Experience the Trails of Pennsylvania

Mount Nittany: Hiking the Blue Blazed Trail

A nice spring day, with temperatures approaching the seventies, compelled Shari and I to get out and go for a small hike. With there still being a good bit of snow in the mountains and the roads there still being a little difficult to traverse, we decided to hike on a more easily accessible trail. We headed over to Lemont to climb to the top of Mount Nittany.

Trailhead: N 40° 48.69''
W 77° 48.42'
Total Elevation: 1853'
Trail Length: 4.9 miles
Hike Time: 3 hours
Hike Type: Loop
Difficulty Rating: 86
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.

I had not hiked Mount Nittany at all during 2006 and I was happy to get this hike in early in the season. I really enjoy hiking Mount Nittany. The initial ascent is a good cardiovascular work out and the trails at the top take you to many great vistas.

Our hike this time out was going to be on the blue-blazed trails. Previously we had done a hike on the white-blazed trail and I had done a number of shorter hikes using both the white and blue blazed trails.

The initial climb up to the top of Mount Nittany was the first real exercise Shari or I have had for a couple months. We stopped frequently during the ascent to catch our breathes. About half way up we were passed by a younger gentleman who seemed to be making easy work out of the climb. We met him again, at the top of the climb, as he sat waiting for the rest of his family to catch up with him.

Once we reached the top we turned right on the main trail that loops around the top of the mountain. There are two mail loops around the top of the mountain, the white-blazed and blue-blazed trails. The white is the shorter of the two and was our trail of choice on our last hike to Mount Nittany. This time we were going to go on the longer blue-blazed trail. At this point, the trail was blazed both white and blue and we followed to our first vista: the Mike Lynch Overlook.

During our ascent we did encounter some snow on the north face of the mountain, but now that we were on top, there was no snow to be found. We spent about 10 minutes at the Mike Lynch Overlook and then continued on our way. We followed the blue-blazed trail to the next vista. This one overlooks the town of Boalsburg.

Again we spent a few minutes at the second vista before continuing on our way. Soon the blue and white-blazed trails merged again into one. There was some snow found along the trail here, but only the shadows of the larger trees. At about 1.75 miles into our hike the white-blazed trail bore off to our left and we continued straight on the blue-blazed trail.

At this point the trail dips down into a shallow valley located at the top of Mount Nittany. The direct rays of the sun only make it into this shallow valley for a few hours each day. This translated into slow snow melt and the snow was somewhat deep on this section of the trail. In some places we walked through snow 8 to 10 inches deep. It was a strange feeling, be surrounded by snow, but having a brisk and very mild wind blowing through your hair.

We soon found ourselves at our third vista. This vista looked across Penn's Valley to Tussey Mountain and the ski resort on the other side. We took a moment to get a drink and enjoy the scenery and mid-afternoon warmth before we continued on.

We hike on for about 0.4 miles before we made a sharp left and started hiking back across the top of the mountain to the north facing side. It was probably about a mile long hike across the flat top of the mountain before we reached the other side and yet another vista. This vista looks up Nittany Valley, overlooking the Rockview Prison Grounds. Shari and I met two younger gentleman at this point of the hike. They were college students on spring break and out doing some hiking close to home on this warm spring day. We talked with them for about 10 minutes, informing them of the many trails in Rothrock State Forest, as well as the other trails in the region that they could explore.

We came across our last vista of the hike about 3.7 miles into our hike. Here the white-blazed trail continued across the top of the mountain to yet another vista and finally to the point where we completed our initial ascent. The blue-blazed trail, on the other hand, headed right and down the side of the mountain. We decided to take the blue-blazed trail down the mountain.

The descent on the blue-blazed trail was not nearly as steep as it would have been on the white-blazed trail that we used to climb to the top. The ice and snow on the rocks made is somewhat slick at places, but we took our time and made it down without any incidents.

Once we completed our descent we had a short stroll on an old muddy road back to the trailhead and our car. At the trailhead there is a sign for the trail of Mount Nittany, depicted the paths of both the blue and white-blazed trails. It had stated approximately a 4 mile hike on the white-blazed loop and a 6 mile hike on the blue-blazed loop. Both Shari and I felt pretty good about doing a six mile hike and it wasn't until I downloaded my GPS data that I found our hike to be closer to 5 miles instead of 6. Regardless of the distance, the trail on Mount Nittany are a great place to hike and I highly recommend them to any one that hasn't hiked them yet.

Looking up the trail from the trailhead, there was still a lot of snow and ice on the ground.

Here I am standing at our first vista on this hike, the Mike Lynch Overlook.

This section of the trail was clear of all snow as we walked along the southern edge of the ridge line.

Shari pauses to have her picture taken on one of the snowier sections of the trail.

Another vista, looking south. The white areas on the distant mountain is the Tussey Mountain Ski Resort

This vista looks north up Nittany Valley towards the Rockview Prison grounds.

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