Experience the Trails of Pennsylvania

An Early Spring Walk in the Scotia Barrens

A sunny, early spring day had us heading out into the woods for the first hike of the year. We had hiked in the Scotia Barrens over 5 years ago and had wanted to come back to explore more but we never made it back. With a newly purchased Scotia Barrens map by Purplelizard in hand we decided to head back out to the gamelands and explore the trails around the site that use to be the iron ore mining town of Scotia.

Trailhead: N 40° 48.35'
W 77° 56.78'
Total Elevation: 182''
Trail Length: 3.3 miles
Hike Time: 2.0 hours
Hike Type: Loop
Difficulty Rating: 36
Near: State Game Lands 176,
west of State College, PA

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The trailhead for this hike is located near the community of Gray's Woods. There are two parking areas marked on the map. The one described here, and where we parked, does not allow for a lot cars. The other parking area, located along Scotia Road, does accommodate more than one car. To reach the trailhead we used you will need to take the Gray's Woods exit of I99, just north of State College, PA. Once on Gray's Woods Boulevard, drive approximated 0.3 miles and turn left on to Scotia Road. Follow Scotia Road for another 0.6 miles and you will come to the intersection with Meeks Lane. To the right, at this turn, you will see a parking area. Park here as the trail is located across Scotia Road.

We started the hike a bit before noon. The clocks would get turn ahead this evening for Daylight Savings Time and Shari and I were in high spirits, enjoying this sunny and this last "short" day of winter. Across from the parking area at the intersection of Meeks Lane and Scotia Road is an unmarked, but obvious, trail that we followed into the woods.

Shortly the trail was joined by another coming in from the left. This trail takes you to an alternate parking area for this hike along Scotia Range Road. Walking back the trail there are many trails that head off to the right and left. At this point we kept on taking the right trail as we wanted to visit the old iron ore mine.

At 0.3 miles we got our first glimpse into the remains of the mine. Another tenth of a mile brought us to a large clearing on the edge of the mine. From here we could see the mine laid out before us. This was a pit mine and had water laying in the bottom. It did provide a nice respite as we look around trying to imagine the activity that took place here in the late 1800s. After a short break we continued heading south east on the trail.

At about 0.5 miles into the hike the trail we were following emerged onto the dirt Scotia Range Road. We turned left here and followed the road for a little over 500 feet before turning right off the road, walking across a small parking area and picking up the next trail. This trail climbed to a now abandoned elevated rail bed. This was the main rail line for taking iron ore from Scotia to the market. Directly in front of us and to our left was the remains of Ten Acre Pond. Turning right here we followed the railroad bed for 100 feet before turning left and descending once again to the forest floor.

We now followed the trail as it skirted the edge of the State Game Lands and the Haugh Family Farm open space. We kept to the trails on the left at each intersection as there were other trails that went off into the woods on our right. At 1.3 miles I referenced the map we had and decided to turn right and head back into the woods and away from the fields we had been walking alongside.

It was somewhere along this stretch of trail that we encountered others hiking the trail. A nice couple out hiking their dogs. After passing Shari and I discussed the dogs, trying to determine their breed. We guessed on either bulldog or pug, but we weren't quite sure.

At 1.7 miles we emerged at an intersection with a trail that looked to be more heavily used then the one we were currently on. We passed a gentleman out running with his dog at this intersection. We turned right here and walked a little over a tenth of a mile until we came upon another intersection. This one looked familiar as if it were an intersection we passed through on our hike over five years ago. We decided we didn't want to retrace the trail that we hiked previously, so we turned right and began a gentle descent.

At a little over 2 miles into the hike we crossed paths with the runner and his dog once again. Apparently there was a trail that he looped back around on so that he passed us again. And not more than a tenth of a mile past that point we met the couple with the two dogs, walking up the hill on the trail towards us. The dogs apparently recognized us and ran quickly ahead of them to greet us. Either they recognized us or were just very friendly dogs. We asked the couple the breed of the dog and they told us they were French Bulldogs. Looks like Shari and I were correct with our guess of bulldog.

At 2.4 miles the trail made its way between two clearings. These clearings were feed plots for the deer population. At a bit shy of 2.6 miles the trail came to an end at a gate and we emerged once again onto Scotia Range Road. We turned right here and followed the road for about two tenths of a mile. We were now at the point where we emerged onto the road earlier. We turned left here and retraced our steps along the iron ore mine back to our parked car at the intersection of Meeks Lane and Scotia Road.

This was a nice hike to get our legs warmed up for another hiking season. There weren't any strenuous climbs we had to deal with and the trails were relatively free of obstacles. The trail was muddy in places and snowy in others. But all-in-all it was a nice early spring hike. I would recommend the Scotia Barrens to anyone that wants to just get out for a quick walk. You'll have the opportunity to enjoy the woods and perhaps experience some history as well.

Our car parked at the intersection of Meeks Lane and Scotia Road.

Looking at the old iron ore pit mine.

A view across Ten Acre Pond.

The snow was still laying 4 inches deep in some places in the Barrens.

A well traveled trail in the Scotia Barrens.

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