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Rothrock State Forest is a Pennsylvania State Forest in Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry District #5. The main offices are located in Huntingdonmarker in Huntingdon Countymarker, Pennsylvaniamarker in the United Statesmarker.

Rothrock State Forest is located in Centremarker, Huntingdon, and Mifflinmarker Counties.

State Collegemarker, home of Penn State Universitymarker is only a few miles from many of the entrances of Rothrock, leading to high utilization of the forest by students and staff of the university. Rothrock shares a common border on its eastern portion with Bald Eagle State Forestmarker and is just north of areas of Tuscarora State Forestmarker.


Rothrock State Forest was formed as a direct result of the depletion of the forests of Pennsylvania that took place during the mid to late 1800s. Conservationists like Dr. Joseph Rothrock became concerned that the forests would not regrow if they were not managed properly. Lumber and iron companies had harvested the old-growth forests for various reasons. The clear cut the forests and left behind nothing but dried tree tops and rotting stumps. The sparks of passing steam locomotives ignited wildfires that prevented the formation of second growth forest. The conservationists feared that the forest would never regrow if there was not a change in the philosophy of forest management. They called for the state to purchase land from the lumber and iron companies and the lumber and iron companies were more than willing to sell their land since that had depleted the natural resources of the forests. The changes began to take place in 1895 when Dr. Rothrock was appointed the first commissioner of the Pennsylvania Department of Forests and Waters, the forerunner of today's Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The Pennsylvania General Assembly passed a piece of legislation in 1897 that authorized the purchase of "unseated lands for forest reservations." This was the beginning of the State Forest system.

The name Rothrock comes from Dr. Joseph Trimbel Rothrock. He is recognized as the Father of Forestry in Pennsylvania. In 1895, Dr. Rothrock was appointed the first forestry commissioner to lead the newly-formed Division of Forestry in the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. Two of his major accomplishments as commissioner were his land acquisition program and the creation of a forest academy to train foresters for state service.

Dr. Rothrock led the effort in central Pennsylvania to acquire land that had once belonged to the Greenwood Iron Works. The iron company had left behind approximately of land that had been stripped of its old growth forest to provide fuel in the form of charcoal for the iron furnaces in northern Huntingdon Countymarker. Additional land was purchased soon after until nearly all of the Seven Mountain area had become state property. The lands acquired in the early 20th century were divided into three separate state forest reserves. Logan State Forest comprised the land in northern Huntingdon County and Fergusonmarker and Harrismarker Townships in Centre Countymarker. Penn State Forest was located in Potter Townshipmarker, Centre County and Armagh Townshipmarker and Brown Townshipmarker Townships in Mifflin Countymarker. Rothrock State Forest was near Mount Unionmarker and Entriken in Huntingdon County. The three forests were merged in 1953 with parts of Penn and Logan being added to Bald Eagle State Forestmarker and the rest combined to make what is now Rothrock State Forest.

Some of the first firetowers built in Pennsylvania were constructed in Rothrock State Forest in the 1920s. Pennsylvania Governor Gifford Pinchot, former chief of the U.S. Forest Service upgraded the Pennsylvania Forestry Division to full department status and gave the new Department of Forest and Waters the funds needed to build steel observation towers in the state forests. The construction of the observation towers combined with changes in forest management lead to a dramatic decrease in the number and size of forest fires throughout the state forests of Pennsylvania.

Much of the land that is now Rothrock State Forest was cleared of dried underbrush during the Great Depression by the young men of the Civilian Conservation Corps created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In addition to clearing the forests and streams of brush the CCC also built roads and trails in the state forests and parks and many of the recreational facilities still in use at the state parks in the Rothrock State Forest area.

By the 1950s the second growth forest of oak and hickory had grown to a size that the wood was ready to be harvested for lumber. A scientific forestry management plan was put into place in 1955. The timber management plan was expanded to a natural resource management plan in 1985. The new management plan covers the management of water, wildlife, timber, fire protection and recreation. Recreational use of the Rothrock State Forest has grown in the last several decades. All visitors are asked to learn and comply with all state forest regulations while using and respecting the forest and its facilities.

Neighboring state forest districts

Nearby state parks

Four PA State Parks are located within Rothrock State Forest:
Sassafrass Trail near Greenwood Furnace State Park


Various events are held in Rothrock each year including the Wilderness 101, a mountain bike race, and the Tussey MountainBack 50 Mile Relay, a race and Ultramarathon. In 2005 the Single Speed World Championship race was held in Rothrock.

2006 Fire

On May 1, 2006, a large fire was started in Rothrock State Forest. more than burned. Local newspaper coverage

Other attractions


Natural areas

  • Alan Seeger Natural Area: Huntingdon County, north of Greenwood Furnace State Park. Includes about of old-growth Eastern White Pine and Eastern Hemlock, with some trees in diameter and nearly 1,000 years old.
  • Bear Meadows Natural Areamarker: Centre County, four miles south of Boalsburg. Protects a boreal bog with old-growth Black Spruce and Balsam Fir forests.
  • Big Flat Laurel Natural Area: Huntingdon and Centre Counties, four miles south of Boalsburg. Includes extensive stands of Mountain Laurel.
  • Detweiler Run Natural Area: Huntingdon County, southeast of Boalsburg. Includes of old-growth Eastern White Pine and Eastern Hemlock forests above a Rhododendron understory.
  • Little Juniata Natural Area: Huntingdon County, west of Barree. Includes a slope of Tuscarora sandstone scree and a horizontal thrust fault.
  • Rocky Ridge Natural Area: Huntingdon County, south of Martin Gap. Includes exposed sandstone and limestone beneath an oak woodland.

Wild Areas

  • Thickhead Mountain Wild Area: Centre and Huntingdon counties, . Forested ridges and mountains with over of old-growth ridgetop Chestnut Oak forests including trees up to 350 years old.
  • Trough Creek Wild Area: Huntingdon County, .


  • Note: Map showing districts after the July 1, 2005 realignment

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