The second to last hike for the Restek Ramblers had us doing our hardest hike out of all as we explored the upper reaches of Shingletown Gap. Not the longest of our hikes, though we did manage to do 5 miles of hiking, this hike was the toughest because it included two rather sizable ascents: one to the top of Bald Knob Ridge and the other to the top of Tussey Mountain.
Our hike started with a bit of road walking. We parked our cars where the Shingletown Path crosses Old Laurel Run Road. In order to climb to the top of Bald Knob Ridge, we had to hike about 0.4 miles down Old Laurel Run Road to the intersection with the Bald Knob Ridge Trail. Once off the road we had a nice single track trail to follow as we meandered through the forest.
About three quarters of a mile into our hike we began our ascent of Bald Knob. The going was a bit steep at first, but soon we reached the ridgeline where the ascent became a bit easier. We passed one vista on the ascent, with views towards Little Flat and the radio towers located there. Soon we completed our first climb as we reached and crossed the top of Bald Knob.
We continued on the Bald Knob Ridge Trail as we slowly descended from Bald Knob. Soon we passed the Green Shoots Trail and just a bit further on we turned off onto the Sand Spring Trail. While completing our descent on the Sand Spring Trail we passed the spring from which this trail gets its name.
At the bottom of our descent, the Sand Spring Trail crosses Lower Trail as well as crossing Roaring Run. All of us made the stream crossing without incident as we continued to follow the Sand Spring Trail and began our ascent to the top of Tussey Mountain.
Our climb was pretty easy at first, until we got about 2.8 miles into our hike. After crossing a dirt forestry road, we soon began to climb in earnest. After about 0.2 miles of steep climbing we reached the top of Tussey Mountain and the intersection of Sand Spring Trail and the Mid State Trail. We turned left here and followed the Mid State Trail east towards Old Laurel Run Road.
After crossing Old Laurel Run Road we continued on a section of the Mid State Trail that use to be part of the Reichly Brothers railroad. These old railroad beds are quite rocky and are not a pleasure to hike. Luckily for use the trail became less rocky after a little more than a tenth of a mile of hiking. We emerged from the Mid State Trail on the Little Flat access road. A short walk down this road had us bearing left onto the red-blazed Shingletown Path. A short descent and 0.3 miles later we were back at the trailhead and the start of the hike.
This hike was a tough one, but everyone made it through with flying colors. The weather cooperated with the rain holding off and the hot summer sun only beating down on our heads a couple of times. Even the bugs seemed to leave us alone on this hike. Definitely a great way to experience the toughest hike on our hiking schedule.