Happy Valley Adventure Bureau awards grant
For the second time in as many years, Friends of Rothrock State Forest are pleased to announce that we have received funding from the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau to support the design and improvement of multi-use trails. $12,000 was awarded to address the continuation of trail development efforts in the Hubler Gap portion of the Musser Gap - Whipple Dam zone of the DCNR Trail Assessment.
The project will provide local residents, and visitors alike, with enhanced access and improved trails within the Forest from the Musser Gap greenway and trailhead. Increased usage of the Forest and specifically, the multi-use trail system, during the COVID-19 pandemic further highlights the need for diverse, sustainable recreational trails.
Several of the previous routes have relied on use of the Mid-State Trail or other hiking-only trail route options. This time around we have two options that are suitable for a mountain bike, depending on how much climbing or how many rock gardens you care to navigate. The longer, Thickhead Mountain route below might be more than you want to bite off for a hike or run but you can also shorten it a bit on foot by utilizing the Standing Stone Trail (shown in yellow on the map.
Take note, we're likely to experience some rain over the next few days and both Long Mountain (descent portion) on the Thickhead Loop and Sassafras on the Bigelow Loop tend to hold water for quite some time and the trails can be easily damaged with high traffic.
Thickhead Mountain Loop
Bigelow Trail Loop
Since we still find ourselves needing to practice good social/physical distancing and nothing beats some time in the forest, here are a few more suggestions for other areas to explore. As previously mentioned, many of the go-to trailheads are experiencing more visitors than normal or that they are able to handle safely so these options may allow for a more clear trail. Take the time to spread out and try a new route.
Penn Roosevelt Hiking Loop
Detweiler Run Natural Area
Last but not least we have an option that's just a few minutes down the road from the popular Musser Gap and Shingletown Gap trailheads. A tight network of trails allows you to mix things up however you like without ever being too far from your vehicle.
Next up is an option that lends itself to one short loop of low difficulty, relying on a solid stretch of Pine Swamp road, as well a much longer and more difficult option with great views. Parking is quite limited but if you're considering the long route, this starting point may avoid the big crowds that start at the Jo Hays vista
Pine Swamp Road