Experience the Trails of Pennsylvania

Hiking in the Detweiler and Alan Seeger Natural Areas

Just south of State College, Pennsylvania can be found the Rothrock State Forest. Located within Rothrock State Forest are a number of natural areas and wild areas. These designated areas have limits placed on them with regards to forestry and recreation. The purpose of a natural area or a wild area is to keep the woods as primitive and primeval as possible. Two such areas, the Detweiler and Alan Seeger Natural Areas were the focus of this hike.

Trailhead:  N 40° 43.00'
W 77° 45.18'
Total Elevation:  1034'
Trail Length:  4.7 miles
Hike Time:  2.5 hours
Hike Type:  Loop
Difficulty Rating:  68
Near:  Alan Seeger Natural Area, Rothrock State Forest.
Note regarding hike time and elevation traversed.  

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This was another after work hike for Tim and I. Shari was also able to accompany us on this hike. We had originally planned on doing a section of the Mid State Trail, but with temperatures in the upper 80s and relatively high humidity, we opted for something a little cooler. The Greenwood Spur of the Mid State Trail came to mind, and we decided to hike the section along the cool Detweiler Run and through the tall trees of 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 7.9 miles. Along the way you will pass Alan Seeger Natural Area, at about 7.4 miles, and then you will pass Seeger Place on your right. Just after Seeger Place you will turn right onto Detweiler Run Road. This is where the pavement stops and you will need to drive for a short distance on a well maintained, stone forest road. Once on Detweiler Run Road, travel for another 1.8 miles to reach the trailhead. The road switchbacks to your right and there is room to park by the gated road here. Don't block the gate as these old roads are used for emergency access in case of forest fires.

Another option to access the trailhead is from route PA26. Again, make your way to Stone Creek Road. You'll find the intersection of Stone Creek Road and route PA26 just north of the town of McAlevys Fort. Once on Stone Creek Road, follow it for 5.8 miles. This is a curvy road with many intersections, so make sure you follow the road signs towards Alan Seeger. At 5.8 miles you will turn left onto Detweiler Run Road. If you pass Seeger Place you have gone too far. Once on Detweiler Run Road, drive for 1.8 miles and you'll be at the trailhead.

Finally, the last alternative for getting to the trailhead is the most direct if you are coming from State College, and passes through Bear Meadows Natural Area. If you've never been to Bear Meadows, and time allows, stop here to take in the sites. To reach the trailhead this way you will need to get to the Bear Meadows Road located off us route US322 by the Elks Club and Tussey Mountain Ski Resort. Once you turn off route US322, follow Bear Meadows Road for approximately 7.3 miles. After about 3.5 miles the road does turn into a stone forest road, so most of this trip will be done off of paved roads. At 7.3 miles you'll find yourself at the trailhead.

The hike started by following the orange blazed Mid State Trail down the side of Thickhead Mountain to Detweiler Run. At this juncture, 0.25 miles from the trailhead, the main artery of the Mid State Trail continues on to your left. We left the orange blazed Mid State Trail and continued southwest on the blue blazed Greenwood Spur. There were a few sections at the start that were somewhat rocky, but they were short lengths and not at all that bad. We followed the northwest bank of Detweiler for the next 0.5 miles. A few instances we came very close to the stream. We paused at one such location; an area where there was a primitive campsite. The stream came close to the trail here and I took the opportunity to take some photos of Detweiler Run.

We crossed over Detweiler many times on this hike. At about one mile into our hike we came across the newest bridge to cross Detweiler Run. This new bridge was erected in September of 2009 to replace the famous "Red Carpet" bridge. Some time in 2008 the "Red Carpet" bridge was taken out by high water and the only way to cross the stream was with the aid of a large fallen tree. In September of 2009, the Keystone Trail Association erected the new bridge in less than a day's time, providing a safe and secure way to cross the stream.

Around 1.25 miles into our hike the trail merged with what appeared to be an old abandoned forest road. The road was grown over with grass but you could tell it was a road once because of the gradual grade, width, and obstacle free state of the trail. This provided an opportunity for Tim, Shari and I to walk at a more leisurely place, sometimes side-by-side, and take our eyes off of the trail to enjoy the surrounding forest scenery.

We emerged from the woods onto Stone Creek Road after a half mile of walking on this nicely groomed trail. We crossed Stone Creek Road and soon found ourselves on another well groomed trail. This trail is within the Alan Seeger Natural Area and took us through rhododendron tunnels, across Standing Stone Creek, and along side some ancient hemlock trees.

At about 2.2 miles of hiking we came out on Seeger Road which connects Greenwood Furnace State Park with Alan Seeger Natural Area. At this point the Greenwood Spur of the Mid State Trail continues to the top of Broad Mountain but we needed to loop back to the trailhead and our car. This marked the end of our trail walking with the remaining 2.5 miles of hiking being done on forest roads.

We finished the last 2.5 miles of the hike in a little under one hour even with the fact that we saw an elevation gain of 500 feet on this part of the hike. Hiking along forest roads may not be as nice as hiking the trails through the heart of the woods, but it does allow you to make good time. Even walking on the forest roads, we had plenty of opportunity to enjoy the peacefulness of the forest. After 4.7 miles and about 2.5 hours we were back at the trailhead. We wrapped our hike up just a little before seven and it was now time to go and find something to eat.

{vsig_c}0|ms25_01.jpg|At the trailhead, we descended down the orange-blazed Mid State Trail towards Detweiler Run.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms25_02.jpg|At the intersection of the Mid State Trail and the Greenwood Spur, we turned right and headed towards the Alan Seeger Natural Area.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms25_03.jpg|Near one of the primitive campsites, Detweiler Run approaches very close to the trail.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms25_04.jpg|Shari calls this camp "Old Rickety".{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms25_05.jpg|One of three snakes we saw on this hike. Two were garter snakes, like this one, and one was a Nothern Ringneck Snake.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms25_06.jpg|Tim approaches the newest bridge to span Detweiler Run.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms25_07.jpg|Shari and I stand for a picture beside one of the larger hemlocks in the Alan Seeger Natural Area.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms25_08.jpg|Tim standing beside the same large tree.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms25_09.jpg|Looking down Stone Creek as we cross.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms25_10.jpg|Walking back the paved road towards the trailhead and our car.{/vsig_c}

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