Experience the Trails of Pennsylvania

Checking Out the Sassy Pig Trail in Rothrock State Forest

Living near the Rothrock State Forest, I am presented with plenty of opportunities to do small day hikes in the forest. I am also lucky enough to have a forest that is full of trails. Most of these trails are not designated hiking trails. Instead these trails are maintained by a community of mountain bikers. This past weekend I had the opportunity to hike on a mountain biking trail, and I must admit, it was one of the more pleasurable day hikes that I have done in a long while.

Trailhead:  N 40° 40.62'
W 77° 42.12'
Total Elevation:  712'
Trail Length:  3.1 miles
Hike Time:  2 hours
Hike Type:  Loop
Difficulty Rating:  45
Near:  Rothrock State Forest, near Greenwood State Park

The easiest way to reach the trailhead for this hike is to make your way to Greenwood State Park on route PA305. If coming from McAlevys Fort, you will want to drive past the state park, and just as you are leaving the state park, look to your left for the dirt forest road. This is Rag Hollow Road. You will see it just as route PA305 begins a sweeping turn to your right. If coming from Belleville, follow route PA305 over the mountain, and as you are about to enter the state park, Rag Hollow Road in on your right, just at the end of a sweeping turn to your left. Once on Rag Hollow Road follow it for 3.4 miles. Here you will come to the intersection of Rag Hollow, Kettle, and Broad Mountain Roads. Turn right onto Kettle Road and find a place to park alongside the road just a bit past the intersection as this is the trailhead for this hike.

It was a warm weekend in July when Shari and I did this hike. It was an overnight hike, or sorts, though we didn't camp out along this specific trail. In an attempt to escape the heat, we decided to sleep out under the stars the night prior to this hike. We packed up all the equipment we would have taken on a backpacking trip and set up camp along Detweiler Run and the Greenwood Spur of the Mid State Trail. I had camped here before and Shari had remarked on previous day hikes that this would be a neat place to camp out. So we set up camp and had a nice, and relatively cool evening eating outdoors, sitting around a camp fire, and sleeping out under the stars.

The next morning we awoke, had some breakfast, broke camp, hopped in the car and headed towards our Sunday morning hike. It was still early, so we were hoping we would get our hike in before it got too hot. We drove over Broad Mountain and turned left at the intersection of Kettle Road, parking our car along the left side of the road. We grabbed some waters, trekking pole, and camera and began hiking east on Kettle Road.

After a quarter of a mile doing some easy road walking we spied the trail sign for Sassafras Trail on our right. We turned here and headed back the trail. The trail was easy to follow but was starting to get a little overgrown and crowded in places. However, with the red blazes and the well used trail, it was pretty easy to follow.

We hiked back Sassafras Trail just a little over a mile when we came upon our destination. At 1.3 miles into our hike we saw the newly created Sassy Pig trail coming in from our right. We turned here and were pleasantly surprised by the trail. It was clear of obstacles and unlike the Sassafras Trail, did not have any brush encroaching on the trail. It was quite a pleasure hiking on this trail as it was level and provided many opportunities to enjoy the view of the surrounding woods as opposed to always staring at your feet.

Rich Wertz told me of this trail early in the year. He had created this trail, I am assuming, to get traffic off of Bigelow Trail, which we would be hiking on in a bit. Bigelow Trail is eroded pretty bad in places and hopefully this trail will help alleviate some of that erosion. This trail, like Sassafras Trail is blazed red, meaning that it is a multi-use trail, accessible to hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders alike. Rich had also informed me of some nice vistas on this section of trail and I was keeping my eyes open for them.

We reached our first vista, of sorts, at about 1.6 miles into the hike. The view was limited and framed in by trees. I tried hiking a bit off the trail to see if I could get a better view, but it soon became rocky and steep, so I headed back to the trail. Rich had mentioned an awesome vista on the trail and I was hoping this wasn't it. If it was then we had different opinions on the definition of the word awesome.

As we continued our hike both Shari and I commented on the meandering nature of the trail. It was nice to slowly wind your way through the woods. A lot of hiking trails that I've been on go in as straight of a line they can, from point A to point B. Don't get me wrong, hiking trails will follow the contour of the land and switch back up and down mountainsides. They will even venture a little out of their way for a nice view or historical point of interest. But few rarely meander through the woods. The meandering Sassy Pig Trail, along with it absence of encroaching brush and tripping rocks, was a true pleasure to hike upon.

At 1.8 miles into our hike I could see that we were approaching another possible vista as the tree canopy in front of us began to thin. As we hiked along we crossed some very nice rock work. Rocks were placed flat side up across a rough and rocky section of the woods. This was unexpected and again made the hiking of this trail even more pleasurable.

Just to our left, after crossing the nice rock work section of the trail, there was a side trail that went out to a vista. Following the side trail we were soon treated to an awesome view of Big Valley below. A full 180 degrees of vista was available, along with a nicely made log bench where we could sit for a while and enjoy it. It seems that Rich and I define awesome rather similarly.

After a short break, wetting our whistle and enjoying the view, Shari and I were back on the trail, heading in a westward direction. We continued on for another half mile when we came upon the intersection of Bigelow, Pig Pile, and Sassy Pig Trails. We noticed a small camp fire ring here and mentioned in passing that we could have hiked up to here for our overnight stay. We were 2.3 miles into the hike when we turned right onto Bigelow and began a gradual descent.

At 2.6 miles our descent came to an end as we leveled out. Just off to the left of the trail was a rock walled spring. It looked dry, which wouldn't surprise me after the dearth of rain we've been experiencing, but this could be a possible water source for the campsite we passed earlier. Just a short distance past the spring, Bigelow Trail made a sharp left.

We continued hiking due west on Bigelow Trail, gradually descending until we emerged on Rag Hollow Road at 3 miles into our hike. We beared right here and began a slow, methodical climb up Rag Hollow Road back to the intersection with Kettle Road and our parked car.

The entire hike was only 3.1 miles but we were glad to be finished because of the building heat. Both Shari and I were pleasantly surprised at the trail. As I mentioned earlier it was one of the more pleasurable day hikes that I have done in quite a while. If you have about 2 hours to spare and are looking to get out into the woods to do a short hike, then I highly recommend heading over towards Sassafras and Sassy Pig Trails to check out this hike. You won't be disappointed.

{vsig_c}0|sft1_01.jpg|Our campsite the night before the hike. Tent is set up and your truly is trying to get a fire going.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|sft1_02.jpg|Sunday morning, fresh out of bed, enjoying a coffee before we hit the trail.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|sft1_03.jpg|The PAHikes mobile parked at the intersection of Kettle, Rag Hollow, and Broad Mountain Roads.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|sft1_04.jpg|The Sassafras trail had brush and undergrowth encroaching upon it.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|sft1_05.jpg|The meandering Sassy Pig Trail was free of obstacles and a pleasure to hike.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|sft1_06.jpg|A small "window" vista towards Big Valley.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|sft1_07.jpg|A hand-crafted log bench for enjoying the view.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|sft1_08.jpg|The awesome vista I was told about. Well worth resting here for a bit to enjoy the view.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|sft1_09.jpg|Another peak out at Big Valley, just past the awesome vista.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|sft1_10.jpg|Heading down Bigelow Trail, just past the spring.{/vsig_c}

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