Experience the Trails of Pennsylvania

Shingletown Gap: Enjoying the Warm Temperatures of a January Thaw

There are many springs on the mountain sides of Tussey Mountain and Bald Knob. Within a distance of 2 miles the runoff from these mountain springs form Roaring Run which makes it's way out of this mountain valley by passing through Shingletown Gap. During the late summer and early fall months, Roaring Run is more like a Whispering Trickle. However Roaring Run lived up to it's namesake during my most recent hike of Shingletown Gap.

Trailhead: N 40° 45.27'
W 77° 49.07'
Total Elevation: 1890'
Trail Length: 5.6 miles
Hike Time: 3 hours
Hike Type: Loop
Difficulty Rating: 94
Near: Off route PA45
by the town of

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With temperatures approaching 60 degrees, we were most definitely in the midst of a January thaw. All in all the winter this year has been relatively mild, and the weather on this January day instilled feelings of spring fever. An opportunity to hike on such a gorgeous day could not be passed up as I did a 5 and a half mile circuit hike in the Shingletown Gap area.

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.

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.

I had previously completed two hikes in Shingletown Gap. The first was a short out-and-back hike following the southern bank of Roaring Run. The second hike was a climb to the top of the ridge to the south of Roaring Run and following the ridge top to Bald Knob. From my point of view, there was only one more hike remaining within Shingletown Gap, and that was a hike to the top of Tussey Mountain.

From the parking area I began my trek up the main entry trail to Shingletown Gap. Within about 200 feet from the trailhead I turned to the right and crossed Roaring Run on a log that had been made into a foot bridge. Once on the other side of Roaring Run, I walked for about another tenth of a mile until I came upon Cruiser's Run. With the recent warm spell and snow melt, this tributary of Roaring Run was full and fast.

The trail, Deer Path, turned right here and followed Cruiser's Run up stream. At 0.4 miles into the hike, at the top of a relatively steep ascent, I crossed over Cruiser's Run and followed the blue blazed trail to the top of Tussey Mountain.

As I approached the top of Tussey Mountain, the north facing side of the mountain that I was climbing still had snow on the ground. Some of the rocks on the trail here were covered with ice and my pace was slowed somewhat as I paid heed to my footing. At 1 mile into my hike I crested Tussey Mountain as the Deer Path ended on the Mid State Trail.

I found there to be something comforting about seeing the familiar orange blazed rectangles of the Mid State Trail. If you've hiked any part of the Mid State Trail, and then encounter it again, there is a familiarity that you feel on your subsequent visits. Though I hadn't hiked this section of the Mid State before, I felt at home strolling along the trail with the orange rectangles blazing the way.

At 1.5 miles into the hike I came across a sign that said "Roman Tower". Now I am no expert on world history, but I feel pretty certain in my assumption that the Romans never made it to this part of Pennsylvania. So I was intrigued to see what this "Roman Tower" actually was.

You have to leave the Mid State Trail at this point and follow a blue blazed trail. After follow the trail for about 500 feet I came across the "Roman Tower". It was nothing more than a 10 foot by 10 foot square platform made of rocks. Three steps lead you to the top of this platform, which has a short wall on all sides. This platform did allow for some amazing views of State College and Happy Valley below. After spending about 15 minutes at the "Roman Tower", taking pictures and enjoying the vista, I was soon back on the Mid State Trail.

The trek across the ridge top of Tussey Mountain was rather uneventful. I passed an area on the trail that looked like a nice camping spot, even if it was quite removed from water. There wasn't any wildlife to be found aside for two hawks that drift over on some of the warm rising air currents. Finally at 2.9 miles into the hike I came across the Sand Spring Trail and followed this trail back down the north face of Tussey Mountain.

Sand Spring Trail was a rather steep descent and quite overgrown in places. After a quarter of a mile, the steep descent ended and I followed an easier trail as it made its way down to Roaring Run.

At 3.6 miles I crossed Roaring Run and the blue blazed Sand Spring Trail intersected with the Lower Shingletown Path. There is a nice area here to take a rest as well as the ruins of an old cabin. The only thing left of the cabin is the fireplace and some sections of its foundation.

At this intersection I turned to my left and followed the Lower Shingletown Path along the southern side of Roaring Run. The trail passed over many small streams as they sprung forth from the mountain side and added to the waters of Roaring Run.

For the next 2 miles it was any easy stroll and descent to the trailhead and my car. Along the way there were areas where the sound of Roaring Run would get louder. But, by the time I was within a half mile of the parking area, the sound of Roaring Run was everywhere. If there would have been someone to talk to I am sure we would have been talking very loud and maybe even yelling at one another so that we could be heard.

The mileage for this hike was a little over 5.6 miles. With this hike to the top of Tussey Mountain, I now feel that I've hiked all of the major trails of Shingletown Gap. I'm sure I'll take other hikes in this area as it's close to home and the scenery along Roaring Run is beautiful, especially during the summer.

If you have an opportunity to hike Shingletown Gap I strongly recommend this hike. Not only do you get to experience Roaring Run and it's tunnels of Rhododendrons, but you also get to experience the amazing views from atop Tussey Mountain. But make sure to bring along hiking boots as the trek to the top is steep and rocking, as well as the hike across the ridge top. And then depending upon the time of the year you'll probably encounter swampy and muddy portions of the trail along Roaring Run.

The trailhead at Shingletown Gap.

Only a few hundred feet from the trailhead, Deer Path branches off to the right and passes over Roaring Run on this log/bridge.

Cruiser's Run as it comes down off the mountain just prior to flowing into Roaring Run. Deer Path is the blue blazed trail that follows alongside the west side of the stream.

Looking east on top of Tussey Mountain, this is where Deer Path meets with the Mid State Trail.

Located a few hundred feet off of the Mid State Trail is the "Roman Tower". The vista from this rock structure allow you to see all of State College and Happy Valley below.

The Mid State Trail intersects here with the Sand Spring Trail. At this point I followed Sand Spring Trail down off of Tussey Mountain.

One of the ruins found along Roaring Run.

A recent addition along the trail. Apparently someone had some spare time on their hands.

Roaring Run was living up to it's name sake during this hike. The stream was filling it's banks with the recent warm weather and snow melt.

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