Experience the Trails of Pennsylvania

Mid State Trail - State College: Indian Wells to Penn Roosevelt State Park

Recently I had completed a hike from Laurel Run Road to Big Flat. Along the way I passed Indian Wells; a magnificent vista with views of the Bear Meadows Nature Area as well as many mountains to the south and east. Just 800 feet from Indian Wells there was this nice campsite that I thought would be a perfect place to spend a short overnight. I wanted to complete the hike from Big Flat to Penn Roosevelt, so I invited Shari to spend the night camping on top of Big Flat and to hike the 7 miles from Indian Wells to Penn Roosevelt.

Trailhead:  N 40° 43.41'
W 77° 47.47'
Total Elevation:  3151'
Trail Length:  6.8 miles
Hike Time:  4 hours
Hike Type:  Shuttle
Difficulty Rating:  131
Near:  Rothrock State Forest from Bear Meadows to Penn Roosevelt.


View Large Map

Download Map (PDF)

The Mid State Trail is over 320 miles in length and extends from the Maryland border to the New York border. The southern end of the MST is found on the Mason-Dixon line on route PA326. The northern terminus is located just north of Lawrenceville, PA. The MST is situated on public lands, such as state forests, state game lands and state parks. Closer to the Maryland and New York borders, the Mid State Trail uses private lands by permission.

The trailhead for this portion of the Mid-State Trail is located on Bear Gap Road. Access is via 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 1.5 miles and turn right onto Laurel Run Road. Travel for 1.8 miles until you reach the top of the mountain. Continue on LaureL Run Road for 1.1 miles and take the road to the left that ascends the mountain; this is Bear Gap Road. Travel up the mountain on Bear Gap Road for another 1.5 miles and park by the intersection of Bear Gap Road, Gettis Ridge Road and Greenlee Road. Gettis Ridge Road is gated so you will need to walk back Gettis Ridge Road to reach the Mid State Trail.

We started our adventure on Friday evening. The plan was to hike in and set up camp, spend sometime at the Indian Wells vista, and then start a fire and cook some dinner. The next day we would break down camp, hike back out to the car, and put on our day packs to hike to Penn Roosevelt. Before getting to Big Flat we had dropped off Shari's car at Penn Roosevelt. If I can offer everyone a tip if you are planning on doing a shuttle hike: make sure you have the keys with you for the car at the end of the hike. I almost left Shari's keys in my car when we started the hike on Saturday morning. I would have been a little upset if I would have had to hike back to my car to get her keys. Luckily Shari reminded me to bring her keys along before we even got started.

I wasn't 100% sure where the campsite was. I remembered passing it on my hike a week ago and thinking to myself that it would be nice to camp there. On my hike out that week I did make a mental note that is was about 20 minutes from the end of my hike. However, in order to save time, I had decided that we would hike in from Keith Springs instead of hiking in from the the intersection of the Mid State Trail and Gettis Ridge Road.

Well, after second guessing myself (twice) we finally made it to the campsite. It probably took us about 20 minutes to get there, so I am not sure I saved us any time by going in via Keith Springs. However, we did experience the time savings the next morning when we left to begin the hike.

We set up camp and I took Shari out to see Indian Wells. After spending some time there we came back and started a nice campfire. We cooked our dinner (potatoes, cabbage, and steak) in a foil back on a metal wire grate that some one had left behind. After dinner we relaxed by the fire until it was ready to hit the sack.

We awoke the next morning to find the day overcast and somewhat windy, at least on top of the mountain. We were hoping that the rain would hold off and, after a cup of coffee, we tore down our tent and packed off towards the car. Once reaching the car we had to take a short detour and fill our water bottles. Luckily, about 0.5 miles down Bear Gap Road their was a flowing spring. After filling our bottles, we drove to the gate on Gettis Ride Road, parked our car, donned our daypacks, and started our hike. Oh, and I also put Tumbleweed's car keys in my pocket. That was a close one.

We had to hike back Gettis Ridge Road about 0.6 miles until we reached the trailhead. We followed the Mid State Trail down the mountain towards Bear Meadows. At about 1/4 mile down the trail, the Mid State Trail stopped its descent and turned to the right. We continued to hike along Thickhead Mountain, slowly making our way up to a saddle in the mountain. The ascent on this part of the trail was gradual and not at all difficult.

We climbed along the ridgeline of Thickhead mountain for a short distance more and then descended into the gap where Detweiler Run Road traverses the mountain. We crossed Detweiler Run Road, hiking through the woods and descending Thickhead mountain for another 0.5 mile before meeting up with Detweiler Run Road again. At this point the Mid State Trail follows the road for a quarter of a mile before it bears to the right and makes the final descent to Detweiler Run.

The hike along the lower part of Detweiler Run was quite enjoyable. The trail meander along the northern side of the stream, passing through thickets of rhododendrons, and climbing at a leisurely pace. However, this all changed once we got on the old railroad grade. We first encounter the railroad grade a few hundred feet prior to the gas pipeline (this is past the bridge on Detweiler). But once we crossed the gas pipeline clearing and got back into the woods, all we walked on for the next mile was the railroad grade. The grade was nothing but rocks. Big rocks, small rocks, loose rocks, and sharp rocks. Me and my feet were glad to be off that part of the trail.

At the end of the rocks, excuse me, railroad grade, the Mid State began it's ascent up the side of Grass Mountain. This was the last climb of the hike, and to this point, the only strenuous climb. We climbed for about 0.25 miles. If this ascent would have been placed anywhere else except for after our stroll on the rocks our spirits may have sagged a bit. But seeing as how it was after a 1 mile walk across a long and skinny rock field we were happy to climb this mountain.

I was a little disappointed when we reached the top of Grass Mountain as there was no vista. I had hoped we would get a nice view either down Detweiler Run from whence we came, or perhaps a look down onto the pond and surroundings of Penn Roosevelt. But, alas, there were no such vistas, so Shari and I began our descent to the ending of our hike.

After finishing the hike at Penn Roosevelt State Park I felt like I could hike another 5 or 6 miles. Of course, the fact that I only had a 10 pound day pack on my back instead of a 50 pound backpack may have made a difference. I was happy to complete this section of the Mid State Trail as it finished where I starting experiencing the Mid State Trail a year and a half ago. With this section under my belt, I have now completed 20 miles of the Mid State. It's not much, but it's a start, and I am looking forward to hiking the entire length of the Mid State. I may comeback and hike this section of the trail again, but can tell you this: I will bushwhack along the side of the trail before I hike the entire length of that railroad grade again.

{vsig_c}0|ms3_01.jpg||The night before the hike, I took Shari out to experience the view from Indian Wells. Even though she doesn't like rocky areas (because of the possibility of snakes) she was impressed with the vista at Indian Wells.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms3_02.jpg||Our campsite, only a few hundred feet from Indian Wells.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms3_03.jpg||The trailhead 'proper' for the Mid State Trail. We had to hike back Gettis Ridge Road to get here since the road was gated.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms3_04.jpg||Detweiler Run as it flows beneath the pines and rhododendrons.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms3_05.jpg||Shari was kind enough to take a picture of me as I took a break on the Detweiler Run bridge.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms3_06.jpg||Rocks. Everywhere you looked, rocks. This section of the trail consisted of walking on an old railroad grade (a bunch of rocks) for a little over a mile.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms3_07.jpg||Our destination: Penn Roosevelt State Park.{/vsig_c}

← Older Post Newer Post →

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published