This short hike along the Mid-State Trail takes you to a number of vistas that look out over the Bear Meadows Natural Area, a bog formed in the last ice age located in the heart of Rothrock State Forest.
Parking Lot GPS Coordinates: 40° 45′ 4.99″ N, 77° 45′ 53.34″ W
Trail Length: 3 Miles
Estimated Time To Complete: 1 Hour 45 Minutes
Elevation Change: 165′
Trailhead Location: The gate across Tower Road.
Trail Type: Out & Back
Trail Map: Rothrock State Forest Map
Recommended Equipment: Sneakers or Hiking Boots, Water,
Optional Equipment: Trekking Poles,
- Mid-State Trail
- Bear Meadows Loop
- Greenwood Spur
- Tussey Mountain Trail
- Bear Meadows Natural Area
- Alan Seeger Natural Area
- Penn Roosvelt State Park
From the small parking area on Tower Road head past the gate and continue up the road for ½ a mile towards the cabin and fire watch tower, along the way you’ll pass Mid-State Trail where it crosses Tower Road. Behind the tower and the large fire ring you’ll see where the MST heads through the bushes and into the forest on the far side of the clearing, follow the narrow trail into the woods. Shortly the Laurel Run Trail will intersect the MST from the right, continue down the MST passing the Spruce Gap Trail on your left. At the intersection of the MST and Kettle Trails you’ll find a monument to Tom Thwaites, a veteran hiker, author and founder of the MST.
Leaving the monument keep going down the MST or the Tom Thwaites Footpath as this particular section of the MST is called, soon you’ll pass a trail register with a campsite afterwards. Shortly thereafter you’ll come to the trail to the first of three views along this section of the MST, all three trails that lead to an overlook of Bear Meadows and are marked with a small sign that’s says view and points to the left.
All of the overlook trails open to a large boulder field that stretches from Little Flat to Big Flat and the Indian Wells Vista nearly 2 miles away. From the boulder field you can see across the valley to Little Mountain which ends at the Bear Meadows Natural Area. Behind the natural area are Thickhead Mountain and Grass Mountain. Depending where you’re looking from several of the other mountains in Rothrock State Forest are usually visible on less hazy days.
The Bear Meadows Natural Area, a 890 acre National Natural Landmark, is the remnant of a boreal bog that began as a pond at the end of the last ice age more than 10,000 years ago. Gradually the pond filled with organic debris from the surrounding mountains becoming a bog which now encompasses 320 acres of the natural area, the rest of the natural area is made up of meadowland and stands of Black Spruce and Balsam Fir trees. Numerous plant species can be found in the natural area including High Bush Blueberries as well as several species of Orchids, Sundew and Pitcher Plants.
From the third view you can either continue down the MST to Indian Wells Vista which is about 1 1/4 miles or so down the trail or you can head back to the parking area.