The Great Outdoors: Beartown Rocks, Trap Run Trail Offer Tranquility

Clear Creek State Forest’s Beartown Rocks in the PA Great Outdoors is often described as one of the area’s best-kept secrets.

(Photo courtesy

I hadn’t been to the glacial remnants featuring several house-sized boulders, so recently, Brandi and I decided to take a look at the area.

I was more than familiar with nearby Clear Creek State Park. Clearly, more people take in the features of the park with its camping and picnic areas, beach, and access to the Clarion River.

Getting to Beartown Rocks is easy. It’s off Route 949, just across the road from the entrance to the park.

When we arrived a little before 8 a.m., the parking lot was empty.  We checked out the boulders for a bit before heading down the Trap Run Loop trail.

It crosses a level area below the rocks before descending into the valley.

As we crossed a tiny spring gurgling out of the ground, Brandi lapped up water from the miniature puddles.

The trail steepened a bit as we went deeper into the valley. Mountain laurel and rhododendron dominate the area with mature maple and oak trees sprinkled throughout.

It seemed like a great place to see a bear, given its namesake, but we were not so fortunate.

When we reached the bottom of the valley, near where Trap Run crosses the trail, I came across a heavy metal box that held several years of trail logs.

The logs confirmed my belief that the trail isn’t hiked much. Four people had been on it the day before, but no one in three prior weeks.

One of those hikers did see three bears! I assumed it was a sow with cubs, but it was not noted.

Others joked and questioned the stated length of 2.1 miles for the loop trail, wondering when it looped.

It wasn’t long before we reached the bottom where Trap Run flowed and a wooden bridge helped hikers negotiate the trail in high-flow conditions.

The bridge showed plenty of signs of being battered over the years by roaring waters and ice.

After crossing, we made the turn at a small totem of rocks where a coyote had left sign of its travels.

In the bottom, there are some hemlocks and a few, good-size white pines exist on the other side as we looped back toward where we started. The trail gradually made its way up the side of the hill.

A few sections passed among deep thickets of laurel and around every bend, I hoped a bear would be in the area.

But it was not to be.

Soft, muddy spots in the trail showed signs of hikers and their dogs, one mountain biker, and a few raccoons.

On our way up, we took a few more breaks, allowing to the condition of the 15-year-old beagle! But, a few minutes of ear and neck rubbing here and there seemed to keep her going.

At one point, she seemed to give a look of “Really? How much further is it?” But, as always, she was game, and we easily made it back to the car.

If you are looking for a tranquil area to hike, this is it.

I couldn’t hear traffic noise, just the sounds of woodpeckers and smaller birds.

Wildlife was not frequent, I saw one red squirrel, but I’m sure that’ll change as the acorns begin falling from the oaks and the bears and wild turkeys start to target the area in the fall.

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