Experience the Trails of Pennsylvania

Mid State Trail - State College: Trail Maintenance on the Jackson Trail

The weather forecast for November 12th was sunny, zero percent chance of any precipitation, and highs reaching the lower 60s. It's not often that you get temperatures like this in November, so earlier in the week I had decided to take a hike out Jackson Trail to do some trail maintenance; probably the last of the season. A few weeks earlier we had an early snow fall. The snow was wet and very heavy, and with there still being leaves on the trees, there were a number of trees and limbs downed around the area. I had expected that there would be a good deal of trail clean up needed on Jackson Trail and I didn't want it to wait until spring.

Trailhead:  N 40° 43.00'
W 77° 53.65'
Total Elevation:  438'
Trail Length:  5.6 miles
Hike Time:  3 hours
Hike Type:  Out and Back
Difficulty Rating:  65
Near:  Jo Hays Vista on route PA26 south of Pine Grove Mills.


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I had planned on visiting the Jackson Trail Saturday morning. But sometime on Friday I came up with this great idea: why don't I hike out to David's Vista on the Jackson Trail and set up camp? That way I would be ready to go bright and early Saturday morning and begin my hike. So, at about 2:00AM Saturday morning I found myself at the trailhead, with pack on my back, getting ready to do my first night hike and my first late season overnighter.

The trailhead for the Jackson 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.

After packing up all of my equipment and grabbing some food, I headed out to Jo Hays Vista; the trailhead for the Jackson Trail. I arrived at the parking area just off route PA26 at about 2:00AM Saturday morning. I put on my pack and took a moment to enjoy the view of State College. It was a clear, crisp night, and you could see the yellow and white lights of State College glowing in the distance.

I hiked back the trail for about three quarters of a mile to a nice little campsite. The campsite is only 100 feet or so from David's Vista, and is situated in a group of pine trees on top of the ridge. There is a well built fire ring at this campsite, but I wasn't going to have time to enjoy a fire tonight. It was getting late and I was starting to get tired. About 15 minutes after arriving at the campsite I had my tent pitched and I was soon inside sound asleep.

I slept well, even with a rock sticking me in the middle of my back for most of the night, and I was awoken Saturday morning by a troop of Boy Scouts hiking the Jackson Trail. They were headed to Little Flat, following the Mid State Trail, and were going to camp there for the evening. I talked to the troop leaders for a few minutes and then headed back to my campsite to have a little something for breakfast.

After a hot cup of instant oatmeal, and about half way through my cup of coffee, along came another Boy Scout troop. They were part of the first troop that went through, but this group consisted of older boys. I suppose they were letting the younger boys get a head start on them. I waved, said hello, and then went back to finishing my coffee.

I cleaned up after breakfast and put everything back into my tent. My plan was to walk the entire length of the Jackson Trail, assess the damage and maintenance work that was going to be required, and then hike back, performing the maintenance along the way. I wasn't sure how big of a task was ahead of me and I had packed some Mac 'N Cheese for lunch just in case.

I left the campsite with my work gloves and pruners and headed off down the trail. Shortly I came upon the last group of Boy Scouts that I encountered while I was having my breakfast. Again we exchanged 'Hellos' as I made my way past.

After hiking for a little over an hour I came to the intersection of the Jackson Trail and the Mid State Trail. I made pretty good time hiking as I didn't have a pack on my back. I was also happy to discover that there wasn't much trail damage that needed to be cleared. There was a relatively large tree across the trail, just a few hundred feet short of the Mid State Trail intersect that I will have to revisit and remove with a chainsaw. But all in all the trail was easily passable and in very good shape.

As I hiked back I took my time and removed a few branches that laid closed to the edge of the trail and used the pruners on a few saplings along the trail as well. At around noon I was back at the campsite, and in another 20 minutes I had the tent and all my gear packed and ready to hike out.

The weather was gorgeous and I'm glad I had an opportunity to enjoy it. This will probably be my last overnighter till spring as I don't have the appropriate gear to spend the night outside whenever there is snow on the ground. The trail was in good shape and I feel comfortable not performing any more maintenance on it until spring. I may hike the Jackson Trail yet again this year, but it will probably only be part of a day hike to Little Flat or Shingletown Gap.

{vsig_c}0|jt1_01.jpg||The lights of State College as seen from Jo Hays Vista. The Jackson Trail trailhead is located directly across the road from Jo Hays Vista.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|jt1_02.jpg||The tent is pitched and I am exhausted at this point. I managed to hike three quarters of a mile in the dark, set up my tent, and was ready to head off to bed, but I wanted to get a quick snapshot of my campsite first.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|jt1_03.jpg||My alarm clock on Saturday morning. At about 8:30AM a troop of Boy Scouts hiked past on their way to Little Flat. I climbed out of my tent and talked with them a bit at the vista just past David's Vista.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|jt1_04.jpg||A view from David's Vista on a crisp fall morning. The weather was great with hardly a cloud in the sky.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|jt1_05.jpg||The end of the Jackson Trail where it meets up with the Mid State Trail. I turned around at this point and headed back to the trailhead.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|jt1_06.jpg||Some call this the "Top of the World" vista. A forest fire burned through here a number of years ago and this section of the trail needs the most maintenance.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|jt1_07.jpg||Another view from the Top of the World vista, looking towards Hubler Gap.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|jt1_08.jpg||And yet another view, this time looking towards Happy Valley.{/vsig_c}

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