This past summer there was quite a bit of trail rework being done to the Chute Trail. I had not had the opportunity to hike on the trail once the rework was done. With a rather warm December day in store, I decided to head out and take a look at the trail. Toss in the Old Laurel Run Trail, Kettle Trail, and Lonberger Path and I had the makings of a nice winter hike.
|Trailhead:||N 40° 45.86'
W 77° 45.32'
|Trail Length:||5.6 miles|
|Hike Time:||3.0 hours|
|Near:||Off route US322 near Bolasburg, PA.|
The trailhead for this hike is located at the parking area for access to the Rothrock State Forest in Galbraith Gap. This is located about 0.5 miles beyond the Tussey Mountain Family Fun Center on Bear Meadows Road. To reach the trailhead you will need to get on route US322. Traveling east, you will see Bear Meadows Road on your right, just after passing Boalsburg. The four lane highway will reduce to two lanes with Bear Meadows Road being 0.65miles beyond this point, on your right. If you are heading east, you will see Bear Meadows Road on your left, directly across from the Mountain View golf course. Once you get on Bear Meadows Road, drive for 1 mile. You will see a stone road as well as a sign to your left. Pull back onto this road and park here: there is additional parking located back in the second parking area.
The temperatures were forecasted to get into the 50s, but at 9:00AM in the morning, within the shadows of the surrounding mountains, the temperatures were still quite frigid when I started this hike. From the parking area I crossed Bear Meadows Road and turned left on the access trail. This short, single-track road merges with a wider trail at the point where the paved Bear Meadows trail as it turns to the left and crosses over Galbraith Run.
The wide trail was recently graded and improved. A stream crossing that was made more difficult with the presence of a fallen tree over the trail was quite improved and I enjoyed the hike on this easy trail. At 0.3 miles the trail comes to an end as it crosses Laurel Run Road. On the south side of this intersection is where the Chute Trail begins.
Chute Trail was quite eroded and was used a lot by mountain bikers as they made their way into Rothrock State Forest. The rework and improvement of the trail included some rerouting, the addition of switchbacks, and some very impressive rock work. Shortly after getting onto the trail I noticed to rock work, even though it was covered with a dusting of snow. The rock work reminded me of old cobblestone roads, except the cobblestones in this case were much larger, in some cases greater than a foot in diameter.
The reworked Chute Trail was much nicer hiking then the previous trail. It is approximately 0.3 mile in length, it now includes two stitch backs which makes the climb much easier. The Chute Trail ends at Lonberger Path, just a short distance east of the Spruce Gap Trail intersection with Lonberger.
Turning right on Lonberger, and then left onto Spruce Gap Trail, I soon made another turn off Spruce Gap Trail onto the Three Bridges Trail. The trails here are in the shadow of the mountain, being on its north face, and there was probably about an inch or so of snow on the trail. Luckily the bridges on Three Bridges Trail were relatively snow free and not at all slippery. At 0.9 miles into the hike I reached the end of the Three Bridges trail and turned left onto the Old Laurel Run Trail to begin the climb in earnest up to the ridge top.
The hike up Old Laurel Run Trail was 0.9 miles in length and climbed over 600 vertical feet. The brisk hike helped get the blood flowing and kept me warm as the temperatures were still in the 30s. At 1.8 miles the Old Laurel Run Trail comes to an end at the top of the ridge, intersecting with the forest access road to the radio towers on Little Flat. The road is gate at this point and new parking area is located here. I turned left here to hike back the road, but just across the parking area is a short access trail to the orange-blazed Mid State Trail, if you would prefer to keep to single track trails and off dirt roads. The hike will merge back onto the Mid State Trail at Little Flat.
At 2.3 miles I arrived at the large clearing located on Little Flat. As you arrive here you will see a sign for the New Laurel Run Trail. This new trail was put in back in 2012 and will take you down to the Laurel Run Road near the headwaters of Laurel Run.
Turning right here I was now following the orange blazes of the Mid State Trail. At 2.4 miles I passed the Spruce Gap Trail on the left and at 2.5 miles I arrived at the intersection with Kettle Trail and the Tom Thwaites monument. I paused here for a bit to take a picture standing by the monument and then headed off towards the south-east following the Kettle Trail down the side of Fourth Mountain.
The descent on Kettle Trail was steep at first but soon lessened. Luckily there was not much snow or ice on this side of the mountain, so the descent was manageable. After 0.4 miles of descending from the ridge top, I came upon the intersection of Kettle Trail and Lonberger Path. I turned left here to enjoy a nice, easy hike with a gradual descent back to the trailhead.
At about 3.1 miles I crossed a new logging access road and there was quite a bit of activity within a deer exclosure located to the left of the trail. For the next 0.6 miles of hiking I could hear and see the logging activity as trees were felled and chainsaws buzzed. I the sights and sounds reminded me of the animated movie "Fern Gully".
At 4.2 miles the trail began a sweeping turn to the left as it passes in front of a leased hunting camp. At 4.4 miles the trail was no longer heading north north-east and was now heading directly west. The trail was still relatively flat and hiking was easy going. There were some wet sections along this stretch of the trail but these were easily bypassed by more rock work located along the edge of the trail.
At 5.1 miles I was back at the intersection of Chute Trail and Lonberger Path. Turning right here I retraced my steps back to the parking area and the trailhead for this hike. Once I was back at my car it was about noon and the temperature was near 50 degrees. I was wishing I would have postponed my hike by a couple of hours so I could have enjoyed the warm weather. I guess I'll have to wait for the January thaw and make sure I time my hike appropriately so that I can enjoy spring like temperatures during the winter months.