The northern terminus of the Standing Stone Trail is located in Greenwood Furnace State Park. A short distance from the park, the trail comes across the Stone Valley Vista. A loop hike can be made to see this vista and then return to the park via the Turkey Trail. Until this year, the trek on the Turkey Trail, up or down, was not enjoyable as it was a steep ascent or descent, straight up the side of the mountain. However, that all changed this year with a new reroute of the Turkey Trail that made it much more easy and enjoyable to hike.
|Trailhead:||N 40° 38.20'
W 77° 46.25'
|Trail Length:||5.0 miles|
|Hike Time:||3.0 hours|
|Near:||Greenwood Furnace State Park.|
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The trailhead for this particular hike is located just outside of Greenwood Furnace State Park. The easiest way to get to the trailhead is to come from either Huntingdon or State College. If you are coming from Huntingdon, you'll want to head north on route PA26. If coming from State College, you'll want to head south on route PA26. Coming from either direction, you will want to turn off of route PA26 onto route PA305 once you enter the town of McAlevys Fort. You'll head east on route PA305 towards Greenwood Furnace State Park. Once you travel for approximately 4.7 miles you'll find yourself within the park as the road passes just south of the dam and the Greenwood Furnace lake. Just past the dam, you will find Turkey Hill Road on your right. Drive on Turkey Hill Road for approximately 1.1 miles. You will see the trail sign for the Turkey Trail on your left with room to park a couple cars to the right side of the road.
Early in the year I had stopped in at the ranger station at Greenwood Furnace State Park. It was then that I learned of the reroute of the Turkey Trail. I knew that a reroute was planned but it wasn't until the visit with the park ranger that I learned that it was completed. Learning of this reroute, I wanted to make sure I rehiked the trail to see how much it was improved.
It was a relatively warm fall Sunday when I decided to do this hike. I had parked at the intersection of the Turkey Trail and the Turkey Hill Road. The first part of the trail was the same as the last time I hiked it, with the exception of the trail blazes. The trail was now blazed yellow instead of blue, meeting the standards published by DCNR, indicating that this trail was a footpath only side trail.
It wasn't until just a little over a tenth of a mile into the hike that I encountered the first change to the Turkey Trail. Just prior to the start of the ascent up Stone Mountain, the Turkey Trail intersected with the newly created Lorence Trail. The sign stated that it was about one mile down the Lorence Trail where it would intersect with the Monsell Trail. I made a mental note that I wanted to find that intersection and hike the Lorence Trail back to the trailhead to finish out this hike.
Just past the intersection with the Lorence Trail, the Turkey Trail seemed as it did the last time I hiked it. It was straight and began to climb somewhat steeply up the side of Stone Mountain. It wasn't much later though until I came across the reroute of the trail. At 0.3 miles into the hike the newly routed Turkey Trail turns to the right, leaving the old trail behind.
For the next half mile I hiked on the new Turkey Trail as it switchbacked its way up the side of Stone Mountain. The sidehill work and stone work on this reroute was quite impressive. Stone steps showed up on the trail in multiple places. All-in-all, the hike on the Turkey Trail was quite enjoyable and not at all strenuous compared to the previous route of the Turkey Trail. At 0.8 mile into the hike the rerouted trail rejoined with the old trail, just a hundred feet prior to its intersection with the Standing Stone Trail.
Once I reached the Standing Stone Trail I turned left and headed towards the Stone Valley Vista. At a little over a mile into the hike I reached the vista. I took a moment to enjoy the view before continuing northeast on the Standing Stone Trail.
The trail follows the top of the ridgeline, for the most part, for the next 0.8 miles. At 1.8 mile into the hike the trail makes a sharp right as it leaves what seems to be an old road and begins to descent more steeply as it crosses a small rock field. At 2 miles the steep descent ends as the trail turns to the right, now following an old, grassy mountain road.
The trail continues its gradual descent on the old road until 2.2 mile into the hike. Here it merges with another road and the trail makes a sharp left to continue following this new road down the mountain. The trail here is quite wide and can easily accommodate two hikers walking side-by-side.
At 2.8 miles the trail opens up as it crosses the edge of an old shale pit. There is a steep drop off to the right of the trail and the access road to the shale pit is carved into the hillside. After two tenths of a mile the trail emerges into an open field, following the edge of the woods as it heads towards route PA305.
At 3.1 miles the Standing Stone Trail meets route PA305. However you do not have to hike along the road here as the trail continues to the left, just in front of the old Stone Church. At 3.2 miles you will be at the intersection of the Standing Stone Trail and the yellow-blazed Monsell Trail. I decided to continue on another 100 feet to the trailhead proper for the Standing Stone Trail. Passing through the parking area here, I walked the access roads in the state park as I headed back to Turkey Hill Road.
About 3.5 miles into the hike I reached Turkey Hill Road. There is an old cemetery here to the right of the road. Directly across from the cemetery is the other end of the yellow-blazed Monsell Trail. I turned left here and followed the Monsell Trail into the woods.
After following the Monsell Trail for about 0.3 miles I came across the junction of the Monsell Trail and the Lorence Trail. I turned right here and followed the Lorence Trail back towards the Turkey Trail.
The Lorence Trail is just a bit over a mile in length as it gradual ascends the lower flanks of Stone Mountain as it roughly parallels Turkey Hill Road. On its trek back to the Turkey Trail, the Lorence Trail crosses four charcoal flats. The large, flat circular areas found in the woods are remnants of the iron age when charcoal was made from the surrounding forests in order to fuel the iron furnaces.
At 4.9 miles into the hike I was back at the intersection of Turkey Trail and Lorence Trail. A short hike back Turkey Trail has be at the trailhead and my waiting truck.
The reroute of the Turkey Trail is a vast improvement over the old trail. For someone wanting to visit the Stone Valley Vista, I would now recommend climbing the Turkey Trail to access to view. Also, with the addition of the Lorence Trail, the Stone Valley Vista loop now keeps you off the Turkey Hill Road and completely immersed in the forests. I highly recommend this hike for anyone looking for a nice afternoon hike in the woods near Greenwood Furnace State Park.