In January of 2008 I climbed to the top of Stone Mountain to take in the view from the Stone Valley Vista. During this hike I thought to myself how nice this view would be during the spring or summer seasons. Fast forward to 2010, just a little past summer time, when an afterwork hike took us to the top of Stone Mountain. The view was just a spectacular as it was in January of 2008 and the Standing Stone Trail was a treat for all of us hiking on this afterwork hike.
|Trailhead:||N 40° 39.02'
W 77° 45.24'
|Trail Length:||4.4 miles|
|Hike Time:||2.5 hours|
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The trailhead for this hike is located within the State Park. There is a new parking area, located off of route PA305, with a large wooden sign indicating that this is the northern trailhead for the Link Trail. 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. Travel another quarter of a mile and you'll spy the trailhead off of the right of the road, directly across from the park office.
When pulling into the trailhead parking area the first thing I noticed was the new sign. When last I was here the sign stated that this was the northern terminus for the Link Trail. Even though the official name of the trail was changed in 2006, the sign still diplayed the old name back in 2008. Now in 2010 the new name, the Standing Stone Trail, was emblazened on the trail head sign.
There were four of us doing this hike. Tim, Tom, Steve, myself, plus Steve's two dogs, Scout and Spring. As previously stated, I had done this hike previously, but I thought it'd be a great trail to introduce to the rest of the gang. Plus, with all of other hikes in Rothrock State Forest, it was getting harder to find new hikes for us all to do.
The hike started out with a nice stroll not far from route PA305. We passed the old stone church before we started heading back away from the road, following a fenced in enclosure. We passed through an area that looked to be a small quarry for shale before we hit the trail proper: an old forest road grade that had been absorbed back into the woods many years ago.
At about 0.6 miles we passed through the shale pit and found ourselves on a nicely groomed trail with a gradual ascent. The hike was pretty easy going. There was a steep drop off to our left, but soon the hollow caught up to us as we continued our climb up the south-east side of Stone Mountain.
Tim was leading our way on this section of the hike. As a matter of fact, he lead most of the hike. Not bad for a guy who never hiked the trail before. Around 1 mile into the hike I did yell up to him and told him to keep his eyes open for the switchback that would be appearing soon. Of course Tom said I should have kept quiet and we could have watched Tim head off down the unblazed trail as we caught our breath at the switchback, calling Tim back once we decided he had put in enough extra distance to take wind out of his sails.
At about 1.2 miles we encountered the switchback, which Tim spyed easily. We paused here for a moment to quench our thirst. I took a quick picture of Scout standing in front of one of the trail signs before we continued our climb.
The trail was still pretty easy to climb. The ascent was a gradual climb and there weren't any rocks in our way. Of course that soon changed. At 1.4 miles the blazed trail made a sharp turn to the left, leaving the gradual logging road behind. Once we were off the old road, the trail got steeper, and rockier.
The steepness and rocky trail was relatively short lived as we soon found ourselves back on an old logging road at 1.5 miles. The road dipped a bit on the south side of the mountain as we traversed across the southern side. At 1.8 miles we started back up to the ridge line, walking through a pine forest.
Finally, at 2.2 miles, we reached the destination of this hike: the Stone Valley Vista. The view was just as breath taking as it was on January of 2008. We all spent a time enjoying the view, pointing out the landmarks, and commenting on where we had already hiked. I signed our names into the trail register and after 10 minutes we were back on the trail.
At 2.5 miles we found ourselves at the intersection of the the Standing Stone Trail and the Turkey Trail. Now I'm not quite sure how the Turkey Trail got it's name. The first thing you notice about this trail is that it is steep. Straight up and straight down. No switchbacks, no level areas, just two directions, up and down. Now on this hike I have an idea how the trail got it's name. First, not long after the begining of our descent, we discovered a turkey feather on the trail. Maybe that's how the trail got it's name because turkeys travel the trail. After about 200 feet of descent we then came across an empty 1 gallon plastic jug. We picked up the plastic jug to carry it out of the woods, but after further investigation we notice that it was a Turkey Hill tea jug. Maybe that's why the trail is named such...hiker's drink Turkey Hill tea while hiking this trail?
After 600 feet and 0.5 miles of hiking, we found ourselves on the Turkey Hill Road. Ah, Ha, perhaps there is some validity to the whole Turkey Hill Tea connection after all!
Anyways, we turned right on Turkey Hill road and followed the stone road back towards the camping area of Greenwood Furnace. At 4.2 miles we came upon the old graveyard and we stopped to look at the gravestones, trying to determine just how old the graves really were.
A short hike of two tenths of a mile along the southern edge of the Greenwood Furnace picnic area brought us back to the trailhead. The sun wasn't yet setting and we all felt pretty good for the good time we made. We jumped into the car, bid our goodbyes to the trail, and headed home.