There are a number of trails in the Coopers Gap/Chestnut Springs area that are appropriate for hiking as well as biking. Some of these trails include the Peep Trail, Bear Gap Trail, Lingle Valley Trail and the Chestnut Springs Trail. These trails made up the circuit hike that I embarked on in mid-August.
|Trailhead:||N 40° 41.42'
W 77° 41.78'
|Trail Length:||2.6 miles|
|Hike Time:||2 hours|
|Near:||Coopers Gap, near
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The trailhead for this hike is located a ways past Coopers Gap. To get to the trailhead, first you need to get on route US322. There are a number of "back" ways to get to Coopers Gap, but I think the most direct is via the Reedsville/Bellville exit of route US322. Heading east or west on US322, once you get to route PA655 you need to head north towards Reedsville. At the tee, traffic light, and the end of route PA655, turn left onto Tea Creek Road (there is no sign there that indicates this is Tea Creek Road, at least none that I know of, but turn left here anyways). Drive 0.7 miles and take the first left you can onto Woodland Road. Once on Woodland Road, follow it for 1.9 miles as it parallels Tea Creek back to the entrance into Rothrock State Forest and Coopers Gap directly across the intersection. Once on Coopers Gap Road, go for a little over 4.3 miles and you will see a large parking are on your right, with an information kiosk. This is the trailhead for this hike and the Peep Trail is located directly across the road from this parking area.
The hike started directly across from the parking area, on the Peep Trail. The Peep Trail meandered slowly back into the woods away from the road as a made a gentle ascent. Soon it made its way in an easterly direction and leveled out. At about 0.6 miles the trail made a sweeping right turn as it joined with what looked to be an old forest road, now sunken into the forest floor. It is at this point you will see an unmarked, but well defined trail to your left. Turning left here I soon found my self back on the gravel road.
From this point I turned right and hiked along the road. It was a short hike on the road because after a quarter of a mile, I spied the sign marking the Bear Gap Trail to my left. I turned left here and was quite surprised to see how well maintained the trail was. The descent quickened as I followed the Bear Gap Trail to the floor of Lingle Valley.
Once the trail leveled out, it was not as clear as it was at the top of the descent, as the surround laurel and brush were encroaching on the trail. Soon I arrived at a large campsite at the intersection with Lingle Valley Trail. I was 1.3 miles into the hike when I turned left onto the Lingle Valley Trail.
Shortly after hiking the Lingle Valley Trail I had to cross Lingle Creek. This could be a wet crossing during the springs months but I had no trouble crossing it in mid-August. The trail was well marked and free of obstacles. The climb was gradual at the start as the trail meandered back and forth through the narrow valley. As I got closer to the head of the valley, the ascent kept getting a bit steeper. At about 1.9 miles the climb got quite steep as I finished off the last tenth of a mile of the Lingle Valley Trail. At 2 miles into the hike I reached the top of the climb and came upon the intersection with the Chestnut Spring Trail.
Turning left on the Chestnut Spring Trail, I soon found myself walking along side a deer exclosure. These fences keep deer out of recent timber harvests so that young trees have a chance to grow. I kept on hiking the Chestnut Spring Trail, keeping the deer exclosure on my right the entire time. At about 2.4 miles the trail turns away from the deer exclosure and soon meets up once again with the Coopers Gap Road. Turning left here I soon found myself back at the parking area and trailhead for this hike.
This hike was about 2.6 miles in length and had much less elevation change than I expected. Even though I was doing this hike in the middle of August, and with the exception of the climb out of Lingle Valley, I found the hike to be quite enjoyable with very little discomfort from the heat or the bugs. This is another recommended hike if you find yourself in the Coopers Gap area of Rothrock State Forest.