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28
Jun
0

Exploring the Upper Reaches of Shingletown Gap

Posted by on in Shingletown Gap

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.

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20
Jun
0

A Steep Climb and a Thunderstorm in Rothrock State Forest

Posted by on in Rothrock State Forest

For our tenth hike, the Restek Ramblers headed back into Rothrock State Forest. We were in Galbraith Gap for a climb to the top of Little Flat to see the fire tower and take in one of the Bear Meadow Vistas.

Our hike would take us up Spruce Gap Trail, quite a challenge of a climb, across little flat, and then down Old Laurel Run Trail. We would cross over on the Two Bridges Trail before retracing our steps back to the trailhead.

We started the hike by leaving the parking area at Galbraith Gap. We hiked on the newly blazed Chutes Trail before meeting up with the Spruce Gap Trail. The Spruce Gap Trail was a bit of a challenge. It was quite steep in places and we had to take a number of breaks on our way to the top. As we got closer to the top we could see the sky getting darker as well as thunder in the distance. A look at the radar early showed a storm that looked to be heading to our north.

Once on Little Flat, the weather took a turn for the worse as the winds picked up. I was a little concerned about being on the highest point in southern Centre County during a thunderstorm, so we skipped the Bear Meadows Vista and made for the fire tower on Little Flat. Once at the fire tower clearing we started walking down the gravel access road. The wind was really blowing and the sounds of thunder were getting closer. I was hoping we could cut down off the top of the ridge onto Old Laurel Run Trail before the storm hit. Unfortunately we were a bit slow.

About 500 feet from the turn off to the Old Laurel Run Road, the storm hit us. It started raining cats and dogs, with the wind blowing fiercely. There was lighting strikes, but none seemed too close. We hurriedly turned off onto Old Laurel Run Road and scampered down the trail, now swollen with flowing water. After ten minutes of hiking down what seemed to be a mountain stream instead of a trail, the rains stopped. We were all soaked, but aside for being wet, we managed to make it through the thunder storm without any other incidents.

Once we reached the bottom of Old Laurel Run Trail we turned right onto Three Bridges Trail. Everyone was drenched and just wanted to get back to the cars. Soon we were back on Spruce Gap Trail and we retraced our steps back to the trailhead. It was an interesting hike and experience, but I think we will try to avoid being on top of a mountain during any future hikes.

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06
Jun
0

Bugs On Top of Thickhead Mountain

Posted by on in Rothrock State Forest

The Restek Ramblers ninth hike of the season had us climbing Thickhead Mountain. Our adventure started with us parking along Thickhead Mountain road, near the intersection of this road and the John Wert Path. The John Wert Path is gated here as it is also an access road to a camp located here. We headed back the John Wert Path for a little over a tenth of a mile before we turned left on the Shingle Path Trail. I had visited here about 4 weeks ago and painted yellow blazes on this trail. Once we turned off onto the Shingle Path Trail, we had an easy time, following these new blazes up the side of Thickhead Mountain.

It wasn't long before the trail got very steep as we continued our climb up the north face of Thickhead Mountain. It was a bit of a struggle, but we all made it to the top of the long, arduous climb. Once we reached the top of the mountain we hiked across the relatively flat trail. At about three quarters of a mile into the hike we arrived at the junction of Shingle Path Trail and the Detweiler Run Road.

The Detweiler Run Road is a gated forest road, used mostly by mountain bikers. The road was wide and grassy, with a visible dirt path running down the middle of the road. We followed this path as we finished our short, gradual ascent to the top of Thickhead Mountain.

We soon arrived at a junction of grassy roads. We turned right and hiked a short distance to visit McKinney Springs. This is a small water source located, oddly enough, on the very top of the mountain. This spring is also the headwaters and the start of Detweiler Run.

After visiting the spring, we retraced our steps and continued straight on Thickhead Mountain Road. We had an easy hike down the road for the next 2 plus miles. We had a chance to take in a partial vista at a little over 2 miles into the hike. However, when we stopped to take in the view we were attacked by gnats. They were everywhere, so we couldn't stand still for long.

The rest of the hike was an easy walk back to the cars. With the bugs everywhere, we had to keep the pace rather swift. If we hiked to slow, then we were swarmed by gnats. We completed the hike of a little over four miles in 1 hour and 45 minutes. A very healthy pace for a hike, considering the steep climb we had to get to the top of the mountain.

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23
May
0

A Beautiful Spring Hike Along Detweiler Run

Posted by on in Rothrock State Forest

The eight hike for the Restek Ramblers had us hiking along Detweiler Run. This hike followed the Greenwood Spur of the Mid State Trail down along Detweiler Run and then through the Alan Seeger Natural Area. We then looped back around, following the forest roads back to our parked cars.

Their were six of us on this hike and we parked our cars at the gated end of Detweiller Run Road, where the organge-blazed Mid State Trail crosses. We headed down the MST on a relatively steep descent where we then met up with the northern terminus of the yellow-blazed Greenwood Spur. We turned right here and followed the Greenwood Spur along the banks of Detweiler Run.

The trail was rocky at the start, as it followed the Reichly Brother's old railroad grade. Soon we crossed the stream and the trail wasn't nearly as rocky. At about a mile into the hike we crossed back over the stream for the second time, near a leased cabin. The trail was well maintained and opened up a bit here so that we could walk two abreast if we wanted to.

We crossed over Detweiler Run one last time before we came upon the paved Stone Creek Road at about 1.7 miles into our hike. Once we crossed the road we were now in the Alan Seeger Natural Area. This section of the trail took us through some rhododendron tunnels and in amongst some of the oldest trees in Rothrock State Forest. Aside for small issue near a flooded bridge, the hike on this section of the trail was quite easy and enjoyable.

At about 2.2 miles we emerged onto another paved road near the picnic areas in Alan Seeger. We turned right here, crossed Stone Creek, turned left onto the paved Stone Creek Road, and then crossed over Detweiler Run.

The rest of the hike had us following forest roads back to the car. Just shy of 3 miles we turned right onto Bear Meadows Road. With its gradual incline, which became a bit steeper towards the end, we made pretty good time as we completed our 4.7 mile hike in about 2 hours and 15 minutes. Aside for the bugs, which were quite bothersome on the last leg of the hike, the outing was quite enjoyable. This would be our last hike that did not incorporate a steep climb into the hike. The hikes were just going to get tougher from here on out.

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17
May
0

A Change of Plans in Shingletown Gap

Posted by on in Shingletown Gap

The Restek Ramblers have now logged over 25 miles of trails on seven after work hikes. Our latest hike was back over in Shingletown Gap. This hike was to have us climb Tussey Mountain to take in two separate views before heading back down the ridge and circling back to the trailhead. However, on this hike our plans changed a bit and we didn't get a chance to see both vistas.

The hike started at the trailhead proper in Shingletown Gap. Just about 0.2 miles into the hike we crossed Roaring Run and headed up the north side of Tussey Mountain. I had forgotten just how steep this first climb was. My memory was soon jogged as we all struggled (except for the young hikers in the group) as we climbed up to the shelf where the Charcoal Flats Trail traverses.

We had a short reprieve as we crossed the relatively flat shelf, but soon we were struggling up the Downer Trail as we climbed to the top of Tussey Mountain. With a view breaks along the way, we all made it to the top. Once we reached the top we turned left on the blue-blazed side trail and in a matter of 100 feet or so, we were at our first vista.

This vista is called the Roman Tower vista because of the square rock structure here. I suppose the simplistic design would make one consider it to be of Roman architecture, but I feel pretty certain to say that the Romans had very little to do with its construction. We all rested here and took in the views towards Happy Valley and Mount Nittany on the far horizon.

Soon we were back on the trail, heading southwest across the rocky ridgeline. We were following the organe-blazed Mid State Trail. We continued on the Mid State Trail for just a bit over a quarter mile when we came upon the intersection with Deer Path. This was the trail that we would take back down to Shingletown Gap. Our plans called for us to hike an additional half mile or so on the Mid State Trail where we would see our second vista of the hike. We would then turnaround and retrace our steps back to this point. However the skies looked threatening and the last thing I wanted was to have a large group of people on top of a mountain during a rain storm with the possibilities of lightning. I made the decision we would head back down Deer Path now and bypass the second vista.

Since our hike was now going to be quite a bit shorter, we decided to change our plans even more by turning left onto the Charcoal Flats Trail once we were down off Tussey Mountain. This trail makes its way west and then climbs to the top of the front ridge of Shingletown Gap. Sort of like the mirror image of Bald Knob Ridge Trail. This climb was much shorter and once we reached the top of the front ridge, we turned right and headed back towards the gap.

A short hike had us at the top of our descent into the gap. Here things got a bit interesting. There were blazes on the tree to indicate the trail we were suppose to be on, but there was no trail. All there was were a bunch of large rocks and boulders. Everyone kind of scoped out their own personal paths as we scrambled down to Cruiser Run at the bottom of the descent. Later I was told that coming down across these boulders was one of the more fun parts of all the hikes that they have done with the Restek Ramblers.

Once everyone was down off the front ridge we took a short hike on Cruiser Run Trail, crossing over Roaring Run on the log bridge, and we were back at the trailhead. The hike turned out a bit shorter than originally planned, but no one seemed to mind. It was a tough climb, probably even harder than the Indian Steps climb from the previous week. With the exception of our next hike, the climbs were just going to get harder and harder. It's nice to have something to look forward to.

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