Experience the Trails of Pennsylvania

Mid State Trail - State College: Hiking Ewing Path to PA Furnace Road

Back when I began hiking I was interested in getting involved with the trails of Pennsylvania. One of the first things I did after I started hiking was to joining the Mid State Trail Association and requested to be a trail overseer. I was appointed a section of the Mid State Trail just south of the Pennsylvania Furnace Road. It was spring time and I needed to check out the trail to see what needed to be done. I asked Tim if he'd be interested in hiking this section of the trail with me. He agreed and our first after-work hike of the season was on the section of the MST that I maintain.

Trailhead:  N 40° 40.61'
W 78° 00.57'
Total Elevation:  1050'
Trail Length:  3.3 miles
Hike Time:  2.0 hours
Hike Type:  Shuttle
Difficulty Rating:  54
Near:  Near Pennsylvania Furnace, PA.


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The plan was to do a point-to-point hike and shuttle our cars. We would park Tim's car at the top of Tussey Mountain on the Pennsylvania Furnace Road and mine would be taken to the trail head. We were going to start our hike at the Tussey Trail, hike to the ridge top and then follow the MST back to Tim's car. Well, let's just say that sometimes things don't go quite as planned.

We started off by driving back Kepler Road, just off route PA26, south of Pine Grove Mills. From route PA26 to Pennsylvania Furnace Road is about 8.5 miles. Once we came to the intersection of Kepler and Pennsylvania Furnace Road, we turned left and began the ascent up to the top of Tussey Mountain.

The PA Furnace Road, at the intersection of Kepler Road, was bare, and just a little wet in places. However, as we continued our climb up the north face of the mountain, we began to see snow on the road way. First it was just along the sides of the road and strip down the middle. As we got closer to the top, the road soon became covered with snow and slush. I was in a four-wheel drive vehicle, but Tim was not, and I kept looking back to see how he was doing.

As I started to have second thoughts about if we were going to make it to the top or not, I spied a car up ahead. As we got closer I saw that it was neither going up the mountain, nor coming back down. Soon I saw that the car was stuck in some pretty deep snow on the road. At this point I motioned to Tim, who was a good 500 feet behind me, to head back down as it was apparent, snow or not, that we weren't going to make it up the mountain. I stopped and asked the couple that were stuck if they needed some help. They had a friend with a big truck and a chain coming to help get them out. I wished them good luck and headed back down the mountain.

Back at the intersection of Kepler Road and PA Furnace Road, we decided to leave Tim's car. Since we were running a little behind schedule, plus the fact that we would now have to hike down PA Furnace Road to finish our hike, we decided to hike up Ewing Path instead of Tussey Trail. This would shorten our hike by about a mile and should get us out of the woods before dark.

Continuing down Brady Road (Kepler Road turns into Brady Road at the intersection with PA Furnace Road) we drove for about another 1.8 miles until we reached Ewing Path. There is a parking area to the right of the road here, which is where we parked my car and started our newly revised hike.

Ewing Path is blazed blue and was pretty easy to follow. The hike was rather easy for the first 0.2 miles, and then the trail started to get steep. At 0.3 miles the trail turns to the left and continue with the same slope as it climbs the face of Tussey Mountain. At about 0.5 miles into the hike, the trail turned to the right and began to flatten out. We were just a few hundred feet from the top of the mountain when we came across a four foot high snow drift blocking our way. As I looked to see if there was a way around, Tim started off into the drift. Much to my surprise, he hiked right across the top, only sinking down in about six inches. With all of the warm weather and rain we had recently, the snow was packed pretty tight and we had no problem crossing the drift.

We paused at the intersection of Ewing Path and the Mid State Trail to catch our breath and wet our whistle. After a short break we began hiking north-eastward on the MST across the top of Tussey Mountain.

For the next 1.1 miles we hiked on the ridge top, crossing slowly back-and-forth from the north face of the mountain to the south face. There were a few large branches down on the trail, but no major blockage from downed trees. We lost the trail twice because of a lack of blazes. The blazes were there, but in some place they were quite faded. It was definitely evident that the blazes were going to need repainted.

At about 1.7 miles into the hike we came out on the large rock field along the south face of the mountain. This is one of my favorite parts of this section. For the next 0.7 miles we would have clear, panoramic views to our right as we hiked across numerous rocks and boulders. I also noticed on this section an abundance of small trees trying to grow. This would be another section that would need my attention. Not with a paint brush, but with a brush cutter.

At 2.4 miles into our hike, we cut back into the woods, away from the south face. After another tenth of a mile of hiking we emerged on the Pennsylvania Furnace Road. Our last 0.8 miles of hiking was following the PA Furnace Road back to where Tim had parked his car. As we began our descent, we walked by three foot tall snow drift across the road. Even if the car wasn't blocking our way earlier, we would not have been able to make it past these drifts.

We soon came to the section of the road where the car was saw earlier was stuck. It was no longer here, so they must have gotten help from their friend. The rest of the hike was easy, even more so once we got to the section of the road where there wasn't any snow or slush. After 3.3 miles and about 2 hours, we found ourselves back at Tim's car.

It was nice to get out and do a hike, our first after work hike of the year, and my first since a snow shoeing adventure in the beginning of February. I was able to get an idea of what need to be done, with regards to trail maintenance, and planned on heading up here during the last weekend of March. With any luck the snow at the top of the mountain will be melted and I won't have any trouble accessing the trailhead along PA Furnace Road.

{vsig_c}0|ms22_01.jpg||The start of our hike along Brady Road.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms22_02.jpg||Just a little shy of the top of the mountain, on the north face, we encountered this snow drift that stood about 4 feet high.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms22_03.jpg||The intersection of Ewing Path and the Mid State Trail.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms22_04.jpg||For about a half mile, we had views like this all along the trail to our right.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms22_05.jpg||Our descent on snowy and icy PA Furnace Road.{/vsig_c}

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