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I was informed of a new trail reroute in Shingletown Gap and decided to check it out. On the way to the newly rerouted Maguire Trail I viewed a trail on the left just a short distance past the trailhead. I knew of others that had hiked up the rocky outcroppings as the ridge climbed away from the gap but I was never able to see blazes for this trail. With a bit of investigation and a sharp eye I was soon climbing over the rocks as I hiked up an old, abandoned trail in Shingletown Gap.
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The trailhead for this hike is easily accessible from State College. Coming from State College, either via route US322 or business route US322 (South Atherton Street), you will need to turn right onto route PA45 west near Boalsburg. Once you are on route PA45 west heading towards Pine Grove Mills, you will want to travel 1.8 miles where you will reach the town of Shingletown. Here turn left onto Mountain Road and travel another mile where you will come to the parking area and the trailhead.
The plans for this hike was to head up Lower Trail until I got to Maguire Trail. From here I would hike the newly rerouted Maguire Trail and then come back the Bald Knob Ridge Trail. It wasn't going to be a long hike but I was told that the number of switchbacks on the new Maguire Trail were excessive and I wanted to check it out myself.
A short distance past the trailhead, about two tenths of a mile, I saw what looked to be a trail off to my left. I stepped back through the rhododendrons and was at the base of a steep rock outcropping. I knew others had hiked up this section of the ridge, climbing up and over the rocks, but I was never able to spy the blazes from Lower Trail. Now that I was at the base of the rocks I could see a black blaze on one of the trees about 50 feet up the side of the ridge. A black blaze is a indication that previous blazes were painted over so that a trail would no longer be blazed. With this first old blaze in sight I decided to climb up the rocks and see if I could follow this old trail up the side of the ridge.
Luckily the trail followed the ridgeline as it climbed away from the gap. From time to time I would see the old blazes, blackened so that they would blend in with the bark of the trees. As the climb began to level out I came across three others out enjoying the nice, late fall weather. I paused here and enjoyed some "winter" vistas: views that would not be there if the leaves were on the trees.
At 0.7 miles there was a side trail that branched off to the right from this un-blazed trail which I followed. In less than a hundred feet I emerged on the red-blazed Bald Knob Ridge Trail. I turned left here and continued my hike on the Bald Knob Ridge Trail.
After a half mile I found the newly rerouted Maguire Trail on my right. I hiked past this point about a tenth of a mile and came across the old Maguire Trail. I retraced my steps and followed the new Maguire Trail as it headed down the south side of the ridge.
My first think I noticed on this new trail was the numerous and frequent switchbacks. Typically switchbacks are found on steep inclines. I've also seen switchbacks on bike trails at the bottom of a long descent so that the biker will know that they need to slow down for the next section of the trail. However, on the upper sections of this trail, there were numerous switchbacks for which I could not see their reason.
After hiking the many switchbacks, about three in total, the trail straightened out as it crossed over the old Maguire Trail. Again there were a number of switchbacks as the new trail crossed over the old trail about four times. Again the descent on this area of the ridge was not all that steep and these switchbacks seemed to be overkill.
At 1.7 miles, where the slope became a bit steeper, the new trail seemed more appropriate for the terrain. This section of the trail was a pleasure to hike as it meandered slowly and gradually down the side of the ridge.
As the new trail approached the Lower Trail it once again had a number of irrelevant switchbacks. At 2.0 miles I was off the new trail and back on the Lower Trail.
The new trail emerged on Lower Trail about 0.2 miles from where the old Maguire Trail is located. The intersection of this old trail was blocked by a bunch of logs and deadfalls. A paper sign was also posted here pointing back the way I came, indicating where the new entrance to the new Maguire Trail was located.
The rest of the hike was a nice, easy stroll along the banks of Roaring Run on Lower Trail. After 2 hours of hiking and about 3.2 miles I found myself back at the trailhead.
The un-blazed, old trail that I discovered was a nice change from the other trails in Shingletown Gap. This trail required more climbing than hiking. However, since it was so rocky, I would not recommend hiking here in the summer months as I am sure there are quite a few snakes that call this area home. I was a little disappointed with the Maguire reroute. I am hoping that an effort will be made to reduce the number of switchbacks on this new trail. The old Maguire Trails was about 0.3 miles in length, connecting Lower Trail to the Bald Knob Ridge Trail. This new trail is about 0.85 miles in length. I understand the need to reroute the old trail as it was eroded severely in places, but the number of switchbacks on this new trail makes it hassle to hike. Until changes are made I don't think I'll be hiking the Maguire Trail again anytime soon.blog comments powered by Disqus