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
I've always wondered what the view of the night sky would be like in Rothrock State Forest what with the larger towns and cities surrounding this District but I've never had a chance to check it out. So this past Saturday with the forecast calling for absolutely clear skies and the moon not supposed to rise until early Sunday morning I packed up my camera gear and headed out into the woods.
It turns out that Rothrock is fantastic for viewing the stars!
I started with a quick night hike to the Indian Wells Overlook on the Mid-State Trail from the Big Flat Natural Area parking lot on Bear Gap Road. I've hiked this section many times, something that I always recommend people do before attempting a night hike, so I was pretty familiar with the route and the terrain. Arriving at the overlook I could hear Barred Owls calling from Bear Meadows below me and as I set up my camera gear I could clearly see the Milky Way hanging over the Kishcoquillas Valley to the South. From there I headed to Bear Gap Vista which with it's view to the North the Milky Way isn't visible at, but you can get a view of the night sky over State College and see just how much light the city is emitting into the night sky.
My next stop was Whipple Dam State Park where I grabbed a couple of pictures of the Milky Way over the lake. I tried to get a shot with the Milky Way reflecting off of the lake's surface but it just wasn't far enough in the Western portion of the sky at this time of the year. Perhaps in the Fall I can get that shot. Next up was the parking area at Bear Meadows and then the overlook on Wampler Road. By that point, it was about 1:00 Sunday morning and I was exhausted so I found a pull-off and grabbed a couple of hours of rest before heading out to explore more a dawn.
Pictures by Kyle Fawcett ( Facebook Instagram)
A Black-phased Timber Rattlesnake spotted by @mamaskistoo while hiking in Rothrock State Forest!