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General Articles - Trip Reports

Rock Run - Patton, PA

Article written by Troll

Date Added: 11/14/2010

A new publicly owned offroad park in Western Pennsylvania offers something for everyone.

With most offroad parks and trails in the US being privately owned, it is not every day we see a new offroad park being opened by a public entity. Rock Run in Patton, Pennsylvania is a departure from the norm in this respect and it offers nearly two dozen trails for Jeepers of every level to enjoy.

Our resident photographer and web geek, Troll, grew up in the hills of Western Pennsylvania back in the day when coal mining an steel mills were the way of life for much of this area of the country. Both his Dad and Grandfather were coal miners working day and night deep under the Appalachians to eek out a living for their families. Time and again, Troll would hear the mining stories from his Dad and Grandpa during his childhood. This unforgiving geography would play a large role in the Troll's own personal experiences during his offroad travails on the mountains. It would also lead to the development of a large offroad park in Troll's backyard.

Rock Run, located just outside the rural Western Pennsylvania community of Patton, was developed from the remnants of a coal strip mine. The 6,000 acre property was once a barren landscape devoid of the beautiful dense forest common to this area of Pennsylvania. It was, instead filled with heavy trucks and mining equipment scouring out the land and turning it into a barren wasteland.

After years of running the strip mine, the mining company shut down operations and left the site as the devoid landscape they turned it into. Over time, nature began to take over the mining fields and forest growth began to come back to the area. The acid mine runoff and drainage was still there and would not be going away any time soon on its own. This unfortunate story is all too common in Pennsylvania and thankfully, some organizations are taking it upon themselves to do something about it. Rock Run is one of these organizations.

In 2003, Rock Run purchased the former mining company property, totaling over 6,000 acres, to transform it into a first class offroad park and clean up the mine drainage and slag. This new Park, funded by a $2M initial grant by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and a matching $2M property donation grant, was spearheaded by Pennsylvania State Representative, Gary Haluska. The Park was initially developed as an ATV area and over the past several years, the ATV trails have grown in coverage to over 80 miles. In 2006, volunteers began cutting OHV trails in the Park and this work has continued through 2010 with new trails being cut throughout the season. The Park now has nearly 20 trails available for Jeeps and other offroad rigs with every conceivable trail rating available to challenge drivers of all skill levels.

Our visit to the Park in October, 2010 was expected to be an enjoyable day hitting some easy to moderately difficult trails. The Troll's Hammer is up to the challenge of just about anything relating to rocks and what could Pennsylvania possibly have to offer in terms of rock crawling that places like Moab don't have to offer? Well, the Troll found out quickly that Rock Run was not a typical offroad park for Pennsylvania, or anywhere else for that matter. The first black / level 5 run of the day turned out to be an hour-long excursion into an overgrown boulder field known as "Punch Buggy", because of the punch bug (aka Volkswagen Beetle) sized boulders strewn throughout this trail. The boulders on this trail were over 4 feet tall in most cases and some were over 6 feet tall. On 35" tires, the Troll's Hammer met its match and bowed out after an hour of mashing the throttle and banging into boulders. Even getting out of this trail proved to be a challenge, which took 30 minutes.

Throughout the day, we saw a lot of trails ranging from dirt roads suitable for any stock Jeep, up to the massive boulder fields sure to challenge any Jeeper out there, no matter how big the rig. We learned a lot about the area and the ongoing environmental cleanup being done at the Park by the Rock Run organization. There are enough trails at Rock Run for a Jeeper to spend the entire weekend exploring and challenging themselves to any skill level they desire.

At the end of the day, Troll's Hammer was wounded when a big boulder took a bite out of the Hammer's oil pan and drained all the blood (oil) from the engine and rendered the Hammer inoperable. Thankfully, this mishap was caught before all the blood drained and caused a fatal wound. The Troll was surprised by the aggressive nature of the trails he found at Rock Run and this incident confirmed his thoughts about the high level of difficulty of some of the trails at the Park. The Park truly has everything available for everyone.

Final Thoughts

With of our public lands disappearing from the map on an almost daily basis, we are always excited to see new trails and parks opening for offroad enthusiasts. Please support parks like Rock Run and show your support of their efforts.

Our Thank You's!

MOABJEEPER Magazine would like to thank everyone who is a part of Rock Run for their dedication to building and maintaining an excellent public trail system. Our public lands are constantly under assault from many groups and we need more people like those at Rock Run.

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