Monday, March 25, 2024

A Late Winter Weekend in Rothrock

It had been a few months since I'd ridden in Rothrock, so when a nice weekend of weather appeared on the horizon, I texted Thad and asked if he wanted to drive up and do a couple rides with me. Of course he was in, so I reserved a roadside campsite in the forest and we met up Saturday morning for the first day of riding. Actually, we randomly met up at a Sheetz on the drive up, and then I followed the Blue Rocket (Thad's blue Honda Civic) up I-99 toward  State College.

Highline Vista looking out over State College.

On Saturday, we also met up with State College-local Matt for the ride. He's a hammer of a rider, and I rode with him for parts of the Wilderness 101 and Shenandoah 100 races last year.

To start our ride, we climbed Dylan's Path to Tussey Ridge, a climb I've done many times before, but this time, it was a bit different. Logging and future development in that part of the forest meant that the old singletrack climb is mostly gone, and now, the climb is a gravel road a majority of the way to the Beer Tap at the top. No matter, it's still a great climb, and it's not a bad way to warm up.

Tussey Ridge is probably my favorite trail in Rothrock, also probably in Pennsylvania, and one of my favorite trails I've ridden anywhere. It just flows so good, in a rocky, not-flow-trail type of way. Going the direction we did - from the Beer Tap to Kettle Trail - gives a few great downhill sections and plenty of rock features that let you fly right through if you know the lines.

A couple of the standard "Tussey Ridge pictures". In the distance is Colyer Lake, and in the foreground are a couple of faster flowing water sources.

After Tussey Ridge, we climbed North Meadows, bombed down Croyle, and headed into Coopers Gap.

As always, Sassafrass Trail did not disappoint.

Sass XX was also a treat, and it was the first time anyone except me had ridden that trail. I always love showing people new trails.

We also rode another one of my favorite trails: No Name. Those of you familiar with the Wilderness 101 course might remember No Name as the chunky, rocky descent just before the Stillhouse Hollow climb and aid station.

After No Name, I took the fellas on a couple more new-to-them trails: Indian Trail and Brush Ridge. I know I say every trail is "one of my favorites", but those two trails are also pretty darn fun. Brush Ridge is, how should I say, a "rustic" trail. It's not maintained. It's washed out. It's wet. It's fun. And Indian Trail is a gem of a trail, and a rarely-ridden one at that.

After the ride, Thad and I drove to a pizza place in Boalsburg for dinner. I ordered the third biggest stromboli of my life, which tasted really good after a hard 60 mile singletrack ride.

What are the first and second biggest stromboli's of my life, you ask? Well, the biggest was in Galeton, PA on the CTC Gravel ride with Will. It was big enough for probably five people, and I'm not ashamed to say I didn't finish it. Second biggest goes to the stromboli I had the night before the Shenandoah 100, which I had to have Stick help me finish. These are important things, and it's why I keep track.

The campsite I booked in Rothrock was right off of Bear Meadows Road, just below Detweiler. It's one of their "roadsite campsites", and it's actually quite fantastic. It's spacious, has a good view, and even has a picnic table. All for only $10 per night. It was a crystal clear night with a bright moon, so Thad and I didn't even need to turn on a light while we were hanging out.

The next morning, we met up with my friend Anders for some even-rockier trails than the day before.

First up was Bald Knob Ridge, a technical and scenic ridge trail that offers great views of State College. It was followed by Charcoal Flats, Lone Pine, Mountain Mist, and Downer Trail. Downer Trail is a steep chute that drops down to the bottom of Lower Trail, and because of two small trees down across the trail, it was even spicier than normal this time. Fortunately, I was able to hop both trees, but it was quite the adrenaline rush.

The Bald Knob area of Rothrock, and the Shingletown area in general, has a lot of pine trees and feels different from other areas. Did I say it's rocky?

The picture above on the left is a particularly challenging rock section called the "Snake Pit", and I think I've finally figured out the line through it. It's satisfying but also slightly scary to ride that section.

Pretty cool picture of Thad ripping down the final section of the Bald Knob West descent down to Lower Trail.

Some pictures of creeks we had to cross. Thad doesn't like hike-a-bike, but at least he was kind enough to not curse me out (at least that I could hear) during the ride. As I tell everyone, when you ride with me, be prepared for some adventure. And adventure can include hike-a-bike and stream crossings.

This view is from Highline Vista, on Mountain Mist trail. If you zoom in, you can see Beaver Stadium, where Penn State plays football.

Sunday's ride was all about technical riding, so it was only fitting that I took Thad on one of the steep enduro bro downhills: Sand Spring Trail. It was just as steep and loose as I remember, but with the 140mm fork on my Karate Monkey, it feels so good.

We also did New Laurel and Old Laurel trails, two amazing downhills off of the Laurel Fire Tower road. Needless to say, it was a day of fun in the rocks.

After the ride, I finished up the day with a traditional stop at the Atherton Street Chipotle. Because, you know, burritos.

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