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. Cell phone coverage is limited in this part of the state, so be sure to bring your Bald Eagle Lizard Map!
A multitude of trails offer an array of options for most user groups. Non-motorized shared-use explorers (cyclists and equestrians) can access several red blazed trails that skirt the borders of the two natural areas.
Dual Sport Motorcycle trails exist in the nearby forestland too. These single and double track trails and roads are blazed purple, and generally open to street legal motorcycles from Memorial Day Weekend through the end of September.
Adventuring on foot is the only way to access the lands within the natural areas, which are all designated as foot only hiking trails. Several yellow blazed trails lead through parts of the area. Swift Run Trail is a favorite trail that follows alongside Swift Run deep within the forest. Keep an eye out for birds and other wildlife living in this area!
This area was made special because of the majestic trees living within the boundaries. Unfortunately many of these old trees are dying and falling on trails. Although this section of the forest is quiet remote, volunteers and DCNR foresters work hard to keep the trails open and in good condition.
Not into trails? Go ahead and take a drive along the gravel, dirt, and paved roads throughout Bald Eagle State Forest. There is plenty to see from the windows of your car, just be aware that the roads are not maintained in winter. Keep an eye out for slow moving horse and buggies throughout this forest as well, even in the snow (notice the horse and buggy tracks in the pic above)!
Plan for a picnic! Two picnic areas reside in this part of the forest. Snyder Middleswarth Picnic Area has several picnic tables, and a beautiful stream to enjoy while snacking. Rock Springs Picnic Area is off on the eastern side of the natural area, but doesn't offer as much access to trails as the other picnic area.
Stay the night! There are three DCNR free primitive car campsites just south of the natural areas (sites #64, 65, and 66). Yes, these sites are free, just call Bald Eagle State Forest to receive a permit. These sites are along the forest roads and offer a flat space for camping and parking, and usually a fire ring with a picnic table. Although most campers utilize these sites during the summer and fall seasons, some folks consider camping season anytime of year!
There is plenty of free adventure waiting to be discovered in Bald Eagle State Forest. The snow is melting quickly, and spring green will be here soon. Make plans today to visit this wonderful area!