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Mid State Trail - State College: Hiking Little Flat to Big Flat

It was a nice August day, so I decided to take a stroll on the Mid State Trail. I was looking for something that was not all that strenuous and decided on the hike from Little Flat to Big Flat. After a recent visit to the fire tower on Little Flat I had noticed that the Mid State Trail from Laurel Run Road to Little Flat had been relocated, so I decided to add this additional mile of the Mid State Trail onto my hike this afternoon. This was my first hike from Little Flat to Big Flat and the views were as amazing as everyone had said they would be.

Trailhead:  N 40° 44.89'
W 77° 46.57'
Total Elevation:  515'
Trail Length:  4.6 miles
Hike Time:  2.5 hours
Hike Type:  Shuttle
Difficulty Rating:  56
Near:  Rothrock State Forest by Bear Meadows Natural Area.


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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 portion of the Mid-State Trail is located on Laurel Run Road that ascends Tussey Mountain. 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. This is where the Mid-State Trail crosses Laurel Run Road and the trailhead for this hike.

The mileage of this hike was going to be close to 5 miles. Since I wasn't going to have enough daylight to do an out-and-back hike, I decided to take my bike to the end of the trail so I could ride it back on forest roads to my car. By doing this, I only had to travel 3 miles by bike and was able to do it in about 45 minutes.

The first part of this hike followed an old railroad grade. After about 0.25 miles I could see where the trail headed back to the forest road that goes up to the fire tower on Little Flat. However, a reroute was done recently and I followed the trail along the ridge top. This new part of the trail was very nice. It still had a number of roots that you had to becareful not to trip over, but the trail was well blazed and very wide. At 0.5 miles the trail crossed the dirt road, and on this part of the trail there was some downed trees that made it difficult to navigate the trail in places.

After 1.25 miles I reached Little Flat and the firetower. I continued on past the fire tower and paused at 1.5 miles to admire the newly erected monument dedicated to Tom Thwaites.

In another 0.2 miles I came across the trail register. I made an entry and looked through some of the earlier entries. I came across an entry made by a friend, Rob Hillard, back in May of 2003. He was hiking from Jo Hays Vista to Hairy Johns and was just about ready to call it a day. It was nice to read his entry and I could picture him standing there with his dog Katie smoking a cigarette as he scribed his entry.

There were many vistas along the trail, but the best was that at Indian Wells. Indian Wells is a large rock outcropping made of Tuscarora sand stone. The stones are very white, and there were many of them. It was fun making my way across the rock field as the trail followed the upper part of the outcropping. From here you have a beautiful view down on the Bear Meadows Natural Area, as well as many of the mountains that make up the Seven Mountains area.

From Indian Wells, I hiked another mile to the end of this hike. It was here that I had previously stashed my bike, and I was soon on my way down the dirt road peddling back to my car.

I would like to hike back in from the end of this hike as I saw a very nice camping area about 0.75 miles from the end. At this campsite you can easily hike to Keith Spring for water and it's a short 5 minute hike to Indian Wells. I would like to sit on top of Indian Wells as the sun sets, maybe even in the fall when the leaves are changing, and really enjoy a magnificent view.

My next hike on the Mid-State Trail will start where this hike ended, and hike to Penn Roosevelt State Park. Penn Roosevelt was where I got my first taste of the Mid-State Trail, and I'd like to hike the entire trail someday. However, I may have to arrange for a car shuttle this time as it is a little to far from Big Flat to Penn Roosevelt to ride the forest roads on a bike.

{vsig_c}0|ms2_01.jpg||A father and son that I met at the trailhead as I was about to begin my hike. They had been mountain biking and were awaiting for their ride back to civilization.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms2_02.jpg||The trail marker at the trailhead, just off Laurel Run Road.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms2_03.jpg||Part of the new blazed Mid State Trail from Laurel Run Road to the fire tower at Little Flat.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms2_04.jpg||The fire tower at Little Flat, in case you couldn't figure out what that steel structure was in front of the cabin.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms2_05.jpg||A monument dedicated to Tom Thwaites, the father of the Mid State Trail. This marks the location where he started the Mid State Trail back in 1969.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms2_06.jpg||An entry in the trail register, made by a good friend, back in May of 2003.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms2_07.jpg||Hey, whose taking the pictures? You've got to love all of the bells and whistles on today's digital cameras.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms2_08.jpg||The rocks of Indian Wells. Do you see the orange blazes painted on the rocks marking the trail (there are two visible in the center of the photo)? It was fun crossing this section of the trail.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms2_09.jpg||A view of Bear Meadows from atop of Indian Wells.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms2_10.jpg||Since this was a shuttle hike, this was my mode of transportation back to my car. I soon learned that you use an entirely different set of muscles peddling a bike than you do hiking a ridge top.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms2_11.jpg||OK, no camping out and having fun around the camp fire, since this was just a day hike, but I did manage to meet up with some friends at the Tussey Mountain Wing Challenge.{/vsig_c}

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