Elevation Profile of Trail
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The Tussey Mountain Trail runs from Bear Meadows across the top of the ridge to a bit past the gas pipeline clearing. From there you can loop around on the Camp Trail and follow Tussey Mountain Trail back the way you came, or you have the option of following the Tussey Mountain Trail Extension down to Treaster Kettle Road. It was the latter option that Tim, Dan and I chose for our mid-November hike.
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Parking for his hike was along Treaster Kettle Road, where the Shingle Path crosses. You can reach this spot either by heading east or west on Treaster Kettle Road. Coming from State College, you need to follow route US322 east and turn onto Bear Meadows Road at the entrance to the Tussey Mountain Ski Resort. Follow Bear Meadows road for a little under three miles and turn left onto Treaster Kettle Road, just prior to Bear Meadows Road entering Bear Meadows proper. Follow Treaster Kettle Road for approximately 2.3 miles from the turn off Bear Meadows Road. Keep your eyes towards the left of the road and look for the sign for the Shingle Path. There is parking on the right side of the road just prior to, or a bit past, the intersection of Shingle Path.
Rothrock State Forest
Our hike started with a steep climb up the southern face of Tussey Mountain. A year ago, Mike and I had done this same climb on a different hike. I was curious to see if the trail had been cleared out or if it was still overgrown with briers. Even though the Shingle Path was easy to follow, it was still encroached upon by various jaggers and brier bushes. There were quite a few times Tim, Dan or I would let loose an expletive after having a thorn driven into a leg, hand or arm.
After 0.4 miles of hiking, our arduous, and at time torturous, short climb up the Shingle Path was complete as we reached the ridge top and the Tussey Mountain Trail. There is a sign post here for the Shingle Path, but at the time of this hike, there was no sign. If doing this hike in the opposite direction, keep an eye open for the sign post along the Tussey Mountain Trail so you know when to start your descent off of the ridge.
After a short break to catch our breaths, we turned right on the Tussey Mountain Trail and began hiking along the ridgeline. This section of Rothrock State Forest was burned by a 400 acre forest fire back in 2006. There are no trees, except for bleached white remnants from the fire, and most of these have fallen over. Hiking along this section of the trail does not seem like you are hiking in Pennsylvania. One nice thing about the forest fire and lack of trees is that you have nice views, both to your left and right.
At about 1.2 miles into our hike we left the devastation of the forest fire behind us and reentered the woods. The trail here is blazed red, well maintained, free of obstacles, and easy to follow. Close to 1.5 miles we came across the gas pipeline clearing. Views can be had both to the left and to the right of the trail.
Just a few hundred feet past the 2 mile mark of our hike, we came across our first trail intersection. Located here is a non-functional beer tap, attached to a stump. Needless to say, Tim , Dan and I were a bit disappointed about the inoperability of the beer tap.
Previously this intersection was a tee. To the left was Camp Trail and to the right was the Tussey Mountain Trail Extension. Now the signs indicated that the Camp Trail was to the left, however the Tussey Mountain Trail continued straight across the top of the ridge. There was no indication of the Tussey Mountain Trail Extension. We continued straight on the Tussey Mountain Trail.
A short distance past the intersection we came upon an unsigned intersection. The majority of the traffic at this intersection beared off to the left, as could be seen by the worn single track path. We headed off in that direction. Turning right here would have taken us to the Tussey Mountain Extension Trail, less than a hundred feet past.
After bearing left and continuing on the Tussey Mountain Trail, we noticed that we were leaving the state forest behind and entering private land. Hikers and bikers using the trail have been granted permission to cross this private land. Please be respectable of the land owners wishes on this section of the Tussey Mountain Trail, and stay on the trail proper.
At 2.3 miles the trail begins a sweeping turn to the right and heads back the direction we had just came. After 0.3 miles we came across the Tussey Mountain Trail Extension. We turned left here and began a long, gradual descent from the top of the ridge.
Hiking along the Tussey Mountain Trail Extension, we came across a switch back to our left about 2.8 miles into the hike. The Tussey Mounatin Trail Extension is not blazed well, or at all, so keep your wits about you and pay attention for turns in the trail.
For the next 0.7 miles the trail snakes and meanders back and forth, with a few switch backs thrown in for good measure. Finally at 3.5 miles the trail straightens out as it slabs along the southern face of the mountain. The hiking on this section of the trail is sidehill hiking, but it is relatively flat. At 4 miles we emerged onto the gas pipeline clearing.
Walking straight across the gas pipeline clearing we reentered the woods and continued hiking the Tussey Mountain Trail Extension. Soon the trail came out along what use to be a deer exclosure. On the day of our hike it looked like the fence was very recently removed. The trail was cleared and very wide as we continued our way along the side of the ridge.
At 4.4 miles into the hike the trail turns sharply to the left and begins a steeper descent towards Treaster Kettle Road. After a tenth of a mile we entered a large clearing. There is an interpretive sign here describing the varied habitat found in this area and how it benefits the wildlife. Directly ahead and a bit off to the right was an old access road that we followed down to its intersection with Treaster Kettle Road.
At the Treaster Kettle Road intersection, a bit over 4.6 miles into the hike, we turned right and followed the road. Soon we were back at the Shingle Path and our awaiting cars.
The entire hike was a bit over 5.2 miles in length. It was a nice outing, giving me a chance to hike once again with Tim and Dan. I was also able to get a GPS track of the new section of the Tussey Mountain Trail as well as getting a track of the entire Tussey Mountain Trail Extension. I will use this information in my second edition of Circuit Hikes in Rothrock State Forest.