Experience the Trails of Pennsylvania

Mid State Trail - State College: Jo Hays Vista to Laurel Run Road

At some point in my life, I would like to be able to say that I hiked the entire Mid State Trail, from Maryland to New York. My short term goal it to hike the trail in sections: first the State College section, followed by the Woolrich section, then Tioga, and finally Everett. As for the State College section, previous to this hike I had completed a large portion from Pennsylvania Furnace to Poe Valley. One section that I was missing was the area from Musser Gap to Shingletown Gap. This hike filled in those 'gaps' and I've now hiked over 35 contiguous miles of the Mid State Trail.

Trailhead:  N 40° 43.00'
W 77° 53.65'
Total Elevation:  733'
Trail Length:  7.0 miles
Hike Time:  3.5 hours
Hike Type:  Point to Point
Difficulty Rating:  85
Near:  Jo Hays Vista on route PA26 south of Pine Grove Mills.


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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 across from Jo Hays vista on route PA26, just south of Pine Grove Mills. You'll need to find your way to Pine Grove Mills which sits at the western intersection of routes PA26 and PA45. Once in Pine Grove Mills, continue to follow PA26 south for exactly 2.0 miles. You will come to the crest of the mountain and see a large parking area on your right. This is Jo Hays Vista with the trailhead for the Jackson Trail on the opposite side of the road.

We first drove to the top of Tussey Mountain, behind Galbraith Gap, on the Laurel Run Road. Once we reached the top, we parked my car at the intersection with gated Little Shingletown Road. This is where the Mid State Trail crosses Laurel Run Road and where we would be finishing our hike today.

It was a nice weekend day, Sunday to be precise, when we did this hike. Typically, warm, spring days will bring the masses out to Jo Hays Vista, but to our surprise, there were only 3 cars at the vista when we arrived.

We hiked back Jackson Trail and stopped at the PA Hikes Geocache. I just wanted to check up on it and make sure everything was OK. On this hike we were going to try and find two geocache. I had some PAHikes merchandise to place in the caches: that is if we found them.

We came to the first cache at David's Vista. After searching for about fifteen minutes I gave up trying to find this cache. We had a long hike ahead of us and I didn't want to waste too much time on this caches. Besides, it's not like it isn't too hard to hike out here and look at another time.

Shari and I had hiked out to David's Vista before, but that was all the further she had ventured on the Jackson Trail. As we continued to hike out the ridgeline, she commented on how nice the vistas were. When we reached the "Top of the World" vista, she was quite impressed. We spent a good ten minutes here enjoying the view and take the opportunity to quench our thirst.

Once we reached the end of the Jackson Trail and the juncture with the Mid State Trail, we took another break. This time we had a little snack and enjoyed the warmth of this spring day. This was a perfect day for hiking, with the sun shining brightly and the temperature just right.

As we logged 3 miles of hiking, and approached the Musser Trail, we discovered a disgusting sight. Just off the Mid State Trail was a campsite that was left in shambles. There were empty beer bottles and beer cans scattered everywhere. I can't believe that someone was able to carry all those bottles and cans, filled with beer, all the way up here, but they were unable to carry the empties, that weighted much less, back out. It was a shame that people that enjoy the solitude of nature will disrespect it like that. I made note of the location of all this trash and would make sure that if the trail overseer for this section of the Mid State Trail couldn't make it out here anytime soon, that I would head back out here to clean up this mess.

At about 3.75 miles we came upon my favorite part of the trail. The Mid State Trail, for the past mile had been pretty much making it's way along the center of the ridge. At this point, however, it bared straight towards the south east edge of the ridge. The trail looked as if it were going to head right out into mid air. As we approached the edge of the ridge, the trail turned to our left, giving us a magnificent view to our right. The trail meandered along this edge for the next 0.5miles, and all the time we had a great view of the forest on our right the entire time. I was so impressed with the view from this vista that I ventured back out here four days later (this time coming up from Shingletown Gap, which was shorter than coming in from Jo Hays Vista).

At about 4.4 miles we came across the first of many paths that come up out of Shingletown Gap. This was the Deer Path, and we decided to again stop here and get a quick drink. After quenching our thirst we continued down along the Mid State Trail.

The next vista that we had was the Roman Tower at about 4.9 miles from the trailhead. This interesting pile of rocks does lend you a nice view of State College and surrounding towns. This was also the are where the second geocache was hidden. I started looking for it, moving all sorts of rocks, when Shari ventured off on her own. After about 2 minutes she yells out that she found it. So, for the record, I had yet to find a geocache, striking out with the first, and Shari finding this one. We recorded our visit in the log book, left a PAHikes magnet, and took a plastic lizard (gecko?) that I decided to use as a PAHikes travel bug.

The rest of the hike was uneventful. We didn't see any wildlife on this entire hike, except for a few Turkey Vultures, a couple butterflies, and maybe 3 chipmunks.

We stopped once more for a small break at about 6.2 miles. This was the junction of the Mid State Trail with the Sand Ride Trail that finds it way down to the Shingletown Gap Trail and Lower Trail.

I was surprised to find that we only ran into two groups of hikers on this entire hike. Both groups came up out of Shingletown Gap, with the first group encountered at Deer Path and the second at the Roman Tower. I'll admit that there weren't a lot of cars at Jo Hays Vista, but there were more cars parked along Laurel Run Road where we parked my car at the end of the hike.

At 6.75 miles the Mid State Trail emerged from the single track trail in the woods into a clearing and the Little Shingletown Road. This road is gated and is now only used by cross country skiers in the winter, and mountain bikers, hikers, and people walking their dogs when there isn't snow on the ground. We followed the road down to Laurel Run Road and my car. After seven miles and four hours of hiking we completed our hike. We were starving and quickly drove back to the trailhead at Jo Hays Vista to pick up Tumbleweed's car so we could head out for a cold beer and some good food.

The trail was in pretty good shape with only a few areas where we had to climb over dead falls. Shari and I really enjoyed getting out to do this hike, but then again, we always enjoy getting out an hiking. I was happy to complete this section of the Mid State because it was a "hole" in my hiking of the trail. I also came upon the realization that Shari has done every inch of this section of the Mid State Trail that I have done, from Ewing Path to Stillhouse Hollow, except for five miles from Laurel Run Road to Little Flat and ending up at Indian Wells. Looks like I have the plans for another day hike on the Mid State Trail in the not to distant future. Now to get that section done down to Water Street as well as hiking the rest of the way to R.B Winter State Park. And of course, I'll have to make sure Shari tags along so that she can someday say that she has hiked the entire Mid State Trail as well.

{vsig_c}0|ms8_01.jpg||The trailhead for this hike, with Jo Hays Vista and the blue sky beyond.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms8_02.jpg||Shari makes her way among the rocks on the Jackson Trail.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms8_03.jpg||Taking a moment to enjoy the view at one of the many vistas on this hike.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms8_04.jpg||Right along side the Mid State Trail, a short distance from Musser Trail, was this campsite and pile of garbage. It's a shame that people don't have more respect for the woods.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms8_05.jpg||The intersection of the Mid State Trail and Musser Trail.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms8_06.jpg||Coming up on my favorite vista of this hike, this looks to the south east of Tussey Mountain. The trail follows the edge of the ridgeline, relatively free of obstacles, for about 0.25 miles with this great view to your right the entire way.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms8_07.jpg||The first of the many Shingletown Gap paths that connect to the Mid State Trail on top of Tussey Mountain.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms8_08.jpg||At the "Roman Tower", Shari looks down on State College, Boalsburg, Lemont, and Oak Hall.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms8_09.jpg||The intersection of the Mid State Trail and Little Shingletown Road.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms8_10.jpg||After seven miles of ridge top hiking, we reach the end. As can be seen, there are a large number of vehicles parked along Laurel Run Road.{/vsig_c}

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