Experience the Trails of Pennsylvania

Shingletown Gap: A Visit to Bald Knob

I had previously hiked in the Shingletown Gap area earlier in the year. I only did a short 4 mile out and back hike, but I was impressed with the beauty of this area. I put on my list of hikes-to-do another hike in Shingletown Gap, but one that climbed to the top of Bald Knob. So, on a dreary, overcast weekend towards the end of September, Shari and I decided we wanted to get out of the house and go for a hike. The hike to Bald Knob immediately came to mind and we were soon headed to Shingletown Gap.

Trailhead: N 40° 45.27'
W 77° 49.07'
Total Elevation: 1836'
Trail Length: 6.2 miles
Hike Time: 3.5 hours
Hike Type: Loop
Difficulty Rating: 99
Near: Off route PA45
by the town of

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Located in Rothrock State Forest, the trailhead for this hike is easily accessible from State College. Coming from State College, either via route US322 or business route US322 (South Atherton Street), you will need to turn right onto route PA45 west near Boalsburg. Once you are on route PA45 west heading towards Pine Grove Mills, you will want to travel 1.8 miles where you will reach the town of Shingletown. Here turn left onto Mountain Road and travel another mile where you will come to the parking area and the trailhead.

The hike that we decided to do was a loop of about 6 miles. We were starting somewhat late in the afternoon, but I was rather certain we would make it back before the sun set. I did bring along a flashlight just in case. The main trail is blazed with blue rectangles and the side trails blazed with blue and white striped rectangles. Keep in mind that these trails are multi use trails, so keep an eye open for mountain bikers and give them the right-a-way.

We started our hike along Roaring Run, which was more like Purring Run, as the water level was very low. As we hiked further on up the trail the water wasn't flowing at all. In the springtime this stream is indeed a Roaring Run, but not quite so in late summer/early autumn. After hiking up the gradual incline of the main trail for about three quarters of a mile, we turned left at the first blue and white blazed trail and started our ascent up the mountain side.

The climb here was steeper than I had anticipated as we climbed about 400 feet in less than a quarter mile. Soon we were at the top and the trail turned to the right to follow the ridgeline. The trail would continue across the ridgeline, slowly ascending to the summit at Bald Knob.

Along our trek across the ridge top, I noticed a lot of "almost" vistas. There were many places where you could see the valley below through the trees, but most of the view was blocked by the leaves. I would guess that you could get some very nice views of Happy Valley if you were to hike up here in the fall or winter when all of the leaves are off the trees. There were a few instances where we could get a clear but limited view but nothing breath taking or awe inspiring as I am accustomed to on most of our hikes.

Just shy of two miles into our hike we came to a side trail that drops back down to Roaring Run and the main trail. As we approached the intersection we saw our first mountain biker of the hike. He had pushed his bike to the top of the mountain, but was soon peddling away from us across the ridge line. The trail up to this intersection was somewhat rocky with a few places where we jumped across some large rocks, but from this point on the trail was clear of most obstacles and fairly level.

At 2.5 miles we came to another side trail and the third side trail was at about 2.75. At this third side trail we began the last, relatively steep ascent to Bald Knob. I did notice that the trees in this area (not sure what type of trees they were) had already changed color and were beginning to drop their leaves. It was a reminder that summer was coming to an end and autumn was just around the corner, though I must admit I was a bit surprised to see such vivid colors this early in the season, seeing as it was only the third week in September. Perhaps the dry conditions of the summer were to blame, or perhaps it was the species of tree that was one of the first trees the lose their leaves.

Bald Knob is a large clearing where radio towers once stood. Now it is just a rocky area full of small growth and underbrush. Shari and I were hoping to enjoy a vista here, but again all of the views were obscured by the leaves on the trees. We spent about 15 minutes investigating the clearing at Bald Knob. Tumbleweed managed to catch a glimpse of a rather large deer, but I was unable to get a photo of it.

We descended from Bald Knob along an old, abandoned jeep trail (at least that's what they call it on the map, though I don't think you could fit a jeep on this trail anymore). The trail then intersected with what I would call a jeep trail as it was definitely wide enough and free of obstacles. We turned right here and soon found ourselves enjoying a nice leisurely stroll. Along this section of the trail we heard what we guessed to be a deer running through the undergrowth as well as number of woodcocks.

Once we reached the fireplace ruins of an old cabin, we sat down around a fire ring and took a small break. As we were finishing up our snack and started to sprinkle, so we hurriedly packed up and headed our of the clearing and back to the canopy of trees.

About 5 miles into our hike, halfway down Roaring Run from where we took our short break, we had the opportunity to spy a racoon crossing the trail. The little fellow scampered up a hugh hemlock. I tried to take some pictures of him but it was getting late and quite dark in amongst the hemlocks. He was very aware of us as he kept the tree between us and himself, and we only got few glimpses of his entire body; he was a large fellow. We watched as he climbed about 200 feet into the tree tops and then we continued on.

We made it back to the car about three and a half hours after we started and plenty of daylight left. With there being so many trail in the Shingletown Gap area, and with it being so close, I am sure I'll be back to hike it again. I would like to climb to Bald Knob again in the fall when there aren't any leaves on the trees so that I can enjoy all of the "almost" vistas that we encountered on this hike. I would also like to hike in the spring, just after winter thaw, to see Roaring Run at it's prime and view the Mountain Laurel in full bloom.

The trailhead for the trails in the Shingletown Gap area. This is located just to the left of the reservoir as you walk up the paved/gravel road.

The main trail that parallels Roaring Run. Roaring Run was very low here, but in the spring it earns it's name.

Looking from atop of the northern mountain at Shingletown Gap. In the distance, through the trees, you can make out the end of Mount Nittany.

The trail on top of the mountain. Hiking here was nice as the incline was slight and aside for a few rocky sections, the trail was mostly clear of obstacles.

Here I pose for a shot at the second highest point of the hike, with Bald Knob proper being the highest.

I was surprised to see the fall foliage on these trees, and with it only being the third week of September. This was the only section of the trail where the leaves had already changed color.

Our destination for this hike: Bald Knob. This area use to be a site for radio towers.

Shari walked across to the far side of Bald Knob to see if there was a view of the valley below. Unfortunately the vista was obscured by the all the leaves on the trees.

This part of the fireplace is all the ruins that remain of a cabin that once stood here. In this clearing, not far from the fireplace ruins, there is a fire ring which offers nice seating for taking a break.

Heading back to the trailhead. You can see some of the Mountain Laurel that grows all along Roaring Run. I would like to come back up here next year when it's in bloom.

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