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Camping at Rothrock State Forest

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Overview of Rothrock State Forest

Rothrock State Forest is located in central Pennsylvania, spanning parts of Huntingdon, Centre, and Mifflin counties. Named after Dr. Joseph Trimble Rothrock, a forestry pioneer and the father of Pennsylvania’s state forest system, Rothrock State Forest covers roughly 96,000 acres and offers a range of outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, mountain biking, and hunting.

Camping Information

Designated Camping Areas: Rothrock State Forest provides several rustic camping areas for visitors. These usually include sites with minimal amenities, intended for tent camping or small campers. It's important to check which sites are open and what facilities they provide before arriving.

Primitive Backpacking: For a more secluded experience, primitive backpack camping is allowed throughout the state forest. Campers are required to follow the Leave No Trace principles and must set up camp at least 200 feet away from any trail or water source.

Permits and Reservations: Depending on your group size and the camping location, you may need a permit:

  • For small groups (less than 10 people), no permit is needed if camping one night.
  • For larger groups or if staying more than one night, a free camping permit is required.
  • Certain popular locations may require a permit regardless of group size and duration.

To secure a permit, contact the district forest office. During popular seasons, it’s recommended to obtain permits in advance.

Regulations and Safety


  • Campfires may be permitted at designated campsites but check for any current fire bans due to dry conditions.
  • Collecting dead and down wood for fire is typically allowed, but cutting live vegetation is prohibited.

Wildlife: Rothrock is home to a variety of wildlife, including black bears. Proper food storage is crucial to avoid attracting animals to your campsite.

Hunting: During hunting seasons, wearing fluorescent orange is mandatory if you are camping or hiking in the forest.

Ticks and Lyme Disease: The area is known to have ticks that may carry Lyme disease. Wear protective clothing and check for ticks frequently.

Trails and Recreation

Hiking and Mountain Biking: Rothrock State Forest boasts an extensive trail system renowned for its challenging mountain biking terrain and scenic hiking paths. Trails like the Mid State Trail and the extensive trail networks around the Tussey Mountain ridge offer diverse experiences.

Winter Sports: In winter, Rothrock provides opportunities for cross-country skiing and snowmobiling on designated trails.

Points of Interest

Tussey Mountain: A popular ridge for hikers and bikers, it offers panoramic views and access to several trails.

Penn Roosevelt State Park: Situated within Rothrock State Forest, this small park is a great starting point for outdoor activities in the region.

Scenic Vista Points: There are several vistas throughout Rothrock, including Stone Valley Vista and Little Flat Fire Tower, which offer expansive views of the Central Pennsylvania valleys.

Access and Amenities

Road Access: Some forest roads may be closed seasonally, so it’s vital to check the status of roads before traveling. A state forest map will help in planning your route.

Water and Restrooms: Potable water is not readily available in all areas; therefore, be prepared to treat natural water or pack in your own. Restroom facilities may also be limited to vault toilets at certain campsites.

Local Services: The nearest towns to Rothrock State Forest are State College, Huntingdon, and Lewistown, where you can find supplies, dining, and additional lodging options.

Before heading out into the wilderness, always inform someone of your plans, understand the Leave No Trace principles, and be prepared with proper gear, food, water, and knowledge of the area. For the most current information and tips, always consult with the Rothrock State Forest District office before your trip.

Map of Campgrounds in Rothrock State Forest
Campgrounds in Rothrock State Forest
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