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Mid State Trail - State College: Conquering Long Mountain

It took a bit of bribery, but I finally got my son to agree to do a hike. Figuring it would be a bit more enjoyable for him, I arranged for a friend of his, plus his Dad, to join us on the the hike. Throw in my buddy Dan and we had the makings of a great Sunday afternoon hike. Destination: the Mid State Trail from Stillhouse Hollow to the roadside rest along route US322.

Trailhead:  N 40° 45.97'
W 77° 35.66'
Total Elevation:  878'
Trail Length:  3.3 miles
Hike Time:  2 hours
Hike Type:  Shuttle
Difficulty Rating:  51
Near:  Seven Mountains roadside rest, off route US322.


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When I state that a bit of bribery was involved to get my son to do this hike, that is not quite true. However there were some intense negotiations. When I realized he was agreeing to do a hike I called up Dan and checked to see if he'd be up for a hike. I figured Justin would enjoy hiking with others than just his Dad. When Dan mentioned that Victor, the dad of one of my son's friends, was interested in hiking I told him he and his son were more than welcome. And that is how we ended up with our hiking party for this short Sunday afternoon hike.

The trailhead for this hike is actually at the intersection of the Mid State Trail and Stillhouse Hollow Road. However when we were heading to the trailhead we discovered that Stillhouse Hollow Road was a bit snow covered and muddy in other places. Not wanting to risk getting stuck in either the mud or the snow we opted to park the car towards the upper end of Stillhouse Hollow. Of course this occurred after we spotted two cars at the Seven Mountains roadside rest along route US322.

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 drive for 1.1 miles. You will turn here onto Stillhouse Hollow Road. Once on Stillhouse Hollow Road drive for just a bit under 0.2 miles and look for a camp on the left side of the road. Just prior to the camp you will find enough room under the pines to the left to get a car or two off the road. Park here and get ready for this hike as this is the starting trailhead.

We parked the car and started walking down Stillhouse Hollow Road. There were quite a few places where there were large, frozen mud puddles in the road that the boys had a grand time trying to break. The hike was a gradual, easy hike, slowly descending down the hollow. The only issue was the occasional icy patch that had to be tread upon lightly.

At a bit over 0.6 miles we came upon the junction with the Mid State Trail. We turned right here and soon started scrambling over rocks as we slowly, but surely, began to climb out of the hollow. Soon enough the trail became very rocky, with some places a guess on how the trail was actually routed. Thanks to visible orange blazes on the trees past the rock fields we were able to stay on course.

This section of the trail is quite steep. We would climb over 500 feet in less than 0.4 miles. This rate of ascent was enough to cause me to breath heavy and as it turned out it was enough to take the winds out of the young ones sails as well. With frequent breaks to catch our breaths and wet our whistles, we were able to conquer Long Mountain and at just a bit under a mile of hiking we found ourselves at the top of our ascent. We all took a breather here before we continued on with the hike.

Now that we were on top of the mountain on much flatter terrain, the going was much easier. Even though there was probably a good 2 to 3 inches of snow on the trail, we made pretty good time. At 1.3 miles we came to the intersection with a trail coming in from our right. This trail headed back down towards the Boy Scout Camp, but Dan questioned if the trail was truly open. He was able to convince Victor to hike down and check the condition of the trail as the boys and I continued out across the ridgetop.

The hiking on this section of the trail was pretty easy going. We hiked along the southern exposure of the ridge until about 2 miles into the hike when we crossed over the ridge to the north face. At 2.3 miles we came upon the junction with the side trail that we were to follow back to the cars parked at the roadside rest. We continued on, wanting to take in the views at the Big Valley Vista. Also Victor had not caught up with us from his side excursion and we would wait for him before we headed down off the ridge.

At 2.6 miles we reached the Big Valley Vista. We spent a good 15 minutes here enjoying the views. The sun was shining brightly and felt warm on the face, even this late in the season. After spending our time at the views we turned back and retraced our steps. On our way back, only about 800 feet from the vista we stumbled across Victor coming down the trail towards us. After a short discussion of his findings concerning the side trail we continued back east on the MST.

We re-encountered the side trail to the rest stop 3 miles into the hike. Turning left here we soon found ourselves descending down the north face of the ridge. After a little more then a tenth of a mile the trail leveled out and at 3.3 miles we were back at the roadside rest and the completion of our hike.

This hike was a nice Sunday winter outing. It was a bit tough during the climb but everyone stuck to it and conquered the mountain. It was nice having two new faces on the trail and I'm glad Dan was able to hike with us. But the best part was being able to get my son out on the trail with me. Spending a Sunday afternoon hiking the trails with my son was about as perfect of an afternoon as I could ask for.

{vsig_c}0|ms30_01.jpg||Hiking down Stillhouse Hollow Road.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms30_02.jpg||We start our hike on the Mid State Trail proper.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms30_03.jpg||Half way up our ascent of Long Mountain.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms30_04.jpg||Snow covers the trail on the ridgetop.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms30_05.jpg||Taking in the view from Big Valley Vista.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms30_06.jpg||Less than a quarter mile from the end of our hike.{/vsig_c}

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