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.
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!
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!
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!
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."
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!
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.
Every now and again we all need a break from the hustle and bustle of 21st Century America. Luckily, State College, PA, is surrounded by hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands that are waiting to embrace you with fresh air and natural light. Email, news, phone, school, snapchat, social media, text, traffic, tv, twitter, work...leave it all behind and head into the forest to rejuvenate!
Travelers heading westbound on Route 322 over Seven Mountains are bound to run into traffic jams due to a $100 million PennDot road project that will widen the highway near General Potters Mills. Instead of getting frustrated sitting in traffic, we suggest pulling over at the Seven Mountain Roadside Rest Area and taking a quick hike to one of the best vistas along the 325 mile Mid State Trail!
Purple Lizard takes you on a drive through the backroads of Bald Eagle State Forest, one of the most remote forests in Pennsylvania.
Purple Lizard takes you on a drive through the backroads of Bald Eagle State
Forest, one of the most remote forests in Pennsylvania.
Purple Lizard takes you on a drive through the backroads of Bald Eagle State Forest, one of the most remote forests in Pennsylvania.
Purple Lizard Maps gives some insight on what it takes to create a recreational map of the highest quality.
Adventurers looking for a one or two day hike in Quehanna Area won’t be disappointed by this loop! It is relatively flat which makes for easy hiking, with fantastic vistas and beautiful stream along the way.
This trail system is a mix of small rocky tread, soft dirt tread, and bumpy old railroad grades. The trailhead lies on the top of the Allegheny Plateau, and so it is perfect for trail running! You will need to keep your eyes focused on the trail, but sights of plenty of wild plants along the trail such as trillium, mayflower, and ferns will keep your mind occupied. This is a beautiful, but remote trail, so you may want to run with a friend or group. If you're looking for some runnable yet adventurous terrain, these 8 or 13 mile loops are perfect. Beginners can enjoy this area too!
After a long, dark, and cold winter, outdoor enthusiasts are eager to get outside and adventure in the woods of Pennsylvania. Many folks eagerly await the opening of spring turkey gobbler season. It's a good idea to assume hunters will be sharing the woods with you while you are engaged in your outdoor adventures from pre-dawn to post-dusk Monday through Saturday. Everyone has the right to enjoy the woods safely, and there are some basic rules for risk mitigation during the spring hunting season that should be respected.
Originally built as a cross-country ski trail system with help from Ralph Seeley and Tom Thwiates, this trail system is also part of the Allegheny Front Trail (backpacking loop), and includes orange, yellow, and blue-blazed trails. This is a beautiful, but remote and advanced cross country ski trail, so if you're looking for some adventurous terrain, the 8 or 13 loops are perfect! Beginners can also enjoy this area!
Tiadaghton Trail runs from Ramsey north to Little Pine State Park in the beautiful Pine Creek Valley. The northern half of the trail, described here, is just as rewarding for hikers as the southern half. This trail awes visitors with beautiful views any time of year, so head to Pine Creek and and check out this trail!
The Lizard Department of Adventure offers yet another great hike suggestion for those who want to discover the beauty of Northcentral PA: Tiadaghton Trail!
In beautiful Pine Creek Valley on the Pine Creek Lizard Map lies a long forgotten trail simply called the Tiadaghton Trail. It has been recently reopened by DCNR and a small group of dedicated volunteers. The southern half of this trail, now better than ever, consists of a very steep climb along a narrow ridge, followed by a beautiful ridgetop hike, concluding with a fantastic descent into a canyon that drains to Pine Creek by Waterville. It is a strenuous hike, but one that offers many rewards!
Follow along with the Department of Adventure on a 3-mile journey to explore history, the Appalachian Trail, and beautiful vistas of Michaux State Forest. The adventure begins at the parking area at the intersection of Bunk Hill Road and Michaux Road, northwest of Pine Grove Furnace State Park.
Hikers and runners looking for a quick adventure near Route 30 need look no further than Charcoal Hearth Trail in Caledonia State Park. This trail offers various hiking surfaces, some climbing and descending, and historical significance, all bundled in a slightly less than 3-mile loop.
Grab your Michaux Lizard Map
and join us on a 4-mile hiking adventure to see the shelter many thru hikers (those who are hiking the length of the AT) consider to be the best one on the entire 2,200 mile long trail!
Rockton Mountain Trails is a great trail system designed for bicycling, hiking, running, and cross-country skiing in the southwestern corner of Moshannon State Forest. Three looped trails are open to cycling, totaling over 12 miles of trails. Two more loops with an additional 10+ miles are designated as cross-country skiing and hiking only.
Ready to enjoy a late season 3-day backpacking trip? Purple Lizard's Trail Guru Dave Gantz and Lizard Blog Contributor Emily Newman hiked a portion of the West Rim Trail and offer this blog to help inspire you on our own fall adventures!
Explore this fantastic forest on the White Mountain Ridge Trail within Penns Creek Wild Area. This Wild Area along Penns Creek is in the heart of Bald Eagle State Forest. Because this loop covers a lot of road time, it can also be done as a car or bicycle shuttle option. The bicycle option should be used for the road miles (White Mountain Ridge Trail is shared-use, but it's very rough going on a bicycle). The road sections are remote, and as such you may very well hike along them and never see a car!
Lower Trail is a 17-mile rail trail passage, which includes benches, covered pavilions, picnic areas, and historic signs for users to relax and enjoy the history of this area. Multiple bridges along the trail add to the adventure! Follow along as we describe this four-season public use trail!
As fall arrives, the weather cools, the bugs and the obvious presence of snakes diminish, and outdoor enthusiasts flock to the woods on the weekends to enjoy beautiful environments. In some areas of Pennsylvania, certain hunting seasons officially begin in September. While there are several publications to sift through regarding hunting regulations, we know you probably won't go out of your way to read those. Once fall arrives, it's a good idea to assume hunters will be sharing the woods with you while you are engaged in your outdoor adventures (except on Sundays!). Since Purple Lizard Maps wants everyone to enjoy the woods and safely, we thought a quick public service announcement regarding general risk mitigation practices during hunting season might be helpful.
Gravel riding is a popular pastime for the right reasons: Cyclists can enjoy an outdoor adventure on roadways without terrifying traffic or distracted drivers. Black Moshannon State Park and Moshannon State Forest offer rewarding rides for those looking challenging loops! This area is also a fantastic place for beginner riders to sharpen their skills.
Purple Lizard is always looking for a new twist on adventuring, and this time we found the perfect blend of summer fun. There is a lot of ice cream available on the Pine Creek Rail Trail (PCRT), but how many of us have experienced all of the ice cream on the PCRT? Our Trail Guru and a couple friends have, and they are more than happy to share the gravel regarding the PCRT.
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.