Experience the Trails of Pennsylvania

Mid State Trail - State College: Climbing the Indian Steps

Branching off of the Mid State Trail near PA Furnace Road, passing through the Stone Valley Recreation Area, and reconnecting with the MST near the Beaver Pond on Shaver's Creek is the blue-blazed Ironstone Trail. At the start of the trail is a section known as the Indian Steps. Probably not built by indians, these steps made of stone climb up the south face of Tussey Mountain. Having hiked in the area for over four years, I had not to date ventured onto the Indian Steps. This all changed with our latest after-work hike outing.

Trailhead:  N 40° 41.45'
W 77° 56.12'
Total Elevation:  1580'
Trail Length:  4 miles
Hike Time:  2.5 hours
Hike Type:  Loop
Difficulty Rating:  72
Near:  Harry's Valley Road, off route PA26.


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This hike would be a 4 mile circuit hike, starting along Harry's Valley Road and climbing the Indian Steps. After the climb we would turn left, following the Mid State Trail and then heading back to the trailhead on the Pump Station Road.

The trailhead for this hike is located along a dirt forest road known as Harry's Valley Road. To reach Harry's Valley Road from State College, you need to find route PA26. Take route PA26 south through the town of Pine Grove Mills, turning left and following the road over the mountain. After cresting Tussey Mountain, route PA26 descends and makes a sweeping left turn. At this bend in the road you'll see a dirt forest road on your right. This is Harry's Valley Road. Follow Harry's Valley Road for about 1.9 miles and keep an eye open on the right side of the road for the trail marker to Indian Steps. Just a short distance past the trail marker is a small parking area on the left. Park your car here as this is the start of the hike.

There were five us on this hike and we headed out after work. From our parking area we followed Harry's Valley Road back about a hundred feet to where the Ironstone Trail crosses the road. Turning left here we all began our ascent up Tussey Mountain.

At first we came across steps made of logs but before long we came across a rock field and the Indian Steps. We followed these steps to within two hundred feet of the top of the ridge. We climbed 600 feet in about 0.4 miles. The climb took us about 20 minutes and we all paused after the climb to catch our breath and wet our whistles.

Soon we were back on the trail, turning left at the junction with the Mid State Trail. For the next 1.3 miles we walked the ridge top not venturing far from the crest. At 1.7 miles into the hike we came across our first view to the south, overlooking Harry's Valley. This is a rocky area and I was a little wary of snakes in the area. About half way across the clearing, my hunch was proven correct as we spotted a timber rattlesnake nestled in amongst the rocks to the right of the trail. We all paused a moment to admire the snake and take a few snapshots. Shortly there after we continued our hike west on the Mid State Trail.

Another 0.2 miles of hiking brought us to the clearing where the a fire tower once stood. From here we followed the remains of an old forest road to its intersection with PA Furnace Road at 2.2 miles.

We turned left on PA Furnace Road and came across another vista to the south about 400 feet after leaving the Mid State Trail. We continued our hike down PA Furnace Road for another quarter mile. At this point PA Furnace Road switch-backed to our right but we continued straight. This is the Pump Station Trail and is a grassy forest road, now only used by hikers, bikers, and during the winter, snow mobilers.

For the next mile we had a nice, easy hike. The trail was a gradual descent on the old Pump Station Road. There were a number of views to the right as we climbed down the south side of Tussey Mountain. At 3.5 miles into our hike the Pump Station Road merged with the Harry's Valley Road.

At the junction with Harry's Valley Road we beared left and hiked the last half mile back to our cars and the start of our hike. This was a nice after work hike, being just the right length as that we were finished before it got too late into the evening. The climb up Indian Steps was an invigorating hike. Some may suggest doing this hike in the opposite direction and descending down the Indian Steps. Personally I'd rather climb a steep area such as the Indian Steps then descend. Not only do I find go up steep section easier than going down them, it was a good aerobic workout as well. I'd definitely recommend this hike to anyone looking for a nice hike with a little bit of a challenge. The two vistas make the climb well worth while.

{vsig_c}0|ms19_01.jpg||The beginning of our hike, just off Harry's Valley Road.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms19_02.jpg||We start the ascent on the Indian Steps.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms19_03.jpg||This rattlesnake was just off the Mid State Trail on top of Tussey Mountain.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms19_04.jpg||This view is located along Pennsylvania Furnace Road.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms19_05.jpg||The last section of this hike is a gradual descent on Pump Station Road.{/vsig_c}

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