Just 15 minutes south of State College, the Shingletown Gap Hike is a picturesque trail in Rothrock State Forest’s northern reaches. The main path is a gentle walk up the mountain through the gap. Although not well marked, the path along Roaring Run is obvious. Roaring Run, which the Shingletown Gap Trail parallels, belies its name. It’s a quiet, babbling little creek, at least in early fall when we visited it. The area offers several interlinked trails, allowing hikers to lengthen their excursion or craft a loop. Some of the trails will lead you up the mountain and connect to the Mid State Trail.
Spanning almost 100,000 acres in the Allegheny Mountains, Rothrock State Forest offers a variety of trails. Shingletown Gap, with its lush forest and the continuous murmur of Roaring Run, is a standout. The trailhead is easily accessible from Route 45, near the quaint, wooded town of that gives the trail its name, nestled at the foot of Tussey Mountain.
Rothrock State Forest
Shingletown Gap Trail is in Rothrock State Forest. Like many preserved woodlands, has a history shaped by environmental depletion and the vision of conservationists.
In the 19th century, Pennsylvania’s forests faced severe decimation. Lumber and iron companies clear-cut old-growth forests, leaving only dried treetops and decaying stumps in their wake. Sparks from steam locomotives frequently ignited wildfires, preventing the birth of second-growth forests.
Enter figures like Dr. Joseph Rothrock, the forest’s namesake, who recognized the potential for irreversible damage. Rothrock and other conservationists advocated for a shift in forest management philosophy. They believed that without proper management, these depleted forests might never rejuvenate.
Understanding the implications, conservationists urged the state to acquire lands from the lumber and iron companies. Of course, these companies were eager to sell their land holdings, having already drained the forests of their natural resources.
About the Shingletown Gap Hike
There are a number of great trails in Shingletown Gap that allow you to do a hike of just about any length. Overall, Shingletown Gap is the type of place any outdoor lover is sure to enjoy.
From the parking lot at the end of Mountain Road, we headed to the left of the old water processing plant into the woods. Lush growths of rhododendron and mountain laurel promise vivid spring hikes, if you catch them in bloom in late May and June. Occasionally you’ll notice low stone walls. Whether remnants of farms in the gap or put up to corral hikers, I couldn’t tell.
Shingletown Gap Trail itself is very rocky. When it isn’t rocky, then there are tree roots, but the result is the same. This trail is an ankle twister if you let it. Looking to the left, away from the creek, you’ll notice the occasional boulder field or rock formation, lending additional interest to this peaceful little hike. We didn’t know if we should follow the light blue blazes or white blazes. Thus, we simply stuck to the one side of the creek along the trail. The white blazed trail seemed to wander to both the left and right, crossing the creek at least once.
We went at least a mile up Shingletown Gap, but at no time did we feel breathless or felt our hearts pounding. The incline, although steady, felt negligible. After two previous days of strenuous hikes, this was exactly the gentle hike we were seeking. There’s no grand “pay-off” at the end of this hike. The Shingletown Gap hike is about the journey, of enjoying being out in the woods along a creek.
Know Before You Go
The most convenient parking for Shingletown Gap trails is located along Mountain Road, accessible via Shingletown Road (Route 45). This road, though generally in good condition, is narrow and can be rough in spots with occasional potholes. Drive carefully, especially when encountering oncoming traffic. For the trail, wear sturdy hiking boots and use hiking poles for stability on the rocky and root-filled path. The parking lot, which maybe holds about 10-15 cars. Especially on busy hiking days, arrive early as the lot can get crowded later on.
For more information about the Shingletown Gap Hike, check out the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau website.
There’s so much to see and do in Happy Valley. Check out the articles below for more ideas!
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- Penn State Arboretum
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- Penn State Arboretum
- Soaring Eagle Wetlands Hike — COMING SOON!