From Mile 25 to Mile 50
If you missed the description of the short course, which is also the first 25 miles of the long course, please see below or click this link.
The long course picks up at the intersection of North Meadows Road and Bear Meadows Road where you will make a right turn to follow Bear Meadows Road past the namesake Bear Meadows Natural Area. FYI - the Natural Area was designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1966.
It's now time to do a little climbing and you'll know you're close to the top when you reach the hard left just before the crest of the hill. The climb is worth it as you're rewarded with the next several miles of descending punctuated by several switchbacks though you'll want to be cautious of the loose gravel and braking bumps in places. The road turns into a bit of a false flat before losing a little more elevation as you approach the left turn on to Stone Creek Road and a short stretch of pavement.
Enjoy the brief break on tarmac as the second big climb of the day awaits. Make a right turn on Seeger Road at the Alan Seeger Natural Area and you're quickly greeted by a short but very steep section before settling in to a lengthy climb through a beautiful section of forest. Once at the top, you'll roll along Rag Hollow Road, passing by a great view in both directions along a pipeline cut. Stay alert though when the road points downward, there is a sharp left upcoming to Kettle Road.
A quick little elevation gain lies ahead as you pass by Sassafras Trail and cross the Huntingdon County/Mifflin County line. After you crest the hill, it's a very fast descent ahead and since you won't have much time to take in the view, the panoramic view is below.
As things level out and you approach the T-intersection, take a quick right on to Coopers Gap Road, travel a short distance and as you start descending, keep an eye out for the turn to Conklin Road on your left. Again, a short little bit of elevation gain followed by another long, fast descent before things level out for a few miles. When the next intersection approaches, be prepared for a left turn on to Spruce Mountain Road.
A formidable climb of it's own, Spruce Mountain Road winds past several trail heads and hunting camps before what might be the best descent of the day due to the forest views and the curves that keep things interesting. The road finishes with a little uphill to the next T and a left turn on to Stone Creek Road. A gentle grade and good road surface will be welcomed at this point as you roll past Crowfield Road and the sign marking Penn Roosevelt State Park. Continuing on Stone Creek Road is largely flat and fast all the way back through the Alan Seeger area and the retracing of your tire tracks to Bear Meadows Road.
This road should look very familiar with a bit of a flat section followed by a grind back up past the popular Detweiler Trail and the same switchbacks and braking bumps you encountered on the way down. The good news though is as you crest the hill on this climb, you're basically done climbing for the day and it's a very fast ride past Bear Meadows Natural Area again and zipping down Bear Meadows Road gravel, then pavement, and finally back to the start/finish area at Tussey Mountain.
Perfect day, perfect gravel
With less than a month until the second annual Rothrock Trail Fest, perfect weather over the weekend, and a few hours free, it was time for some gravel course recon. This year's event offers up a 25-mile and a 50-mile option for the gravel riders with both groups setting off at 9AM on September 22nd. If you're not familiar with the course, keep reading and we'll give you a little taste of what's to come.
The race begins from the Tussey Mountain ski area which provides a great view of Mount Nittany. When you return from the ride, the Food Truck Festival and live music will be in full swing.
The asphalt of Bear Meadows Road quickly gives way to the gravel of Laurel Run Road as riders make the right-hand turn to begin the gradual climb. A classic forest hairpin turn leads to a slight kick in the gradient before the road mellows out again.
You'll know you are near the top of the first climb when you make the second hairpin turn and push through the last hundred yards or so. The latter half of Laurel Run Road will pass by quickly as you descend parallel to Laurel Run and pass a number of hunting camps.
As the road begins to pick up a little bit of elevation via some mild rollers, you'll pass by the entrance to one of three state parks within Rothrock State Forest, Whipple Dam. Unfortunately some time on the water will have to come another day as you make a left turn on to Greenlee Road where you will be greeted by some bigger rollers. As you cruise along, be sure to follow the arrows and stay left when passing the intersection with Beidleheimer Road.
Greenlee is the biggest climb of the day for the 25-mile course and can challenge even the best riders. When you see the sign noting that you are entering Bear Meadows Natural Area, you can celebrate a little and take comfort in knowing that the climbing on the short course is over. A right turn on to Gettis Ridge Road followed by a left on to North Meadows Road will lead to a nice long descent back to Bear Meadows Road and a quick spin on gravel and pavement to the finish.
Note that both distance options follow the 25-mile route until reaching Bear Meadows Road where the short course turns left to the finish and the long course turns right for a little more fun in the saddle. In the next post we'll cover the remainder of the long course.
Rothrock Forest District and the Friends of Rothrock State Forest hosted a Conservation Volunteer Day on June 22, 2019. During this safety training, trail building equipment demo, and trail building day 33 people volunteered their time to learn and begin building a new trail. The equipment demo showcased the forest district's mini-excavator, mini-skidsteer loader, and a recently purchased (via Central Pennsylvania Convention & Visitors Bureau Grant) trail blade attachment. The demonstration showed the mini-excavator breaking new ground and clearing the trail corridor. The mini-skidsteer and trail blade attachment then demonstrated how those pieces of equipment functioned and would be utilized to finish out the roughed in trail.
Following lunch, the volunteers and district staff made their way up Musser Trail to the new off-shoot trail (has not been named at this time) that will ultimately take trail users from Musser Gap parking area up and over Tussey Mountain while offering numerous loops as part of the Rothrock’s new trail plan to have 60 miles of new, professionally built, multi-use trail created. This new trail is approximately ¼ mile long at this time and will eventually be continued on through a contract with a private, professional trail building company that will be contracted to create a 7.5 mile trail loop in the Musser Gap to Little Shingletown area as phase one of the new trail plan.
In addition to the equipment demonstration and trail work experience, volunteers received training on risk assessment in the forest from both a recreation and trail work perspective. Tick awareness training was also provided by Karen Poh, Ph.D and Hannah Greenberg, MS from the Penn State Department of Entomology.
Rothrock State Forest is comprised of 96,345 acres located in Huntingdon, Centre, and Mifflin counties and is managed by the DCNR Bureau of Forestry. The core mission of the Bureau is “to ensure the long-term health, viability and productivity of the Commonwealth’s forests and to conserve native wild plants.” To accomplish this, the Bureau manages state forests under sound ecosystem management, to retain their wild character and maintain biological diversity while providing pure water, opportunities for low-density recreation, habitats for forest plants and animals, sustained yields of quality timber, and environmentally sound utilization of mineral resources.
Rothrock contains unique habitats, supports extensive wildlife diversity, influences adjacent private forest health and provides ecological services, recreational opportunities and economic benefits to local economies. As the communities surrounding Rothrock State Forest grow, it is important to protect these natural resources and services. This is done by strategically enhancing and expanding on opportunities that could further benefit local economies while protecting Rothrock State Forest’s natural resources.
Each year a detailed activities plan is crafted to address these various stewardship goals. You can find the current 2019 Rothrock Activities Plan here.
The Pennsylvania Parks and Forest Foundation Friends of Rothrock State Forest chapter assists in these efforts by raising funds for trail development and improvement, organizing events, activities and work days, and providing education opportunities. Please consider assisting by volunteering with the Friends of Rothrock chapter and participating in our events.
The early morning sun shining through the trees over Laurel Run Road in Rothrock State Forest.
Running through the heart of Rothrock State Forest Laurel Run Road connects Bear Meadows Road near the Galbraith Gap Trailhead to Whipple Dam State Park.
Rothrock State Forest maintains more then 180 miles of roads throughout the District that provide scenic driving, gravel bike riding, horseback riding and snow mobile riding opportunities.
Picture by Kyle Fawcett