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.
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.
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.
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!
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...
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.