5 Hikes Every Penn Stater Must Do
Everyone knows about Mount Nittany. Whether you’ve hiked it, seen it, heard of it, or seen this article, then you know of it. Before graduation, every Penn Stater must traverse up to the top at least once to take in the beautiful view of downtown, campus and Beaver Stadium beautifully nestled in the valley below.
The only problem is, everyone knows Mount Nittany. During the next couple of weeks of nice weather, nature lovers and hiking enthusiasts alike will be crowding the trails to enjoy the well-kept trails of Mount Nittany. So if you want to avoid the masses, here are some alternative hikes in the State College area for you to try.
1. David’s Vista
Right off of College Ave., this trail starts at the top of a mountain. The beginning of David’s Vista trail is, to be quite honest, quite boring. Walking underneath telephone towers isn’t really anyone’s idea of nature, but don’t be discouraged. As you wind through Rothrock Forest on top of the mountain, there is little elevation gain but a whole lot of natural beauty going on. Make sure to keep your eye out for trail blazes after you pass a small rock patch. Past that rock patch, the trail weaves around a small campground with a scenic overlook to your right. The vista is a large outcropping of a boulder field, and is absolutely covered in trees. Take a couple of friends and bring a lunch. It’s a great and easy afternoon hike.
2. Shinglestown Gap
Located less than five miles from campus, this underrated hike is one of the best and most explorable. At the beginning of the hike, the trail splits. You can choose either the left side of the creek or the right. On the left side of the creek, a rock formation that was practically designed for climbing juts out of the trail. If you are an adventurous outdoorsy type, I suggest this route. The rocks are steep, so exercise caution, but the view at the top is worth it. But if that sort of hike is too challenging, the right side of the trail leads up to a smaller rock outcropping. The trail also follows the brook at the bottom of the mountain and goes for miles.
3. James Cleveland Memorial Trail
Named after the late James Cleveland (who actually crashed his plane on the top of this mountain outside of Center Hall, PA), it’s the most peaceful and least crowded trail on this list. Nestled in Bald Eagle State Forest, the trail is tedious to get to, as you off-road on various gravel roads in the woods. If you’re able to find the well-marked trailhead, the hike is dead silent. Seriously, you can hear the babbling brook the entire time you’re on this trail. As you ascend the mountain, a memorial to Cleveland awaits you at the top. If you continue on the trail towards the boulder field, you can catch a killer view. If you can pull yourself out of bed, this trail is to do in the morning. Try to catch the sunrise, the view is second to none.
4. 1000 Steps Trail
Located about 45 minutes south of State College, this difficult hike takes you up the Allegheny Mountains in literally 1000 rock steps. The trail is well-marked, and easily done in running shoes. Pro tip: don’t stop at the top. The 1000 steps only takes you up to one vantage point on the mountain. If you continue up the trail and go up, the views only get even better. This hike is not for the faint hearted. Don’t do this after a night of drinking either, you’ll regret it.
5. Ricketts Glen State Park
I might lose some of you with this last one, but for my dedicated hikers this trail is a must-do. Ricketts Glen is an all-day expedition, but it’s worth the time. About 2 hours outside of State College, the drive is a precursor to the beauty you will see at Ricketts Glen. I recommend doing the 3.2 mile Falls Trail to get the full experience. Ricketts Glen has 22 waterfalls throughout the park, and 18 of them are clearly visible on this trail. This trail is the most difficult on the list and is NOT a light, casual walk. Hiking boots are a must, as you have to wade into the small swimming hole at the bottom of the Ganoga Falls. Bathing suits (for the summer months) are encouraged. Turn back the clock a few years and jump in. Enjoy the call of nature.