Experience the Trails of Pennsylvania

Mid State Trail - State College: Bear Meadows to Penn Roosevelt State Park

The Mid State Trail makes its way across the ridge tops in Rothrock State Forest. Just south of State College, the ridges double back on themselves, making a depression known as Bear Meadows. As Mid State Trail follows the ridgeline in this area, the hiker is presented with many breath taking views of Bear Meadows. The best view on this section of the trail is known as the Indian Wells Vista. This was the destination of our latest hike on the MST.

Trailhead:  N 40° 44.37'
W 77° 45.16'
Total Elevation:  3118'
Trail Length:  8.0 miles
Hike Time:  5.5 hours
Hike Type:  Shuttle
Difficulty Rating:  142
Near:  Bear Meadows Natural Area, Rothrock S.F.


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The Mid State Trail makes its way across the ridge tops in Rothrock State Forest. Just south of State College, the ridges double back on themselves, making a depression known as Bear Meadows. From the ridgelines above Bear Meadows, the Mid State Trail traverses across Rothrock State Forest. Dipping down from the ridges into the Detweiler Valley, the MST follows Detweiler Run until it runs dry. From there the trail makes a short climb up to the top of Grass Mountain before descending steeply into Penn Roosevelt State Park. It was this section of the Mid State Trail that Tim and I hiked on a sunny Saturday in late October.

Our hike started on an overcast Saturday morning that soon turned into a nice sunny, fall day. This was to be a shuttle hike, so we first dropped off a car at our destination in Penn Roosevelt State Park. From there we drove back to Bear Meadows Natural Area, traveling just a mile past the monument, and parked our second car at the parking area here along the side of the road.

Reaching the trailhead for the start of this hike, begin by getting on route US322. Heading west on US322, about 1/2 mile before Boalsburg, turn left onto Bear Meadows Road and head towards the Tussey Mountain Ski Resort. Heading east on US322, go 1/2 mile past Boalsburg and turn right onto Bear Meadows Road. Bear Meadows road is directly across from the Elks Country Club. Travel on Bear Meadows road for about 8 miles and look for the parking area on the right. This is the parking lot that we used for the starting trailhead of this hike.

On this hike, we wanted to put more miles of the Mid State Trail under Tim's belt. We were looking to hike the Mid State Trail from Big Flat to Penn Roosevelt. The drive up to Big Flat was quite a bit of distance, following the ungated forest roads. So we decided to tack a few miles on to the hike by starting out on the Bear Meadows Trail and then climbing up to join the Mid State Trail just a few hundred feet north of the Big Flat area.

After getting out of the car and donning our backpacks, we began our hike by trekking back North Meadows Road. This road is gated and the grass and forest looked like they wanted to reclaim this road. After a half mile of hiking, we spied the Bear Meadows Trail to our left, so we left the road behind and began following this trail.

The Bear Meadows Trail encircles the Bear Meadows Natural Area, and along with the Jean Aron Path, makes for a circuit hike of about 3.5 miles. We were only going to be on the Bear Meadows Trail for just a bit over a mile.

At 1.6 miles, Tim and I found ourselves at the junction of the Sand Spring trail. We turned right here and followed the Sand Spring Trail as it began to climb Gettis Ridge. At two miles into our hike, we beared left on to the orange blazed Mid State Trail.

We followed the MST as it traversed across the north face of Gettis Ridge. Gettis Ridge ends in a knoll before it becomes Thickhead Mountain. The Mid State Trail winds its way between Gettis Ridge and the knoll, before ascending the west side of the knoll. Even with some of the leaves off of the trees, we didn't get many views from the knoll, even though we were teased with glimpses of blue sky through the trees.

At 2.8 miles we reached the top of the knoll and began a gradual descent that would soon become much steeper. The Mid State Trail crosses Bear Meadows Road at 3.3 miles and then begins to descend steeply. As we slowly made our way down this steep section of the trail, the sun started to shine brightly on our faces. I remarked to Tim that this was a perfect autumn day to be out hiking.

After a half a mile and a descent of almost 500 feet, we emerged onto the Bear Meadows Road. At this point the Mid State Trail follows the road until the switchback. As the road turns back on itself, the MST dives off the northern side of the road and continues its descent toward Detweiler Run.

Tim and I reached the lowest elevation of our hike at 4.1 miles, just a little over half-way through our hike. Turning right here, we could have followed the blue blazes of the Greenwood Spur to follow Detweiler Run down stream. We had hiked this section previously this year. On this outing, our path took us to the left, continuing on the orange-blazed Mid State Trail as it paralleled Detweiler Run upstream.

The Mid State Trail on the north bank of Detweiler Run was pretty easy going. There were a few, short rocky areas, and some places where the undergrowth seemed a bit thick, but the trail was well maintained and the path was clear. At 5.5 miles we crossed Detweiler Run on a trade-mark MST bridge, and the trail became much more difficult to hike. The trail itself was cleared of brush and obstacles with plenty of clearance on both sides of the trail. However, the MST was now following the remains of the Reichley Brothers railroad. This railroad grade made for an easy uphill climb, but the hike was anything but easy. Composed of rocks about the size of bowling balls, this 1.5 mile section of trail is a killer on your boots and feet. You never get a solid footing when hiking this part of the trail and when it's behind you, you feel as if you've hike over three times the distance.

With the railroad grade behind us, we began an ascent up the south prong of Thickhead Mountain at 7 miles into our hike. The climb was short and we crossed Thickhead Mountain Road at 7.2 miles. We were soon at the highest point of our hike, maxing out at almost 2300 feet. A short distance past this high point we began another steep descent.

After another 500 foot descent in under a half mile, we turned right on Old Crowfield Road. The road was reclaimed by the forest at this time, and the presence of the Mid State Trail was the only thing that kept it from being just another depression in the surrounding woods. At 7.9 miles we emerged on Crowfield Road and another tenth of a mile past that we were at the end of our hike at Penn Roosevelt State Park.

{vsig_c}0|ms26_01.jpg||The start of our hike, just off Bear Meadows Road.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms26_02.jpg||The Bear Meadows Trail was a pleasure to hike.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms26_03.jpg||After a short climb we were at the intersection with the Mid State Trail.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms26_04.jpg||Tim makes his way across the knoll near Gettis Ridge.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms26_05.jpg||Detweiler Run was low, but still flowing.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms26_06.jpg||Leaves covered the trail as we hiked along Detweiler Run.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms26_07.jpg||The eastern most brigde that crosses Detweiler Run.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms26_08.jpg||The rocky section of the Mid State Trail as it follows the old Reichley Brothers railroad grade.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms26_09.jpg||The Mid State Trail follows the old Shingle Path as it crosses Thickhead Mountain.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms26_10.jpg||Looking back at the end of our hike, this large sign marks the Mid State Trail in Penn Roosevelt State Park.{/vsig_c}

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