Our typical after work hikes are usually made up with as few as two and as many as five hikers. This afterwork hike was a little different as we had eleven hikers going on this hike. The ages of the hikers ranged from little ones still in preschool to those that are counting the short years until they can retire. For this hike we decided to do something short, but not too easy, with quite a few views. We opted to do the iconic hike of Happy Valley; the hike up Mount Nittany.
|Trailhead:||N 40° 48.69''
W 77° 48.42'
|Trail Length:||3.6 miles|
|Hike Time:||2.5 hours|
|Near:||In the town of
Lemont, just outside of
State College, PA.
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The trailhead for this trail is very easy to find. It is located at the end of Mount Nittany Road. You turn onto Mount Nittany Road in the village of Lemont coming off of Pike Street. In order to get to Lemont, you need to head towards State College. There are numerous road signs for State College on the major highways, be it I99, I80, US322, PA45, or PA26. Ultimately you will want to get on route PA26. I would suggest finding your way to the US322/PA26 intersection. At the intersection you will need to take PA26 north (East College Avenue) for 0.7 miles where you will encounter a traffic light. Bear right at the light and you are on Pike Street. Drive for another 0.6 miles on Pike Street and you will enter the town of Lemont with Mount Nittany Road on your left.
We all met at the trailhead, aiming for a start to our hike at 4:30PM. Directly after work, I stop by Shari's to pick her up, and when we got to the trailhead, three members of our group were already there. Shortly another two showed up. At 4:38, while waiting for the last four members to show up, we decided to start a slow walk up the trail, only to discover them pulling into the parking lot as we just hit the trail. With eleven of us now all present and accounted for, we began the climb up Mount Nittany.
With hikers of various skill ranges, we took a nice leisurely hike up the white blazed trail. We stopped a couple times on the way up, but I was rather impressed at the stamina that everyone was showing during the climb. At the top we all waited until the last of our group joined us.
Once we reached the top we immediately followed the white blazed trail to our right. This takes you to the Mike Lynch Overlook. The kids were amazed at the beautiful view and couldn't stop talking about it.
After resting at the vista for awhile and taking in the view we continued on with our hike. Again we followed the white blazed trail from the vista along the southern side of the mountain. After about 300 feet we came across the blue blazed trail. The white and blue blazed trails parallel each other at this point and then meet back up in about 0.5 miles. We took the blue blazed trail at this point as it goes down the southern side of the mountain a little further than the white blazed trail plus it has a vista of Boalsburg that everyone wanted to see.
Once we reached the Boalsburg vista we paused for a few minutes to take in this view as well. The vista looks down on the Mount Nittany Middle School. One of the hikers in the group pointed out his house to us. The kids didn't see quite as excited at this view as they were at the first.
We continued on the blue blaze trail and soon merged again with the white blazed trail. We followed the trail as we slowly descended along the southern side of the mountain. At 1.6 miles the blue blazed trail continue straight as the white blazed trail bears off to the left. The the right is an unblazed trail with a sign posted that states "This is not a TRAIL." We followed the white blazed trail to our left.
The two trails on Mount Nittany, the white blazed and the blue blazed, make two loops on the top of Mount Nittany. The white blazed trail is approximately 4 miles in length and the blue blazed trail is about 6 miles in length. There are also a number of unblazed cutoff trails on top of the mountain as well.
Recently the Mount Nittany Conservancey posted a number of wayfinding signs along the trail. There are eleven signs in all. Each sign has a map of the trails on Mount Nittany, along with GPS coordinates fot he current sign and directional arrows with distances to the next wayfinding sign. With these new signs, hopefully there will be fewer reports of hikers getting lost on Mount Nittany.
The white blazed trail that we took at 1.6 miles cuts across the top of the mountain over to the northern side. After hiking a half mile to get across the mountain we came to the intersection of the blue and white blazed trail on the north side. Here the blue blazed trail continues on down the mountain side and off to our right, while the white blazed trail continues off to our left. There is also a large pile of rocks at this intersection. We waited here a bit for the younger hikers to catch up. After hiking 2 miles they were starting to get a little tired. From here we turned left, continuing to follow the white blazed trail.
At 2.7 miles into the hike we reached our last vista. We came across another group of hikers, heading in the opposite direction of us. They paused at the vista and we offered to take a group picture of them. After spending some time enjoying our last view of the hike we continued on.
At 3.1 miles we began our descent back down the white blazed trail that we had ascended upon. The trek back to the trailhead was uneventful and the younger hikers were happy to be back at the cars. All-in-all everyone had an enjoyable after work hike. Perhaps we can fit in one more large group outing yet again this year.