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Mid State Trail - State College: Tom Thwaites Memorial Hike

Tom Thawaites, the father of the Mid State Trail, passed away in December of 2014. Through out 2015, memorial hikes were held for Tom on various sections of the MST. For the State College region, the hike was held on Saturday, November 14th. The hike took place near the spot where the Tom first cleared trail for the MST, on Little Flat south of State College. Early on Saturday morning, myself and six others met on Little Flat to participate in this hike.

Trailhead: N 40° 45.07'
W 77° 45.90'
Total Elevation: 826'
Trail Length: 6.0 miles
Hike Time: 3.5 hours
Hike Type: Out-and-back
Difficulty Rating: 77
Near: Laurel Run Road, Near
Little Flat, Rothrock S.F.

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The hike started at the parking area near the gated road on Little Flat Fire Tower road. There was a dusting of snow on the ground when I got there, and a few flurries drifted down from the sky as it was overcast and cloudy. At 10:00AM, with six hikers making the trip to the trailhead, we started the Tom Thwaites Memorial Hike.

We hiked back the road until we got to the fire tower at Little Flat. This is where we started hiking the Mid State Trail proper. As we paused here, I told a short story about Tom and I sitting here, near the fire tower, on a sunny August afternoon, as Tom relayed to me the history of the Mid State Trail. This was in 2009, when the Mid State Trail turned 40. After I relayed my experience to all the fellow hikers, we headed off on the MST.

Soon we were at the Tom Thwaites memorial, erected at the intersection of the MST and Kettle Trail. We paused here for a bit as well as we took a group picture, huddled around the monument. Shortly beyond the memorial was the trail register, at which we stopped and wrote our names in the book.

The hike was leisurely and we stopped to take in every vista along the way. That is the nice thing about this section of the MST; there are plenty views to enjoy. After an hour and half of hiking we reached the Indian Wells vista. This was to be our turn around point, but we did stop here to take a break. Some of us ate a snack or a small lunch, and we all enjoyed the view of Bear Meadows. Another story of Tom, one of many on this hike, was shared by Jane. She related how Tom and here father found a rail from an abandoned logging railroad in the woods. They cut this rail into sections, welded "Mid State Trail" onto it, and then planted them at various points along the trail. One of these rail-posts can still be seen on the MST near the remains of the old fire tower where the MST crosses the Pennsylvania Furnace Road atop Tussey Mountain.

On the hike out the Indian Wells, we all stayed together as a large hiking group. On the return trip we headed back at our own pace. About half way through the return hike the sun popped out as the clouds began to break. Soon we had all made it back to the trailhead where we enjoyed a snack of some donuts before we all went our separate ways.

Everyone gathers at the trailhead.

Tom Thwaites Memorial hikers pictured at the Tom Thwaites memorial.

One of the many views found on this section of the MST.

Signs mark the way to a view.

Enjoy the view from the Indian Wells Vista.

The sun popped out near the end of our hike.

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