Experience the Trails of Pennsylvania

Mid State Trail: My First Stroll on the Greenwood Spur

The Great Eastern Trail is a new trail that stretches approximately 1,600 miles from Florida to New York. Though not entirely completed, the Great Eastern Trail (GET) uses many trails already in existence such as the Pinhoti Trail, Cumberland Trail, Tuscarora Trail, Link Trail, Mid State Trail, and the North Country Trail. One of the shorter connecting trails found along the length of the GET is the Greenwood Spur of the Mid State Trail. The Greenwood Spur connects the Link Trail at Greenwood State Park to the Mid State Trail along Detweiler Run in the Detweiler Natural Area. This short connecting trail was the focus of this latest hike.

Trailhead:  N 40° 43.00'
W 77° 45.18'
Total Elevation:  1034'
Trail Length:  4.7 miles
Hike Time:  2.5 hours
Hike Type:  Loop
Difficulty Rating:  68
Near:  Alan Seeger Natural Area, Rothrock State Forest.


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The Greenwood Spur is officially a side trail of the Mid State Trail system, and as such, is maintained by the volunteers of the Mid State Trail Association. The Greenwood Spur is 6.7 miles in length and was the first side trail of the Mid State Trail system, opened in 1974. The trail features the historic landmarks of ore production at Greenwood, as well as the Greenwood fire tower on top of Broad Mountain and the Alan Seeger Natural Area.

Shari and I decided to venture out this past Thursday to do a hike after work. Being early summer when the sun doesn't set until well past 8:00, we knew that we could probably handle a hike of about 4 miles before it got dark. We decided on hiking along Detweiler Run, on the Greenwood Spur, to Alan Seeger, and then follow the forest roads back to the trailhead and our car.

There are many ways to reach the trailhead for this hike. Depending on your mode of transportation, and how much you like or dislike driving on dirt roads, will help in determining the best way to approach the trailhead. To stay on paved road for the majority of the trip, you will want to make your way to Stone Creek Road. This is a paved road that travels through the heart of Rothrock State Forest from route US322 to route PA26. It passes Penn Roosevelt, Alan Seeger, and Seeger Place, and is worth a trip of it's own, for those days when you don't feel like hiking, but just want to go for a ride. From route US322 you will want to travel down Stone Creek Road for about 7.9 miles. Along the way you will pass Alan Seeger Natural Area, at about 7.4 miles, and then you will pass Seeger Place on your right. Just after Seeger Place you will turn right onto Detweiler Run Road. This is where the pavement stops and you will need to drive for a short distance on a well maintained, stone forest road. Once on Detweiler Run Road, travel for another 1.8 miles to reach the trailhead. The road switchbacks to your right and there is room to park by the gated road here. Don't block the gate as these old roads are used for emergency access in case of forest fires.

Another option to access the trailhead is from route PA26. Again, make your way to Stone Creek Road. You'll find the intersection of Stone Creek Road and route PA26 just north of the town of McAlevys Fort. Once on Stone Creek Road, follow it for 5.8 miles. This is a curvy road with many intersections, so make sure you follow the road signs towards Alan Seeger. At 5.8 miles you will turn left onto Detweiler Run Road. If you pass Seeger Place you have gone too far. Once on Detweiler Run Road, drive for 1.8 miles and you'll be at the trailhead.

Finally, the last alternative for getting to the trailhead is the most direct if you are coming from State College, and passes through Bear Meadows Natural Area. If you've never been to Bear Meadows, and time allows, stop here to take in the sites. To reach the trailhead this way you will need to get to the Bear Meadows Road located off us route US322 by the Elks Club and Tussey Mountain Ski Resort. Once you turn off route US322, follow Bear Meadows Road for approximately 7.3 miles. After about 3.5 miles the road does turn into a stone forest road, so most of this trip will be done off of paved roads. At 7.3 miles you'll find yourself at the trailhead.

The hike started by following the orange blazed Mid State Trail down the side of Thickhead Mountain to Detweiler Run. At this juncture, 0.25 miles from the trailhead, the main artery of the Mid State Trail continues on to your left. Shari and I did this hike last year. On that hike, as we followed Detweiler Run to its headwaters, we walked on the remnants of the Reichley Brother's railroad grade. This was nothing more than a bunch of small rocks and the mile and half of walking that we did on it did a number on our feet. We were hoping that this hike along Detweiler was not a repeat of that a year ago.

We left the orange blazed Mid State Trail and continued southwest on the blue blazed Greenwood Spur. There were a few sections at the start that were somewhat rocky, but they were short lengths and not at all that bad. We followed the northwest bank of Detweiler for the next 0.5 miles. A few instances we came very close to the stream. We had just had a week of heavy rains and the night featured a typical summertime deluge. With all of this recent rain, Detweiler was full in it's banks and we paused many times to enjoy the sites and sounds of the water.

We crossed over Detweiler many times on this hike, but none of the crossings were quite as unique as the bridge that we encountered one mile into our hike. This bridge led over the stream to a camp. The bridge was quite long as the stream spread out at this point making for a wide swampy area on both sides of the main stream. What was unique about this bridge was that it was covered in red carpeting. It was an odd sight to see in the middle of the woods.

Around 1.25 miles into our hike the trail merged with what appeared to be an old abandoned forest road. The road was grown over with grass but you could tell it was a road once because of the gradual grade, width, and obstacle free state of the trail. Shari and I were able to walk side by side along this part of the trail and enjoy the rhododendron that were just beginning to bloom.

We emerged from the woods onto Stone Creek Road after a half mile of walking on this nicely groomed trail. We crossed Stone Creek Road and soon found ourselves on another well groomed trail. This trail is within Alan Seeger Natural Area and took us through rhododendron tunnels, across Standing Stone Creek, and along side some ancient hemlock trees.

At about 2.2 miles of hiking we came out on Seeger Road which connects Greenwood Furnace State Park with Alan Seeger Natural Area. At this point the Greenwood Spur continues to the top of Broad Mountain but we had to head back to the car. This marked the end of our trail walking with the remaining 2.5 miles of hiking being done on forest roads.

Shari and I finished the last 2.5 miles of the hike in a little under one hour even with the fact that we saw an elevation gain of 500 feet on this part of the hike. Hiking along forest roads may not be as nice as hiking the trails through the heart of the woods, but it does allow you to make good time. And even if we weren't walking on the trails we were still out in woods enjoying their serenity.

This circuit hike was about 4.7 miles in length and we did it in just a little over 2 hours. It was nice to get back out into the woods for a hike since my last adventure was more than three weeks earlier. This hike along Detweiler was also much more enjoyable than our last. Even though this is a side trail of the Mid State Trail it didn't feel as if I was hiking on the Mid State. It did feel like I was hiking on the Great Eastern Trail and I'm looking forward to getting back out to finish the rest of the Greenwood Spur.

{vsig_c}0|ms10_01.jpg||This is the sign at the trailhead. Here the Mid State Trail heads down through the trees off of Detweiler Run Road.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms10_02.jpg||After the descent from Detweiler Run Road, this is the intersection of the Mid State Trail proper, to the left, and the Greenwood Spur, heading off towards the right.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms10_03.jpg||The Greenwood Spur travels alongside of Detweiler Run, crossing it many times. With the recent rains, Detweiler was full in it's banks and running swiftly.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms10_04.jpg||Somebody rolled out the red carpet for us on this bridge crossing.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms10_05.jpg||The rhododendrons were just begining to bloom. Along this section of the trail they were very abundant.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms10_06.jpg||The last bridge crossing of Detweiler Run. From here we left the stream side and walked down an old, overgrown forest road.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms10_07.jpg||I am standing in front of one of the large Hemlock trees found in Alan Seeger Natural Area. The larger hemlocks, some as old as 800 to 1000 years old, have fallen over and only a few of these giants remain.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms10_08.jpg||Shari stands on the longest bridge of our hike. She's looking at little fingerlings as they swim around in the swift moving stream.{/vsig_c}

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