3 and 4.  A trail continues beyond cabin 4 and ascends to meet up with the red dot on white trail for the return trip.
TRACK #91:  Looking back at Cabin #4 right at Tohickon Creek.
Heading back on the red dot on white trail.
TRACK #114:  Rock ledge along red dot on white trail with unmarked lower level trail from earlier visible below.
TRACK #120:  Blazes become very faded and less frequent.
TRACK #124:  Rock hop over feeder creek with a small waterfall.
After crossing back over bridge with covered sides to parking lot, turn left to find unblazed trail to Doan's Cave behind the picnic pavilion.  Trail crosses a foot bridge,  goes through swampy section, then becomes rocky.  The trail is not all that well defined but it is possible to follow it.
When you come to this memorial for Sullivan James Burd who apparently died here at the age of 20 on 9/9/2010, retrace a bit and go down to the lower level beneath the memorial to find Doan's Cave.  To continue on, the trail becomes more difficult to follow and ends at a gravel road on private property so best to retrace from this point.
Doan's Cave

CLICK HERE for transcribed trail notes.


  1. Did this hike yesterday with my 3 dogs. Thanks for posting it in such nice detail. I live fairly close by, but have never hiked there, as, like you mentioned the trail maps are not good and I never knew they were so nice. Your research is awesome- I would have never bothered going here, but I will go back now for sure. The scenery was lovely, and the dogs loved that pretty river

  2. Elsie,

    Thanks! Glad my info was of use to you. I sure wish I lived closer. What a fabulous place!


  3. Wish I had time to do ALL the hikes you do!!. I can usually only do shorte,r local hikes Been following your Blog since about the fall, and picked a few that I really liked from the pictures and we did two over the Christmas holidays...... Trexler, and one in the Pine Barrens. Loved them both, will leave comments there too :)

  4. Apparently Sullivan James Burd died of a Heroin overdose at that spot which where his father found his body.

  5. This is awesome!! I've been wanting to go to this park with my dog for a while and could never find good information. Thank you!!! So if I'm understanding this correctly, I can park just off Tory road and have easy access to the Yellow Trail? But that trail ends at a campground so to return via a different route I could follow the red dot trail back? Or would you recommend starting at the parking lot down by the State Park road near the picnic area? I mean, either way sounds like a great day, and your information has been enough to make me feel a bit better about going out there and finding my way.
    thank you so much!!!

    1. You can park at any of the lots along the route and pick up from there. Just remember the trails are poorly blazed and some not blazed at all but it's kind of hard to get lost since all trail basically run parallel but on different levels. Glad the info was of help. Enjoy!


  6. Patrick: I run the "Tohickon Loop" several times a week. It is 9+- miles start to finish. I usually start in Point Pleasant at the small parking area at the bottom of Tohickon Hill road and run up the old Gary Black Indian trail which is very clear until the 1.75 to 2mile mark where the trail hits a deer fence. From there you have to scramble about 30 feet down to creek level and follow the creek up for apx 0.25 miles where the trail will come back. This time of year it is difficult to follow this part of the trail due to the leaves on the ground and the fact that very few people ever hike it. The trail does follow the creek all the way to the Ralph Stover red bridge. Cross the bridge and follow the road up - take the second dirt path on the right side almost at the top of the road before hitting state park road. This path will take you along High Rocks vista. You can chose several paths from the vista but I recommend the lower trails as it may be easier to connect with the camp ground on Cafferty Rd. When you hit the camp ground its best to follow Cafferty Rd back down to Point Pleasant. There is a trail that runs along the creek heading downstream from the camp ground but can be a bad place to get caught in a rain storm etc... Plus it dead ends at the old Flour Mill where you eventually have to crawl up the hill to Cafferty rd... Good luck! I recommend giving yourself many hours if hiking. There are numerous trails/dirt roads that come and go when you are near the scout reserve. When in doubt, keep the creek in sight. If you see a trail that goes up the hill away from the creek, it is probably the wrong place to go... I can run this loop in 85 minutes but that is because I am moving fast and know exactly where to go. Be safe!

    1. This is great information - thanks! I had tried to incorporate Point Pleasant but was not able to find a connection and kept running into private property. I'll have to try your way someday.


    2. anonymous. I also do a lot of improvisational trail running which others would simply call trespassing. I've stayed at the scout camp as a leader and done the same 8 mile loop you describe. But as a scout leader, I ask you to be considerate about not spooking the scouts. During the Summer time when the camp is more active, better to go super early when they are all asleep and stay away from the occupied areas. Even during the fall, there are going to be troops in the center area - so more polite to avoid them on weekends. I only go on private property in stealth mode which includes wearing colors that blend in.

  7. The cave you have pictured is not the Done cave. The Done cave is actually much higher up but close to area you describe. The cave entrance is somewhat hidden as you would enter on an angle like this \ . It is also tall enough to stand up in although not very wide.

  8. Hello and thanks for posting this information about the parks (all of them!). I've been reading your posts for some time now (glad your dog is doing better) and wanted to let you know that you another blogger have inspired me to start my own blog about hiking as well. Reading your posts has helped me to find new places to explore, thanks for that! I just started my blog a few weeks ago but if and when I get a chance (and some visitors), I'll be sure to refer your site when I can. If you want to check out my blog, it's

    I know this is an old post but the above links to the Doan Gang Cave no longer work. I found this piece of information from the Bucks County Historical Society. Hope this helps. Happy hiking!

    1. Thank you! (On behalf of my dog, also!) I am now a follower of your blog :) It sure helps to see what other people find in order to determine if that particular hike is worth the trip when it is a distance away. And so many hikes, like this Tohickon Valley one, had very little information back when I was researching it. Always great to find new places.


    2. You're welcome, and thank you too! I went there today and wasn't able to find the cave but it makes for a good reason to return. After looking at some maps, I was right on top of it too! I found more trails than I thought I would as well so it'll be well worth going back to do some additional exploration. Tohickon Valley Park still doesn't have a heck of a lot of information, their park map could definitely use an upgrade.

      I just realized my typo above, I meant to say you *and* another blogger had inspired me. I met the other at Mount Misery in Valley Forge shortly before I started writing about my explorations. Cheers! I look forward to your next adventure!


  9. Hiked from Tohickon Valley Park to the overlooks and back today with two kids and two dogs. It is strange how there's not a map of the different trails, but it's small enough to figure out. Love your blog!

    1. Thanks! It is helpful to have a map, though, especially when it's a distance away. I always need to know if it is worth the drive or not and without a map it is often impossible to tell. Glad I took a chance on this one, though!

  10. Hi, and thank you for your article. To take the yellow trail to the campground ( the 2.4 miles hike) , where should i park?

    Thank you again

    1. Sorry, it's been so long since I hiked there I really could not tell you.

    2. There are a few different parking lots to choose from depending on how far you want to hike. You can park at Ralph Stover State Park and from there, cross the bridge and head up the hill on Stover Park Road until you see a trail head on the right side. This trail will bring you past the overlooks (High Rocks) and to Tohickon Valley Park and the campsites.

      If you don't feel like climbing the hill on Stover Park Road to the overlooks, there's another parking lot on Tory Road. Directly across the street from the lot will be a trail that will take you to the overlooks and from there, you can head to Tohickon Valley Park.

      It's not the best and certainly doesn't show all the trails within the park but you can get a copy of the map from DCNR's website that shows the parking lots I'm referring to: