This trail run loop packs it all in with singletrack and technical sections alternating with soft pine needle, moss, and grass. Throw in a little dirt road running and some moderate elevation changes and you have a nice mix that keeps you focused and challenged while you enjoy the woods.
You can make this a 4 mile out and back if you turn around at the Yankee Run Trail intersection at the 2 mile mark.
Destination Distance From Downtown
3 of 5 diamonds
Except for a short intense push uphill, elevation changes are gradual and minimal, and technical sections short and forgiving.
Time To Complete
Total run is just over 5 miles. Multiple trail options connect off this run for future adventures.
Spring, Summer, and Fall
Unless the snow gets deep or it is icy you can use this trail almost year round. Watch your footing after the late autumn leaf drop covers the rocks on the trail. The first 2 miles of this loop is part of the Dam Half and Dam Full Trophy Series Trail Race in the fall. Late spring when the mountain laurel is out and fall when the colors light up the woods is spectacular.
State Parks in Pennsylvania require dogs on leashes 6 feet or less. Pets on State Forest land are permitted as long as they are " kept under control and attended at all times." This trail run starts on State Park land and after a half mile you will be in the Bald Eagle State Forest until the finish.
Central Pennsylvania is geologically part of the the Ridge and Valley province of the Appalachian Mountains. Here you find long narrow mountain ridges separated by fertile valleys with some ridges thousands of feet higher than the valley floor. R.B. Winter State Park, surrounded by 193,000 acres of the Bald Eagle State Forest, is west of the town of Lewisburg in the heart of the state. The park brushes up against a section of the “Wildest Trail in Pennsylvania”, the 325 mile long Mid State Trail. The Mid State Trail is ruggedly beautiful and has a feeling of remote isolation, yet conveniently, is often no more than a half a mile from the nearest road.
What Makes It Great
This loop will piece together diverse sections of 4 different trails within the park and State Forest and is a great introduction to trail running in Central Pennsylvania.
Park at Halfway Dam on Route 192 and look for the Mid State Trail sign, across the road from the parking lot. Enter under a mixed canopy of pine and oak alongside the narrow Rapid Run Creek that spills over the dam and flows below. Notice how quickly the noise of the road fades away on this easy flat section of soft needles, spaced rock, and leaves.
Climb gradually on a well marked trail of orange blazes and narrowing, well-maintained singletrack that travels through mountain laurel, oak, and pine with winter berry and mushrooms underfoot. Stay sharp and watch your step as rock syncopates with root.
Pass the West End Boundary Trail spur and cross the Long Trail. Soon you step through a short, technical, rocky section, hopping over the whimsically named Crocodile Spring and at mile 2 you have reached your first turn at the intersection with Yankee Run Trail.
Here you will head south uphill following the red marked trees. Summit after a short but intense climb leveling out at the crest. You will now connect with the return leg on Fallen Timber Trail. Take a left here and head east on a wider mossy rock trail now, following the ridge line for about 2 more miles. After the yellow gate at this trail's end, you jump onto Pine Creek Road. Head down and catch Lipko Trail at the bottom on your left, just before the bridge over the creek. Finish up this short leg along the creek and pop out onto Rt 192, at the Main Park entrance about a quarter mile before the Dam where you began.
Who is Going to Love It
Rattlesnakes, poison mushrooms, and black bears. Want to tilt at a few windmills Don Quixote? This trail run is for someone who wants to dial up their trail running game a little bit with a sense of remoteness and adventure without a major commitment of time and travel to get here. Just technical enough for a challenge but accessible for anyone with a little experience in the woods, you get a taste of Central PA trails and an introduction to a trail rich destination.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Head west on Rt 192 out of Lewisburg for about 19 miles, passing the main entrance to R.B. Winter State Park and pull into the parking lot at Halfway Dam on the right a few hundred yards later. The dam was hand laid and the first cement and stone dam ever built by the Civilian Conservation Corp. The trail head sign for your start is on the Mid State Trail across the road. Cell phone service is spotty to non existent. Dogs are allowed in State Parks on a leash, in State Forests they must be under your direct control. The Park Office is just past the dam on the left. Ask at the office for a Central Mountain Trail System map, they are free.