Experience the Trails of Pennsylvania

Alan Seeger Natural Area: A Great Place to Hike With Kids

I often get asked about hikes that are good for children. There are a number of hikes in Central PA that are good hikes for children. The Alan Seeger Natural happens to be one of my favorite leisurely strolls when I just want to get out, and at less than a mile in length and never over 50 feet in elevation gain, this is a great hike for kids. Toss in huge trees, rhododendron tunnels, bridges, and a creek, and this hike is a hit for kids of all ages.

Trailhead:  N 40° 41.71'
W 77° 45.45'
Total Elevation:  110'
Trail Length:  0.8 miles
Hike Time:  0.5 hours
Hike Type:  Loop
Difficulty Rating:  10
Near:  Rothrock State Forest, Alan Seeger Natural Area.

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 7.4 miles. You will see Alan Seeger Natural Area on your left with plenty of parking at the intersection of the two roads, between the two bridges. If there isn't room to park here, turn left off Stone Creek Road, cross the bridge, and you'll find more parking on your left.

This hike is not very long at all; only about 0.8 miles in length. The trail isn't painted with blazes, but it is well marked with logs lining the edge of the trail for the first 0.4 miles. After this you'll enter a thicket of rhododendron with the main trail the only easy navigable path through.

Starting at the parking area, you'll walk a short distance back along Stone Creek Road until you see a sign showing the route of the trail. The trail is a short loop and you'll be hiking it in a clock wise fashion. From here you leave the paved road and followed the well groomed trail.

At 0.3 miles the trail begins to turn to your right and you'll intersect with a trail coming in from your left. This is the Greenwood Spur of the Mid State Trail and part of the Great Eastern Trail. As I stated earlier, the trail is not painted with blazes, but the Greenwood Spur does become a blue blazed trail outside of the natural area.

In less than a tenth of a mile with the intersection of the Greenwood Spur of the Mid State Trail you'll come across your first bridge. In the next 0.2 miles you'll cross 4 bridges on this short hike. The last bridge, though a little crooked from a downed tree, is still safe to cross. Also in this next 0.2 miles you'll walk through a rhododendron tunnel that is absolutely stunning when the flowers are in bloom. You'll also pass by some of the large, ancient hemlocks that the natural area is known for.

After hiking 0.6 miles you'll cross your last bridge and have a little climb, leaving the lowlands of the rhododendron thicket behind. The trail follows the foot of the mountain here, heading back to the picnic area. Once again the trail is well groomed and easy to follow.

Almost done with the hike, after three quarters of a mile of hiking, the trail emerges onto Alan Seeger Road. From here you can see your parked car, just a few hundred feet away, on the other side of Stone Creek. Cross the bridge and your back at the trailhead.

Since you're here with the kids hiking, I would definitely recommend exploring the area. Downstream from the picnic area, there are some neat areas along Stone Creek, that are very picturesque. With the picnic facilities right here as well, you can plan ahead and pack a lunch or snack. The Alan Seeger Natural Area is a great place to spend the afternoon with the kids.

{vsig_c}0|as01_01.jpg|At the trail head is a map showing the route of the trail through the Natural Area.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|as01_02.jpg|The trail isn't marked with paint blazes, but as you can see in this photo, the trail is very easy to follow.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|as01_03.jpg|Walking through the rhododendron tunnel.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|as01_04.jpg|Shari stands next to one of the large hemlocks found in the Natural Area.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|as01_05.jpg|Looking back at the last bridge crossed on this hike.{/vsig_c}

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