The Lower Trail in the upper reaches of the Shingletown Gap area is an old jeep trail. The trail is quite wet and muddy with springs appearing in the middle of the trail and along side. A new trail has been cleared to get traffic off this trail and allow it to be absorbed back into the forest. This new trail will be the Lower Trail, but for now since the original Lower Trail still exists, it has gotten the nick name of the Upper Lower. This was the destination of our latest outing in the Shingletown Gap area.
|Trailhead:||N 40° 45.08'
W 77° 46.38'
|Trail Length:||2.6 miles|
|Hike Time:||1.5 hours|
Forest, along Laurel
View Large Map
Download Map (PDF)
To reach the trailhead for this hike you will need to find yourself on route US322, to the east of State College. If coming from State College, or the west, turn right onto Bear Meadows Road, just across from the Elks Club Golf Course. This is approximately 0.6 miles from where route US322 east goes from four lanes to two lanes. Once you turn right on Bear Meadows Road, continue on for 1.4 miles where you will bear right off of the paved road onto a dirt road, crossing over a small stream. Continue straight on this dirt road until you have traveled a total of 3.4 miles. The trailhead will be on the right, where there is a small dirt pull off area in front of a gated road. Park your car anywhere here but don't block the gate.
After parking the car I could see right away the new trail. It is a typical mountain biking trail that winds its way through the woods in a serpentine fashion. I have no qualms about this type of trail and as a matter of fact I rather like a serpentine trail compared to a straight trail as long as it doesn't go over board on the turns and switchbacks. This trail, at the start, was close to exceeding my tolerance for turns and switchbacks. But soon the number of turns decreased and it was an enjoyable trail to hike.
At a little over 0.3 miles into the hike we came across the intersection with the Clemons Trail. Just a few feet past this intersection there was a new trail that went off to the right. My guess is that this was a connector trail to the Green Shoots Trail. The Clemons Trail is an old jeep trail that provided access to Bald Knob back when there were radio towers located on the ridge. Like the old Lower Trail I believe the plan is to eventually get rid of the Clemons Trail as well because of how steep it is and the erosion that occurs on it.
At 0.6 miles we merged with the old Lower Trail. We went right here and continued hiking westward, reaching the clearing with the remains of the cabin a half mile later. From here we turned left and followed the Sand Spring Trail across Roaring Run. It was just a bit past this point, where the trail comes out of the woods an into the first open meadow area that we spotted the lady slippers. I had never seen lady slippers in the wild but we got to see a lot of them now. There was a large patch, probably over twenty of them growing in this one spot. We paused here a bit to look at and admire the flowers, as well as grab a couple photos of them before we continued south with a gradual ascent on the Sand Spring Trail.
The trail was very wet but I suppose with a name such as Sand Spring Trail that is to be expected. We reached the intersection of Sand Spring Trail and Shingletown Trail about one mile into the hike. We turned right here and followed Shingletown Trail as it made a gradual descent back toward Roaring Run.
Once we reached Roaring Run, at 1.4 miles, we had a heck of a time crossing the stream. Recent rains had washed out a make-shift bridge that was originally here. We were able to find a narrow part section just a bit upstream where we could jump across. Once on the other side of Roaring Run we turned right on Lower Trail to follow it back towards the trail head.
It was along this section of the hike where we saw all of the wild azalea. I had never seen so much of it in bloom. We had come across Pinkster on other hikes, but usually only showing a few petals. Almost every bush we passed was full of flowers.
At 1.9 miles into the hike we were almost back to the intersection of Lower Trail and Sand Spring Trail where we had turned off earlier. We encountered our only snake on the hike here, just a little garter snake that slithered off the right side of the trail. From here we continued east on the Lower Trail and stayed on the old trail at the intersection with the Upper Lower Trail.
As we hiked the last half mile back to the car I could see why the Upper Lower Trail was put in. This section of the Lower Trail was flowing with water and had standing water in many places. There were three or four times where we had to get off the trail and walk alongside it so our feet didn't get soaked. If anyone is hiking in the upper reaches of the Shingletown Gap area, I would highly recommend using the new Upper Lower Trail. Not only will you stay drier and help prevent erosion and destruction of the old trail, but I think you'll find the newly cleared trail to be a much more enjoyable hiking experience.