Explore, Enjoy, and Protect the Planet

On The Trail — January 2013

Stone Valley Vista Offers Spectacular Winter Views

by Dr. Stan Kotala

The Stone Valley Vista hike is about five miles long and covers mountainous terrain. Begin by parking in the Greenwood Furnace State Park office parking area, located just off of Route 305. Cross Rt 305 and look for the large wooden sign indicating the northern trailhead for the Standing Stone Trail. An excellent map of the trail is at http://www.hike-sst.org/SST-1_10-7-10.pdf

Follow the orange-blazed trail and pass the old stone church and a fenced enclosure. The trail then ascends an old road through the woods. Hiking about half a mile you will pass an abandoned shale pit and gradually ascend Stone Mountain. The steep drop-off formed by the headwaters of the East Branch of Standing Stone Creek will be on your left.

Ascending the old forest road, keep your eyes peeled for the switchback that will appear on your right at about 1.2 miles. At 1.4 miles the blazed trail makes a sharp turn to the left, leaving the gradual logging road for a steeper and rockier trail. However, this steep and rocky trail segment is relatively short and at 1.5 miles you will be back on an old logging road and shortly you will reach the ridge line, walking through an evergreen forest. Here you have a good chance of seeing golden-crowned kinglets, tiny olive birds that glean insect eggs from twigs and branches.

At 2.2 miles, you will reach the the Stone Valley Vista which offers sweeping views over Stone Valley. Here you will find a trail register. In winter, you can often see red-tailed hawks soaring over the valley, and many times they are right at eye level. If you are very lucky, you may even see one of the golden eagles that winter in this area.

Continuing southward on the Standing Stone Trail, look for the Turkey Trail on your right at 2.5 miles. This trail is being reconstructed to provide a gentler descent and decrease the erosion that was a problem on the old Turkey Trail. Follow it down to Turkey Hill Road, where you will turn right, eventually passing the camping area of Greenwood Furnace State Park and an old graveyard near Rt 305.

A short hike of two tenths of a mile along the southern edge of the park’s picnic area will bring you back to the trailhead.

If you go: From State College, drive south on Route 26 through Pine Grove Mills and over Tussey Mountain to McAlevy's Fort and then turn east on Route 305, traveling about 5 miles to Greenwood Furnace State Park. Park in the Greenwood Furnace State Park office parking area, located on the left, just off of Route 305.

Dr. Stan Kotala is the Endangered Species and Wildlife Chair for the Moshannon Group of the Sierra Club.