Experience the Trails of Pennsylvania

Mid State Trail - State College: Vistas Galore

Kevin Busko, Regional Manager of the State College section of the Mid State Trail, suggested I do a hike on the MST between Barre and PA Furnace Road. He said that I would be impressed with the views and vistas on this section of the trail, some of the best on the Mid State according to him. I maintain a section of the Mid State Trail from PA Furnace Road to Ewing Path and I know there are some nice views on that section. I was intrigued to see these great views, plus the fact that the Keystone Trails Association had recently had a trail care weekend on this section of the Mid State Trail. So I figured I'd venture up onto Tussey Mountain to hike a recently cleared trail and to check out the views and vistas.

Trailhead:  N 40° 40.61'
W 78° 0.55'
Total Elevation:  1184'
Trail Length:  3.7 miles
Hike Time:  2.5 hours
Hike Type:  Shuttle
Difficulty Rating:  61
Near:  Near Pennsylvania Furnace, PA


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To reach the trailhead for this hike, take route PA26 south out of Pine Grove Mills. After the sharp turn and the power line clearing, keep an eye open for a dirt road on your right. This is Kepler Road. Drive back Kepler Road approximately 8.5 miles and you will intersect with Pennsylvania Furnace Road. The gravel road continues straight at this intersection but is now called Brady Road. Continuing down Brady Road, drive for about another 1.8 miles until we reached Ewing Path. There is a parking area to the right of the road here. This will be the start of the hike. However, since this was to be a shuttle hike, I continued down Brady Road for another 2.8 miles. As I approached the start of Brewer Path I spied Kevin's car parked along the road. Kevin and Kirk were already here waiting for me, so they tossed their equipment into my car and we headed back down Brady Road to the parking area at Ewing Path to begin our hike.

Ewing Path, along with Brewer Path and most of the Mid State trail that we would be hiking were recently cleared during a Keystone Trails Association trail care weekend. Ewing Path was very easy to follow. The hike was rather easy for the first 0.2 miles, and then the trail started to get steep. At 0.3 miles the trail turns to the left and continues with a constant, uphill slope as it climbs the face of Tussey Mountain. At about 0.5 miles into the hike, the trail turns to the right and begins to flatten out. Kevin and Kirk pulled ahead of me on the ascent of Tussey Mountain and I met up with them as they waited for me at the intersection of Ewing Path and the Mid State Trail. I took advantage of the small break to wet my whistle and catch my breath.

After a short pause we faced south west and began hiking across the ridge line on the Mid State Trail. Fresh blazes and brush cut back 2 feet to either side of the trail made the hiking a pleasant experience. Just a bit past one mile into the hike we came across the first of many vistas on this hike. With views to the north west, we had a nice vista of the valley below and the Allegheny Front in the distance.

We came across another vista at about 1.2 miles into the hike. These vistas were nice in the fact that the trail never really crossed any rock fields. The trail followed the upper edge of the rock field and we had an unobstructed view over the valley below. I was told by Kevin that until recently it wasn't always this way. The trail had become so overgrown that 4 years ago hikers would venture out onto the rock fields just so they could make their way. Now the Mid State is well cleared and as I mentioned before, a pleasure to hike.

We came upon the junction of Tussey Trail and the Mid State Trail at about 1.5 miles into the hike. We paused here a bit, as I took a picture of the trail sign. The trails go down over the north face of Tussey Mountain are known to be clear, but not so certain about going down the south face of the mountain.

At 1.7 miles into the hike we came across the best vista of all on this hike and probably one of the better ones on the Mid State Trail between Juniata Water Gap Vista and Indian Wells Vista. This vista gave commanding views both up and down the valley. About 80 feet off to the right of the trail, across the rock field there was a park bench placed. We ventured down to the bench and had even better views than we did from the trail. Looking across the valley we could see the windmills on the Allegheny Front above Tyrone. To our right, we could see the cut in the mountain where I80 passes, just north-east of Bellefonte. The bench and stone "reclining" chairs positioned on either side of the bench were a nice reprieve from our hike and allowed us to enjoy the views even more.

After 10 minutes or so enjoying the views we crossed back over the rock field to the trail to continue our hike on the Mid State Trail. There was one more small view to the east as we continued on, but that would be the last expansive vista that we would encounter on the hike.

About 2.6 miles into the hike I spied my first clear view to the south west. This vista looked over Diamond Valley with Round Top Mountain in plain view. Though not as breath taking as the views towards the other side of the mountain, this view was a nice one none the less.

Ever since reaching the top of Tussey Mountain back at Ewing Path, the trail had been, in general, gradually descending. At about 2.9 miles the trail descent became a bit steeper as we began to climb down into a small saddle in the ridge. The trail had been hiking the ridge line, knife-edge like at places, and came off the ridge to hike a bit more on the north face of Tussey Mountain. At 3 miles there was a bit of a rock outcropping towering over us to our right. Kevin scampered up the rocks to see if there was view from atop the rocks. He stated that there was but nothing really amazing, so Kirk and I decided to wait on the trail for Kevin to climb back down.

At approximately 3.3 miles into our hike we reached the small saddle in the ridge, and the trail began a gentle ascent up the other side. We didn't follow the trail long until we came upon the intersection with Brewer Path a little shy of 3.5 miles. We turned right here and began our short but steep at times descent off Tussey Mountain. A short hike on Brewer Path of under a quarter of a mile had us back at Brady Road and Kevin's waiting car.

This hike was done as a shuttle hike but could also be done as a circuit hike by turning right onto Brady Road and following it for 2.8 miles back to the junction with Ewing Path. If you do this as a shuttle hike, circuit hike, or part of a longer backpacking trip, I highly recommend hiking this section of the Mid State Trail. With the diligent work of the KTA trail crew, clearing, routing, and blazing this section of the trail, it is actually a pleasure to hike. Yes there are the usual rocks on the trail, but much less than I had anticipated. And the views are definitely the highlight of this hike and if vistas are what you are in the mood for, you won't walk away from this hike wanting.

{vsig_c}0|ms31_01.jpg||The PAHikes mobile sitting at the start of our hike on Ewing Path.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms31_02.jpg||Atop the steep climb of Ewing Path, at the junction with the Mid State Trail.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms31_03.jpg||Hiking on the newly cleared Mid State Trail.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms31_04.jpg||Our first vista of the hike.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms31_05.jpg||Second vista.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms31_06.jpg||Third vista, not quite as nice as the previous two.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms31_07.jpg||Typical rocky Mid State Trail.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms31_08.jpg||At the junction with Tussey Trail.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms31_09.jpg||Now this is a nice vista. Probably the best between Juniata Water Gap Vista and Indian Wells Vista.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms31_10.jpg||Kevin enjoys the view from the rock "recliners".{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms31_11.jpg||The view I had from sitting on the park bench.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms31_12.jpg||The sign says "Spring", but Kirk says it is a heck of a climb down and back.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms31_13.jpg||One of the few views to the south, looking across Diamond Valley.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms31_14.jpg||Kevin takes in the view from atop a rock outcropping.{/vsig_c} {vsig_c}0|ms31_15.jpg||At the end of our hike on Brewer Path.{/vsig_c}

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