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Beartown Rocks Hiking Guide: Clear Creek State Forest PA

Jarrod and Pawd at Beartown Rocks Overlook

The Beartown Rocks trail is a 3.9-mile out-and-back adventure through the beautiful Clear Creek State Forest in Northwestern Pennsylvania. The overlook is situated above a vast boulder field with rocks measuring as tall as a house!

Hiking Beartown Rocks is a journey filled with beautiful scenery, evergreen mountain laurels, challenging climbs, and a gorgeous overlook of the Allegheny Plateau. Dotting the trail are immersive pine forests, stream crossings, and enormous sandstone boulders.

In this hiking guide, I’ll walk you through the Beartown Rocks Trail step-by-step. I’ll also give you tips on hiking with dogs at Beartown Rocks and what gear you might need to conquer this beautiful trail!

What To Expect At Beartown Rocks

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources tells us that Clear Creek State Forest encompasses 16,716 acres and spans five counties. This Forest is unique because all the acreage isn’t located in one place. 

The tract of Forest containing Beartown Rocks is located just south of Clear Creek State Park and is known as the Clear Creek Section. There are six other sections of the Forest scattered throughout Northwest Pennsylvania:

  • Callen Run Section – Just east of Clear Creek
  • Maple Creek Section – Near Vowinkle
  • Clarion River Section – Intertwined with Cook Forest State Park
  • Wolf Creek Section – Near Grove City north of I-80
  • McKeever Section – West of Franklin near Sandy Lake
  • Kennerdell Section – Near the town of Kennerdell, PA

If you enjoy hiking Beartown Rocks, check out our guide on hiking Forest Cathedral in nearby Cook Forest!

Parking Lot

Beartown Rocks Trail Parking Lot

The parking lot for Beartown Rocks is large, so you will likely find a spot no matter what time of day you decide to go. 

Peak season from Memorial Day through Labor Day can get busy, but you should still be able to find a spot.

Hiking With Pets

Jarrod and Pawd at Beartown Rocks Overlook

Pets are welcome at Clear Creek State Forest, so feel free to bring your pup along for the adventure (or your cat!). Clear Creek gets busy in the summer, so it’s not the best location for a reactive dog. You can read more about how to hike with a reactive dog here!

Here are some pet-specific tips to keep in mind at Beartown Rocks:

  • Ticks: Pennsylvania is one of the worst states for ticks. Make sure to protect your furbaby with flea and tick prevention like Nexgard. Be sure to pair the preventative with your pet’s weight. Pack a tick remover tool for those stubborn buggers that dig in! We use the TickCheck Tick Remover.
  • Mud: The Beartown Rocks Trail has several stream crossings. After heavy rains, the trails near the streams can get muddy. Consider packing pet wipes like Vetnique Labs Furbliss Pet Wipes to wipe your pet down after your adventures. No one likes a muddy car!
  • Trail Conditions: Like most PA trails, Beartown Rocks is plagued with rocks, roots, and rough terrain. Consider getting your dog a pair of booties to protect their paws. Ruffwear’s Hi & Light™ Trail Shoes are perfect for PA hikes!
  • Treats: At just under 4 miles, your pup probably won’t get too hungry on the hike, but it never hurts to pack some training treats to work on recall and other commands! We love Full Moon All Natural Human Grade Beef Savory Bites Dog Treats. They’re human-grade, have pronounceable ingredients, and are made in the good ol’ USA!
  • Water: There are many stream crossings along the trail for your pet to cool off and grab a drink, but we recommend bringing your own water and collapsible bowl for safety. Ruffwear’s Bivy Collapsible Bowl can hold up to 60 liters and weighs practically nothing.
  • Keep Em’ Leashed: Wildlife in Clear Creek can be unpredictable. You may see nothing scurrying around, or you may run into a black bear or porcupine! Please keep your pet leashed not only for their safety but also for the safety of wild animals.

Check out our dog-hiking essentials list to ensure you pack everything your canine companion might need along the trail! Bringing your cat? We have a gear list for them, too!

Wildlife

When we hiked the Beartown Rocks Trail, our dog Pawdrick tangoed with a porcupine! Luckily, Pawd and the porcupine were fine, but Pawd got pricked with two quills in his one remaining front limb!

Because Beartown Rocks is a popular area, the wildlife you will see during the summer is reduced to squirrels and chipmunks, maybe a bald eagle. However, in the quieter season, you may get lucky and see a black bear, porcupine, muskrat, or even the elusive river otter!

You can read about what to do if you see a black bear here. Always give wild animals plenty of space. Even though they are friend-shaped, you should never try to feed or pet a wild animal. 

Trail Conditions 

Beartown Rocks Trail Conditions

Like most trails in Pennsylvania, the Beartown Rocks Trail is scattered with loose rocks and plenty of tree roots to trip you up along the way.

Proper footwear is a must. Consider wearing waterproof boots, as there are a few stream crossings. Trekking poles are optional but would help if you’re new to hiking. You can read about what we Dirtbags with Furbags use to hike in our day hiking gear list guide!

Pennsylvania isn’t known for its sunny conditions, but on those rare days when the sun peeks out from behind the gray clouds, be sure to pack sunscreen.

Best Time To Hike Beartown Rocks

Beartown Rocks can be hiked any time of year. However, there are a few times of the year when your hike can turn from ordinary to extraordinary:

  • Mid-June to early July: The Beartown Rocks trail wonders through a dense forest of mountain laurels, which will be in full bloom from mid-June to early July.
  • October: When the leaves change color, the Beartown Rocks Overlook turns into a magnificent color show!

Summers are typically busier than winters due to the tourists and campers that come up for the season.

Where To Park: 3 Choices

The Beartown Rocks Trail is approximately 4 miles long. However, there are a few parking lots peppered throughout it, so you can make it shorter or longer, depending on time constraints or abilities.

Our step-by-step guide is geared toward parking at the Shelter 5 picnic area lot.

1. Shelter 5 Picnic Area (4-Mile Hike)

Beartown Rocks Parking Lot

There are three different parking lots along the Beartown Rocks Trail. If you start at the beginning, the parking lot is located off Clear Creek Road (PA-949) at the Shelter 5 Picnic Area in Sigel.

2. Corbett Road Parking Lot (2-Mile Hike)

Alternative Parking Lot for Beartown Rocks

A second parking lot is located off Corbett Run Road. This shaves off about two miles from the hike. 

3. Beartown Rocks Parking Lot (1/4-Mile Hike)

Beartown Rocks Hike

A third lot is on a side road off Corbett Run. It’s only a tenth of a mile walk from this parking lot to the overlook.

Beartown Rocks Step-By-Step Hiking Guide

Beartown Rocks Map

Once you find a parking space and leash up any furry companions you’ve brought, it’s time to hit the trail! You can find a beartown rocks trail map here.

  1. From the parking lot, cross over Clear Creek Road and look for an opening in the guard rails. This is the trailhead.
Beartown Rocks Trailhead

2. The Beartown Rocks Trail has red blazes, so you can look for these if you think you’ve gotten off-trail.

Red blazes along Beartown Rocks trail

3. Around the half-mile mark, you’ll enter a dense pine forest with a Beartown Rocks sign. There is no intersection here, so keep following the trail!

Beartown Rocks Trail Sign

4. At the 0.9-mile mark, you’ll cross over a tributary to Clear Creek.

Stream crossing at beartown rocks

5. Shortly after the stream crossing, you’ll come to the first intersection. To the left is the Corbett Road parking lot mentioned above (option 2). To continue to Beartown Rocks, hang a right here.

Beartown Rocks Trail Intersection with corbett road parking lot

6. Shortly after the 1-mile mark, you’ll be at an intersection with the Trap Run Trail. Continue straight to remain on the Beartown Rocks Trail.

beartown rocks trail intersection with Trap Run

7. Follow the trail for another 0.6 miles to the second intersection with Trap Run. Once again, continue straight to remain on the Beartown Rocks Trail. On a side note, you can take the Trap Run Trail on the way back to make this into a lollipop loop for some new scenery!

Beartown Rocks Trail second intersection with Trap Run

8. Around the 1.8-mile mark, you’ll come to another intersection. There will be a well on the left-hand side of the trail. Continue straight here.

beartown rocks intersection with corbett road

9. Less than a tenth of a mile later, you’ll see a sign for Beartown Rocks pointing to the left. Take this trail.

Beartown Rocks Trail left turn toward parking lot and overlook

10. At the 1.9-mile mark, you’ll arrive at the Beartown Rocks parking lot (option 3).

Beartown Rocks Parking Lot

11. The overlook is pretty evident from the parking lot and about a tenth of a mile down the path. Follow the beartown rocks trail until you see a set of stone steps.

Stone steps leading to beartown rocks overlook

12. At the top, take in the views of the Allegheny Plateau spread out below. This would be a gorgeous view in the fall or mid-June when the mountain laurels bloom!

Beartown Rocks Overlook

13. All that’s left is to reverse your steps to return to the parking lot. Remember, you can take Trap Run for some new scenery, but it will add about a mile to your journey.

Things To Do Near Beartown Rocks

Once you’ve finished your Beartown Rocks hike, you may be itching for some other fun activities in the area. We’ve got you covered!

Other Hikes In The Area

If you loved Beartown Rocks, plenty of other beautiful hikes around the area are just waiting to be explored!

  • Hector Falls: A unique waterfall hidden within the Allegheny National Forest. Check out our Hector Falls hiking guide here!
  • Devil’s Den: Located in Ridgeway, Devil’s Den will take you to a pock-marked rock formation that overlooks a gorgeous forested valley. Follow our hiking Devil’s Den guide to learn how to summit this intriguing hike!
  • Henry Run Sawmill Dam: Yet another hidden waterfall you won’t find on any map! Henry Run Sawmill Dam is located in Cook Forest, just a short drive from Clear Creek. And yes, we have a hiking guide for this waterfall too!

Grab A Bite To Eat

After such a journey, it’s only fitting to celebrate with a delicious meal! The nearby Farmer’s Inn is just three minutes from the trailhead.

A bit further down on PA-36 is the Sigel Hotel Bar and Grill, which is excellent if you like to wind down from a hike with food and a pint! A little beyond the Sigel Hotel is Cousin Basil’s. If you want the best food in the area, it’s Cousin Basil’s!

If you’d rather forgo the food and just hit up a local brewery, check out our list of dog-friendly breweries nearby!

Explore The Rocks

Exploring the rocks at Beartown

The overlook may provide a beautiful view, but it’s well worth it to walk along the trails that meander around the enormous sandstone boulders, some of which are taller than a house!

Just below the overlook is an intriguing natural rock tunnel you can walk through. If you’re into rock climbing, there are plenty of established boulder problems in the area, as well as routes waiting to be established.

Journey’s End: Beartown Rocks Hike

Clear Creek State Forest is one of the most beautiful areas in Northwest Pennsylvania. As you meander along the trails, you can hear the gentle trickling of Clear Creek and feel the soft pine needles that blanket the forest floor.

Beartown Rocks is a top contender for the best trail in the Forest. It’s 3.9 miles long, the perfect length for a short day hike, and offers a moderate challenge with approximately 650 feet of elevation gain throughout.

Have you hiked in Clear Creek or one of the neighboring state parks? Let us know how it went in the comments below! Or, if you have any insider tips and tricks, we’d love to hear them.

Until our next journey, keep exploring this beautiful world and all it offers. Happy hiking! For more guides, check out our hiking blog.

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