|Route:||State Game Lands 176 Trail Map|
|Hillage:||SGL 176 has relatively tame hills compared to other wooded runs in the area. The elevation change from the lowest point in The Barrens, near the Shooting Range to the highest point on Gatesburg Ridge is under 300 ft. Most trails take you over rolling hills with elevation changes well under 200 ft. |
|Description:||This map is not for a single run, but is meant as a guide for you to start exploring the Game Lands. The best thing to do if you're new at the game is go on one of the Weekend Group Runs when one is schedule for the Game Lands. If you want to start exploring on your own, park at one of the two lots and throw a little caution to the wind. But please retain some caution. Specifically, remember that the Game Lands are paid for by the hunters of Pennsylvania, who can hunt there pretty much all year. Most times of the year, there are few hunters in the woods. The gunshots you here are probably coming from the shooting range on Range Rd. But you should be aware of the major hunting seasons, for deer, for turkey, and for bears. There are rules that you should familiarize yourself with. And particularly during rifle season for deer, you should stay out of the Game Lands, and if you go you must wear blaze orange. The information you need to know about regulations, hunting seasons, etc, are summarized on the NVRC web site: http://nvrun.com/index.php/training/local-running/game-lands. |
The two lots shown on the map below are the easiest to access from neighborhoods near State College. The Greenbriar lot is more of a small turnout on Sleepy Hollow Rd. It's on the right at the sign for the Greenbriar development. The CIrcleville Rd lot is a small parking lot in the woods on the west side of the north-south running section of Circleville Rd, about a quarter mile south of Circleville Park. The two lots are about a mile and three-quarters apart by car and just over a mile separated by trail. Once you get to know the Game Lands a little, you'll also want to start exploring them from the many small turnouts on Range Rd. Just drive into the Game Lands from the little village of Scotia (Range Rd. runs into Scotia Rd about a quarter mile west of Scotia and Circleville Rds.) Be careful, because the first half-mile or so of Range Rd is usually quite pitted, especially in the Spring. The various turnouts each mark a Game Commission jeep road, or a trail.
Here's sample beginner's exploratory run: From the Patton Woods lot, follow the trail at the far end of the lot into the woods and up the hill. You'll soon come to a park bench where a trail goes to the right. Keep going straight rather than taking this trail. A bit farther along there is another fork to the left. Ignore it as well. Finally, near the crest of the hill, there is yet another fork that heads to the right and farther up the hill. Take this right. This fork is less than half a mile from the parking lot. Head up the hill and the trail opens up on a field. Continue on the trail as it bears left at a crabapple tree (the field hooks to the right). At this point the trail is a jeep trail. Continue on it for about a third of a mile. You will come to a point where the trail branches in three directions ("three trail intersection" on map). Going straight or to the right takes you into the woods. The trail to the right goes almost straight back to the Circleville lot where you started (It ends up at that park bench). The center trail goes downhill through the woods to Range Rd, about 2/3 of a mile away. If you instead go the left, you will go down a broad open cut in the woods ("Broadway" on the map). If you follow this jeep trail for almost a mile, you will end up on Range Rd, a gravel road that leads from Scotia Rd, to the north east, to the Game Commission Shooting Range and beyond to the south and west. At this point you would be about 2 miles from Patton Woods. Your first time out, you might want to just turn around and head back the way you came. Or you can go right on Range Rd. If you go right, there is a small paved road on the right that accesses some buildings about a quarter-mile or so up the road to the right. Continue another quarter-mile past this road to a turnout on the right. There's a trail close to the road at this turnout that heads back up the hill. In fact it's the wooded center trail at the "3 trail intersection" mentioned above. Follow this trail up the hill to the "three trail intersection", then head back to the Patton Woods lot. The distance for this route is about 4-1/2 miles.
I've been running in the Game Lands for several years, but only recently have I set out from the familiar roads and jeep trails. For Christmas of 2007, I got a a Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS Runner's Watch. I decided as a project to map all the trails I knew about using the capabilities of the watch. Since Christmas 2007,I’ve filled in a good bit of the northeast quadrant. SGL 176 is huge, about 10 square miles. But this map has many of the trails that are easily accessible within two miles of the two Game Lands entrances most used by the regular Weekend Groups.The Game Lands can be a bit daunting to the newcomer. In the northeast quadrant, there seems to be a trail every hundred yards, and the fear of getting lost can be off putting. But the Game Lands are beautiful, and ever changing with the seasons. They’re well worth getting to know. Taking a few tours with some people familiar with the lay of the land can get you more familiar. And if you're worried about getting lost, just think of this: there are several roads and landmarks; it’s not the Alaskan wild; you won’t starve; you will find your way out. I recommend going with a group, even if it’s a group with limited familiarity with the Game Lands. A group is more likely to scare the animals away, but you didn’t want to run into a bear, did you? If you get lost, you’ll be less likely to panic, and you can even make some fun out of it. If you stumble and hurt yourself, you’ll have someone to get help if needed.
Dangers: And now a note about the dangers of the Game Lands. I've already mentioned hunters (see above). The basic idea is, for your safety, and as a courtesy to the hunters, stay out of the Game Lands during the major hunting seasons, and be curteous to hunters at other times. It's their spread. As for the animals: You are very unlikely to be harmed by an animal in the Game Lands, but be cautious. Whenever I go to the Game Lands, I see plenty of birds, chipmunks, and occasionally deer and turkeys. But there are also bears and snakes there. The bears will leave you alone if you don't startle or harrass them, or threaten a cub. You're unlikely to see a Timber Rattlers, but stay alert. Probably the most dangerous animals you'll encounter are the lowly groundhog and the even lowlier tick. Mostly the trails are free of groundhog holes, but stay alert, especially in open meadows. Ticks abound in the Game Lands. Check your body for them after a run. Finally, the trail itself can be the biggest danger of all. Trail running is fun, but challenging. Rocks, tree roots, holes, can all lead to a nasty spill. Be alert! (Did I say that already?)
(Click on the map for a much larger zoomable view)