Our final excursion during our New Years Weekend in Clarion was Beartown Rocks in Clear Creek State Park. I loved this hike because we had the trail almost completely to ourselves and I felt so at peace following the creek. The weather for us during this hike wasn’t the greatest for us, being a bit cold and rainy so this trail was a bit treacherous at times. We encountered a lot of mud and slippery spots. Is it really winter hiking if you don’t fall a few times? The tumbles were worth it though for the view at the Rocks. These were really incredible geological features that I highly encourage you to take the time to explore! After a chilly, muddy hike, the best way to warm up is with a brew at Mechanistic Brewing in downtown Clarion. I can’t imagine a better way to end a winter hike than with their Spruce Tip IPA!
THE HIKE: Beartown Rocks
Length: 4.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 700ft
Time: 1.5-2 hours
Trail use: Hiking and leashed pets
Parking: Large lot at trailhead with pit toilets
Clear Creek State Park is located in Jefferson County and encompasses just shy of 2,000 acres. Due to its proximity to Cook Forest, it’s a great addition to a weekend in the PA Wilds! The land that makes up Clear Creek was a key part of the lumber industry in the 1800s for Northwestern PA. Its access to the nearby Clarion River made it a prime area for logging. Eventually water power was replaced by steam power and logging tapered off in the area. The land was sold in 1919 to the state and within a decade it became a camping destination. Like many parks, Clear Creek benefited from FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps which planted trees, built facilities, and trails in the area. Several of the buildings from this era are still in use and are on the National Register of Historic Places. The state park abuts the Clear Creek State Forest in which the majority of this hike actually takes place.
Beartown Rocks can be accessed by car via Corbett Road. This is a dirt State Forest road that may not be maintained during the winter months so travelat your own risk! There are also trails around the area if you prefer to hike to Beartown Rocks. We parked at the Clear Creek State Park at the swimming beach lot off Route 949. The parking lot is really big and has pit toilets so it was an ideal place to start our hike! The Beartown Rocks trail begins across the street and is very clearly labeled. You’ll be following this same trail all the way to the Rocks! This is a moderately difficult hike as there are some small stream crossings (no wet feet!) and a few steep inclines. I thought it was the perfect end to our hiking weekend because we saw so many different types of forests from conifer-lined streams to rhododendron covered hills! This is another area that I would love to come back when the flowers are blooming.
The Rocks themselves are well-worth the heart-pumping final descent. These unique features just seem to rise up out of the ground completely unexpectedly. They are likely remnants of the last Ice Age, due to the speckles and pitting on their surface. There is a nice platform on the top of the largest rock that allows you to see out over the valley. It was hauntingly beautiful in winter especially since we hadn’t seen a soul the whole hike. There was a dense fog hanging over the treetops that was beautiful. I think this would be a lovely fall hike too! To get back to the parking lot, just retrace your steps but be careful! Some of those steep inclines were really slippery going back down! I will fully admit that I took a few tumbles. Thankfully not into this river this time (ahem, here’s looking at you, first day hike in 2021).
This was an excellent hike and a big shoutout to MyTrailsAreMany for suggesting it! I would have never found this one on my own and I’m so glad we went out of our way to check it out. Crossing off another PA State Park!
THE BEER: Mechanistic Brewing Co.
Address: 538 Liberty St, Clarion, PA 16214
Distance from Trail Head: 24 miles, 32 mins
Food?: Food Trucks or BYOB
Details: Outdoor seating, dog friendly outside
Mechanistic Brewing is another craft beer taproom in the heart of Clarion. It’s right off the main drag and boasts a super cool taproom and lounge. They don’t have an onsite kitchen, but often host food trucks in the warmer seasons and welcome BYOF. They have a huge outdoor patio space and welcome all to their taproom, families included! Their tagline is “Beer as a mechanism to bring people together”. Well I love that! We couldn’t have had a nicer time at this taproom. All of the staff were so nice and we had some great chats about the area and their beer. By far, the standout for favorite beer was their Little Full, Whole Lotta Sap IPA which was made with spruce tips. I was hesitant because I haven’t liked piney beers in the past but this one was so good! It smelled incredible and managed to balance the pine with a sweet hazy beer. It was delicious and honestly I couldn’t imagine a better beer to have after walking in the woods! I didn’t realize it until I was doing some research for the blog, but the two staff holding down the fort at the bar the day we visited were actually the owners, a husband and wife team! No wonder the place had such a lovely neighborhood vibe. If it wasn’t so far, I’d be back all the time!
- Little Full, Whole Lotta Sap – Spruce Tip West Coast IPA – 6.1%
- Snow Angel – IPA – 5.6%
- Belgian Saison – Farmhouse Ale – 4.6%
- Cali Blonde – Blonde Ale – 4.4%