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. Tim and I decided to use this trailhead for an after work hike to the top of Bald Knob.
|Trailhead:||N 40° 45.07'
W 77° 46.38'
|Trail Length:||4.8 miles|
|Hike Time:||2.5 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.
Our hike started with a short bit of road walking. From the trailhead we head north, slowly descending as we retraced our route back on Laurel Run Road. After a half mile of road walking, Tim and I came across the blue-blazed Bald Knob trail on our left. We turned sharply to our left and descended a short bit before the trail leveled out.
At approximately three quarters of the mile into the hike, and at the lowest elevation of this particular hike, we crossed an intermittent mountain stream. From this point the Bald Knob trail began the long, and at times steep, climb to the top of Bald Knob.
In the next three quarter miles of hiking we ascended 600 feet. We took a few breaks on our climb to the top, including one at one mile into the hike. At this point there is a view towards Little Flat and the towers located there. After a few snapshots and a little something to quench our thirst, be finished the climb to the top of Bald Knob.
Once on top of Bald Knob we investigated the area a little. This area is very rocky and is full of huckleberry bushes. There are also a number of fire rings scattered around the area and is probably very popular place with the kids of the area. From Bald Knob we followed the trail that traverses the top of the ridge, heading west back towards Shingletown Gap proper.
We came across an intersection at 1.6 miles, with the left branch of the trail descending down from the ridge. We beared to the right and continue across the flat ridge top. After three tenths a mile we encountered another intersection. This time we decided to turn left and followed the trail down off the ridge top.
After a short descent, we soon found ourselves back at the main trail that parallels Roaring Run. At this intersection there are some old ruins of a building that once stood here. All that can really be seen is the outline of the foundation and part of the fireplace and chimney is still standing here. Tim and I decided that we hadn't had enough of climbing mountains, so we opted to follows Sand Spring trail up to the top of Tussey Mountain.
Following Sand Spring Trail to the top of Tussey Mountain, and at about 2.9 miles into out hike, the trail crossed a newly created logging road. This road comes off Laurel Run road and was used last year when the Bureau of Forestry was logging the north face of Tussey Mountain in Shingletown Gap. After a short pause on the road, we once again resumed our climb to the top of the mountain.
At 3.1 miles we reached the end of our ascent with the intersection of Sand Spring Trail and the orange-blazed Mid State Trail. It began to rain at this point in our hike, so we through on some rain gear before we headed east on the MST.
The hiking on this section of the MST was quite pleasant, to my surprise. It was relatively rock free, flat, and well maintained. At 3.5 miles the MST merges with the grassy Shingletown Road. We turned left here and began a gentle descent to the end of this gated road, at the intersection with Laurel Run Road, about three and three quarters miles into our hike.
We could have followed Laurel Run Road back to the trailhead and our car, but we opted to continue hiking the Mid State Trail. Crossing Laurel Run Road, the MST follows the remnants of an old Reichley Brothers railroad bed. For about a half mile we walked on this very rocky path. At 4.3 miles we emerged onto Little Flat Fire Tower Road and turned left. We were only on this road for about a tenth of a mile before we made a very sharp left onto a blue-blazed trail that would take us directly back to the trailhead. There are actually two blue-blazed trails here, so be sure you take the one the farthermost to your left.
This hike was about 4.8 miles in length and provided Tim and I a decent workout since it incorporated two rather strenuous climbs. Most hikes in the Shingletown Gap area start out at the main trailhead. This trailhead was a nice alternative, allowing us to explore some of the trails further up in the Shingletown Gap area. If you find yourself hiking just the lower trails of Shingletown, then I would recommend that you try this trailhead and enjoy the climbs and views of Bald Knob.