Experience the Trails of Pennsylvania

Shingletown Gap: Charcoal Flat and Lower Shingletown Trails

Looking to take advantage of after work daylight before we turned the clocks back, Tim and I decided to do a hike in the Shingletown Gap area. This would be our last after-work hike of the season and we wanted to do something close by so that we had enough time to put in a little bit of mileage. I suggested this particular hike, which I had done over 2 years ago, as it explored trails that Tim had not yet hiked.

Trailhead: N 40° 45.27'
W 77° 49.07'
Total Elevation: 962'
Trail Length: 3.5 miles
Hike Time: 2 hours
Hike Type: Loop
Difficulty Rating: 54
Near: Off route PA45 by
the town of Shingletown.

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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.

Tim and I got a little later start to the hike then we had originally hoped. And I didn't make things much better when a tenth of a mile into the hike I recalled that I left my GPS sitting on top of my car. After running back to retrieve the GPS unit, we were ready to start our hike. At 0.1 miles we turned right off the main trail to cross Roaring Run on the large tree bridge. Once on the other side of Roaring Run we hiked about another tenth of a mile where we began to climb along Cruiser Run. At 0.3 miles into our hike we came across the trail that lead up the steep side of the front ridge. We turned here and began the ascent.

The climb to the top of the ridge was a little steep with large rocks that you needed to navigate over or around. An early snowfall about 2 weeks ago caused a number of limbs to fall to the ground. This made the climb even more difficult and slow going at times. The climb was about 0.2 miles in length and we ascended about 200 feet. Near the top of the climb we had an opportunity to pause at a vista looking towards State College.

We continued to hike along the ridgeline and at 0.75 miles into our hike we began a gentle descent from the ridgetop to the valley between the front ridgeline and Tussey Mountain. Again we encountered a number of fallen limbs and had to navigate off trail around a few of them.

Our descent came to an end 0.25 miles later along Cruiser Run. After a tenth of a mile we beared right on to Charcoal Flat trail. This trail was blazed white with a red stripe. Most of the trails in Shingletown Gap are either blazed blue or white, and some have horizontal stripes in the middle to help distinguish them from one another.

For the next 1.25 miles we hiked on the white/red striped blazed Charcoal Flat trail, with Tussey Mountain on our right and the Bald Knob ridge to our left. The trail was level and surprising well maintained. Compared to earlier in our hike, where we had to climb over or around fallen limbs, this tral was completley cleared. It seems that someone was Johnny on the Spot when it came to getting the trail cleared after the snowfall two weeks back.

We passed a total of four charcoal flats while hiking this trail. The charcoal flats are artifacts from the iron ore era back in the 1800s. Large, circular flat areas would be made on the hill side or valley floor where timbered logs would be stacked like an indian wigwam. These piles of logs would then be ignited and allowed to smolder. This controlled burn would create coke that would then be taken to local iron furnaces for the making of iron ore.

At about 2 miles into our hike we came upon a large clearing. Recent logging in the area had created this clearing which the trail was now bisecting. After another 0.3 miles we turned off the Charcoal Flat Trail and descended towards Roaring Run on Maguire Trail. About 0.1 miles later we crossed Roaring Run and turned left on Lower Shingletown Trail.

The last part of our hike was an easy stroll along Roaring Run for another 1.1 miles. We arrived back at the trailhead as dusk was setting in. With daylight savings time ending in 2 days, it was a little sad to know that this would be our last after work hike until spring. Maybe, if the weather cooperates, I can talk Tim into taking a half day off work and we can get a hike in sometime before the snows fall. But with the holidays fast approaching, we may be doing that hike sometime in January, perhaps during the January thaw.

The log bridge over Roaring Run, located just upstream from the resevoir.

The only climb on this hike takes us to the top of the ridge in front of Tussey Mountain.

A view from the front ridge towards Mount Nittany on a gray, overcast day.

A campsite located on a charcoal flat.

Recent logging in the Shingletown Gap area is going to create a lot of work for trail maintainers.

Roaring Run was rather full in its banks after all the recent rains.

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