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Topic: TR: Bear Meadows< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 06 2013, 10:02 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Photos

Mid October, I checked the foliage reports and decided it was time to go to Rothrock State Forest.  I decided to go to Bear Meadows and the Indian Wells vista, and decided a loop to fit everything together in a good hiking length.

I started at the small lot at the Bear Meadows Natural Area.  It was a cool and somewhat overcast day, but no precipitation.  I cross the road bridge over Sinking Creek, and start out on the John Wert Path.  Surprisingly unblazed and not well kept.  Big blowdowns almost immediately.  A full set of clothing on the trees.  Then I realized I was not on the trail.  Looking away from the creek, I can see a red blaze, and bushwhack over to it.  Now this is a trail.  Obvious, well used, well kept.  It starts by wandering through rhododendrons, with a mixed overstory, next to the eastern end of Bear Meadows.  Some fall color can be seen in that direction.  After leaving the rhodos, the trail enters an open mixed forest.  There are still some stretches with rhodos and mountain laurel.  There are one or two nice campsites, one close to Sinking Creek.  Apparently, the trail parallels an old narrow gauge grade, but rarely uses it; I suppose that's a good thing.  I must have passed the Reichley Trail, but there's no sign for it, nor could I find it or any trace of it.  I soon emerge onto the pipeline at the base of Thickhead Mountain.





I turn north along the pipeline, crossing Sinking Creek on an old fallen branch, narrower than I would have liked.  Kept my balance, and it didn't break, so I didn't fall into the water.  I then climbed up Little Mountain.  At the top are views back towards Thickhead Mountain, and forward to Tussey Mountain.  Nice fall colors, overcast skies.  I then head down the slope, looking for the crossing of the Shingle Path.  I first go down the steep part of the pipeline.  I then continue down the more gentle slope, until I see blue flagging ahead.  Looks like a trail; the standard steepish firebreak type.  Must be Shingle.  I head down, through awesome autumn color giving a good contrast with the laurel and rhodos, following the reasonably clear trail, the blue flagging confirming the route.  I cross a small stream, and take an old logging road a short distance up to Bear Meadows Road, where there is  a hanging slate sign for the trail.





I cross the road, now climbing the Shingle Path.  It's still marked with blue tape, and still clear.  I reach some logging road and deer fenceline remnants, signifying my entrance into the fire zone.  The trail enters thick regenerating growth.  Thankfully it has been recut through it, and the blue flagging helps guide the way.  But I suspect it's only seen trail care that one time post-fire, and the heavy briary growth really makes it annoying.  There are many views looking back over to Thickhead Mountain.  The trail is steep, and thus the ascent was slow, especially figuring out how to get cut up by the briars the least.  At the top I reach the Tussey Mountain Trail.  There is a fallen sign post for the Shingle Path at this end, but no sign.



The Tussey Mountain Trail is a very welcome contrast to the western end of the Shingle Path.  It runs directly along a straight ridge line, which itself is rather level.  It's still in the burn zone, but obviously sees plenty of care, as the growth is trimmed very well along the trail.  Rocks have often been removed, making the terrain easy, though there are some left, but more of the easily traversable small outcrop type.  For the first half of the trail, there are numerous window views over to Thickhead Mountain, as it's still in the burn area.  There are also some through the tree views out towards the State College area.  Supposedly I cross the western end of the Reichley Trail somewhere, but no evidence of it is seen.  As I leave the burn area, the forest grows up, and explodes in color, including the blueberry understory.  At the Kettle Trail, I turn right, and head downhill on a short and gentle trek to the Bear Meadows Road crossing, which also displays splendid color.





I continue on the Kettle Trail, now climbing up to Little Flat.  The trail starts off gentle, but becomes ever steeper as I work my way uphill.  It's mostly a dirt trail, but with some crushed rock which I suspect dates to CCC days.  None of the rocky areas were as rough I was suspecting.  I suppose that's a good thing.  There are some minor views towards looking back.  At the top, the trail pushes through a laurel/blueberry thicket before meeting up with the Mid State Trail at the Tom Thwaites monument.  There's a bench there, so I figure it's a good place to have a late lunch.



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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 06 2013, 10:06 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Post lunch

After lunch, I head south on the MST (and by south I mean trail north), along the reasonably level stretch between Little and Big Flats.  I take some of the side trails to vistas from the top of talus slopes overlooking Bear Meadows and the Rothrock ridges; others I skip.  Around the Fleetfoot Trail the MST enters an old burn area, and the regenerating of growth gives a a layered color in the foliage.  The trail passes by a couple of talus fields, looking oddly tundra like.  Other places rocks have been moved from the trail given a narrow sunken road feel.  









After passing the North Meadows Trail, I eventually enter out onto the rocky spline atop a talus slope, the Indian Wells Vista.  There is an expansive view down to Bear Meadows, the entirety of Thickhead Mountain, along with glimpses back to Little Flat, and the ridges beyond Thickhead.  Colors ran the gamut from yellow to red, the greens from the conifers, and the browns from the muddy meadows.  The views change as you move from one end of the open area to the other.






As I leave the rocky area and re-enter the woods, the trail wanders in the Big Flat area, passing a fair number of charcoal flats, often used as campsites.  The trees continue their display.  Some spruce stands add their green to the mix.  After crossing the junction of the gated roads, the MST begins to drop into Bear Meadows.  At the next junction, where the MST begins to climb back up Thickhead Mountain, I continue downhill on the Sand Springs Path.  I reach the Bear Meadows Loop once I enter into the rhododendron zone.





I take the loop along the south side of the meadows.  Or more precisely, south of the meadows.  The trail lightly undulates, in the lowlands under rhodos and hemlocks, slightly higher up through more mixed growth.  Surprisingly few views out into the meadows.  Views into the meadows finally appear as I approach the road, for the last 50 yards of the trail or so, looking into the meadows and the ridge between the two Flats.  And then the hike ends, as I reach the road and cross the bridge over Sinking Creek to the small parking area.





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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 07 2013, 8:25 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Nice pictures. I used to live 15 minutes from there. The Rothrock is really a wonderful place to hike.
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 07 2013, 3:22 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Nice to have vista views with no apparent presence of civilization.

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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 07 2013, 3:38 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Great area to hike. I have not been there for probably five or six years now.
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 08 2013, 1:01 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Did you see more bears than people?
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 08 2013, 10:07 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

0 bears, 1 person (mountain biker of Tussey Mtn Trail); I don't think she noticed me, as I was still about 15 ft below the summit on the Shingle Path.  Many, many deer, both on the hike and during the drives to and from.

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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 09 2013, 7:12 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

That's a bit odd, I think the MST on Fourth Mountain is the only stretch where I've actually encountered others out hiking on each of my visits.
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 09 2013, 9:22 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Well, it was Discover-what-many-people-already-found-day, so technically a Monday.  There was at least person out hiking the MST there that day according to the trail log.  And as you can see from the photos, it wasn't the best weather or visibility.  (But it was cool and no rain, so I'm not complaining.)

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8 replies since Nov. 06 2013, 10:02 pm < Next Oldest | Next Newest >

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