Nick's Bear Meadows Mountain Runs

Route: Nick's Bear Meadows Mountain Runs (Thanks to Nick Harris)
Mileage:  7.0 and 10.6 miles.
Hillage: The longer of the two loops has a much deeper dip in the middle than the first loop, necessitating a longer climb before finishing.

Total climbing elevation: Inner Loop - 1046 ft; Outer Loop - 1622 ft.
Average Grade: 5%. However, there are long sections of steep (6-9% grade) uphill and downhill running.

Notable hills:
 

North Meadows Rd:  A climb of 515 ft in 2 miles. Grade: 4.9%.
Gettis Ridge Rd to Wampler Rd: A 558 ft descent in 1.46 miles. Grade: 7.2%.
Inner Loop
Inner Loop Hill on Bear Meadows Rd:
A 330 ft ascent in 3/4-mile (8.3%) followed by a 260 ft descent in 3/4-mile (6.6%).
Outer Loop
Gettis Ridge to Beidleheimer Rd: A 907 ft drop in 2.6 miles. Grade: 6.6%
Outer Loop Hill on Bear Meadows Rd: An 891 ft climb in 2.0 miles (8.4%), followed by a 260 ft descent in 3/4-mile (6.6%).
 
Description:  Nick's Bear Meadows Mountain Runs start from the small parking area at Bear Meadows Natural Area on Bear Meadows Rd in Rothrock State Forest, which is about 10 miles outside of State College off of US Rte 322. Take Rte 322 East from State College to the Tussey Mountain turnoff,  about 2 miles past Boalsburg, PA. Make a right onto Bear Meadows Rd. Less than a mile up the road is the Tussey Mountain Ski Area. Continue past the Ski Area. Bear Meadows Rd forks to the left as you start ascending the mountains (the right fork is Laurel Run Rd and is a gravel road). Continue on Bear Meadows after it becomes a gravel road. Continue ascending on Bear Meadows Rd, and keep going straight as you pass the North Meadows Rd turnoff on your right. Just before the Bear Meadows Natural Area, stay to the right where Treaster Kettle Road forks to the left. The Bear Meadows parking area is on your right just past this fork.

Inner and Outer Start: The routes both begin on Bear Meadows Rd heading back the way you came in. You climb about 60 ft in 0.6 miles. At North Meadows Rd, make a left. There is a slight dip till about Mile 1. From Mile 1 to the intersection of Gettis Ridge Road is a climb of 515 ft in 2 miles. Make a left on Gettis Ridge Road and start a very steep descent. This descent is rocky in places and requires that you pay good attention to your footing. At the intersection of Gettis Ridge Rd and Wampler Rd, you will have descended 558 ft in less than a mile-and-a-half, a 7.2% grade. At Wampler Rd you get to decide if you want to do the Outer Loop or the Inner Loop.

Inner Loop Finish: You have run nearly 4.5 miles. Make the left onto Wampler Rd. You gently descend for another mile to Bear Meadows Rd. Make a left. You climb now for about 3/4-mile, an ascent of 330 ft. Then you descend 250 ft to the finish in the final 3/4-mile.

Outer Loop Finish: Turn right at the intersection with Wampler Rd, staying on Gettis Ridge Rd. Continue on Gettis Ridge Rd to Beidleheimer Rd. At Beidleheimer, you have run 5.6 miles and have descended over 900 ft since the 3-Mile point. Make a left on Beidleheimer. You will now run for over two miles to the next turn, but descend only another 280 ft. Use this time to prepare for a long, steep climb!  Make a left at Bear Meadows Rd. Bear Meadows Rd now makes you climb nearly 900 ft in two miles, a grade of 8.5%! There are three switchbacks. When you reach Wampler Rd, you will be about a mile-and-a-half from your car, but you'll only have to climb another 3/4-mile. The last 3/4-mile is a downhill coast.

Remarks: Nick's Bear Meadows Mountain Runs are challenging loops in the beautiful, mountainous Rothrock State Forest land near State College. Marathon veteran Nick Harris does a lot of his hill training on this, one of his favorite routes. Nick's Runs also sample a small part of a local long-distance team relay race, the Tussey mOUnTaiNBACK 50 Mile Relay. Another nearby hill run is Mike's Mini-mOUnTaiNBACK.

The course itself is challenging, but beautiful. Most of the route is shaded and cool in the summer. In the winter, the roads can be un-runnable. There is an occasional vista of the bog at the Bear Meadows Natural Area. Take a walk on the trail that goes along the bog. You will see many varieties of birds. In late June, the mountains are in bloom with Pennsylvania's State Flower, the Mountain Laurel. In late summer, Bear Meadows is a popular place for people to gather low-bush blueberries (huckleberries). But remember, they don't call it Bear Meadows for nothing! The huckleberries are favorites of the Black Bear!
 

Map:
Inner Loop
Profile:

Outer Loop
Profile:

              Added: 07/03

Tussey mOUnTaiNBACK - Rosie Ruiz Version

 
Route: Tussey mOUnTaiNBACK - Rosie Ruiz Version*
Mileage:  12.6 miles.
Hillage: The first half is an almost constant uphill, with a one-mile downhill break. The last 6 miles is all down hill, with a mostly easy-on-the-knees grade.

Total elevation change: 1075 ft.
Average Grade: 4%.

The first climb, to Tussey mOUnTaiNBACK Transition Zone 1, climbs 760 ft in 3.2 miles. Some sections of this climb, particularly near the switchbacks, are closer to 10% grades. The 1-mile descent of over 250 ft on Laurel Run Rd is steepest near the beginning, but averages 5%. The 570 ft climb up Bear Gap and Gettis Ridge Roads again averages 5%, but is very steep at the start. The last 6 miles is a gentle descent with an average grad of 3% over 6.4 miles.
 
Description:  Start at the starting line of the Tussey mOUnTaiNBACK 50 Mile Relay and Ultramarathon, on Bear Meadows Rd in front of the south-most parking lot entrance for Tussey Ski Area. Head up Bear Meadows Rd. About 0.6 miles from the start, take the right on Laurel Run Road. For the next 2.5 miles, Laurel Run climbs past three switchbacks and crests at the transition zone to Leg 2 of the mOUnTaiNBACK Relay. Start down the steep hill. About a mile into Leg 2, start the Rosie Ruiz short-cut by making a left on Bear Gap Rd. Take Bear Gap up a very steep hill that thankfully gets shallower as you climb. After climbing for over a mile-and-a-half, turn left on Gettis Ridge Rd. You are near the top of the climb. About 0.3 miles later, you start a long, slow descent that takes you all the way back to Tussey Ski Area. About 0.3 miles past the crest, make a left on North Meadows Rd. Descend the pleasant slope of North Meadows Rd, being sure to take advantage of the overlook  of Bear Meadows Natural Area on your right. The descent flattens out after a couple of miles. After about 2.5 miles, North Meadows Rd ends at Bear Meadows Rd. This is about half a mile into Leg 12, the last leg, of the mOUnTaiNBACK Relay. Make a left and continue for about 3.7 miles on the rolling downhill stretches all the way to the finish at Tussey Ski Area.
Remarks: The Tussey mOUnTaiNBACK - Rosie Ruiz Version* is a very challenging 12.6 mile run. It takes in all of Leg 1 of the mOUnTaiNBACK, a nearly 800 foot climb, and a mile of Leg 2, which descends 250 ft, giving you a short break before the last climb of over 550 ft in about 2 miles. The gentle 6 mile descent is not too hard on the joints and offers some beautiful scenery. If you make a right instead of a left on Bear Meadows Rd from North Meadows, you can take a 1.2 mile out-and-back detour to the beautiful Bear Meadows Natural Area, which you viewed from an overlook above. The parking area at Bear Meadows Natural Area is the site of Transition Zones 10 and 11 of the mOUnTaiNBACK Relay.

*Rosie Ruiz 'won' the 1980 Boston Marathon, but was stripped of her title later in the day when it was found that she had taken the subway and skipped a good chunk of the race.

 

Map:
Profile:

                   Added: 11/06

The Tussey mOUnTaiNBACK 50 Mile Relay and Ultramarathon

 
Route:  The Tussey mOUnTaiNBACK 50 Mile Relay and Ultramarathon
Mileage:  50.0. There are 12 legs varying in length from 2.8 miles to 6.2 miles. Individual leg maps are here.
Hillage: One climb and one descent of over 900 ft., and numerous 500+ ft climbs make theTussey mOUnTaiNBACK 50 Mile Relay and Ultramarathon a very challenging race. No runner on a relay team will escape some tough hill running.

Greatest elevation change: Nearly 1100 ft.
Average Grade: 3%. But that's average. Here are some of the local grades:
 

Ascent of Little Flat:  The first hill rises 772 feet in the first 5 kilometers from the starting line. The average grade is 5%, and is significantly steeper in parts.
Descent to Whipple Dam:  The long downhill to Whipple Dam from Little Flat descends nearly 1100 ft in 7.6 miles, an average 2.7 % grade.
Beidleheimer Road: At mile 15 on Beidleheimer Rd there is an ascent of 480 ft in 1.4 miles. Grade: 6.5%. The long downslope to mile 21 descends just over 500 ft in 4.7 miles. Grade: 2%
Penn Roosevelt Hill: The big hill in the middle of the course starts ascending at mile 21 and finishes 930 ft higher at the start of mile 29 on Crowfield Rd a couple of miles past Penn Roosevelt State Park. Grade: 2.3%. But don't let the low number fool you! The long hills wears you down, and there are some steep sections. The downhill side is an easy descent of nearly 700 ft in about 8.7 miles.
Bear Meadows Bedevilment: The final long uphill starts on Krise Valley Rd at mile 37. It ascends 800 ft in 5.8 miles. The peak is on Treaster Kettle Rd near Bear Meadows Rd. Grade: 2.6%. The last bit is the steepest. After a short descent on Bear Meadows Rd to the turnaround on Wampler Rd, the course revisits the peak from a different side. Ascending Bear Meadows Rd., the high point is just past its intersection with Treaster Kettle Rd. The final downhill on Bear Meadows Rd descends 740 ft in just under 5 miles. Grade: 3%
 

Description:  The Tussey mOUnTaiNBACK 50 Mile Relay is run mostly on gravel roads in the Rothrock State Forest near State College, Pennsylvania. The relay starts just outside of the parking lot of the Tussey Mountain Ski Area, which is about 6 miles outside of State College off of US Rte 322. Take Rte 322 (Business) East from State College. This is called South Atherton Street in State College. About 2 miles past Boalsburg, PA, there is a sign for the Tussey Mountain Ski Area. Make a right at the sign onto Bear Meadows Rd. Less than a mile up the road is the Tussey Mountain Ski Area. Park in the parking lot.

The Tussey mOUnTaiNBACK 50 Mile Relay and Ultramarathon Course is a USATF certified course (Certificate # PA 02020 WB).

There is a very detailed description of the course, including landmarks, on the Tussey mOUnTaiNBACK Relay web site. There is also a jumbo version of the course map shown below. 
 

Remarks: The Tussey mOUnTaiNBACK 50 Mile Relay began in 2000. That year, over a dozen teams and one solo "ultra" covered the course during a beautiful fall day. In 2003, there were 47 teams and 20 ultras (19 of whom finished!). The race is attracting teams from around the East for a great mountain run during "fall colors" season. You can find out a lot about the race on the Nittany Valley Running Club's web pages for the race.

Map:
Leg Maps: Leg Maps
The links are to PDF files containing maps and elevation profiles of the individual legs.
 
Leg 1 - Difficult
Leg 7 - Moderate
Leg 2 - Easy
Leg 8 - Easy
Leg 3 - Easy
Leg 9 - Easy
Leg 4 - Difficult
Leg 10 - Difficult
Leg 5 - Easy
Leg 11 - Moderate/Difficult
Leg 6 - Moderate              
Leg 12 - Easy

Profile:

                       Added: 09/10

Mike's Mini-mOUnTaiNBACK

 
Route: Mike's Mini-mOUnTaiNBACK (Thanks to Mike Dooris, with apologies to Mike Casper and Steve Bodner)
Mileage:  8.5 miles.
Hillage: The first half is a constant uphill. The way back is the way you came.

Total elevation change: 1069 ft.
Average Grade: 5%. Up to the end of Mile 3, the average grade is 6%. The final assent to the lookout is a little less steep. Likewise, on the way down the route gets steeper as you approach the end. Notable rises on the way up:
 

Mile ½:  Early on, about half a mile from the start, there is a short stretch with a 10% grade.
Mile 2½-3: For about a half-mile just before Mile 3, the grade steepens to 7.5%.
 

Description:  Mike's Mini-mOUnTaiNBACK starts in the parking lot of the Tussey Mountain Ski Area, which is about 6 miles outside of State College off of US Rte 322. Take Rte 322 (Business) East from State College. This is called South Atherton Street in State College. About 2 miles past Boalsburg, PA, there is a sign for the Tussey Mountain Ski Area. Make a right at the sign onto Bear Meadows Rd. Less than a mile up the road is the Tussey Mountain Ski Area. Park in the parking lot.

The route begins on Bear Meadows Rd. Start up the mountain. About a half-mile up the hill, make a right on Laurel Run Rd. Continue on this winding gravel road, passing two switchbacks, for just about 3 miles. A quarter mile or so past the second switchback is a gated gravel road on the left. Take this road for the final one mile ascent to the lookout. At the lookout, take a rest, take in the view, then turn around and head back the way you came.
 

Remarks: Mike's Mini-mOUnTaiNBACK is a challenging out-n-back hill run on gravel roads in the mountainous Rothrock State Forest land near State College. NVRC Webmaster Mike Dooris likes to run this route with his son, Tim. You may be wondering about the funny use of capital and lower case letters in the name of this route. The name is a take-off on the name of a local long-distance team relay race, the Tussey mOUnTaiNBACK 50 Mile Relay. In 2000, Mike Casper and Steve Bodner concocted a 50 mile tour of the Tussey Mountain area and co-directed a great relay race. Mike's Mini-mOUnTaiNBACK samples a small part of the course.

The course itself is challenging, but beautiful. Most of the route is shaded and cool in the summer. In the winter, the roads can be un-runnable. There is an occasional vista. At the top there is a ranger's cabin and lookout tower, as well as some impressive radio towers. You can relax and enjoy the view, climb the tower, marvel at the rockiness of the Mid-State hiking trail, which passes near the tower, and then head back down the mountain.
 

Map:
Profile:

                       Added: 6/01