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Beartown State Park


Beartown, a 107-acre state park, is located seven miles southwest of Hillsboro in Pocahontas County. One of the state’s most unusual natural areas, Beartown is a world of stone, with rocks the size of houses and deep crevices the size of streets twisting among the rocks. A half-mile boardwalk on stilts allows visitors to view the spectacular sight.

Beartown’s geologic history holds the clues to the unusual rock formation. The local cap rock consists of a 30-foot layer of Pocono sandstone underlain by softer shale. As the shale erodes, the support for the hard sandstone is worn down and it slumps downhill, causing cracks and fissures to develop. Sandstone breaks in regular fractures, so deep fissures develop and widen as the rocks continue to slip downhill.

Another feature of the sandstone is its many circular pits or cavities. The pits are caused by erosion as large grains of sand wash out until the more compact and resistant stone remains. Mice and birds nest in the small cavities. Some cavities are large enough for den sites. Beartown gets its name from black bears reputed to den in the rocks. The area around Beartown is rugged, and ice may remain in shady, rock-strewn valleys until July.

Written by Norma Jean Kennedy-Venable