Follow along with us on a gentle, but remote 10-mile hike through prime elk habitat in Central PA. Besides a section of State Game Lands, this lovely loop is completely within the nearly 50,000 acre Quehanna Wild Area.
This is the largest Wild Area in Pennsylvania, and is home to all of the best wildlife that PA has to offer: bear, deer, elk, bobcat, coyote, rattlesnakes, fishers and more. The two short climbs on this loop only gain about 100 feet of elevation and the classic Central PA rocks are non-existent, but most times of year the trails are wet, so be prepared for wet feet.
We begin at the Hoover Farm Viewing Area Parking Lot, which is near the intersection of Quehanna Highway and Wykoff Run Road. From the parking area, find the signs for Robber David Lewis Trail, and follow this yellow blazed trail for 1.5 miles. Multiple game trails can be found throughout this area, but luckily the trails are well blazed. Be sure to follow the blazes!
Robber David Lewis Trail ends at Lost Run Road. Now we pick up another yellow blazed trail, Bellefonte Posse Trail.
Bellefonte Posse Trail begins as a pine forest with a wet understory. The trail is beautiful and also includes old remnants and foundations of houses and camps. The trail also skirts Panther Run, which is sometimes visible and always audible from the trail.
Soon the trail enters State Game Lands 34 and a large meadow that is managed as elk habitat. During certain hunting seasons, all State Game Lands visitors are legally required to wear at least 250 square inches of blaze orange (at least a vest and hat). Even if it is Sunday, all visitors (including pets) are encouraged to wear orange.
After crossing the meadow, the trail makes a sharp left turn and climbs uphill to the top of the plateau. The trail soon descends gently again back to a dirt road, Chipper Road. Follow Chipper Road past a stream crossing, then find Kunes Camp Trail on the right. Kunes Camp Trail descends to the beautiful Twelve Mile Run, which includes multiple cascades and resting spots.
Hikers can't miss Kunes Camp, as the trail goes directly through the old house that is built within a boulder outcrop.
Rogue the Adventure Pup immediately took ownership of the old camp, and took her role as overseer and protector very seriously.
Kunes Camp is impressive and demands some exploring. Be aware of old, rusty, camp parts, open cracks in the boulders, and animals (such as snakes) while exploring.
Back at Kunes Camp, turn left away from the camp on Kunes Camp Cross Connector Trail. This trail crosses a stream, then climbs uphill, back to Chipper Road. Along the way, take notice of the climbable boulders near the trail.
Reach Chipper Road, turn left on the road for a short spell, then turn right onto Bellefonte Posse Cross Connector Trail. This trail is red blazed, meaning it is open to non-motorized shared-use activities. Soon reach an intersection and stay right on the red blazed trail. Watch your step! This caterpillar is looking for a winter home. If it survives, it will become a Giant Leopard Moth next summer.
You'll reach this funny trail sign where Ligament Trail and Twister Trail meet near the Quehanna Highway. Turn left onto Ligament Trail, and follow it back to your car. Along the way keep an eye out for elk and be sure to visit the viewing blind near the parking area. This loop is beautiful in all four seasons, so plan to return again soon!
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.