An unblazed trail on the southern side of Bald Knob caught my attention a year ago. I decided to investigate this unblazed trail to see what new areas of Shingletown Gap it opened up. I soon learned that this unblazed trail had a name: Green Shoots Trail. So on a Saturday morning, while the mid-Atlantic region awaited the arrival of hurricane Irene, my friend Happy Head and I went up to the trails in Shingletown Gap to check out this Green Shoots Trail.
|Trailhead:||N 40° 45.09'
W 77° 46.38'
|Trail Length:||5.2 miles|
|Hike Time:||3.5 hours|
Forest, along Laurel
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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.
This hike started at the intersection of Shingletown Gap Trail and Laurel Run Road. From here I headed down Laurel Run Road. There is a bit of road walking on this trail, as you make your way from the trailhead to Bald Knob Ridge Trail. But only for a short distance.
After a half mile of road walking, you will see the sign post for the Bald Knob Ridge Trail to your left. Bear left here off Laurel Run Road and follow the Bald Knob Ridge Trail for about a tenth of a mile. At this point you will see an unsigned, unblazed trail to your left, branching off Bald Knob Ridge Trail. This is the Green Shoots Trail and I followed the left branch at this point.
This was most definitely a bike trail, or at the very least, a trail made for mountain bikers. Though I didn't see any mountain bikers on this hike, the trail was well worn by bikers and did not require blazing. Another aspect of trails designed by bikers is their meandering nature. Most trails designed by hikers go from point A to point B in the shortest and quickest routes. Biking trails on the other hand take their time working through the woods, without much elevation change, if possible, and enjoying many views of the surrounding woods. I was happy to discover that the Green Shoots Trail is a typical mountain biking trail.
After branching off the Bald Knob Ridge Trail, the Green Shoots Trail switchback three times before leveling out on the south side of Bald Knob. At 1.2 miles into the hike the trail levels off and at 1.4 miles the Green Shoots Trail crosses Clemons Trail. Clemons Trail use to be a jeep access trail to Bald Knob. It is quite steep at places and beginning to erode at others as well.
The Green Shoots Trail makes its way around the south-west side of Bald Knob, offering up one more switchback before meeting up with Sand Spring Trail at 1.9 miles. I paused here to wet my whistle. The temperatures were not real hot on this day, only in the mid-seventies, but the humidity was very, very high. I was drenched from the exertion of the short climb up Bald Knob. After a few minutes rest I turned right to climb to the ridge top on Sand Spring Trail.
At 2.1 miles the Sand Spring Trail intersects with Bald Knob Ridge Trail. I decided to turn left here and hike across the ridgeline. The hike across the ridge of Bald Knob is rather flat. There is a second peak to Balk Knob Ridge at 2.9 miles. At 2100 feet it is not the tallest peak in the area, but there is a rock out cropping here, and when there aren't any leaves on the trees, you can see down into the valley and the town of Boalsburg below.
The rest of the hike across the ridge was a gradual descent up to the intersection of Maguire Trail. At this intersection, about 3.3 miles into the hike, I turned left following Maguire Trail down from the ridge top. This trail becomes quite steep at times. At 3.6 miles I reached the bottom of the trail, at the intersection of Lower Trail, along the banks of Roaring Run.
Turning left on Lower Trail, I followed the banks of Roaring Run upstream. The hike along the stream was a nice stroll, a gradual ascent up the valley between the two ridges of Tussey Mountain. At 4.6 miles the trail crosses Sand Spring Trail in a large clearing. There is a large and well used campsite here. The remains of an old cabin are here as well. After taking another short reprieve to rest my feet and quench my thirst, I continued up Lower Trail.
At approximately 5 miles into the hike Lower Trail intersects with Clemons Trail, the trail I crossed earlier on the Green Shoots Trail. From here back to the trailhead, about a quarter of a mile distance, the trail followed and old forest road, plenty wide enough for two people to walk side by side. After 5.2 miles of hiking I was back at the trailhead and my car.
If you are looking to explore sections of Shingletown Gap that aren't as easily accessible from the main trailhead, this is definitely a good hike to try out. You will get an opportunity to visit the top of Bald Knob Ridge, but the climb is gradual and not as steep as other access trails. At just a bit over five miles in length, this hike offers a nice opportunity to get out and enjoy the woods without tiring you too much. I would recommend this particular hike for anyone looking to visit and hike the Shingletown Gap area.