Rothrock State Forest

Rothrock State Forest is a 96,250-acre forest that spreads over Centre, Huntingdon, and Mifflin counties. Numerous recreation activities are available, including hiking, camping, picnicking, fishing and hunting.

The forest is named named for Dr. Joseph Trimble Rothrock, a native of Mifflin County and Pennsylvania’s first commissioner of the Pennsylvania Department of Forests and Waters, the forerunner of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

At the beginning of the 20th century, what is now the forested area of the park had been stripped of hardwood trees to provide wood to make charcoal for nearby Greenwood Furnace. Conservationists feared that the forest would never regrow if the state’s philosophy of forest management did not change.

The Mid-State Trail runs through Rothrock State Forest. (Photograph by Ford Risley)

When two of Greenwood Furnace’s hearths closed in 1903, Rothrock was instrumental in the state securing 35,000 acres of the company’s land. The Department of Forest and Waters planted hardwood trees to replace the decimated forest and the state later purchased contiguous land.

During the Great Depression, six Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camps were located in the forest, including one for Black workers at what became Penn-Roosevelt State Park. Under the leadership of state forestry officials, CCC workers built roads, fire trails, picnic areas, and other facilities. The CCC camps in Rothrock closed by 1942.

Today, the state forest includes several special wild and natural areas set aside to protect unique biological, geological, scenic, and historical features. Among them are Bear Meadows, Alan Seeger, Detweiler Run, and Big Flat natural areas, as well as Trough Creek and Thickhead Mountain wild areas. Rothrock has more than 300 miles of trails, including 56 miles of the Mid State Trail.

Through a partnership between ClearWater Conservancy and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources 1,271 acres were added to the forest in Centre and Huntingdon counties in 2021. The land, which is contiguous with existing forest property, is located in Ferguson, Halfmoon, and Warriors Mark townships near Scotia Barrens. It has been identified as a Biological Diversity Area by the Centre County Natural Heritage Inventory because it supports numerous species of special concern in Pennsylvania.

Ford Risley


Sources:

Rothrock State Forest. https://www.dcnr.pa.gov/StateForests/FindAForest/Rothrock (Accessed December 1, 2020)

“1,271 acres added to Rothrock State Forest.” The Centre County Gazette, February 25, 2021.


First Published: March 10, 2021

Last Modified: October 2, 2021