Experience the Trails of Pennsylvania

Bear Meadows Variation Hike: Hiking the Jean Aron Path and Tuxedo Trail

Bear Meadows was designated a natural area in 1966. Located in Rothrock State Forest, Bear Meadows is one of the largest fresh water bogs in the east. Unlike the bogs of Canada, the bog at Bear Meadows was not touched by the glaciers of the last ice age supporting a variety of plants over the past 10,000 years. Bear Meadows is a great place to explore and the Bear Meadows Trail that loops around the bog is a great place to start. However, this hike was a slight variation of the typical Bear Meadows hike as we explored some of the trails and ridgelines to the northeast of Bear Meadows.

Trailhead:  N 40° 43.90'
W 77° 45.20'
Total Elevation:  621'
Trail Length:  3.3 miles
Hike Time:  2 hours
Hike Type:  Loop
Difficulty Rating:  45
Near:  Near Boalsburg, PA, behind Tussey Mountain Ski Resort.

The trailhead for this hike around Bear Meadows is rather easily reached. Coming from State College, you need to follow route US322 east and turn onto Bear Meadows Road at the entrance to the Tussey Mountain Ski Resort. Follow Bear Meadows road for three miles and you will see a stone monument on your right with ample parking also on the right side of the road. If coming from the east, follow route US322 until you are about 2 miles from Boalsburg. Look for the Elk's Country Club golf course on your right and turn onto Bear Meadows Road on your left.

We started our hike by trekking back Bear Meadows Road for about 300 feet where we turned left onto Jean Aron Path. Jean Aron is well known in the hiking community and in Centre County. She was a major force in the Mid State Trail Association as well as writing the book The Short Hiker: Small Green Circles, which has a wealth of information on trails in and around State College. It is nice to see that she has a trail named for her, and as is appropriate, it is an easy-going, tranquil, and short trail.

After hiking on the Jean Aron Path for about 0.3 miles, there is an unblazed trail that heads up towards the Bear Meadows Road. Shari and I turned here and turned left on the road. We followed the dirt road for another quarter of a mile where we found the southern terminus of the Tuxedo trail to our right. We wanted to follow this trail to the top of the nearby ridge and turn right off the road at this point.

Soon after getting on the Tuxedo Trail, the trail turns to the right and parallels Bear Meadows Road as it makes a gradual climb up to the top of the ridge. At 0.9 miles into our hike the trail started a sweep around the southern edge of the ridge and the climb didn't seem to be as steep. Shari and I paused here for a bit to refresh ourselves before continuing on.

After another 0.4 miles of hiking we found our selves at the top of the ridge and we began a gentle descent. At 1.5 miles into the hike the descent became a little steeper and we even encountered a nice little switchback with some nice rock work as we crossed a rocky section of the trail. Finally, after what seemed to take a lot longer than I was expecting, we came upon the intersection of Tuxedo, Kettle, and Tussey Mountain Trail. We were about one and three quarters of a mile into our hike and we paused here to get a drink of water. As we rested we noticed another pair of hikers coming down the Tuxedo Trail. I guess we weren't the only ones that thought today was a good day for a hike.

After our short break we left the Tuxedo Trail behind and beared left onto Kettle Trail which descended quickly to Bear Meadows Road, crossing it at 1.9 miles into our hike. We continued on Kettle Trail until we came upon the intersection with Lonberger Trail. We turned left here to follow Lonberger Trail back to Bear Meadows. As we were hiking this section of the trail, we were passed by some novice mountain bikers. They looked like they were really having a hard time of it and I was glad to be hiking on this rocky trail instead of trying to ride a bike on it.

At 2.6 miles we emerged onto the gated North Meadows Road and turned left following the road for about 200 feet. We then turned right back onto Jean Aron Path. We hiked the entire length of the Jean Aron path this time, and emerged onto Bear Meadows Road just north of our trailhead and parked car.

The Bear Meadows Area is a great place to explore, offering plenty of opportunities to view floral and fauna. During the summer months, there are tons of blueberries to be sampled, along with an occasional raspberry, blackberry, and elderberry. Another option for exploring the Bear Meadows Area is to do this hike. You get to experience some elevation change as you climb the nearby ridge. The Lonberger Trail and Jean Aron Path are great trail for cross country skiing in the winter, so you can experience Bear Meadows at any time during the year.

{vsig_c}0|bm2_01.jpg|Just a short distance from the parking area is the start of the Jean Aron path.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|bm2_02.jpg|The start of the Tuxedo Trail just off Bear Meadows Road.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|bm2_03.jpg|Late September and the leaves are already starting to change color.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|bm2_04.jpg|Rock cairn at the intersection of Tuxedo, Tussey Mountain, and Kettle Trail.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|bm2_05.jpg|After coming down Kettle Trail, we turned left onto Lonberger Path.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|bm2_06.jpg|Finishing up our hike as we head back Jean Aron Path to the parking area at Bear Meadows.{/vsig_c}

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