As the Mid State Trails makes its way across Pine Creek in Ramsey Pennsylvania, the trail would follow route PA44 for about three quarters of a mile. This section of PA44 was quite dangerous to hike along. In June of 2001, the Keystone Trail Association eliminated this dangerous road walking and rerouted the Mid State Trail to the top of Houselander Mountain. Since it's reroute in 2001, no one had an accurate representation of the exact location of the trail. Since I was assisting in producing the next generation of maps for the Mid State Trail, it was recommended to me to take a hike along this newly relocated section of the Mid State. So on what I thought to be the last nice weekend of December (temperatures were in the fifties), I took my GPS and headed out to hike the Mid State Trail near Ramsey.
|Trailhead:||N 41° 17.06'
W 77° 19.48'
|Trail Length:||5.4 miles|
|Hike Time:||4.0 hours|
|Near:||Route PA44 in Ramsey, PA|
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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 hike is found along route PA44. To reach the trailhead you will need to get onto route US220. The exit for route PA44 is north of the Woolrich exit and just south of the Jersey Shore exit. Once you exit at route PA44 you will need to drive north for about 7.8 miles. At this point you will be entering a small group of houses and you will also notice an old train trussel crossing Pine Creek on your left. Also, if you look closely to your right you will see where the Mid State Trail leaves PA44 and begins the ascent up the mountainside. Just ahead, on the left hand side of the road, is the parking area for the Rails to Trails. You can park here as this is where we will begin our hike.
The hike started alongside route PA44. The Mid State crossed Pine Creek at this point, following the Rails to Trails from the west bank of Pine Creek as it follows the old train bridge. At the trailhead, the Mid State Trail makes a sharp right and follows the road for about 500 feet or so. Once you enter the state forest, the trail makes a sharp left off the road and begins to climb the mountain side.
After the short scamper up and away from the road, the trail isn't quite as steep and even switch backs as it then traverses the mountain side in a north-westward direction.
At 0.5 miles into the hike, the trail bears right onto an old forest road. This old road parallels a small stream that I was surprised to see running so full and swiftly. The old road is followed for another 0.2 miles as it gradually ascends along the east bank of this stream.
At about three quarters of a mile the trail crosses the much smaller stream and begins a steeper ascent. At this crossing you are treated to some small but picturesque waterfalls.
The climbing now becomes much more difficult as the trail continues its ascent. Luckily the trails switchbacks many times. To me, it seemed the steeper legs of the switchback were when I was hiking in an easterly direction and much more forgiving when hiking in a westerly direction. At 1.3 miles I found myself at the top of the mountain with most of the steep climbing on this hike behind me.
For the next 0.3 miles I hiked through what would have been a thick and impressive growth of Mountain Laurel. Since it was December, the Mountain Laurel was much tamer, even though I did find myself tripping a few times on a stray branch or root as the Mid State snaked in and amongst the plants.
Finally, at 1.7 miles into the hike I found myself at the end of the 2001 reroute. To my right was the old route of the Mid State Trail, now blazed blue. I had given some thought about hiking about this side trail as the map shows that there are some nice vistas on this section of the trail. But when hiking in the winter, the amount of daylight that you have available for hiking is much, much less than in the summer. Since I didn't get started on this hike until after noon, I wanted to make sure I was out of the woods before the sun set.
For the next 0.15 miles I hiked along an old forest road on top of the mountain. After the short road hike, the trail turned left and gradually made its way down alongside a small stream. This was about 2.0 miles into the hike and this is where I encountered the oddest site that I've seen on the trail for sometime. As the trail was about to begin climbing away from the stream on it's northern bank, there was a group of pine trees that had fallen over. This wasn't a tangled mess of trees, as typically happens when a large tree falls and takes down a number of its smaller neighbors. This group of trees were still arranged as they had been standing. There was a large chunk of land that had been uprooted with them. Look at it from a distance, it looked as if the forest floor had been tilted and the trees no longer knew which way was up. It was a strange site and I paused here for a few minutes to take some pictures before venturing on.
The trail followed the state forest boundary for about 0.3 miles before it turned sharply to my left. The hiking here was quite level, even though there were a few dead falls across the trail that I had to step over or around. At 2.7 miles there was a side trail on the left that lead out to a very nice vista. The view was of the ridge that separates Ramsey Run from Pine Creek. I sat here for a while and took a few sips from my water bottle as I enjoyed the rare warm weather for mid-December.
Back on the trail I soon found myself beginning the long descent back to the trailhead. At 2.9 miles I made a rather steep descent down to a small tributary of Ramsey Run. The trail turned left here and followed this ravine as the small stream would flow among the rocks, sometimes disappearing underground for a considerable distance.
At 3.9 miles I was at Ramsey Run. There is a nice campsite at this location as well as a nice bridge that made crossing Ramsey Run quite easy. Once on the west bank of Ramsey Run, the Mid State Trail continues northward, following Ramsey Run to its headwaters. However, my plans had me bushwhacking downstream, alongside Ramsey Run as it flowed back to Pine Creek.
There was an abandoned forest road indicated on the maps, but this road soon disappeared and I found myself hopping back and forth across the stream many times. There were even times when I scampered up the mountainside 100 feet or so just to avoid the many stream crossings.
At 4.25 miles into the hike I encountered posted property. It is illegal to trespass on posted property, so if you do this hike, please honor the land owners wishes and stay off of their private land. The boundary for the state forest and this private land was Ramsey Run, so I just stayed on the west bank of the stream and had no difficulties.
After 5.4 miles of hiking I emerged from the woods back at the trailhead. The hike wasn't that strenuous and I think the next time I hike this section will be an overnight hike on my way to Little Pine State Park. I did accomplish my mission of hiking the 2001 reroute of the Mid State Trail and we now had a good GPS track to use with the new Mid State maps.