I was lucky to get out early for an after-work hike this year. With a week remaining until our clocks would spring forward, I headed out to the upper parts of Shingletown Gap for a quick hike before the sun dipped below the horizon. Not really having a specific plan on what trails to hike, I found myself following the Lower, Green Shoots, Bald Knob Ridge, Sand Spring and Shingletown Gap Trails. Even with temperatures in the lower 40s and a light drizzle, it felt good to be out on the trail and the opportunity to start hiking after work once again.
|Trailhead:||N 40° 45.08'
W 77° 46.38'
|Trail Length:||2.6 miles|
|Hike Time:||2.0 hours|
|Near:||Off route PA45 by the
town of Shingletown.
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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.
As I hit the trail a light rain began to fall. It wasn't all that warm to start with and the rain really made it feel cold. Luckily I had my rain jacket on, but I could have used a warmer hat. I figured that I better start hiking so that I could keep warm.
Heading down the Lower Trail I noticed that it was quite muddy in places. Once the trail started to head up out of the lowlands the trail dried out. At a little over 0.3 miles I crossed over the Clemons Trail. This was an old jeep road that gave access to the radio towers that use to stand on top of Bald Knob. About 200 feet pass this trail was the connecting trail to the Green Shoots Trail. I decided to head off in this direction and left the Lower Trail behind. Just a bit shy of 0.5 miles into the hike, I emerged onto the Green Shoots Trail. I turned left here and followed the Green Shoots Trail to the top of the ridge.
For the next 0.6 miles the Green Shoots Trail makes a gradual ascent to the top of Bald Knob Ridge. The trail passes through a stand of pines that shielded me from the cold rain. I took a moment to pause here and to enjoy the outdoors. Continuing on, the trail meanders a bit as it start to reach the top of the ridge. At 1.1 miles into the hike, the Green Shoots Trail ends at the Bald Knob Ridge Trail. Turning left here, I followed the Bald Knob Ridge Trail along the top of the ridge. After hiking for a little over three tenths of a mile I came upon the intersection with the Sand Spring Trail. I turned left here to follow the trail back down off the ridge.
On the descent into the valley below, the Sand Spring Trail passes by its name sake. A short distance from the spring there appears to be a man made retaining pond. There isn't much water being retained here now, but it looks like it once held a pond of about 15 feet in diameter. My only guess is that this was once used by the inhabitants of the old cabin, the remains of which are located just ahead. At 1.9 miles I emerged at the clearing with said remnants of this old cabin.
Taking a moment to look around, I continue on the Sand Spring Trail and soon crossed over the head waters of Roaring Run.The trail began a slight and gradual ascent until I reached the intersection with the Shingletown Gap Trail, just a bit shy of 2.1 miles into the hike. Turning left here I had to jump a small stream, originating from another spring further up on the mountain side. The trail use to be a forest access road of some type as I could see the tread was made with crushed shale.
While finishing up the hike on my way back to the trailhead, I noticed a body of water off to my left. In my many years of hiking in Shingletown Gap, I never knew that there was a vernal pond in this area. The pond is located between the old and new Lower Trails and from my estimates it was probably a good 30 to 40 feet in length. I made a mental note to venture off trail sometime to check out this newly discovered body of water.
Finally, after 2.6 miles of trail and a little over an hour of hiking I was back at the trailhead, completing this first after-work hike of 2017.