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Indian Steps Make Us Wish For the Indian Escalator

Posted by on in General

Our latest after work hike had the Restek Rabmlers taking on the Indian Steps. The Indian Steps are part of the Ironstone Trail which is a spur of the Mid State Trail. Probably not built by Indians, these rock steps provide a direct route to climb the south face of Tussey Mountain.

There were 8 of us on this hike. The weather was not the best as it looked like it would rain at any minute. We did get a few sprinkles falling on us half way through the hike, but we lucked out and stayed dry for the duration of the hike.

At first we came across steps made of logs and then we came across a rock field and the Indian Steps. We climbed 600 feet in about 0.4 miles and it took us about 20 minutes to climb. Once we reached the top everyone took a much needed break before we continued on.

Soon we were back on the trail, turning left at the junction with the Mid State Trail. After about a mile and a half of hiking the MST we we came across our first view to the south, overlooking Harry's Valley. Shortly past this vista we came upon a clearing where a fire tower once stood. From here we followed the remains of an old forest road to its intersection with PA Furnace Road.

We turned left on PA Furnace Road and came across another vista to the south about 400 feet after leaving the Mid State Trail. We continued our hike down PA Furnace Road to where it switch-backed to our right. We continued straight on the Pump Station Trail which is a grassy forest road, now only used by hikers, bikers, and during the winter, snowmobilers.

Once we reached the bottom of our descent, where Pump Station Trail meets with Harry's Valley Road, we beared left and hiked the last half mile back to our cars and the start of our hike. This was a nice after work hike, being just the right length as that we were finished before it got too late into the evening. The climb up Indian Steps was an invigorating hike and probably our most challenging hike to date for the Restek Ramblers.

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Hiking the South Loop of Rock Run Trails

Posted by on in Allegheny Front Trail

The Restek Ramblers' fifth after work hike had us venturing pretty far from home. For this hike we had decided to hike the Rock Run Trails. In particular, we were doing the southern loop of the double loop Rock Run Trail system. Since we were driving so far (about 35 minutes worth) and I didn't know what the parking situation would be like, we kept the number of cars to minimum. With three cars and six people we headed up to Governor's Road on top of the Allegheny Plateau.

We arrived at the trailhead, which was back a rough bit of mountain road, full of ruts and huge puddles of water, around 15 minutes past five. We quickly got on our way, heading down the Woodcutter's Road. We followed this un-blazed trail down to where it intersected with the Rock Run Trails. We turned right onto the Woodland Trail and hike about 0.1 miles until we came upon the Connector Trail. This trail is the middle part of the figure eight loop. We turned right here, and after crossing on a newly erected bridge over Rock Run, we arrived at the intersection of Ridge Trail and the Headwater Trail.

We turned left on the Headwater Trail and headed south. We hiked for about 1.5 miles on the Headwater Trail, along the western banks of Rock Run. Soon we were crossing the small streams the feed into and form Rock Run. At about 2.5 miles we were at the junction of the Headwater Trail, Entrance Trail and Woodland Trail. At this intersection is a trail register so we stopped and signed in as the Restek Ramblers.

After a short bread we continued on a sweeping left turn, now following the Woodland Trail, as we began hiking in a more northern direction. After crossing a camp access road, we entered into an area containing some odd rock formations. These formations were quite large, some the size of a garage, as the trail made its way through the rocks.

Just prior to us meeting up with the Woodcutters Road, the trail that we followed into the Rock Run Trails, we observed a porcupine off to the side of the trail. We watched as he slowly lumbered across the forest floor, until he came upon a rather large tree. Up the tree he went, trying to put as much distance between us and him. After climbing up the tree about 30 feet, he must have felt secure about his safety as he just hung there, clinging to the tree, and watching us from above. After some quick snapshots we were on our way, letting the poor fellow alone so he could recover from his close encounter with us humans.

Once back at the Woodcutter's Road, we turned right and followed it back to our cars. We were able to complete the 4.9 mile hike in about 2 hours. The smaller group of six hikers allowed us to keep the pace up on this hike, plus the flat terrain, so that we averaged a hiking speed of about 2.5 miles per hour. The weather cooperated (mostly) to allow us to enjoy another hike as we explored the trails in the Pennsylvania woods.

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On Top of a Happy Valley Landmark

Posted by on in Mount Nittany

For their fourth after work hike, the Restek Ramblers climbed to the top of a Happy Valley landmark: Mount Nittany. We had beautiful weather for the hike and had a number of new hikers joining us for this outing.

We met at the trailhead to Mount Nittany at the end of Mount Nittany Road in Lemont. When we arrived the parking was at a premium, with most of us having to do a short hike just to make it to the trailhead.

There were 12 of us on this hike, with almost half being new hikers. The hike climbing Mount Nittany starts with a steep climb. I told everyone to climb at their own pace and that we would all meet at the top. Some of the hikers took off and began ascending the mountain at a quickened pace, while others took their time and rested occasionally during the ascent. Soon we were all at the top of the mountain where the white blazed entrance trail merges with the white blazed loop trail. We turned right and walked a short distance to the Mike Lynch Vista.

This was our first hike where we actually had a vista to enjoy. We all took our time here, looking out over State College and University Park. There was a couple sitting here when we arrived and they were kind enough to take a group picture of us. After a bit we started off following the blue blazed trail counter clockwise from the Mike Lynch vista.

On the south-west face of Mount Nittany, the white and blue blazed trails parallel one another for a short distance. At a point the blue blazed trail breaks away and heads directly south to the Boalsburg vista. Again we paused here for a bit so that everyone could enjoy the view. I pointed out the area where we had hiked the week before: Shingletown Gap and Bald Knob Ridge. We left this vista and continued on the blue blazed trail where it soon merged with the white blazed loop trail.

When the white blazed and blue blazed trails parted, we turned left and followed the white blazed trail back across the top of Mount Nittany to the northern side of the mountain. We came upon another intersection with the blue blazed trail where we jogged to our right to take in another vista. AFter a short stop here (the vista was overgrown and not nearly as nice as the previous two) we backtracked a bit and then continued along the ridge top on the white blazed trail. Before we knew it we were back at the entrance trail where we turned right and followed it back down to the trailhead. The trip back down the mountainside was much easier than the climb up it. Our last scheduled hike of the season will have us visiting Mount Nittany once again, this time we'll be tackling the longer blue-blazed loop with additional vistas for us to enjoy.

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Climbing Bald Knob Ridge

Posted by on in Shingletown Gap

The Restek Ramblers' third after work hike had us returning to Shingletown Gap. On our first hike we had a small climb followed by a nice easy hike on the Charcoal Flats and Lower Trails. For this hike we were looking to do something a bit more challenging by climbing up to the top of Bald Knob Ridge.

There were fifteen of us on this hike. I was quite surprised by the turn-out as the temperatures were only in the upper forties. Actually, the temperatures were quite comfortable for hiking with the exception that near the end of the hike, in the shadows of the mountain, it did seem to get pretty chilly.

We started the hike following the banks of Roaring Run. This was a nice easy ascent where we followed the stream for a little over a mile. We had hiked the lower sections of this trail on our first hike. However, this outing had us traveling closer to the headwaters of Roaring Run.

At about 1.25 miles into the hike we came upon the intersection of Lower Trail and the Maguire Trail. The Maguire Trail is named after Frank Maguire, an avid biker and trail blazer in the Rothrock and Bald Eagle State Forests. The Maguire Trail use to be a much steeper, direct route to the top of Bald Knob Ridge, but was rerouted about three years ago to help alleviate some erosion that was occurring on the old trail.

The ascent on the Maguire Trail was steady but not real steep. We stopped a few times to catch our breaths; once to clear the trail for a mountain biker descending on the trail. Just a bit past 2 miles of hiking we reached the top of Bald Knob Ridge.

The hike across the ridgeline afforded a couple "winter" views towards Happy Valley, State College, and Mount Nittany in the distance. The ridge was a bit rocky but we all managed to navigate it without incidence. We paused again just prior to starting our descent so that the entire group was not strung out over the top of the ridge.

The descent was much steeper than the ascent. We all took our time and maintained our footing as we regrouped at the junction of Bald Knob Ridge Trail and Lower Trail, along the banks of Roaring Run. From here we retraced our steps back to the trailhead and our waiting cars.

The hike was well received by everyone that participated. It was the hardest hike so far as it incorporated both elevation change and a moderate distance to hike. Much more challenging than the other two hikes, but everyone was up for it and handled it well. The Restek Ramblers has two more hikes scheduled for the Shingletown Gap area and those hikes will continue to challenge us with steep ascents and longer distances to hike.

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A Wet Hike at Bear Meadows

Posted by on in Rothrock State Forest

The second after work hike for the Restek Ramblers had us heading up to Bear Meadows. We met at the Rothrock Forest Access parking area in Galbraith Gap where we piled into a fewer number of cars before heading to the trailhead proper.

We started our hike at the parking are near the intersection of Bear Meadows Road and the gated North Meadows Road. It wasn't as warm on this hike as it had been for our first hike, but the sun was shining and the temperatures were comfortable.

We headed up North Meadows Road for about a half mile before we turned left onto the Bear Meadows Trail. Once we got off the road and onto the trail we started encountering wet areas on the trail. This slowed us down a bit as we tried to maneuver around puddles and muddy sections of the trail. We paused once on this section of the trail and then again once we reached the only designated camping site in the Bear Meadows Natural Area. This was about 1.75 miles into the hike.

Leaving the campsite area, the trail became more rugged and approached the south side of the bog at Bear Meadows. Where before we encountered small areas of the trail that we needed to avoid, now there were sections of the trail that were mud from one side of the trail to the other. Add the fact that brush and rhododendron grew right up to the sides of the trail, it did not leave much room to avoid this wet and muddy areas. There was one section of the trail that would be more appropriately called a stream for about 1000 feet.

At about 3 miles into the hike we left the muddy and wet Bear Meadows Trail behind as we emerged onto Bear Meadows Road. There is a small bridge here along with ample parking area. Also located here is a monument holding a plaque that declares Bear Meadows a National Natural Area. After a short rest here, the group continued north on Bear Meadows Road for a short distance before turning left onto Jean Aron Path.

Jean Aron Path was relatively dry, though we did encounter a spot or two that was wet and muddy. One hour and 45 minutes after starting the hike, we found ourselves back at the trailhead. The Restek Ramblers had logged a little over 3.5 miles on this hike and even though there wasn't much elevation change on the hike, it was still a challenge with all of the wet and muddy areas on the trail. Everyone hopped into the cars to shuttle back to the Galbraith Gap parking area. Everyone was now ready for next weeks hike that incorporates the same hiking distance and adds in a bit of a ridge top hiking.

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