The Flat Rock Trail rises a steep and rocky1,200 feet above the trailhead located in Colonel Denning State Park. Although the journey may often be strenuous, the view of the Cumberland valley from Flat Rock provides a wonderful reward for your efforts.
The Flat Rock trailhead is located behind the Rt. 233 entrance to Colonel Denning State Park near the Nature Center Pavilion. From the pavilion go across the creek on a bridge and then head south-east up the Flat Rock Trail, you will cross a smaller creek and eventually run into a dirt road. Turn left on the road and walk up a steep hill to get to the two spring houses. Continue hiking south up the trail’s rocky terrain for another half mile until you come across the Wagon Wheel where 6 paths radiate from a central point. Continue due south and go straight across the wagon wheel along the Flat Rock/Tuscarora Trail, do NOT make a sharp right turn and head back down the northwest leg of the Tuscarora Trail. The next half mile gradually slopes downhill, after the first 300 yards you will pass the shelter/picnic area which also has an outhouse. The trail will start going uphill again after you traverse a few wooden bridges over a marshy area. Continue uphill for another half mile until you reach the top of Blue Mountain. Flat Rock Vista is about 200 feet beyond the ridge.
After spending time resting at Flat Rock and admiring the view, take the blue (and red) blazed Tuscarora Trail, which continues to the right (north-northeast) about 20 feet from Flat Rock, down the mountain for .8 miles until you get to a stream. From there make a sharp 150 degree left turn and start heading west along the stream for about 100 feet to a tree bridging the stream. Cross the stream and look for the yellow blazed Lehman Trail. Follow the Lehman trail north to northeast for about half a mile until you rejoin Flat Rock Trail at the Wagon Wheel. From there it’s 1 mile back down the same trail that you hiked up until you return to the Nature Center Pavilion.
This route is 2.15 miles up and 2.5 miles back down for a total of 4.35 miles of vigorous hiking. Blue Mountain ridge has an elevation of 1,980 feet and is located 1,200 feet above the trailhead below. Total elevation gain is 1,570 feet.
I spotted an abundance of wildlife the last time I hiked up the Flat Rock trail. A couple stretches of Mountain Laurel vividly coming into bloom, at least 20 chipmunks scurrying about, Turkey Vultures, a young Golden Eagle and fields of ferns. I spoke to two gentlemen coming down the trail who were carrying snake sticks (poles with hooks on the end) and they told me that they had seen 5 rattlesnakes in the rocky field directly below the Flat Rock Vista. While sitting on Flat Rock I saw a reptile or amphibian of my own, a little lizard-like creature darted across the rock, briefly paused long enough for me to take a blurry photo and then disappeared into the rocks below. It was probably a Red-Spotted Newt but the area didn’t seem wet enough for such an amphibious creature.
Flat Rock Vista Pictures
- Nearest Town: McCrea, PA, USA
- Nearest Park: Colonel Denning State Park
- Dog Friendly: Yes but rocky terrain.