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Hiking Through the Alan Seeger Natural Area in Rothrock State Forest

Hidden deep within Rothrock State Forest in northern Huntingdon County, you’ll find one of PA’s most impressive strands of old-growth forest at the Alan Seeger Natural Area.

The Alan Seeger Natural Area is 390 acres in size and is one of the few areas in this part of the Alleghenies that was skipped over by loggers a century ago. That means that this spot has towering white pine, eastern hemlocks, and yellow birch that are hundreds of years old.

The area is named after Alan Seeger, a poet who died while fighting for the French Foreign Legion in World War 1. It’s unknown why this area was named after Seeger, though, as it appears he has no connection to this area.

Tall tree in the Alan Seeger Natural Area in Huntingdon County PA
The Alan Seeger Natural Area is home to some of the largest trees in PA.

Interestingly Seeger is the uncle of folk singer Pete Seeger. Pete Seeger also has little connection to PA, but wrote a song about the state’s steel industry called “Pittsburgh Town” and translated and recorded a Norwegian song “Oleanna” about the area that is now Ole Bull State Park in Potter County.

The Alan Seger Trail offers access into a beautiful woodland. The trail is less than a mile and easy enough that anyone can hike it. However, this is also one of the most beautiful and unique hikes I’ve done in this part of the state thanks to the giant trees, rhododendron tunnels, many bridges, and the overall beauty of the forest.

This is definitely an area worth going out of your way to explore, and I’ve got everything you need to know to visit it here.

Getting to the Alan Seeger Natural Area

A gravel road passes through the woods in Rothrock State Forest in PA
A gravel road in Rothrock State Forest.

The Alan Seeger Natural Area is located in the northeastern corner of  Huntingdon County, PA, and only a few miles from Greenwood Furnace State Park.

As with all areas in state forests, it’s a good idea to plan ahead how you will get to this spot. This is because of both a lack of cell service and sometimes treacherous roads. There is a free map of the forest available from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, or you can pick up the very detailed Purple Lizard Map for Rothrock State Forest (which is what I use).

Car parked at the Alan Seeger Natural Area in the Allegheny Mountains of PA
There is ample parking near the trailhead.

The best access area is off Route 26 to the southwest of the natural area. This will allow you to stay on paved roads for pretty much the entire trip to this spot.

If you are coming from the east or the north (like from State College), I took a route that went from Route 322 and passed Penn-Roosevelt State Park which was, as of the summer of 2022, passable in a car.

Note that many of these roads aren’t maintained in the winter so it’s best to not visit during the colder months of the year.

Pavilion at the Alan Seeger Natural Area in PA
There are several pavilions near the parking area and trailhead if you want to have a picnic.

There is no address for the Alan Seeger Natural Area, but it can be found at the following coordinates: 40.695415, -77.757926.

Ample parking is available at this spot.

[Click here for information on how to use the coordinates in this article to find your destination.]

Hiking the Alan Seeger Trail

The Trailhead for the Alan Seeger Natural Area in Rothrock State Forest
The Trailhead for the Alan Seeger Natural Area.

The Alan Seeger Natural Area features a single loop trail that is 0.8 miles long and passes through this majestic wilderness. There is basically no elevation gain, and while there are a few spots where you might get your feet wet or muddy, it’s a very easy hike overall.

The trailhead for the Alan Seeger Trail starts near the intersection of Seeger Road and Stone Creek Road. Look for the large information signs which are at the trailhead. The first portion of the trail is not blazed, but it’s an obvious and easy-to-follow trail.

Forested trail in the Alan Seeger Natural Area of PA
The first third of the hike is nice but a bit underwhelming.

The hike on the Alan Seeger Trail starts off a bit underwhelming in my opinion for the first third of the hike. It’s not that it’s not beautiful, but the first portion of the hike doesn’t pass by most of the largest trees and the other points of interest along the trail.

After about three-tenths of a mile, you’ll reach the point where the Alan Seeger Trail meets with the Greenwood Spur of the Standing Stone Trail. Turn to the right to continue on the now combined trail.

Tall hemlocks in the Alan Seeger Natural Area of the Alleghenies.
Massive trees line the trail.

Once you make this turn, the trail becomes, in my opinion, noticeably more interesting.

This second third of the hike is marked by rhododendrons that tower over the trail and often create tunnels that surround you. In fact, I often had to duck when walking through this area because the rhododendron was so tight along the trail.

Wooden bridge surrounded by rhododendron on the Alan Seeger Trail in Rothrock State Forest
The trail is surrounded by massive rhododendron during the second third of the hike.

I can only imagine how beautiful this part of the trail is when the flowers are blooming.

This portion of the trail is also where you’ll encounter the four wooden bridges on the hike. These cross over various side streams, with the largest of these bridges crossing over the Standing Stone Creek.

Wooden footbridge with stones on the Alan Seeger Trail in Huntingdon County PA
The bridges on this trail are truly stunning.

In spots here, if water levels are higher, I could see it being hard or impossible to complete the loop without getting your feet wet, so definitely keep that in mind.

The final third of this 0.8-mile hike is dominated by towering trees and an open forest. Make sure to look upwards as these are some of the tallest and largest trees you’ll see in Pennsylvania.

Towering trees on either side of the Alan Seeger Trail in PA
The final portion of the hike features open woodland and towering trees.

This is definitely an impressive part of the trail.

All too soon, the trail circles back around to Seeger Road on the far side of Standing Stone Creek from the main parking area. While the Standing Stone Trail continues onwards on the far side of the road, there are no good loop hikes with that portion of the trail, so it’s likely best to simply cross the bridge over the creek and return to your car.

Trailhead in the Alan Seeger Natural Area of Rothrock State Forest
The second trailhead on the same road where the hike started.

Before you leave, take a moment to sit in one of the pavilions here and simply enjoy the beauty of this area and the wonderful sound made by the babbling brook. This is truly a special area.

Overall, the Alan Seeger Natural Area is a fantastic place to visit. While the trail here is quite short, the hike features a ton of beauty and interesting things to see, so I’d definitely say it’s worth the drive to visit this majestic spot in Rothrock State Forest.

Looking for more places to visit nearby? Check out Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, Stone Mountain Hawk Watch, Indian Wells Overlook, and the Isett Heritage Museum.

Disclosure: This article may contain affiliate links. We will make a small commission from these links if you order something at no additional cost to you.

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