Experience the Trails of Pennsylvania

Tussey Mountain Trail: Huckleberries Along The Trail

Tussey Mountain Trail is a favorite of the local mountain biking scene. Because of this, it makes for a very nice hiking trail, free of obstacles, and aside for the fact that it is situated on top of a ridge, you can follow it very easily without the need of blazes. This was the destination for our latest after work hike: a shuttle hike from Bear Meadows to the gas pipeline crossing of Treaster Kettle Road.

Trailhead:  N 40° 44.36'
W 77° 45.15'
Total Elevation:  1409'
Trail Length:  5.8 miles
Hike Time:  3.5 hours
Hike Type:  Shuttle
Difficulty Rating:  86
Near:  Near Boalsburg, PA, behind Tussey Mountain Ski Resort.

The trailhead for this hike was at the intersection of Bear Meadows and North Meadows Road. There is a spacious parking area located just off the right side of Bear Meadows Road. To reach the trailhead if you are 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. 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. Once you are on Bear Meadows Road, travel for about 2.7 miles. The intersection of Bear Meadows Road and North Meadows Road is located where Bear Meadows Road levels off and stops climbing. You'll see North Meadows Road on your right with the parking area just beyond.

The second trailhead for this hike, where we parked our shuttle vehicle, is located just a bit beyond, along Treaster Kettle Road. About 0.4 miles past the parking area there is a fork in the road. To the right, Bear Meadows Road continues on to Bear Meadows. Turning left here, on Treaster Kettle Road, takes us to our destination. From the parking area, continue for 3.5 miles where you'll see the gas pipeline clearing as it passes under Treaster Kettle Road. On the right side of the road there is ample parking and this is where we positioned our shuttle car.

After dropping off the shuttle car we headed back to the trailhead proper and the start of this hike. It was about ten minutes till five when we started our hike: plenty of time to get back to our homes before the sun set.

From the parking area, we walked south on Bear Meadows Road for about 200 feet before we turned left onto Tuxedo Trail. This trail is a recent addition to the Rothrock State Forest Trails. It alleviates traffic from the Kettle Trail which is seeing a lot of erosion due to over use.

We followed Tuxedo Trail for 1.1 miles, slowly ascending to the ridge top. At 1.1 miles we came upon the intersection of Tuxedo, Kettle, and Tussey Mountain Trails. We paused here for a short rest and soon we started hiking north-east on the ridge-top Tussey Mountain Trail.

Along the Tussey Mountain Trail, there are three other trails that branch off towards the valley's below. These include the Reichly, Fillmore, and Shingle Path Trails. I had hiked the Shingle Path Trail previously, during a snow shoe adventure. Since then a forest fire had obliterated the Shingle Path Trail. However, the other two trails still exist, and I tried to see where they intersected with the Tussey Mountain Trail as we hiked across the ridge line. Either I'm not as observant as I think I am, or it was the conversation that was occurring between my fellow hikers, but I seemed to miss all of the intersections of these trails. I guess that gives me an excuse to do this hike again and try to find these elusive trails.

At 2.2 miles into our hike, at what should be just a short distance past the intersection with the Filmore Trail, we entered the forest fire burn area. In April of 2006, a forest fire burned over 400 acres of Rothrock State Forest. The fire burned up from the Treaster Kettle Road, across the top, and most of the way down the other side of the ridge. The fire had obliterated the Shingle Path Trail and wiped out a section of the Tussey Mountain Trail. Since then the Tussey Mountain Trail has been restored.

As we hiked through the burn area, we were greeted with bushes of huckleberries, as far as the eye could see. At first I noticed a few ripe ones here and there. As we progressed deeper into the burn zone and away from the shade of the still standing trees, we began to notice more and more ripe huckleberries. We stopped numerous times to taste the blue berries and found them to be quite tasty.

At 3.1 miles into our hike left the burn zone and re-entered the woods. The weather today was comfortable with low humidity, but we were glad to get out of the bright sun and give our eyes a break. At 3.3 miles we emerged into the gas pipeline clearing.

We stopped for a bit at the gas pipeline clearing to wet our whistles and enjoy the view to the south. After about 5 minutes we started back down the trail. After 0.8 miles we came to an intersection and the "official" end of the Tussey Mountain Trail. We turned right here and began our descent off the ridge.

During our descent, at about 4.3 miles into the hike, we encountered a switch back to the left. We continued heading down as the trail slowly sweeps to the right. Just when it looked like we were getting towards the bottom of the ridge, the trail made a sharp switchback to our right and began to climb again. Finally at 5.5 miles we emerged from the woods on the gas pipeline.

We were still at a pretty high elevation, being about 300 feet above the Treaster Kettle Road where our shuttle car was parked. From here, we finished up the last 0.3 miles of our hike descending on the gas pipeline. After 5.8 miles we were at the end of our hike and we all piled into the shuttle car to be taken back to our own cars parked back at the trailhead.

This hike could be done as a loop, either by following Treaster Kettle Road back or even following the gas pipeline until you cross the John Wert Path. If you decide to do this hike as a loop, just be forewarned that you will be looking at a hike of over 10 miles, so make sure you are prepared.

{vsig_c}0|tmt3_01.jpg|Near the trailhead, we make the turn off the road and onto Tuxedo Trail.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|tmt3_02.jpg|Hiking along the top of ridge.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|tmt3_03.jpg|We enter the burn zone where the tasty huckleberries are found.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|tmt3_04.jpg|Some of the huckleberries that we stopped often to sample.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|tmt3_05.jpg|There are many nice views while hiking along the Tussey Mountain Trail.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|tmt3_06.jpg|Almost out of the burn zone, heading back into the shady woods.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|tmt3_07.jpg|The vista from the gas pipeline clearing.{/vsig_c}

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