Experience the Trails of Pennsylvania

Shingletown Gap: Visiting the Roman Tower

Another nice spring day prompted me to get back out on the trail and do this hike in Shingletown Gap. A work associate was visiting our site on this day and she mentioned that she would enjoy doing a hike in central Pennsylvania. I had asked what she would like in a hike, and she mentioned a hike with a little bit of a challenge and one that offered nice views. We decided on this short, 3.8 mile hike in Shingletown Gap. The scenery along Roaring Run is nice to behold, and the steep climb to the top of Tussey would hopefully being challenging enough, not to mention the great vista at the Roman Tower.

Trailhead: N 40° 45.27'
W 77° 49.07'
Total Elevation: 1611'
Trail Length: 3.8 miles
Hike Time: 2.5 hours
Hike Type: Loop
Difficulty Rating: 70
Near: Off route PA45
by the town of

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Located in Rothrock State Forest, 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 fourth hike in the Shingletown Gap area. I had already climbed to the top of Tussey Mountain previously, but this time we would try an alternate route to the top. There are many, many trails in Shingletown Gap. There are four main trails, one on top of the front ridge, two that run up the valley of Shingletown Gap, and one on top of Tussey Mountain (the Mid State Trail). What makes the area nice for hiking are the eight or so cross connecting trails that travel from ridge top to ridge top. This allows you to do a hike of any length.

We started this hike with a little warm up stroll along Roaring Run. From the trailhead we hiked about 0.3miles on the main trail that parallels Roaring Run. We then turned around and hiked back 0.1 miles to catch a blue blazed side trail that ascended the side of Tussey Mountain. We crossed Roaring Run on a small "bridge" and began our climb at a quarter of a mile in from the trailhead.

The trail for the next 0.15 miles was very steep. We stopped twice on this short section to catch our breaths. Apparently we should have done a longer warm up stroll at the start of this hike because I could feel the burning in my legs already. This was actually what I was hoping for as I am planning on doing a 22 mile hike on the Chuck Keiper Trail at the end of April and this small hike would help condition me, a little, for the hills that I would need to climb on that hike.

After the steep climb, then next quarter mile was a more leisurely ascent. However, this soon ended, and our last climb of the day was just as steep as how it started. For the next 0.2 miles we had another steep climb up the side of Tussey Mountain. Finally, after 45 minutes and 0.8 miles later we were standing at the top of the mountain. We took a small break at the "Roman Tower" vista as we enjoyed the view of Happy Valley below.

The next vista that we wanted to see was on the south facing side of the ridge, so we headed south west on the Mid State Trail. We hiked along the ridgeline for another 1.3 miles. At 2.1 miles into our hike we came to our second vista. This vista overlooks the Rothrock State Forest with views of Hubler Gap, Greenlee Mountain, and Broad Mountain in the distance. Again we paused here for a few minutes to rehydrate ourselves and to take in the view.

We turned around and hiked back the Mid State Trail towards the Shingletown Gap trails. At 2.8 miles into our hike we came across the first of the Shingletown Gap cross connector trails: Deer Path. We beared left onto Deer Path and descended from the ridge top to the valley below. AT 3.3 miles the Deer Path trail intersected with another trail along Cruiser Run and we continued our descent along the edge of the stream.

At 3.6 miles Cruiser Run flows into Roaring Run. The trail bears left here and heads down stream, paralleling the north side of Roaring Run. We only hiked along the stream for less than a tenth of a mile until we came upon a large tree that spanned Roaring Run. The tree had been made into a bridge, with the rounded top side of the tree flattened and two steps carved into the log on both sides of the stream. Once we crossed the stream we were back on the main trail and after 3.8 miles of hiking we were back at the trailhead.

As I mentioned earlier, there are many trails in the Shingletown Gap area. You can make up a hike of any length and of any level of difficulty. If you are looking for a leisurely stroll, I would recommend keeping to the main trail that parallels Roaring Run. However, if you are up for a little aerobic exercise, then a trip to the top of Tussey Mountain is a must do hike. It doesn't matter which trail you take to the top, each one will give you a work out. But once you take in some of the views from the ridgeline, you'll soon agree that the work out was well worth it.

The parking area at the trailhead was full of cars on this warm spring afternoon.

OK, maybe some of you wouldn't call this a bridge, but I will: the bridge we used to cross Roaring Run. If this were a typical spring with normal snow melt and rainfall, I would guess that this bridge would have been washed down stream weeks ago.

Taking a breather to enjoy the view as we hiked up the side of Tussey Mountain.

From to the top, looking back down the trail we just climbed. It doesn't look steep in the picture but it left us winded.

From the "Roman Tower" vista, Mount Nittany can be seen in the distance.

The Mid State Trail as it follows the ridgeline south west along the top of Tussey Mountain.

We start our descent on the Deer Path, heading towards Cruiser Run.

It was starting to get darker as we finished up our hike along Cruiser Run.

A quick snapshot of Roaring Run taken as we just finished up our descent from Cruiser Run heading back to the car.

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