Rothrock State Forest
Named after Dr. Joseph Trimble Rothrock, recognized as the “Father of Forestry” in Pennsylvania and the Commonwealth’s first forestry commissioner, Rothrock Forest is one of the most extensive forests in the state. Spanning more than 96K acres, Rothrock Forest and its smaller park systems consist of rugged, rock-strewn ridges typifying this region of the Appalachian Mountain chain.
Rothrock State Forest is known for its awe-inspiring vistas, extensive trail network, and bio-diverse natural areas. Chestnut oak, a mix of pine, maple, and birch along with patches of mountain laurel grows on the ridges. The forest’s bottomlands feature cool, clean streams shaded by centuries-old hemlocks and towering rhododendrons.
This vast forest is host to four (4) State Parks:
- Whipple Dam
- Greenwood Furnace
- Penn Roosevelt
- Trough Creek
…as well as, a multitude of Wild and Natural areas. Participants will have an opportunity to experience much of this breathtaking state park system during all four Season’s of Rothrock races.
Oh, the Places You’ll Go…
Each area of Rothrock State Forest is distinctive in its own way.
Whipple Dam State Park
Seasons of Rothrock Session I begins and ends in Whipple Dam State Park, a 256-acre recreation and natural area within Rothrock State Forest. Session II – Grit Gravel Grinder, also meanders you through this area of the forest. It offers family fun, educational opportunities, wildlife, hiking, biking, swimming, and more. The park’s 22-acre Whipple Lake is a favorite spot for swimming and fishing. Or lace up your hiking boots and hit the nature trails. Gravel roads are the only way in or out of the park making it perfect for cycling. Whipple Dam State Park offers tranquility and will restore your connection with nature.
Penn Roosevelt State Park
Located in an isolated part of the Seven Mountains region, known locally as Stone Creek Kettle is Penn Roosevelt State Park. The Grittier and Grittiest Session II – Rothrock Grit Gravel Grinder riders will find a Support Station here. This 41-acre park is popular for hiking and biking. The Mid-State and other State Forest trails offer diverse terrain for hiking. Plus, with over 100 miles of Forestry roads, this state park is a popular destination among gravel riders and mountain bikers. The trail system at nearby Cooper’s Gap has become a Pennsylvania mountain biking destination.
Additionally, the park’s small lake contains native brook trout and in spring, the stream below the dam is stocked making it a favorite spot for anglers. Its remote location makes this part of the state forest popular with campers looking to get off the grid.
Greenwood Furnace State Park
Visit Greenwood Furnace State Park during the Session III mountain biking race. The Grittiest Session II – Grit Gravel Grinder also crosses into this area. The park covers 423 acres in the never-ending Rothrock State Forest. Greenwood Furnace includes a six-acre lake, campground, hiking trails, and a historic district. The park provides access to backpacking, hiking, mountain biking, hunting, and fishing. The race start will be staged in this area of rugged beauty, abundant wildlife, breathtaking vistas, and peaceful solitude.
Thickhead Mountain Wild Area
Deep within Rothrock State Forest, Thickhead Mountain Wild Area provides a 4,886-acre wilderness of mixed-oak forest surrounding Detweiler Run Natural Area and Bear Meadows Natural Area, as well as, Big Flat Laurel Viewing Area. Session I – Greenwood Furnace State Park, Session II – Rothrock Grit Gravel Grinder, and Session IV – Tussey Mountain all visit various parts of these areas. The Mid-State Trail traverses the ridgeline of Thickhead Mountain and runs through the heart of Detweiler Run Natural Area. This 463-acre natural area protects a large tract of old-growth forest (hemlocks, pitch pines, white pines, and mixed hardwoods) with dense undergrowth of rhododendron in a deep valley.
Bear Meadows Natural Area
Bear Meadows Natural Area contains 890 forested acres surrounding a low, marshy wetland rarely seen in this part of North America. The centerpiece of this protected area is Bear Meadows Bog: a rare ecosystem thousands of years in the making. Steep mountains populated by black and red spruce, balsam fir, eastern hemlock, yellow birch, and highbush blueberries surround the centuries-old bog.
The unique flora and fauna found in this extraordinary marshland are typically found only in the far reaches of Canada and Siberia. Because of its rare biodiversity, Bear Meadows Bog has been a living classroom for botany students at Pennsylvania State University for generations.
Bear Meadows is recognized as a National Natural Landmark. A 3.5-mile hiking trail wraps around the entire protected zone. And this section of the park is only accessible via unpaved roads.
Alan Seeger Natural Area
You’ll find a Session I – Whipple Dam State Park support station in Alan Seeger Natural Area, a 390-acre tract along Standing Stone Creek. Session II – Grit Gravel Grinder and Session IV – Tussey Mountain also visits this area. A nature trail flanked by towering 20-foot-high Mountain Laurel (rhododendrons), the state flower, leads into the heart of a magnificent old-growth forest while winding beside the creek. Marvel at the rare hemlock forest bypassed by loggers at the end of the 19th century. In this part of the forest, you can find several hundred years old trees that measure a staggering 12 feet around.
Participating in the Grittier and Grittiest Session II – Rothrock Grit Gravel Grinder race takes riders on a 2.5-mile off-road loop around Colyer Lake Dam. Colyer Lake is home to over 200 species of birds and waterfowl. Take in the tranquil beauty of this 77-acre reservoir managed by the PA Fish and Boat Commission. Swimming is not permitted.
As you enjoy the awesome and distinctive scenery of Rothrock State Forest please be respectful. Keep Pennsylvania beautiful and keep our forests litter free. Avoid damaging trees and other plants. You’re welcome to observe, but do not disturb the wildlife.
April 23, 2023
June 3, 2023
Sept. 24, 2023
Dec. 3, 2023
With a combined 290 miles of trails and state forest roads for gravel riding, mountain biking and hiking, Rothrock State Forest is a never ending resource of outdoor enjoyment. Get a Rothrock State Forest Purple Lizard Map from a local shop or online and start planning your next adventure.