Experience the Trails of Pennsylvania

Bird Watching in Bear Meadows

It was a nice, spring Sunday afternoon when two fellow coworkers and myself decided to head out to Bear Meadows. Even though it was early in the birding season, our hope was to spy a few birds on this hike. We figured it would be a wet hike, especially on this trail, but the day was too beautiful to not spend it out in the woods.

Trailhead: N 40° 44.37'
W 77° 45.16'
Total Elevation: 180'
Trail Length: 3.7 miles
Hike Time: 2 hours
Hike Type: Loop
Difficulty Rating: 40
Near: Near Boalsburg, PA, behind
Tussey Mountain Ski Resort.

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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 about two and a half miles and you will see a parking area on your right, near the gated North Meadows Road. Park here to do this hike. 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 opted to do this hike in a counter-clockwise fashion. My one coworker goes bird watching in this area all the time. This hike was not ideal as it was a bit early for the viewing of song birds. But we had our hopes up that we would catch a glimpse of something on the hike.

The trail, immediately after turning off North Meadows Road was quite dry. But soon we began to come across seeps on the trail as well as flowing water. The flowing water crossed the trail and in some cases followed the trail. We were expecting this and wore appropriate footwear. We had passed a number of others out for a spring hike, enjoying the fine weather. Some of these hikers were not prepared for the wetness of the trail, as could be observed by their hopping about, from one dry spot on the trail to another.

The hike wasn't the most productive, as far as bird watching was concerned. We heard, but never observed, a number of Pileated Woodpeckers. We spied both Red-shoulder and Red-tailed Hawks soaring above the forest. I thought I had heard the sounds of a Woodcock at one point, but it was fleeting and the others did not hear it.

As for song birds, we did see a few. Early on in our hike we saw Dark-eyed Juncos and heard the song of a cardinal. Towards the end of the hike we had the opportunity to stop for an extended period of time to observe a number Blue-headed Vireos. This was on the Jean Aron Path and we watch the Vireos as they flew in the tops of the trees, with an occasional swoop down to perch nearer to us.

The hike was not as successful as I would have liked, when it came to viewing birds. As was suggested by the veteran bird watcher in our party, we should come back to visit again in a couple weeks when the number of different birds in the area would most surely be more. Nonetheless, the hike was quite enjoyable. It was one of those days that gives you spring fever, looking forward to more days like this one. The pleasant, slow paced hike around Bear Meadows was exactly what the doctor ordered to help drive away the cabin fever that we had all experienced over the long, cold winter.

The start of our hike on North Meadows Road.

Some sections of the trail were dry.

Some sections of the trail were wet.

Some sections of the trail were very, very wet.

Looking out over the bog at Bear Meadows.

Looking east at the bridge at Bear Meadows.

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