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Mid State Trail - State College: Indian Wells Vista

As hikers, we all look forward to that moment during the hike where your breath is taken away and you stand dumb founded, staring out from a vista at the majesty and beauty that the world has to offer. Certain views can leave a long lasting impression. This has occurred during my fist hike on Mount Desert Island in Acadia National Park as well as when I first crested the summit of a Munroe in the highlands of Scotland. But closer to home, and one of my first vistas that got me hooked on hiking was the view from the Mid State Trail at the Indian Wells Vista. It is one of my most favorite vistas out of all the views that I've enjoyed over the years. And luckily it is a short hike from the nearest forest road and can easily be enjoyed at anytime.

Trailhead: N 40° 43.56'
W 77° 47.36'
Total Elevation: 58'
Trail Length: 1.4 miles
Hike Time: 1.0 hour
Hike Type: Out-and-back
Difficulty Rating: 15
Near: Bear Gap Road, In Big
Flat Wild Area, Rothrock S.F.

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To reach Indian Wells Vista, you can hike the section of the Mid State Trail that traverses the ridge lines between Little Flat and Big Flat. This is a very nice hike as it is relatively flat and you will also get the opportunity to enjoy other views along the way, though none as breathtaking as Indian Wells. But for this particular hike I wanted to take my quadcopter drone with me so I could get some aerial footage of Indian Wells as well as shots of the surrounding change of fall foliage.

The trailhead for this specific outing, and the trialhead that provides the quickest access to Indian Wells, is located on Bear Gap Road, near Keith Springs. Reaching the trailhead begins on 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. Heading down the other side of the mountain, drive for another 1.1 miles where you will see Bear Gap Road on your left. Turn here and begin a gradual ascent driving for another 1.4 miles where you will enter the Big Flat Wild Area. You will pass a road-side vista to your right and about 200 feet past that, Keith Springs on your left. Find a place to park safely along the road as the trail near Keith Springs is the one we will take to get to Indian Wells Vista.

Once you've found a place to park along Bear Gap Road, head up the Keith Springs Trail. You will encounter a very slight climb on this trail as you head to the top of Big Flat. At 0.2 miles you will come upon the intersection of the Mid State Trail. Turn left here and continue hiking in a northwesterly direction.

At about 0.5 miles into the hike you will encounter a large, designated campsite. It is a dry campsite, being located atop the ridge, but its close proximity to Indian Wells makes it a popular place to spend the night. If you are thinking of doing an overnight and discover that this particular campsite is occupied, there are smaller, satellite campsites located not far from here along the Mid State Trail.

Less than two tenths of a mile from the campsite you will come upon Indian Wells Vista. The rock field here is expansive and you can enjoy the view of the surrounding forest from many different angles. The centerpiece of this view is the Bear Meadows bog. The view from here is enjoyable at all times of the year, and I suggest you try to enjoy it during each season.

The start of the hike, near Keith Springs.

Turn left on to the Mid State Trail at this intersection.

Hiking on the MST.

A designated campsite, located only a short distance from the Indian Wells Vista.

Approaching the vista on the Mid State Trail.

The view from Indian Wells.

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  • You can get there from Whipple Dam. Paste the coordinates into Google Maps.

    Jrm on
  • Yeah, so the road is closed between the ski resort and the turn for
    Laurel Run Rd… couldn’t do the hike on 7/25/2020

    ZIpzap on

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