We may have lived in State College for four years (well Leslie did at least, I only lived there for two years), however there are still many things we neglected to do during our time on campus. Including hiking Mount Nittany, which some consider a right of passage for Penn State students.
Even if we wanted to make an excuse, it would be hard to come up with one that covers all four years. So instead, we made sure to set aside some time for a hike during our final weekend in our apartment.
After a fifteen minute drive from State College, we arrived at the Mount Nittany Conservancy. We studied the welcome sign and map quickly, before deciding to take the blue trail. The weather was 80 degrees and sunny, with a slight breeze.
The beginning of the trail
The blue trail wraps around the entire mountain, while the white trail is shorter and criss-crosses through the center. The trails meet up several times throughout the hike, which gives you the option of cutting your hike a little shorter. The benefit of sticking to the blue trail is that you get to see all of the lookouts!
We tested out just how waterproof our boots are
FOLLOW THE TRAIL MARKERS
From the starting point, the first lookout point is about a mile away. The hike started off easy, with a wide dirt path and very little incline. We only ran into a few other people on this stretch of the trail, including a few pups. It was all very peaceful and relaxing until we were a little “misplaced”.
Follow the markings!
Oblivious to the fact that the trees were no longer marked with blue paint, we found ourselves at a dead end and had to turn back. The next route we found was not marked either, but the cleared pathway threw us off and we took it anyway.
Soon we approached a VERY steep rocky incline, but the only way to go was up (just kidding, we could have doubled back again and found the blue trail, but oh well). Seriously, it was the biggest struggle. But once we made it to the top, we felt so accomplished! From there, we quickly climbed some more rocky areas and found the overlook of the Nittany Mall.
Nittany Mall Overlook
Not only did each of the overlooks have their own spectacular views, but they helped to break up the 5 mile hike. Once you’re on top of the mountain the trails become relatively level, and our main obstacle turned into fighting off bugs.
Yes…we did buy the same pair of boots
The Tom Smyth Overlook
TAKING IN THE SIGHTS
While it was nice to stop for a break and take in the views from the overlooks, the best sights from our hike were the ones along the trail. They ranged from the chipmunks that seemed to scurry across the trail every 50 feet to the large variety of plants all around us.
Pine trees along the trail
The coolest thing I saw was a massive bee hive hanging just a few feet off of the trail. As soon as Leslie saw it, she sprinted far down the trail (it may have been the fastest I’ve seen her run…when food or puppies are not involved that is). I, on the other hand, cautiously walked towards it to take a better picture. Don’t worry, I made it away unscathed!
There were lots of bugs,
a couple of snakes,
and the aforementioned Bee hive!
MIKE LYNCH OVERLOOK
After walking a little over 4 miles, we made it to the most popular spot on Mount Nittany, the Mike Lynch Overlook. Without realizing it we had saved the best view for last. From the overlook you can see the Bryce Jordan Center, Beaver Stadium, and the rest of State College in the distance. We stayed at the overlook for ten minutes or so, before succumbing to our hungry stomachs and tired legs.
The last, and best overlook!
Luckily, we were only a half a mile away from our car. After not seeing much of anyone for the first four miles of our hike, we were surprised to see so many people on our way down the mountain. Between a large group and a few families, we must have seen 50 people in that last half mile.
The final sign!
All in all, the hike took us just over three hours to complete. While we are glad we were able to make it to Mount Nittany before moving out, we do regret not going sooner. So, to those of you who plan on visiting State College, our advice would be to take some time for a hike at Mount Nittany. You are bound to enjoy the sights, even if it is just a short hike.
Have you hiked Mount Nittany before? If so, tell us about your hike in the comment section below!