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Mid State Trail - State College: Hiking Little Flat to Indian Wells and Back

This is an easily accessible section of the Mid State Trail that isn't all that difficult to hike. This out-and-back hike sees very little elevation change and has many views that look down upon the Bear Meadows Natural Area. Just a little over 4 miles in length, we did this hike after work, treating two fellow employees that were in the area on business to the natural beauty of Pennsylvania.

Trailhead:  N 40° 45.11'
W 77° 45.32'
Total Elevation:  156'
Trail Length:  4.4 miles
Hike Time:  2.5 hours
Hike Type:  Out-and-back
Difficulty Rating:  44
Near:  Rothrock State Forest west of Bear Meadows Natural Area.


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The trailhead for this portion of the Mid State Trail is located at the parking area of the Little Flat Fire Tower. Access is via route US322. Heading west on US322, about 1/2 mile before Boalsburg, turn left onto Bear Meadows Road and head towards the Tussey Mountain Ski Resort. Heading east on US322, go 1/2 mile past Boalsburg and turn right onto Bear Meadows Road. Bear Meadows road is directly across from the Elks Country Club. Travel on Bear Meadows road for about 1.5 miles and turn right onto Laurel Run Road. Travel for 1.8 miles until you reach the top of the mountain and continue for another 0.15 miles, taking a left onto the side road. Continue down this road for a mile and you will arrive at the parking area by the Little Flat Fire Tower.

I decided to take our vistors on this section of the Mid State Trail for a number of reasons. It wasn't all that difficult, and with temperatures reaching the low 80s, I didn't want something too strenuous. It was also close to work, so we would have more time for hiking and spend less time travelling to the trailhead. Also, this was the only local section of the Mid State Trail that Shari had not hiked with me, and this gave her an opportunity to add this section to the evergrowing list of Mid State Trail hikes. Finally, this was the section that I was going to sponsor a hike on for National Trails Day and I wanted to make sure it was free of obstacles and that it wasn't too rocky.

Heading out to Indian Wells Vista, which was to be our mid-point of the hike, we took our time, stopping at every vista opportunity along the way. The leaves were just coming out on the trees, with their yellow-green color, and the views revealed a lot of the landscape. It took us a little over an hour to hike the 2.2 miles.

Once at Indian Wells, we rested for about 20 minutes, sitting around talking and enjoying the view. We noticed the shadows beginning to get long, so we decided it was time to head back. The trek back to the trailhead was at a much quicker pace and we reached the trailhead well before the sun had set.

The trail was in good shape, free of obstacles, with the brush along the edge of the trails just recently trimmed back in a number of spots. It was a bit rocky in places, but nothing too bad that someone in sneakers couldn't manage, if they took their time. Hopefully, during the hike on National Trails Day, those that attend will be wearing hiking boots, or something with a little bit of ankle support. All-in-all it was a nice May hike and a great way to relax after a day of meetings and work.

{vsig_c}0|ms14_01.jpg||Just a short distance from the Little Flat Fire Tower is this monument to Tom Thwaites, creator of the Mid State Trail.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms14_02.jpg||A view from the first vista of the the hike, looking down towards Bear Meadows.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms14_03.jpg||Everyone was taking a break at the Indian Wells vista before we retraced our steps back to the trailhead.{/vsig_c}

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