Experience the Trails of Pennsylvania

Shingletown Gap: Hiking with the Ridge and Valley Outings Club

The Ridge and Valley Outings Club is a local hiking club that organizes and leads hikes on local trails every Tuesday night from April till October. All last year I had been planning on participating in one of these Tuesday night hikes but I never got around to it. So, when I saw that the first Tuesday night hike of the season was scheduled for April 18th, I made the time to finally make it onto the trail with the RVOC.

Trailhead: N 40° 45.27'
W 77° 49.07'
Total Elevation: 962'
Trail Length: 3.5 miles
Hike Time: 2 hours
Hike Type: Loop
Difficulty Rating: 54
Near: Off route PA45
by the town of

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The hike was to be in the Shingletown Gap area. This is a very popular place for hikes because of the many trails and the close proximity to State College. The plan was for a hike of 4 to 5 miles. I arrived at the trailhead at around 6:00PM and about 20 minutes later everyone else showed up. There were 15 people, including myself, that would be going on the first Tuesday night hike of the season.

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.

This was my fifth hike in the Shingletown Gap area and I was pleasantly surprised on the route of this hike. I had no idea, prior to the day of the hike, what trails we were going to be hiking. I found out on the morning of the hike that we would be climbing the ridge in front of Tussey Mountain. I had assumed that we would be climbing Bald Knob, however, later in the day I was told that we would be climbing the ridge on the other side of the gap from Bald Knob. I didn't even know that there was a trail up that side of the ridge. Of the 3.5 miles that we hiked, over 2 miles of the hike was on trails that I had not yet hiked.

Just 0.1 miles from the trailhead our hike beared off to the right from the main trail to cross Roaring Run on the large tree bridge. Once on the other side of Roaring Run we hiked another 0.2 miles, along Cruiser Run, before we took the trail that lead up the steep side of the front ridge.

The climb to the top of the ridge was a little steep with large rocks that you needed to navigate over or around. With such a large group of hikers and with a varied amount of hiking experience, we were soon stretched out all along the trail. I had taken up the rear position to make sure that no one well behind. The climb was about 0.2 miles in length and we ascended about 200 feet. The entire hiking group paused at the top to let everyone catch up. As we stopped to take a short break we were treated to a nice vista looking towards State College. This vista would soon be gone, however as the trees were beginning to bud and the view would soon be obscured by leaves.

We continued to hike along the ridgeline and at 0.75 miles into our hike we began a gentle descent from the ridgetop to the valley between the front ridgeline and Tussey mountain. We were going to hike within this valley for as long as we had daylight and then double back to the trailhead along the main trail that runs parallel along the banks of Roaring Run.

Our descent came to an end 0.25 miles later along Cruiser Run. For a very short hike we could have continued down along this small stream right back to the trailhead. However, we turned right and continued hiking along the valley. This trail was blazed white with a red stripe. Most of the trails in Shingletown Gap are either blazed blue or white, and some have horizontal stripes in the middle to help distinguish them from one another.

For the next 1.25 miles we hike on the white/red striped blazed trail, with Tussey Mountain on our right and the Bald Knob ridge to our left. The trail was level, well maintained, and we didn't encounter any obstacles such as brush or deadfalls across the trail. This was a nice trail to hike as you didn't have to spend the entire time looking at the trail to make sure you didn't trip over a rock or root. I was able to enjoy the woods and take in the surroundings.

We passed two charcoal flats while doing this hike. The charcoal flats are artifacts from the iron ore era back in the 1800s. Large, circular flat areas would be made on the hill side or valley floor where timbered logs would be stacked like an indian wigwam. These piles of logs would then be ignited and allowed to smolder. This controlled burn would create coke that would then be taken to local iron furnaces for the making of iron ore.

As the sun began to set we decided that we should start to head back to the trail head. We were 2 and a quarter miles into our hike when we took a side trail that headed down towards Roaring Run. After walking on this trail for 0.2 miles we crossed the stream and back on the main trail.

The last part of our hike was an easy stroll along Roaring Run for another 1.1 miles. We arrived back at the trailhead at dusk but still had enough light for hiking that we didn't need flashlights. I enjoyed the hike with the Ridge and Valley Outings Club. The hike itself wasn't all that hard or strenuous but I found it quite enjoyable to hike with the group. I had many discussions with various people in the group. I will most definitely make sure that I attend another RVOC Tuesday night hike.

The Ridge and Valley Outings Club group for this Tuesday night hike. There were 15 of us starting out from the trailhead for a 3.5 mile hike in Shingletown Gap.

The only climb of the the entire hike. This was just after crossing Roaring Run on the log bridge and only a short distance up the trail along Cruiser Run.

Almost at the top of our initial ascent.

A view from the front ridge towards Mount Nittany. This ridge is on the opposite side of the gap from Bald Knob. It isn't as high as Bald Knob but still provided a view since there weren't any leaves on the trees.

Looking back the trail as it goes out across the ridge top.

This is a charcoal flat, an artifact of times gone by. These flat areas were where logs were piled, slowly burned, and turned into coke for local iron production back in the 1800s.

The sun is setting and we are only about two miles into our hike. It doesn't look like we'll be hitting our goal of four to five miles on this outing.

It's getting dark as we finish up our hike coming down along side Roaring Run.

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