Experience the Trails of Pennsylvania

Mid State Trail - State College: Penn Roosevelt to Poe Valley

Ok, let me start by admitting that the title of this hike "Mid State Trail from Penn Roosevelt to Poe Valley" is somewhat misleading. It's true that the part of the Mid State Trail that we hiked did indeed run from Penn Roosevelt to Poe Valley, however some of us on this hike, myself included, did not make it to our final destination of Poe Valley. This was to be my second hike since I was a teenager (some 17 years earlier) and my first overnight hike since then. This was also Shari's first hike in about as many years as well. This is going to set the stage for the ending of this hike; novices on a long hike over rough terrain.

Trailhead:  N 40° 43.60'
W 77° 42.15'
Total Elevation:  2756'
Trail Length:  8.4 miles
Hike Time:  5 hours
Hike Type:  Shuttle
Difficulty Rating:  139
Near:  Close to route US322 starting at Penn Roosevelt.


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The Mid State Trail is over 160 miles in length and runs from Blackwell in northern Pennsylvania to Water Street, located between Huntingdon and Hollidaysburg in central Pennsylvania. Attempts are being made to secure right aways across private land to extend the Mid State Trail from New York to Maryland.

The trailhead for the portion of the Mid State Trail that we hiked starts in the Penn Roosevelt State Park. Access to Penn Roosevelt is off of route US322. Getting here from the east/south is a little more difficult as the west bound traffic can not turn left at this intersection. You will have to continue to the top of the mountain and cross over to the east bound lanes there. Once you are heading east on US322, you will begin a descent with the Laurel Creek reservoir to your left. At the bottom of this hill the road has a fairly sharp left turn to it and a dirt road intersects here on the right. You want to turn back this road and travel for 8.3 miles. At 8.3 miles you will see a road on the right that you can then follow for another 0.6 miles to Penn Roosevelt.

This was to be my second hike since I was a teenager (some 17 years earlier) and my first overnight hike since then. This was also Shari's first hike in about as many years as well. This is going to set the stage for the ending of this hike; novices on a long hike over rough terrain.

We started at Penn Roosevelt State Park and immediately began our climb up Broad Mountain. In 0.3 miles we ascended 350 feet with no switchbacks. After many breaks to catch our breaths, I was happy to complete our first climb of the hike and of the year.

Once on top of Broad Mountain the trail was level and rather easy going. There were areas of the trail where it was somewhat rocky, but all-in-all it wasn't that bad. At 2.3 miles the Mid State Trail connects with the Indian Trail, which traverses Broad Mountain. After 0.3 miles, the Mid State Trail breaks off to the right and begins a gradual descent along the ridge line of the mountain.

At about 4.5 miles into our hike we being our climb down off of Broad Mountain over rocky terrain with many switch backs. It was during the descent that I began to feel a tinge of pain in my left knee. Once we were down over the steepest part of the descent, the pain subsided, so I thought nothing else of it.

Once off of Broad Mountain we had a very nice stroll, gradually descending towards route US322. There is an underpass where the Mid State Trail goes under US322 and we stopped for lunch just prior to it.

After a small meal and refilling our water bottles, we progressed through the underpass to the eastern side of US322. The underpass is really a culvert for a stream, but a 2 foot wide concrete walkway was poured along the left hand side. As long as the water level of the stream isn't exceedingly high (as it would be during early spring or after a summer thunderstorm), you're feet stay dry. Head room is limited, so you will have to walk through the underpass hunched over.

On the other side of US322 we began our second climb of the hike. This time we ascended 380 feet in 0.3 miles, but with the aide of many switchbacks. At the top of this climb there is a beautiful view called the Big Valley Vista. It's a little off the main trail; you will need to turn right and walk about 500 feet to get to the vista, but it's well worth the small delay and shouldn't be passed by.

At this point we are on top of Long Mountain and for the next 1.75 miles we will walk across the ridge line. It's relatively flat, but towards the end the trail, is strewn with rocks and boulders. It's not so much hiking as it is jumping from rock to rock. During the last 0.5 mile before we begin our descent from Long Mountain, my left knee really begins to ache. As you get older, parts of your body begin to wear out. I found out on this hike that my knees were the first to go.

The climb down Long Mountain was only 0.25 miles in length but it took Tumbleweed and I an hour to get down. Both of our knees were killing us at this point, and the trail winded it's way down a rock scree field. I have never been in so much pain in my life.

The scramble down off of Long Mountain impacted how I hike today. I now use trekking poles (which if you don't have a set I would highly recommend because they are useful in every aspect of hiking, not just going downhill) and I take a set of knee braces along as well. I don't always use the knee braces, but if I begin to feel pain in my left knee (my right knee seems to be fine), I won't hesitate to put it on. The way I see it, I hike to enjoy the outdoors and appreciate nature. I don't hike to inflict pain on myself.

Once we reached the bottom of Long Mountain, Shari and I stumbled on for another 0.75 miles to where we set up camp for the night. It was here that we met up with Jeff and Lauren. Shari and I were exhausted and in pain, so we called it an early night.

The next morning, Mark, Cathey, Jody, and Lauren, along with the dogs, packed up to continue the hike to Poe Valley. Shari and I took Jeff up on his offer to take us back to Penn Roosevelt to pick up our cars. I would have liked to have completed the hike, but I feel I would have done serious damage to my knees if I had.

Both Shari and I would like to do this hike again, at the very least finish the hike, just so we don't feel that the trail defeated us. However, I will assure you that I will have trekking poles in hand, and knee braces in my backpack, before we try this hike again.

{vsig_c}0|ms1_01.jpg||Mark, Jody, and Shari waiting for Jeff to show up. We're optimistic we'll be on the trail by 10:00AM. Jeff didn't show up (until later that night) and we were on the trail around 11:00AM.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms1_02.jpg||The Mid State Trail atop of Broad Mountain. Bud takes a break and drinks from a small stream.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms1_03.jpg||A view from the Big Valley Vista looking down into Coxes Valley and the Laurel Creek reservoir.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms1_04.jpg||Another view from the Big Valley Vista. The town in the distance is Gardenview and Jack's Mountain, some 7 miles away, behind that.{/vsig_c}

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