The Shingletown Gap area is a popular place for hiking, biking, or just going for a stroll. Most users of this trail system access the trailhead located off of route PA45, just south of the town of Shingletown. There is an alternate trailhead for access to this area, and it is located off of Laurel Run Road, accessed via Galbraith Gap and the Rothrock State Forest. I used this trailhead for my latest hike of the Shingletown Gap area. There were a few trails left that I needed to hike to get GPS tracks of, and there was a new addition to the trail system. This new trail extended the Bald Knob Ridge Trail from the top of Bald Knob to Laurel Run Road. This new trail descended one of the steeper sides of Bald Knob and offered some nice views toward Tussey Mountain and Little Flat.
|Trailhead:||N 40° 45.07'
W 77° 46.38'
|Trail Length:||5.2 miles|
|Hike Time:||3 hours|
Laurel Run Road.
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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.
I was told of the new trail that ascended the east side of Bald Knob and I wanted to check it out. I decided that I would begin my hike by making this climb and then would descend back down to Roaring Run. From here I would make some small loops, hiking on some of the trails for which I had not yet gotten GPS tracks.
From my car I hiked back down Laurel Run Road to where the trail began. You could park your car at the intersection of Laurel Run Road and Bald Knob Ridge Trail, but there was really only enough space there to park one car. Plus I wanted to get warmed up a bit before I began the ascent and decided a little road walking would do the trick.
After hiking for 0.5 miles on Laurel Run Road, I turned left onto the Bald Knob Ridge Trail. The trail made a sharp turn and paralleled Laurel Run Road, going back the way I just came. At 0.65 miles the trail then began to bear more to the right and travel farther away from the road. The hiking on this section was relatively flat, but I was greeted with the beginning of my climb at 0.8 miles into the hike.
After a somewhat steep climb for about a quarter mile you are treated to some nice views to your right. You'll get a great view of Tussey Mountain and of the towers on top of Little Flat. The rest of the hike to the top of Bald Knob is not as steep and you reach the summit and clearing after 1.4 miles of hiking. I stopped here for a moment to snap some pictures and take a drink of water. I also took the opportunity to sample some of the low bush blueberries that were in full bloom. They weren't all that large, but they were very sweet and full of flavor.
From the clearing on top of Bald Knob I continued straight on the blue blazed trail. At 1.6 miles I came to a junction with the blue blazed trail continuing to my right and an unblazed trail heading off to my left. The unblazed trail, known as the Le Petomane trail, is well worn and can be easily followed even without blazes. At 1.9 miles the trail then meets up with the Sand Spring trail which I followed for the rest of the descent to the intersection with Lower Trail.
I was now two and quarter miles into my hike and at the old fireplace which is located at the clearing of Sand Spring Trail and Lower Trail. The sign on the the trail that I just descended was marked the Maguire Trail, but that trail is further to the west. I believe someone has placed the trail signs in the wrong locations.
I continued on Sand Spring Trail, crossing over Roaring Run, which was only a trickle, and meeting up with Shingletown Gap Trail at 2.4 miles. From here you can turn left which will take you back to the trailhead for this hike. However, I needed to get some GPS tracks so I turned right and followed the trail down to where it crosses Roaring Run. The trail here followed an old forest road which made for very easy and leisurely walking.
At this crossing a followed another trail to the left, staying on the southern side of Roaring Run. I continued on this trail, which was pretty much level hiking, though rocky at places, until I met up with the Maguire Trail at 3.4 miles. I followed Maguire Trail down the side of the ridge and crossed Roaring Run, meeting up with the Lower Trail again.
I was now about 3.5 miles into the hike and the sun was beginning to set behind the ridge. However, I was very familiar with this trail as it is the main trail in the Shingletown Gap area and I had hiked it many times before. Time passed quickly and I soon put one a quarter mile behind me and was back at the old fireplace at the intersection of Lower Trail and Sand Spring Trail.
The trail now followed an old forest road. At about 4.75 miles into the hike I noticed a large green tarp on a side trail. I turned down the side trail to see a trashed campsite, with beer bottles and camping equipment strewn about. It is a shame that people trash an area like this and that they don't take the responsibility to pack out what they pack in. I made a mental note to come back up here in the next few weeks with a trash bag to clean up this mess.
The last half mile of hiking on the old forest road was easy which was a good thing as it was getting dark and I did not have my flashlight with me. The hike was a little over 5 miles in length. I was happy to get out in the middle of the week and enjoy this hike. The new trail up Bald Knob Ridge offers some nice views, which are few and far between in the Shingletown Gap area, unless you hike up to the Mid State Trail on top of Tussey Mountain. If you are looking for an alternate hike in Shingletown Gap, try this upper trailhead and you'll get to experience some trails that you may not make it to if you started from the main trailhead.