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Moshannon Group News
Pennsylvania Chapter of the Sierra Clubserving Bedford, Blair, Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Elk, Huntingdon, Jefferson, Juniata, McKean, and Mifflin counties
|Explore, Enjoy, and Protect the Planet|
by Dr. Stan Kotala
Many outdoor enthusiasts are unaware of the wealth of opportunities available in PSU’s Stone Valley Forest, which consists of about 7,000 acres of mostly wooded land in northern Huntingdon County. Situated in the rolling hills between Tussey Mountain to the west and Stone Mountain to the east, PSU’s Stone Valley Forest offers more than 25 miles of hiking trails over mostly gentle topography, free of the rocks that characterize most hiking experiences along our region’s ridgetops.
The four-mile Mountain View Trail covers the heart of the Stone Valley Forest and exposes the hiker to a variety of habitats and some great scenery. It is best to begin this hike at the parking lot for the Stone Valley Recreation Area just off Scare Pond Road. From the parking lot, cross over into the forest, following the orange blazes of the Lake Trail. The dark shadows of the hemlock forest keep this area cold. You will notice an abundance of mosses on the tree trunks and roots in this moist area. Rustic boardwalks span the wetter areas.
Trail intersections in PSU’s Stone Valley Forest are denoted by numbered brown posts which correspond to the Stone Valley Forest Map available at the Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center store. The first of these that you will encounter is Trail Intersection Marker #23. Continue straight, passing the boardwalk to your left. Shortly you will encounter Trail Intersection Marker #2, and you will again continue straight, passing the bridge over Shaver’s Creek to your left. At this point you will, for a short time, follow the light blue blazes, and ascend a slight incline before turning right, onto a dark-blue-blazed trail which will take you to Trail Marker #19, where you will cross Scare Pond Road and enter the woods by the Mountain View Trail sign, following the blue blazes.
The Mountain View Trail continues through a hemlock stand and then ascends up a low ridge where the forest cover changes to oaks, most of which are covered by green and gray lichens. Winding above one of the hollows, the trail follows the spine of the ridge before descending and joining the Old Faithful Trail for a short distance between Trail Intersection Markers #16 and #17 (stay to the left at both intersections), and then descending further into an adjacent hollow where a small wooden plank bridge crosses a tiny stream.
About 100 feet after crossing this little stream the Mountain View Trail bears off to the left near a large white oak and then enters a hemlock stand. Follow the blue blazes up to an old woods road which gradually ascends to Scare Pond Road, which the trail crosses at the intersection of Scare Pond Road and Hammond Road. At this intersection there is a rustic wooden bench which affords a wonderful view over Stone Valley towards Tussey Mountain. This is a great place for a short rest and a snack. On the opposite side of the road is an enclosed chestnut nursery, where blight-resistant chestnut trees are being raised. Some of the chestnuts within the enclosure have attained a fairly tall height in just a few years.
Follow the Mountain View Trail, indicated at Trail Intersection Marker #14, between the enclosure and Scare Pond Road, eventually entering a pine stand and passing an old shale excavation on your right, and then travelling along the spine of another ridge for about a half-mile and gradually descending to Shaver’s Creek Trail on the right, at Trail Intersection Marker #11, and following this trail into a hemlock grove. You will see Shaver’s Creek flowing below on your left. Bear right at the fork at Trail Intersection Marker #10 and continue through the hemlocks before emerging onto a service road. Look for the “Picnic Pavilion” sign on the opposite side of the road and resume following the blue-blazed trail there.
You will emerge into a manicured pine woods with mowed grass surrounding the office, cabin, and picnic area of the Stone Valley Recreation Area and intersect again with the orange-blazed Lake Trail at Trail Intersection Marker #24 before encountering the parking area and returning to your vehicle.
If you hike this trail on the last weekend in March, be sure to partake of Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center’s Maple Harvest Festival which will be taking place from 10:30 a.m. till 3 p.m. on March 24 and 25. The environmental center is located on Discovery Road, just off Red Rose Road, near the Stone Valley Recreation Area East Entrance.
If you go: From State College, take SR 26 south to Pine Grove Mills. Once you are in Pine Grove Mills, take SR 26 south for 4.1 miles over Tussey Mountain. At the base of the mountain, turn right onto Charter Oak Road. Stay on Charter Oak Road for 1.7 miles and turn left onto Red Rose Road and then right on Scare Pond Road which you will follow to the Stone Valley Recreation Area parking lot, which will be on your right.
Dr. Stan Kotala is the Outings Co-Chair for the Moshannon Group of the Sierra Club