Experience the Trails of Pennsylvania

Mid State Trail: Poe Paddy to Poe Valley

The weather in November 2006 was a lot different than the previous year. Temperatures last November were, for the most part, around average. We also had a number of days where we had snow on the ground. However, November 2006 saw temperatures well above average and because of this, there wasn't any snow to be found. Of course this made it ideal to get out and do some hiking. On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, Shari and I decided to take advantage of this nice weather. We decided on a hike along the Mid State Trail, continuing from where we left off this past May. The hike would be a little over 7 miles with half of this mileage being on the Mid State Trail between Poe Valley and Poe Paddy State Parks.

Trailhead:  N 40° 50.07'
W 77° 25.06'
Total Elevation:  2500'
Trail Length:  7.4 miles
Hike Time:  4.0 hours
Hike Type:  Loop
Difficulty Rating:  99
Near:  Poe Valley & Poe Paddy State Parks


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The Mid State Trail is over 320 miles in length and extends from the Maryland border to the New York border. The southern end of the MST is found on the Mason-Dixon line on route PA326. The northern terminus is located just north of Lawrenceville, PA. The MST is situated on public lands, such as state forests, state game lands and state parks. Closer to the Maryland and New York borders, the Mid State Trail uses private lands by permission.

The trailhead for this hike is most easily accessed from route US322. Heading either west or east on route US322, you will want to exit at the top of Seven Mountains, approximately 11 miles south of State College, PA or 6 miles north of Milroy, PA. There are various signs for this exit; there is a private campground located here, signs for Poe Valley State Park, and also signs for a Boy Scout Camp. Once you exit route US322, you will follow a paved road east, which will soon turn to a well maintained, dirt forest road. From route US322 continue on this road for 12.9 miles, passing Poe Valley State Park and arriving at Poe Paddy State Park. Turn left at Poe Paddy and drive about 200 feet, parking in the area on the left side of the road, just prior to the bridge that crosses Big Poe Creek.

The Mid State Trail passes through Poe Paddy State Park on it's way to crossing Penns Creek. We were heading in the opposite direction, to the top of Long Mountain, and on to Poe Valley State Park.

After making sure we had all of our required gear and appropriate clothing, Shari and I left the car behind and headed towards the base of Long Mountain. We had a steep climb ahead of us, as the Mid State Trail travels across the top of Long Mountain, which is bisected at Poe Paddy State Park by Penns Creek, forcing the trail down from it ridgetop route.

Our initial ascent took us up 600 feet in a little under 0.5 miles. The climb wasn't all that bad as the trail switchbacked its way to the top. All along the climb we had a nice view at the mountains on the other side of Penns Creek, including Paddy Mountain and the mountain through which the old railroad grade tunnels. I enjoy hiking at all times of the year, but in the late fall, winter, and early spring, you are treated to some very nice vistas that are obscured by leaves during the other times of the year.

So after our climb, and a little over a half mile into our hike, we took a moment to catch our breath. After about 15 minutes of enjoying the views and rehydrating ourselves, we were back on the trail. heading southwest along the top of Long Mountain.

This section of Long Mountain had some unique geological features. It was a knife edge ridgetop with a sharp drop-off of 10 to 20 feet on our right with a gradual, less steep descent on our left. The top of the ridge was a rock field where we had to jump from boulder to boulder to continue navigating on the trail. I did notice that the blazes were few and far between here, partially because of the lack of trees in the boulder field, and I almost missed the point where the trail beared off to the left and away from the rocks.

At three quarters of a mile, still on the ridge top, we began a gradual ascent, finally maxing out at an elevation of 1830'. At this point the trail was flat and clear of rocks and obstacles. Our enjoyment of hiking across a rock free ridgetop soon came to an end as we began our gradual descent on the north face of Long Mountain at about 1.3 miles into our hike.

We reached Dry Hollow Trail at 1.6 miles and the Mid State Trail turns left here to follow Dry Hollow Trail down to Little Poe Creek. At this intersection is a newly erected trail register. According to the register inside it looks like it was just put in place this past August. Shari and I paused here a moment to record our hike in the register prior to our continued descent to Little Poe Creek.

After 1.9 miles of hiking we reached Little Poe Creek to find that the bridge here was no more. It looks like a tree had fallen across the bridge, taking it out. There was an 8 inch wide plank of about 10 feet in length extending across the stream here, but after testing it with my weight, I wasn't sure it would hold us. We looked up and down stream and soon found two smaller trees that had fallen across the creek. We crossed on these logs and made it safely across without getting wet.

We were now 2 miles into our hike and at the intersection of our double loop hike. We would be back this way in a little while but we first had to hike along the top of Little Poe Mountain to Hunter's Path. So up we went, climbing 225 feet to the top of Little Poe Mountain where we paused to rehydrate ourselves and eat a small snack.

The hike along the top of Little Poe Mountain wasn't all that difficult but it also wasn't all that enjoyable. The problem that we had was that we were hiking towards the setting sun. The sun, being bright but low on the horizon, was casting long shadows across the trail and causing a bright glare. We were very happy to finally reach Hunter's Path behind Poe Valley State Park. We were half way into our hike with the hardest part behind us. We headed left on Hunter's Path and descended down to once again find ourselves on the banks of Little Poe Creek.

Once we reached the valley floor we left the Mid State Trail. The Mid State Trail continued to our right but we turned left to follow Little Poe Trail. We were now 3.7 miles into our hike and the remaining hike would be a gradual descent with most of the hike being on old forests road.

We followed the blue blazed Little Poe Trail for 0.7 miles where we met up with Little Poe Road. Hiking from here on out was quite easy and we covered a lot of distance in a very short period of time. This was a good thing as Tumbleweed, not being on a hike since the beginning of September, was getting tired and really appreciated the less rugged terrain.

Little Poe Road look liked it had been used recently for vehicle travel. Though it is usually gated off at it's end, DCNR will open gated roads around hunting season to allow hunter's easier access to remote sections of the forest. The road was quite muddy and had some very deep ruts in places. Personally I would have thought twice before driving up this road, even with a 4x4.

At 5.4 miles into our hike we found ourselves back at the junction of our double loop hike; where we crossed Little Poe Creek and then proceeded to climb Little Poe Mountain. We continued straight to where we met up with Big Poe Valley Road at 5.6 miles.

Turning right on Big Poe Valley Road we crossed over a bridge that spanned Little Poe Creek. Little Poe Creek flows into Big Poe Creek at this point before it continues its trek towards Penns Creek.

We walked on Big Poe Valley Road for the remainder of our hike, putting another 1.8 miles under our belt. We only encounter two vehicles on our road hike, which I thought it was odd since it was bear hunting season with deer season only being a few days away. The walking on the road, though easier because you weren't constantly looking for obstacles to avoid, made my feet to ache. Hiking on these impacted roads always have this effect on me and I try walk on the berm where the going is a little softer.

Our total hike was a little over 7 miles and took us about 4 hours to complete. The sun was setting and the temperatures were dropping as we got back to the trailhead and our car. The timing for this hike was just right and I wouldn't have wanted to do any more mileage that day. For Shari, it was a bit long, but she was a trooper and hung in there. For me, the last 2 miles of road hiking took a toll on me and I was glad to sit down and take a load off my feet.

{vsig_c}0|ms12_01.jpg||The trailhead for this hike, located within the Poe Paddy State Park.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms12_02.jpg||On our initial climb, about three quarters of the way up, here's a view towards Paddy Mountain.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms12_03.jpg||At the top of Long Mountain, the trail follows the ridgeline for three quarters of a mile.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms12_04.jpg||An old, big, gnarly tree on top of the mountain just off the trail.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms12_05.jpg||Looking from Long Mountain across Panther Hollow towards High Mountain.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms12_06.jpg||We reached Little Poe Creek to find the bridge out. Looking down the creek, there was a log that looked large enough for us to use as a natural bridge.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms12_07.jpg||Once we crossed Little Poe Creek we started this ascent up Little Poe Mountain.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms12_08.jpg||This sign is at the intersection of Hunters Path and the Mid State Trail atop Little Poe Mountain.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms12_09.jpg||Little Poe Creek had some nice riffles and small waterfalls as we finished up our hike walking back towards Big Poe Valley Road.{/vsig_c}

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