|A View of Penn State University from|
The top of Mike Lynch Overlook
Mount Nittany overlooks Penns and Happy Valleys, and allows a number of views of both valleys. According to Henry Shoemaker, Mount Nittany was named in honor of Princess Nita-Nee, an Indian maiden who was the leader of her people. After her death, she was buried where she lived; the next morning, her people awoke to discover the mountain atop her burial location. As a response to her kindness over the years, the Great Spirit placed the mountain over her grave so nobody would ever disturb her eternal rest.
|Looking toward Tussey Mountain|
The parking for the trails is located at the end of Mount Nittany Road. After finding a spot to park (already a number of people had set out towards the top of the mountain and the sun was barely up) the small group of us prepared eagerly got out of the vehicles and prepared ourselves for our trip up the mountainside. Near the start of the trail is a wooden sign showing the mountain and the trails and offered free maps which I readily grabbed.
I've made four trips up the mountain during the summer of 2011, so let me tell you this: There is no easy way up the mountain. There is a "steep" path that goes pretty much up the side of the mountain and a "not-so-steep" trail that goes along the side of the mountain before turning and going up over the side of the mountain. Both trails provide a nice workout. the steeper, shorter trail comes out on top of the mountain near the Mike Lynch Overlook. This overlook provides a nice view of Beaver Stadium and Penn State Universary and is named in honor of Mike Lynch, a former chariman of the Lion's Paw Mount Nittany Conversancy. The longer trail arrives at the top of the mountain between the Nittany Mall Overlook and the view of Houserville and Route 322 near Innovation Park.
|The Nittany Mall Overlook|
After we reached the top of the mountain that first rainy morning via the shorter hike, the group of us took the path to the right and did the entire loop, staying at the edge of the mountain the entire length. What we discovered that day, and on following trips, was a number of beautiful vistas that make the trip worth it.
After spending some time looking at the university from the Mike Lynch Overlook, we headed counterclockwise on the trails around the top of the mountain. We left the Mike Lynch overlook, arriving at the Boalsburg Overlook next. The center of this view is the Boalsburg. This was one of my favorites as it overlooks the valley below. The view of the farming region along with the modernized areas (including the Boalsburg exit off of the Route 322 Bypass) makes for some beautiful pictures.
From here, the trail ventures away from the edge of the mountain. We meandered through tunnels of laurel and through open forests. The first trip had fog hanging on the mountain top and this area was absolutely beautiful; on a second trip, we were greeted with mountain laurel in bloom along this section. The next vista is the Little Flats/Ski Area Vista. The view is of the the Tussey Mountain ski area. Early in the year, this view was nice, but on other trips, it was overgrown and it was hard to enjoy the view.
From here until the next view, the path needs a little more care. The grass had overgrown the trail in portions; though the path was obvious, it was disappointing that this portion was in poorer shape than the rest of the trail. The next overlook, The Penns Valley Overlook, is the worst one. Had it not been for the sign announcing it, I would have never realized it was there. Even on the first trip, when no leaves were on the trees, there was very little in the way of a view.
Leaving this view, it was almost a mile across the top of the mountain to the next view. Along this portion of the trail, we were greeted by Pink Ladies' Slippers during our first outing of the year. We arrived at the next vista, which is a view of the Rockview lands. While no name appears at the location, I've read a couple of places that this vista is the Tom Smyth Overlook. Tom was a retired Penn State professor who, in the late 1990s created many of the trails on top of the mountain. The earlier trips to this overlook allowed for a great view of the valley and the Bald Eagle Mountain in the distance, but on later trips the view was narrowed as the leaves on the trees blocked some of the view.
The northern side of the mountain is much rockier than the southern side. This fact makes the next vista, the Nittany Mall Overlook, one of the nicest views of the trip. A large rock outcropping makes the view even better. Standing on the rocks, I could seethe distant airport and between here and there was a green gash in the landscape: it is Spring Creek as it cuts through the landscape.
Leaving the rock outcropping behind, the next thing we encountered along the trail was a large pile of rocks. What they originally started out as I may never know, but it is at the junction with the trail that leads down over the mountain (on the longer path). Beyond that is the final overlook, which allows a view of Innovation Park and Houserville.
|The Hosuerville/Innovation Park Overlook|
Overall, the trail is well maintained (except for that one section) and other than the trip up the mountain, the trails are fairly level - at no point once I was at the top of the mountain did the trail seem to be steep or hard to hike on. In fact,it was easy hiking at the top.
The hike is well worth it at any time of the year and as fall looms before me, I'm ready to make the trip once more up the mountainside to see the mountain in her autumn splendor.