Experience the Trails of Pennsylvania

Another Snowshoeing Adventure in Galbraith Gap

This winter is an oddity compared to most recent winters. This winter we actually got some snow. And with snow comes the opportunity to snow shoe. Much more strenuous then hiking, but more fun as well, snow shoeing requires a good 6 to 8 inches of snow on the ground. With a recent snow storm, we were lucky enough to end up with over 12 inches of snow laying on the ground. Not wanting to miss an opportunity like this one, I decided to take a day off work and venture out into the woods of Rothrock State Forest and do some snow shoeing.

Trailhead:  N 40° 45.84'
W 77° 45.32'
Total Elevation:  1013'
Trail Length:  5.4 miles
Hike Time:  2.5 hours
Hike Type:  Loop
Difficulty Rating:  74
Near:  Off route US322 near Bolasburg, PA.

The trailhead for this hike is located at the Rothrock State Forest Access parking area at Galbraith Gap. This parking area is located about 0.5 mile beyond the Tussey Mountain Family Fun Center on Bear Meadows Road. To reach the trailhead you will need to get on route US322. Traveling east, you will see Bear Meadows Road on your right, just after passing Boalsburg. The four lane highway will reduce to two lanes with Bear Meadows Road being 0.65miles beyond this point, on your right. If you are heading west, you will see Bear Meadows Road on your left, directly across from the Elks County Club and golf course. Once you get on Bear Meadows Road, drive for 1 mile. You will see a stone road as well as a sign to your left. Pull back onto this road and continue back to the second parking area.

After parking the car I put on my pack and snow shoes. It didn't take long to put on my shoes, but in that short period of time my hands became numb. There was one other car in the lot when I arrived and a second pulled in as I was heading out to the trail. The car before me had a ski rack on the roof, so I can venture a guess that they were out doing some cross-country skiing. The outdoorsman that arrived in the second car was strapping on a pair of snow shoes as I headed out onto the trail.

I had done a similar snow shoe trek similar to this in February about three years ago. During that outing I almost froze to death because of the cold temperatures and sub-zero wind chills. This time around there wasn't any wind blowing and the temps were in the upper twenties making for a very pleasant day for an outing.

From the trailhead, I crossed the paved Bear Meadows Road and turned left. This was Monday and the fresh snow of Friday was already packed down from other that ventured out over the weekend. The trail was easy to follow and I could have hiked this section of the trail just as easily in hiking boots without the snow shoes. Around 0.3 miles into the hike I pulled up away from Galbraith Gap Run and crossed Laurel Run Road. A short climb had me on Lonberger Path heading east and soon reaching the intersection of Lonberger and Spruce Gap Trails.

Snow shoeing is much more strenuous then hiking. Luckily, up to this point, the trails had been packed down by those before me, so the going wasn't all that bad. At the intersection of Lonberger and Spruce Gap trails, about 0.4 miles into the hike, I paused for a bit to catch my breath. After a minute or two I head east on Lonberger Path, following the tracks made before me by fellow snow shoers an cross country skiers.

For the next 0.9 miles I hiked basically east on a nice flat trail, with only the slightest of elevation gain. The trail ahead of me was well blazed by cross-country skiers and the snow shoeing wasn't as difficult as it could have been. At 1.2 miles, as I passed through an area that was recently logged, the trail beared off to the left and I started heading in a more southerly direction.

Approximately 1.4 miles into the hike I passed the only other person that I saw on the trail. A cross country skier, with her dog, were heading down the trail towards me. She was kind enough to stop and grab her dog as she allowed me to pass. We exchanged greetings and were both on our ways in opposite directions.

At about 1.5 miles into the hike I passed a cabin with an access road coming in from the left. It looked, by the marks in the snow, that most snow shoers and cross-country skiers left Lonberger Path at this point to head down the access road. As I continued on the trail was much less traveled and I had to start doing some real snow shoeing, packing down the trail and making it wider as I blazed ahead.

For the next one and a quarter mile, I trekked along, slowly ascending as I headed south on Lonberger Path. At 2.5 miles into the hike I came across Kettle Trail. This trail heads up over the mountain to Little Flat and I had entertained thoughts of following it up. However, I was starting to get tired and I wasn't sure I had it in me to do that type of a climb. Instead I turned left and followed Kettle Trail down to its intersection with Bear Meadows Road. Once I reached the road, which was well groomed and packed from the many snow-mobilers, I turned left and began to follow the road back to the trail head.

For the next 2.8 miles I followed the snow covered Bear Meadows Road back to the trailhead. The hike on the road wasn't as nice as hiking the trail, but it was easier going and still provided a nice, quiet stroll in the winter woods. I arrived back at my car, about 3 hours after I had started, tired, and ready for a nice warm cup of tea.

Snow shoeing is a great way to experience the trails in the winter time and I am glad that I was introduced to it. It can be a little more strenuous than hiking and you need to keep that in mind when planning your excursion. Also you need to make sure you bring plenty of water because of the extra effort that's involved. If you've never tried snow shoeing, I highly recommend that you give it a try. And a great place to try your first outing in snow shoes is Lonberger Path and the other trails easily accessible in Galbraith Gap.

{vsig_c}0|gg2_01.jpg|The parking lot at the trailhead was well maintained and cleared of snow.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|gg2_02.jpg|Not far from the trailhead, I enjoyed myself taking in the snowy scenes on Lonberger Path.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|gg2_03.jpg|At the intersection of Lonberger Path and Spruce Gap Trail.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|gg2_04.jpg|Following the nice, packed trail made by those before me.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|gg2_05.jpg|At the intersection of Kettle Trail. I had entertained thoughts of heading up Kettle Trail to Little Flat, but decided to take the easier way home.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|gg2_06.jpg|Trekking down Bear Meadows Road. Not as much fun as hiking on the snowy trails, but much easier on the legs.{/vsig_c}

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