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Topic: Campbell-MST-Jackson loop, Rothrock< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: May 01 2014, 10:23 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Photos

It was time for a hike with a long drive.  Last October I chose between a few Rothrock hikes, settling on a Bear Meadows loop.  This time I picked another on the list, a circuit containing the Jackson and Mid State Trails, among others.  I discovered during the drive up that it must be opening day for trout, as Cowans Gap was busier than it is in the summer, and numerous cars and trucks parked along the road in Allens Valley and anywhere a major stream crossed or flowed by a road.

I started at the Ironstone Trail crossing of gravel Pine Swamp Road, at a pulloff for 2-3 cars, one already there.  I started by walking back out the road towards PA-26.  I then started uphill on a little gravel road which was an old routing of 26.  Off of this started the snowmobile trail.  It starts through a stand of tall pines, before entering a bit more mixed woods.  This trail really should only be thought as as a way to get from point A to point B or completing a loop, as most of the way it runs mere feet away from the road.  In some places it is basically a low grassy shoulder of the road.  Once it crosses the road, it enters open woods and briefly leaves the road.  There's a view from a powerline clearing, before the trail switchbacks and soon follows above the road.  The trail ends at gravel Harrys Valley Road by a cabin, just off of 26.



Across the road is a second cabin.  A low, flagged telephone line allows for a quick connection to the unblazed Campbell trail.  It starts off as a rocky cabin access lane, before fading into a faint trail, thankfully flagged.  The flagging ends as the trail turns to start climbing Tussey Mountain.  But it's an obvious woods road here, so following it is easy.  Some minor blowdowns along the way, plus the brush could use some cutting.  This stretch was horrible for ticks.  I basically had to stop every 100-200 feet to check and brush them off; by the top I surely had removed more than a few dozen.  (For the rest of the hike, I removed only two, and found none once home.)  The trail summits at a junction with the Mid State Trail.



After taking a short break, I take the MST north.  The trail is fairly easy here and sees at least moderate use.  It's level and has been mostly cleared of rocks, thus often putting the trail in a shallow winding trough.  Some rocky areas have partial views, though the first real one is at the powerline clearing, which looks both north and south from the ridge.  The trail becomes a woods road past here, and sees even more use.  At the first of a series of communications towers, the trail joins a gravel lane, which it follows out to PA 26 at the Jo Hays vista.  The view is to the north.  In the east is State College and Penn State.  In the distance in the center is I-99 with some obtrusive rock work.  To the west are farmlands, pretty much edging its way to State College.





After taking in the view, I crossed the busy road and started on the Jackson Trail.  At first it is a gravel lane passing by even more communications towers.  It leaves the gravel road to enter the young growth forest.  The trail follows the ridge, and can be rather straight.  Unlike the MST, where rocks were moved from the trail, the Jackson Trail had rocks moved onto the trail.  Flat side up, to make a form of smooth rock paving.  But they had some give, making for a loud hike here.  The trail enters a dark stand of hemlocks, and soon after I stopped at Dave's vista, the first on the trail, for lunch, beneath a pine tree at the top of a talus slope.  The view looked out towards the south, with the valleys and ridges of central PA, out towards Jacks Mountain.





After the vista the Jackson Trail becomes rougher, the rock pavement ends.  There are some more vistas, the best from the tops of talus slopes the trail traverses.  Most views are to the south towards the interior of the Rothrock, though there are a couple looking north to the State College area.  Some stretches are through the woods, not rocky, but with ingrowing brush.  Unlike the Campbell Trail, these were tick free for me.  While the views were nice, the constant trekking over the rock strewn ridge did become tiring, and so when I finally made it back to the MST, I was more than ready for a breather.  





While there a hiking group came up the sharp climb of the MST; they had started from the Jo Hays vista about the same time I left there.  They were somewhat unprepared, as some did not bring water or fluids, and others not enough.  We talked for a bit as they waited for their slowest members, and once so, I started south on the MST, taking a steep descent off Tussey Mountain.  It soon becomes gentler, heading through plenty of mountain laurel, before merging with a woods road.  The trail undulates, still heading through large stands of laurel, passing an assortment of small springs and streams, making the trail muddy in a fair number of places.  I pass a cabin, and take a side trip over the spillway to the Beaver Pond, occupied by what sounded like plenty of frogs.  Reaching the campsite back at trail level, I take my final break for the trip.



After looking at my maps and guide, I continue on, quickly continuing onto the Ironstone Trail and leaving the MST.  The trail starts as a nice state forest type woods road, grassy but often wet.  The trail is open due to heading next to a young growth area.  It eventually enters a more mature hemlock forest and dries out, and crosses a small stream.  The trail climbs back into a more mid growth open woods, before losing its woods road characteristic as it drops down into another stream hollow.  It soon reached a gated cabin access lane, nicely moss covered between the treads, a short distance uphill from Pine Swamp Road, back to where I had started.



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PostIcon Posted on: May 02 2014, 8:42 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'm having trouble figuring out where you crossed PA 26 the first time. Couldn't have been pleasant either time.

Not sure if you would know the story of the "obtrusive rock work" in the I-99 roadcut thru Bald Eagle Mountain, it had more than visual effects: link
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PostIcon Posted on: May 02 2014, 8:54 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Very nice photos, looks like a great place to hike.

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PostIcon Posted on: May 02 2014, 1:08 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(ki0eh @ May 02 2014, 8:42 am)
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I'm having trouble figuring out where you crossed PA 26 the first time. Couldn't have been pleasant either time.

Not sure if you would know the story of the "obtrusive rock work" in the I-99 roadcut thru Bald Eagle Mountain, it had more than visual effects: link

I think the first crossing must have been on what the Purple Lizard map calls the Lowry trail.

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PostIcon Posted on: May 02 2014, 10:01 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

That's the crossing.  That one actually isn't too bad, there are good sight lines in each direction, and the moderate traffic meant I could take a quick breather as the hike to that point was all uphill.  The bad part is that part of the trail is in the road r-o-w for a bit.

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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 01 2014, 1:28 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I did a less ambitious version of this as an evening leg-stretcher, starting from Jo Hays and running in opposite direction, but skipping the Jackson Trail in favor of the MST proper

Link from another Backpacker partner site - note photos of register entries too

With leaves on, Campbell Trail on S side of Tussey is my most folks' definition overgrown (not MRHyker's, though, as there were thankfully few prickers) above the bench. Both it, and summer high grass on Lowry snowmobile trail meant that ankles were better for staying on the trail than eyes.

Re-reading the OP description, I can't tell if A3 went on the part of the Ironstone Trail between PA 26 and Pine Swamp Rd. I went downhill on PA 26 and caught a small glimpse of the Monroe Furnace. But somehow I missed it walking back up the Ironstone. (Since it was an evening hike, I used the excuse of limited time not to backtrack to see it.)
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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 01 2014, 10:16 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Boy, the snowmobile trail looks much worse in the summer.  I probably disliked the uphill more than being next to the road; and when not immediately next to the road it was actually somewhat pleasant.

For the record, I was only on the Ironstone loop north of Pine Swamp Rd.  I did head to the creek just south of the road, but that was via a bad rhododendron bushwhack rather than trail.

BTW, could you send me a track of your hike?  Trimble is a paysite.  gpx would be best for me; it converts the easiest.


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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 11 2014, 9:05 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Did you get it?
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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 11 2014, 10:12 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Yeah, looks like it should work fine; haven't gotten around to working it into my data.  Thanks.

BTW, sounds like the MST got a lot of work done this weekend.  I met Deb D. and her crew in the Maple Run area; south of there the trail was in exceptionally good case; then acceptably ok north of there but some blowdowns to work over and untrimmed undergrowth, but nothing I'd really complain about.


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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 12 2014, 8:33 am Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

I got the following report from Deb: "Met a trail forum trail guy enthusiast friend of yours.  He was walking Loysburg to Maple Run.  I can't remember his name.
hope he had a good experience."

I'd like to set up a fall hike from Blue Triangle to New Frontier, probably a Sunday after mid-October.
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