Experience the Trails of Pennsylvania

Shingletown Gap: To the Top of Tussey Mountain and Back

The Ridge and Valley Outings Club is a local hiking club that organizes and leads hikes on local trails every week from April till October. Typically hikes are done on Tuesday evenings, but this hike was done on a Thursday evening. Being early in the year, and the fact that the hikes don't start till 6:00PM, this was a shorter hike so that we could finish before dark. The hike was 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 and is a favorite of mine as well. Last year I didn't do a single hike in Shingletown Gap and I didn't want to make the same mistake this year. When I heard that the RVOC was going to be doing a short but strenuous hike at Shingletown, I signed up for the outing.

Trailhead: N 40° 45.27'
W 77° 49.07'
Total Elevation: 1583'
Trail Length: 2.3 miles
Hike Time: 2 hours
Hike Type: Loop
Difficulty Rating: 55
Near: Off route PA45
by the town of

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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 a short hike of just a little under two and a half miles. Even though it was short it did feature a climb of about 800 feet to the top of Tussey Mountain. This makes for an invigorating hike.

I had done this hike a number of times before, in some fashion or another, either in the other direction or as part of a longer hike. I had not hiked in Shingletown Gap at all last year and was happy to make it out so early in the season this year.

Our hike starts at the parking area at Shingletown Gap and proceeds on paved and well worn paths as we head south between the gap in the front ridge. The ascent on this section of the trail is gradual and barely noticeable. At 0.2 miles we turned right off the main trail to cross Roaring Run. There were a number of places to cross the stream and I think everyone of them was tried by a different member of our hiking group.

After we regrouped on the southside of Roaring Run we began our initial ascent. This is a short but steep climb up from the stream. At 0.4 miles into our hike our hiking group paused again at a trail intersection. After we all gathered and caught our breaths we started hiking southwest on relatively flat ground. We could see Tussey Mountain looming above us and knew that our flat terrain was soon to end.

At just a little over 0.5 miles into our hike the climb really started. The slope was steep but luckily the trail was relatively free of debris and offered many, many rocks to use as make shift steps. We paused once on the climb and took in a partial view. This view would most definitely be obscured by leaves in the summer.

After a quarter of mile of climbing we reached the top of Tussey Mountain. Most of us stopped here to catch our breath and wait for other to arrive while some of the group opted to head out to the Roman Tower vista. Once the last of the group finish the ascent we all headed over to the vista to take in the view.

We spent a good bit of time at the vista as we talked amongst ourselves. When we started the sun was shining but now clouds were rolling in, obscuring the sun. This made us hurry along as we wanted to make it back to the trailhead before dark and we hadn't even finished half of our hike yet, even though we did get the toughest part behind us.

We hiked back the blue-blazed trail until we met up with the orange-blazed Mid State Trail at 0.9 miles into our hike. For the next 0.4 miles we hiked on this rocky section of trail. We did get a few views to our south, but not many. They weren't truly appreciated as we were all busy watching our feet to make sure we didn't stumble on the many rocks.

At 1.3 miles into our hike we began our descent off of Tussey Mountain. From the Mid State Trail we turned right onto the blue-blazed Deer Path. The first section of this trail is rocky and steep in sections, but 1.4 miles the trail became less steep and much less rocky. After descending for 0.3 miles we all met up once again at another trail intersection. The sun was setting and darkness was creeping into the woods. We turned right at the trail intersection and followed the blue-blazed trail along Cruiser Run as it flowed towards Roaring Run below.

At 2.1 miles the trail turns away from Cruiser Run and soon comes down to the banks of Roaring Run. We all knew we were at the end of our hike when we spied the large hemlock tree that spans Roaring Run making a nice bridge across the stream. About 2 hours and 2.3 miles later we made it back to our cars at the trailhead.

If you are interested in doing evening hikes on the many trails around State College and in the Centre region, then I suggest going on a Ridge and Valley Outings Club Tuesday night hike. The hikes are almost always completed by dark and hikes range from 2 to 7 miles in length, depending on degree of difficulty and available daylight. You can get a complete listing of their upcoming hikes, as well as subscribe to their listserv, at their website.

Just before our climb and after crossing Roaring Run, here's a picture looking down the fast flowing stream.

We enjoy the reprieve of hiking on relatively flat terrain. Soon the climb will begin in earnest.

Almost at the top of our initial ascent.

A view from the "Roman Tower" vista towards Mount Nittany. The roman tower is now little more than a pile of rocks because of vandalism.

Hiking the rocky Mid State Trail as the trail goes out across the ridge top.

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