I recently did some exploring in the Bald Eagle State Forest. My plan was initially to hike the Allegheny Front Trail, but I ended up not having enough time. So, I drove to R.B. Winter State Park and hiked through the Rapid Run Natural Area. This short, easy trail explores an old growth hemlock forest along Rapid Run and rhodo jungles with carpets of moss. I also walked around the small, scenic lake and hiked a little ways on the Mid State Trail. This park is very scenic, set between forested ridges and features clear streams that tumble down the valleys beneath hemlocks and pine. The stone dam that creates Halfway Lake also has a nice waterfall that compliments the setting. The park does have an “out of the way” feel to it. R.B. Winter State Park is a trailhead to the Mid State Trail and features many other trails that offer a variety of dayhiking options.
Next I stopped by Sand Bridge State Park, which has the distinction of being the smallest state park in PA. It was little more than a picnic area along Rapid Run with rhodo jungles.
I then ventured to see the Hook Natural Area. This well-known hiking destination has always eluded me, and I wouldn’t have time to explore it on this trip, but I did see a superb vista from Jones Mountain Road overlooking hollows, valleys, and ridges that faded into the distance. I also wanted to check out an off trail vista. I hiked down a powerline swath and then veered west into the woods, following faint game trails. I came upon a talus slope with great views to the south. I could see the long ridges sweeping to the southwest and farmlands far below. I had to limit my exploration of the talus slope since I saw a couple of rather sedate rattlesnakes. I retraced my steps to the car, driving through Lewisburg and heading home on back roads.
I’ll be returning to the Bald Eagle State Forest soon. I definitely plan to hike the Hook Natural Area this summer. The insanely rugged Goosenecks gorge also looks fascinating, if not intimidating from all the vast talus slopes. That will have to wait until Autumn.
The off-trail vista is located at 40.968647 -77.141057 on Google maps.