Hike Challenge 1: Scotia Barrens

Summer is upon us and the weather has been rather nice.  In an attempt to get the girls outside and exploring nature, Christy and I have come up with a list of local trails the girls can hike with  their families.  The trails will range in distance and difficulty, but we will start off with some easier ones to build up endurance. Most trails are clearly marked and many will be out and back trails, however we encourage you to print out a copy of the trail map ahead of time as some trails will overlap with other trails and cell service could be limited.

Be sure to check out the Trail Adventure Badge for your level!

Hike 1:  Scotia Barrens  https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/pennsylvania/scotia-barrens

Distance:   1.4 mile loop; 108 foot elevation change

Directions:  This trail is located in state game lands near Grays Woods Elementary and Graysdale Park.  You can enter the trail off of Scotia Range Road OR you can park at Graysdale Park and take a path through the wooded area near the intersection of Grays Woods Blvd. and Meeks Lane.  That pathway through the woods will lead you to the intersection of Meeks Lane and Scotia Rd.   There is a trail head entrance across the street off of Scotia Rd. at the intersection with Meeks Lane.

Features:  This is a very easy hike to do with little kids.  We would often set out from our house when the kiddos were small and hike back to Shotgun Lake which is in the center of the overall trail loop.  There are also ruins back along the trail from when the area used to be mined for iron ore.  You can read more about Scotia Barrens at:  https://www.pabook.libraries.psu.edu/literary-cultural-heritage-map-pa/feature-articles/geologic-wonder-scotia-barrens.     

History:  The Scotia Barrens is located in a valley in Centre County, PA. It is home to a unique micro-climate that makes the area cooler than the surrounding region. This climate gives the barrens a unique variety of plants not often found elsewhere in the region.

In addition to a unique climate, this area is also rich in industrial history. In the mid-1800s, the land here was extensively lumbered to create charcoal for the nearby Centre Furnace. In the 1880s, Andrew Carnegie purchased the land and used it to mine iron ore for his steel mills. 

In 1909, the mines closed and within a couple of years, Scotia was a ghost town.  While some logging continued to occur on the land, it was finally protected by the Pennsylvania Game Commission in the early 1940s.

However, during World War 2, the mine was briefly reopened again to support the war effort only to be quickly shut down for the final time when the iron ore produced here didn’t meet purity standards.

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