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Restek Ramblers First Visit to Shingletown Gap in 2015

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The second hike for the Restek Ramblers in 2015 had us visiting Shingletown Gap for the first time. We had a long, hard winter, but it seemed that the ice and snow had receded from Shingletown, giving us a clear, but sometimes muddy, trail to hike.

This hike was a short hiking: only a little over 2 miles in length. We started at the parking area near the reservoir and headed into the gap proper. Soon we beared right and crossed Roaring Run on fallen tree. We followed the banks of Roaring Run for a short distance before turning right to begin an ascent along Cruiser Run. This blue-blazed trail is called the Deer Path and can be followed the entire way to the top of Tussey Mountain high above.

Once the climb leveled out we turned left onto the Charcoal Flats Trail. Here the hiking was easier on a relatively flat terrain. We paused a few times hiking on this trail. We stopped to listen to a Barred Owl hooting in the distance. We also stopped at a few of the trails namesakes, the charcoal flats, and discussed how these areas came about and the purpose they served back in the late 1800s.

About half way through our hike we turned left off the Charcoal Flats Trail and descended into the valley below. Once at the bottom of our descent we crossed Roaring Run. Located here are the remains of an old cabin or utility building. After a few pictures we were soon back on the trail, following the northern banks of Roaring Run as it flowed down towards the gap.

Our hike was a little over 2 miles in length and took us less than an hour to complete. This short hike is a great after work hike. The initial climb gets the heart pumping, but not so much as to leave you too winded for the rest of the hike. The easy hike out the Charcoal Flats Trail and the leisurely return hike on the Shingletown Trail makes this hike a pleasure to do. The Restek Ramblers will be venturing out into the Shingletown Gap area a few more times this year as the trails here provide ample opportunity to create a hike of varying lengths and difficulties.

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Exploring the Upper Reaches of Shingletown Gap

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The second to last hike for the Restek Ramblers had us doing our hardest hike out of all as we explored the upper reaches of Shingletown Gap. Not the longest of our hikes, though we did manage to do 5 miles of hiking, this hike was the toughest because it included two rather sizable ascents: one to the top of Bald Knob Ridge and the other to the top of Tussey Mountain.

Our hike started with a bit of road walking. We parked our cars where the Shingletown Path crosses Old Laurel Run Road. In order to climb to the top of Bald Knob Ridge, we had to hike about 0.4 miles down Old Laurel Run Road to the intersection with the Bald Knob Ridge Trail. Once off the road we had a nice single track trail to follow as we meandered through the forest.

About three quarters of a mile into our hike we began our ascent of Bald Knob. The going was a bit steep at first, but soon we reached the ridgeline where the ascent became a bit easier. We passed one vista on the ascent, with views towards Little Flat and the radio towers located there. Soon we completed our first climb as we reached and crossed the top of Bald Knob.

We continued on the Bald Knob Ridge Trail as we slowly descended from Bald Knob. Soon we passed the Green Shoots Trail and just a bit further on we turned off onto the Sand Spring Trail. While completing our descent on the Sand Spring Trail we passed the spring from which this trail gets its name.

At the bottom of our descent, the Sand Spring Trail crosses Lower Trail as well as crossing Roaring Run. All of us made the stream crossing without incident as we continued to follow the Sand Spring Trail and began our ascent to the top of Tussey Mountain.

Our climb was pretty easy at first, until we got about 2.8 miles into our hike. After crossing a dirt forestry road, we soon began to climb in earnest. After about 0.2 miles of steep climbing we reached the top of Tussey Mountain and the intersection of Sand Spring Trail and the Mid State Trail. We turned left here and followed the Mid State Trail east towards Old Laurel Run Road.

After crossing Old Laurel Run Road we continued on a section of the Mid State Trail that use to be part of the Reichly Brothers railroad. These old railroad beds are quite rocky and are not a pleasure to hike. Luckily for use the trail became less rocky after a little more than a tenth of a mile of hiking. We emerged from the Mid State Trail on the Little Flat access road. A short walk down this road had us bearing left onto the red-blazed Shingletown Path. A short descent and 0.3 miles later we were back at the trailhead and the start of the hike.

This hike was a tough one, but everyone made it through with flying colors. The weather cooperated with the rain holding off and the hot summer sun only beating down on our heads a couple of times. Even the bugs seemed to leave us alone on this hike. Definitely a great way to experience the toughest hike on our hiking schedule.

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A Change of Plans in Shingletown Gap

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The Restek Ramblers have now logged over 25 miles of trails on seven after work hikes. Our latest hike was back over in Shingletown Gap. This hike was to have us climb Tussey Mountain to take in two separate views before heading back down the ridge and circling back to the trailhead. However, on this hike our plans changed a bit and we didn't get a chance to see both vistas.

The hike started at the trailhead proper in Shingletown Gap. Just about 0.2 miles into the hike we crossed Roaring Run and headed up the north side of Tussey Mountain. I had forgotten just how steep this first climb was. My memory was soon jogged as we all struggled (except for the young hikers in the group) as we climbed up to the shelf where the Charcoal Flats Trail traverses.

We had a short reprieve as we crossed the relatively flat shelf, but soon we were struggling up the Downer Trail as we climbed to the top of Tussey Mountain. With a view breaks along the way, we all made it to the top. Once we reached the top we turned left on the blue-blazed side trail and in a matter of 100 feet or so, we were at our first vista.

This vista is called the Roman Tower vista because of the square rock structure here. I suppose the simplistic design would make one consider it to be of Roman architecture, but I feel pretty certain to say that the Romans had very little to do with its construction. We all rested here and took in the views towards Happy Valley and Mount Nittany on the far horizon.

Soon we were back on the trail, heading southwest across the rocky ridgeline. We were following the organe-blazed Mid State Trail. We continued on the Mid State Trail for just a bit over a quarter mile when we came upon the intersection with Deer Path. This was the trail that we would take back down to Shingletown Gap. Our plans called for us to hike an additional half mile or so on the Mid State Trail where we would see our second vista of the hike. We would then turnaround and retrace our steps back to this point. However the skies looked threatening and the last thing I wanted was to have a large group of people on top of a mountain during a rain storm with the possibilities of lightning. I made the decision we would head back down Deer Path now and bypass the second vista.

Since our hike was now going to be quite a bit shorter, we decided to change our plans even more by turning left onto the Charcoal Flats Trail once we were down off Tussey Mountain. This trail makes its way west and then climbs to the top of the front ridge of Shingletown Gap. Sort of like the mirror image of Bald Knob Ridge Trail. This climb was much shorter and once we reached the top of the front ridge, we turned right and headed back towards the gap.

A short hike had us at the top of our descent into the gap. Here things got a bit interesting. There were blazes on the tree to indicate the trail we were suppose to be on, but there was no trail. All there was were a bunch of large rocks and boulders. Everyone kind of scoped out their own personal paths as we scrambled down to Cruiser Run at the bottom of the descent. Later I was told that coming down across these boulders was one of the more fun parts of all the hikes that they have done with the Restek Ramblers.

Once everyone was down off the front ridge we took a short hike on Cruiser Run Trail, crossing over Roaring Run on the log bridge, and we were back at the trailhead. The hike turned out a bit shorter than originally planned, but no one seemed to mind. It was a tough climb, probably even harder than the Indian Steps climb from the previous week. With the exception of our next hike, the climbs were just going to get harder and harder. It's nice to have something to look forward to.

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Climbing Bald Knob Ridge

Posted by on in Shingletown Gap

The Restek Ramblers' third after work hike had us returning to Shingletown Gap. On our first hike we had a small climb followed by a nice easy hike on the Charcoal Flats and Lower Trails. For this hike we were looking to do something a bit more challenging by climbing up to the top of Bald Knob Ridge.

There were fifteen of us on this hike. I was quite surprised by the turn-out as the temperatures were only in the upper forties. Actually, the temperatures were quite comfortable for hiking with the exception that near the end of the hike, in the shadows of the mountain, it did seem to get pretty chilly.

We started the hike following the banks of Roaring Run. This was a nice easy ascent where we followed the stream for a little over a mile. We had hiked the lower sections of this trail on our first hike. However, this outing had us traveling closer to the headwaters of Roaring Run.

At about 1.25 miles into the hike we came upon the intersection of Lower Trail and the Maguire Trail. The Maguire Trail is named after Frank Maguire, an avid biker and trail blazer in the Rothrock and Bald Eagle State Forests. The Maguire Trail use to be a much steeper, direct route to the top of Bald Knob Ridge, but was rerouted about three years ago to help alleviate some erosion that was occurring on the old trail.

The ascent on the Maguire Trail was steady but not real steep. We stopped a few times to catch our breaths; once to clear the trail for a mountain biker descending on the trail. Just a bit past 2 miles of hiking we reached the top of Bald Knob Ridge.

The hike across the ridgeline afforded a couple "winter" views towards Happy Valley, State College, and Mount Nittany in the distance. The ridge was a bit rocky but we all managed to navigate it without incidence. We paused again just prior to starting our descent so that the entire group was not strung out over the top of the ridge.

The descent was much steeper than the ascent. We all took our time and maintained our footing as we regrouped at the junction of Bald Knob Ridge Trail and Lower Trail, along the banks of Roaring Run. From here we retraced our steps back to the trailhead and our waiting cars.

The hike was well received by everyone that participated. It was the hardest hike so far as it incorporated both elevation change and a moderate distance to hike. Much more challenging than the other two hikes, but everyone was up for it and handled it well. The Restek Ramblers has two more hikes scheduled for the Shingletown Gap area and those hikes will continue to challenge us with steep ascents and longer distances to hike.

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Restek Ramblers First Hike

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The Restek Ramblers are a group of fellow coworkers with an interest in hiking. Every week an after work hike is scheduled. This was the Restek Ramblers' first after work hike.

For our first hike we decided to hike in the Shingletown Gap area. There were eighteen of us that ventured out on this hike. There are 12 hikes scheduled over the course of twelve weeks, with each hike getting progressively more difficult. Difficulty will increase by hiking longer distances, climbing hills, or a combination of both. This first hike was a short hike of just a little over two miles but it did include a small ascent early on in the hike that got the blood flowing.

We started the hike by crossing on the log bridge over Roaring Run near the trailhead. Everyone managed the log crossing without incident and once all were across, we continued on the trail, following the banks of Roaring Run before turning right to climb along the south bank of Cruiser Run. This was our only climb of the hike and it was a bit steep, causing all of us to become winded.

Once we completed the climb, we crossed the headwaters of Cruiser Run and awaited for the group to catch up before continuing. From here we turned left off Deer Path onto the white and red striped blazed Charcoal Flats Trail. The Charcoal Flats Trail traverses upon the shelf located just above the valley floor. We hiked out this trail, crossing Downer Trail as we continued west. We paused a few times to keep the group as close together as possible.

At just a little over a mile into the hike, we turned left off the trail and headed down towards Roaring Run. Once back in the valley we crossed the stream near an old ruin. This is the remnants of an old cabin or shack, with a rock wall foundation and part of a chimney still standing. Some in our group took the opportunity to have their picture taken here before we continued on.

We turned left after crossing the stream and headed back down the valley, following the northern bank of Roaring Run. The stream was running quite full as a result of recent snow melt. There were some places along the trail that were quite muddy and even places where ice was still on the trail. After about 1 hour and 15 minutes of hiking we found ourselves back at the parking area at the trailhead.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the first outing of the Restek Ramblers. The weather was beautiful with plenty of sun and temperatures in the low sixties. I believe most will try to make it out for next weeks hike as we head up to Bear Meadows to hike on the Bear Meadows Trail. I would say that the first hike was a smashing success.

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