We take our mapmaking pretty so seriously over here at Purple Lizard Maps, that we often hike and bike most of the trails found on our maps. We also drive 98% of the roads that are found on our maps. For our most recent project, we truly went overboard by renting an off-the-grid cabin in the middle of Monongahela National Forest for a full week of recon fieldwork. Learn all about our adventures and discoveries below!
There is so much wilderness to explore on the Moshannon-Quehanna Lizard Map
it's hard to decide where to start! One easy place to start is with two great trails along the Quehanna Highway. The Lincoln and Teaberry Trail loops can be your destination hike or a side-hike on your way to see the elk herd at Benezette.
There are so many family friendly hikes and places to explore in Moshannon/Quehanna! One our our favorite is Black Moshannon Bog Natural Area. This short walk is a wonderful opportunity for young minds to explore and experience rare plant and bird species on the Allegheny Plateau.
I had two seriously long days in the woods planned, for an estimated total of 44 miles of backpacking. My plan was to follow a slew of lesser-known trails to create a loop that incorporates both Black Forest Trail and West Rim Trail. I picked this route after studying the Pine Creek Lizard Map. There are countless trails on this excellent map, but some of them are old, neglected, and untravelled. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Winter is a great time to do this kind of exploring. There are no rattlesnakes, nettles, or ticks. Streams are easy to follow, and the cold temperatures can dress up the stream banks with ice sculptures. The lack of leaves creates winter vistas where in the summer there is only endless green. So off I went.
Years ago, local trail legend Bob Webber would lead a rambling hike along official and unofficial trails throughout the forest near Algerine Wild Area and Slate Run, PA. One of these trails, which helps to create a loop hike from Slate Run, PA yet had been seemingly forgotten, helps hikers to avoid a mile or so road walk to complete a 15-mile hiking loop. Recently a local trail running group, PA Trail Dogs, found this trail again and have recently been re-opening the trail for a trail challenge. Follow along below for an exciting breakdown of this 25k route, which is an ideal adventure for hikers, backpackers, and trail runners alike.
Pine Creek Valley boasts hundreds of miles of trails for hikers of all ability levels. Not every trail is created equal though. A good amount of trails are maintained annually by PA DCNR foresters, and many more trails are maintained on a regular basis by a slew of individual and group based volunteers. But some trails throughout this region, a few more trails then you may first guess, are seemingly forgotten. Although these trails are forgotten by many, they are not forgotten by all. Follow along with us as we re-discover more old trails near Slate Run, PA!
Having the Purple Lizard Map of Pine Creek really did allow us to plan and make our own adventure in Pine Creek. Even though we only had three days and got to explore a small portion of what Pine Creek has to offer.
Golden Eagle Trail is often referred to as the best day hike in PA. With almost 10 miles of tough hiking, this trail is awesome any time of year. Alternative routes listed on this blog allow for even more rugged loop hikes totaling more than 15 miles of hiking. Highlights include beautiful vistas, sparkling mountain streams, ridgeline hiking, and tough climbs and descents in Wolf Run Wild Area and State Game Lands 68
Spruce Creek Pennsylvania is well known for its world class fly fishing waters, but what seems be be less known is the amazing array of ridge line vistas in nearby Rothrock State Forest. Just a few miles northwest of Huntingdon, PA, this section of Rothrock State Forest boasts miles of the Mid State Trail (MST). The MST in this area crosses through Little Juniata Natural Area and includes several views of the surrounding ridges and valleys.
Pine Creek Pennsylvania offers a paddling experience you won't forget. The creek winds through Pine Creek Gorge, the famous "Grand Canyon of PA", a beautiful weaving stretch of water which cuts deeply through the Allegheny Mountains in North Central PA as it heads south toward the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.
Rincón Puerto Rico is the perfect romantic getaway! Just enough off the beaten path with everything you and your lover need to make memories to last a lifetime. Beaches, sunsets, romantic dinners, and all the adventure options you desire.
With over 300 miles of non-motorized trails, tons of gravel and dirt roads, and 24/7 access, Rothrock State Forest is a true gem for year-round outdoor recreation near State College, PA. Although the forest roads are not maintained in winter, a few parking lots along the perimeter of the forest provide ample access in almost any conditions. Below, we've chosen a few of our favorite very difficult trail loops accessible in the winter from one of these parking areas. The following loops are best for those who enjoy challenging, steep, and rocky climbs and descents.
Once a state park that is now a National Natural Landmark, Snyder Middleswarth Natural Area is a truly delightful location to explore in Central PA. This area, which is adjacent to Tall Timbers Natural Area, is renowned for its old growth forest of hemlock, pine, and birch trees. This part of Bald Eagle State Forest is it within a 90 minute drive for most visitors from the State College, Lock Haven, Lewisburg, and Harrisburg areas.
Lizard seeker Eriks Perkons recently completed an overnight winter backpacking trip in Dollys Sods Wilderness Area, West Virginia. This was his first time exploring this area. Even though winter clouds and an oncoming winter storm blocked the vistas, he still had a great time! Read about his trip below.
A classic climb in Rothrock State Forest, which is ideal for those training for any of the ever-so-popular trail challenges that occur throughout the year. Fitness fanatics, mountain runners, and those looking to enjoy the outdoors in the middle of winter will love this trail! You may hate this climb or love this climb, but no matter what, you will gain a sense of accomplishment every time you complete this climb!
Winter has again come to Pennsylvania this year. We've had substantial snowfall, and the long term forecast is showing cold weather for the next several weeks! Now is the time to call and reserve that long winter weekend getaway to play in the snow in Northcentral PA. Below, we have a few options for you to consider along with some fun teaser pics to get you into the winter mood!
Winter is a fantastic time for fun in the outdoors, but small mistakes can add up to big problems for explorers who aren't prepared for winter weather.
Rothrock State Forest boasts almost 300 miles of trails open year-round to help you stay fit and/or prepare for longer summer vacation adventures. We consider the loops below as challenging routes that are easily accessible in winter conditions: These are not the steepest nor the longest loops in the forest, but they are not easy either. Hikers, runners, and mountain bikers will all love the options presented below!
Anyone who has attempted running on trails in Rothrock State Forest will agree that it is some of the most rocky and gnarly terrain around. Fear not; though, this tough terrain provides some of the best and most accessible four-season training grounds for aspiring trail runners and for those looking to increase overall general fitness.
This fun and beautiful hike in Moshannon State Forest consists of a 3-mile walk on a tough trail alongside the stream, followed by a gentle 3-mile hike back to the car on a gravel forest road. Trail runners will love this loop for the challenging beginning and the mellow ending!
So you have one, or maybe ten Purple Lizard Maps. But how do you read them in order to make your own adventure? We've listed some quick hints below, to help you on your way to a successful adventure with your Lizard Map!
Get outside to enjoy evergreen trees while discovering trails near Black Moshannon State Park! Snow or no snow? Doesn't much matter! It's always a great time to grab your Moshannon Lizard Map and follow along on a short adventure along Six Mile Run that includes green leaves and clear streams all year long - and often a beautiful winter blanket of snow!
The Hook Natural Area is PA's largest Natural Area, and offers a plethora of great adventure. How does one enjoy this area? Read along and let The Department of Adventure lead the way!
Spending time outdoors is fundamental for human happiness, health and well-being. As our modern lives present constant opportunities for distraction you realize that as we unplug from our screens and plug into the outdoors we are creating a powerful connection for ourselves, our communities and our planet. Your commitment to spending time in our beautiful public lands and enjoying real-world experiences is what makes our work special. Thank you for being a part of that connection and for sharing your love of the outdoors with Purple Lizard.
We added a new designation to our mapping repertoire in 2018: US Wilderness Area. In typical Lizard fashion, we didn't add this phrase to our maps for just any old Wilderness. We tackled some of the most serious (and seriously popular) wilderness areas in West Virginia: Dolly Sods, Laurel Fork North, Laurel Fork South, Otter Creek, and Roaring Plains West. Below, we provide a sample taste of what each of the wildness areas we mapped this year offer...
Our Trail Guru discusses his completion of the first annual unPAved Pennsylvania gravel riding event, and how it has inspired him to ride more. "The rewarding feelings from this event are immeasurable and inspiring in so many ways: My friends and I sat around the evening after the event discussing winter bike gear needed to be able to prep for more events in 2019...especially the full 120-mile unPAved route."
Those looking for a remote wilderness experience alongside a mountain river need look no further than Laurel River Trail #306. This trail travels approximately 17-miles alongside Laurel Fork of Cheat River through two wilderness areas. We explain and show the way through Trail #306 and side trails within these two wilderness areas, so you can plan your own adventure in this wonderful watershed!
Otter Creek Wilderness Area hosts over 40 miles of hiking trails for those willing to tackle the challenge. Managed as a Wilderness Area, this is truly a wild place. No roads or other infrastructure may exist. Bikes, wheels, motors, and other machines are also prohibited. Trails are well established, but signs, blazes, and other interpretive media are almost completely absent.
The Ironstone Loop is a vintage route that was made popular by Tom Thwaites and other creators of the Mid State Trail. This loop is roughly 15 miles long and includes classic PA rocky ridge top walking with great views, a historic set of rock stairs that descend off a ridge and climb to the next ridge, a lake, swamps, streams, a newly renovated Shaver's Creek Environmental Center, an old iron furnace, and more! Primitive camping is allowed on state forest lands along this route, too! All of the trails in this area are included on the Rothrock Lizard Map, so grab yours and follow along on a somewhat forgotten loop hike in Rothrock State Forest.
The Green Monster Loop includes almost 32 miles of exciting trails and additional side trails in this corner of Tioga State Forest. Features for trails in this area include wide single and double track paths with solid dirt treadways. The notorious rock gardens found in many other parts of 'Rocksylvania' are less common here. Almost all of the trails in this part of the forest are open to bicycles; riders and runners will enjoy these smooth and fast trails! Dozens of loop options exist in this part of Tioga State Forest, but today we'll give an example of this area by following the 50K loop in the same direction as the annual Green Monster Challenge. Pull out your Pine Creek Lizard Map and follow along with us today, then go out and discover this area for yourself!
Lizard Adventure Lists are a great tool for diving deep into your Lizard Map: include brief descriptions of the trails organized in three sections:
Trails, Special Designated Areas & Destinations, and State Parks, to help you explore all your Lizard Maps have to offer!
The Allegheny Trail (ALT) hugs the isolated Glady Fork River for over 25 miles. This hike will introduce you to one of the most rugged and wild sections of the entire ALT, as well as some fantastic campsites accessible by car. I recommend exploring this section as a long day hike, with a car and camping gear waiting for you at the finish. To set up a shuttle, you’ll be happy to have the Dolly Sods-Seneca Rocks Lizard Map showing you how to access the remote Forest Service roads.
Follow along as Lizard Seeker Emily Huguenin leads us along another great adventure on the Allegheny Trail in West Virginia
Since opening its doors in 1976, Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center has served as Penn State’s nature center and outdoor education field lab. The Creek has also become a mainstay within the community providing opportunities to connect with nature and each other through seasonal festivals, outreach programming, and a multi-faceted visitor experience. Additionally, Shaver’s Creek offers access to some amazing outdoor recreation opportunities for folks of all interests and ability levels.