Mid State Trail: Hiking the Ironstone Trail - Part Two
Elevation Profile of Trail
Mid State Trail Guide & Maps Set
by Mid State Trail Association
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|Trailhead:||N 40° 42.56'
W 77° 52.84'
|Trail Length:||5.0 miles|
|Hike Time:||3 hours|
|Near:||Pine Swamp Road, off route PA26|
|* Note regarding hike time and elevation traversed.|
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Trip Report and PhotosThe Ironstone Trail is comprised of various trails within Rothrock State Forest and the Penn State Stone Valley Forest. It is a spur of the Mid State Trail in the State College Region. This was our second hike on the Ironstone Trail, starting at the Beaver Pond near the trail's intersection with the Mid State Trail. Shari, Mike and I hiked the remaining 5 miles on a sunny, fall day, ending at the Stone Valley Recreation Area where we finished our first hike of the Ironstone Trail. With little elevation change and a well maintained trail, this hike was a great way to spend an autumn afternoon.
We started this hike near the intersection of the Ironstone Trail and the Mid State Trail, close to the Beaver Pond. This trailhead is located on Pine Swamp Road. Taking route PA26, you will find the turn off onto the dirt Pine Swamp Road at the base of Tussey Mountain, on the Stone Valley side. This is near the Monroe Furnace ruins, visible off the side of the road. Turning onto Pine Swamp Road, you will drive approximately 1.1 miles. At this point you will see a parking area on the right that can comfortably handle two cars. Park here and the access trail to the Beaver Pond and the Mid State Trail is locate directly across the road from the parking area.
Since this was a shuttle hike we had to drop Mike's car off at the end of the hike. Our hike would be ending near the Stone Valley Recreation Area, where the Ironstone Trail crosses over Charteroak Road. After parking Mike's car there we made our way back to the trailhead along Pine Swamp Road.
We had a bit of an issue at first finding the connecting trail that leads back to Beaver Pond as it isn't blazed but once we found the trail it was pretty easy to follow. The entrance trail is just a little over a tenth of a mile long as it follows the breast of the earthen dam that use to be here. We crossed Shaver Creek and took a picture of the small pond that still exists. At a bit over a tenth of a mile we emerged on the orange-blazed Mid State Trail.
Turning left on the MST we came across the Ironstone Trail junction in less than 500 feet. The MST turns right and climbs to Jo Hays Vista but we continued straight on the yellow-blazed Ironstone Trail. The trail was pretty level hiking with a small climbe after crossing a small tributary of Shaver Creek at 0.6 miles. As we crossed this small stream we notice two native brook trout in the stream. It was pretty amazing to see these fish, over 8" in lenght, swimming in a stream that was only a foot wide. Apparently they figured it would be safer in this stream then down in the larger Shaver Creek.
At 0.9 miles we began a steeper descent towards Pine Swamp Road, crossing it at 1.1 miles into the hike. Once on the road we crossed a small bridge and then turned left off the road to parallel it on an abandoned forest road. We followed this abandoned road for three tenths of a mile before we made a sharp left to descend quickly to the valley floor. At this point we passed the ruins of the Munroe Furnace, an example of an old coke fired iron smelting furnace from the late 1800s. We paused here a bit to take some pictures of the furnace before continuing on.
At 1.5 miles we crossed route PA26 and walked through the powerline clearing beside it. Soon we reentered the woods and the trail parallels Shaver Creek for quite some distance. It wasn't until about 2.2 miles until the trail pulled away from Shaver Creek. We would not see the creek again until we looked out upon it as it flowed through the meadow that was once Lake Perez.
About 2.6 miles into the hike the Ironstone Trail merges with the Woodcock Trail. This is an interpretive trail that is part of the Stone Valley Recreation Area. We were now hiking on Penn State ground and the Ironstone Trail would follow a number of Stoney Valley Recreation trails until we go to the end of our hike. We turned left at the junction with the Woodcock Trail and continued following the striped yellow-blue blazes.
We crossed the east entrance access road to the Stone Valley Recreation Area at 3.2 miles. We stopped here to wet our whistles before we continued on. The Ironstone Trail continued straight ahead directly across the road. We hike up a gentle incline as the trail made a slow turn to the left. At 3.4 miles our climb ended as we began a gentle descent. The trail then turned to our left at 3.6 miles as we followed a small stream off to the right of the trail.
We came across the intersection with the Bluebird Trail coming in from our right at 3.8 miles. In less than a tenth of mile we merged with the orange-blazed Lake Trail where we turned right and followed it southwest. The Lake Trail circles the remnants of Lake Perez. The 72 acre lake was drained in 2008 and do repairs to the dam. However, because of budget constraints the dam was never repaired and there is no time frame for when the lake will be refilled.
We followed the lake trail for another mile before we turned right off the trail onto the yellow blazed Ironstone Trail. A short 0.2 mile hike had us at the car and at the end of our 5 mile hike.
The Stone Valley Recreation Area is a great place to hike with kids. This section of the Ironstone Trail exposes you to some of the trails in the Stone Valley Recreation Area, but it also takes you through some quiet wooded areas along the upper reaches of Shaver Creek. I would definitely recommend this hike for any one that would like to get away from the rocky ridge hiking that dominates the area and enjoy a nice leisurely stroll through the woods.