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Standing Stone Trail and the Thousand Steps: Great Hike with Stunning Vistas

The virtue of hard work is something that we all should appreciate. There is beauty to seeing the morning commute pick up, with people all coming alive and heading to work, like ants marching, intent upon getting from point A to point B. A morning commute is something to really appreciate. Daily commuting to work makes the Thousand Steps and Standing Stone Trail, one of the premier hiking destinations in Pennsylvania, all the more spectacular. The Standing Stone Trail was named the 2016 Trail of the Year by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. 

The origins of the Thousand Steps date back to this location being home to quarries for ganister, which was utilized for bricks in high temperature applications. The commute for the workers of these quarries involved climbing up and down the Thousand Steps. The trail traverses Jack's Mountain, at Jack's Narrows, where the Juniata flows through, and Route 22 William Penn Highway, and the former Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line and current Norfolk Southern Pittsburgh Line cross through. Additionally, the Pennsylvania Canal flowed through this important location. 

The hike has roughly a thousand feet in elevation change, and it is roughly a 3.5 mile out-and-back hike. It hooks up with the Standing Stone Trail, which runs 80 miles from Greenwood Furnace State Park at the northern terminus, to Buchanan State Forest at the southern terminus. It has various trail connections to other major hiking trails, including the Mid State Trail and the Tuscarora Trail. It is also part of the Great Eastern Trail project that is aiming to connect Alabama to Western New York. Needless to say, the Thousand Steps is a huge hiking destination. 
Starting the climb!
As soon as you enter, you are hit with a rush of cool air emanating from within the mountain.
There are lots of little remnants from the industrial days of long ago. 

Slowly ascending some more. We have not quite hit the steps yet.
The heavily wooded setting along the trail, along with intermittent openings where there are rocky patches, make this so incredible. Beyond the tree line, you get constant views of the surrounding majestic mountains.
The trees in this area have managed to grow within this sweep of rocks.
Maybe 25 steps? 
The price of buying a stairway to heaven is simply in climbing the Thousand Steps!
There are many times that I wish I could capture smell with a camera. There is no smell better to me than the smell of the woods. The primarily pine forests of the trail area smell glorious.
The view from around 250 steps or so.
The steps pass through multiple areas that at first look seem like places to step aside and take a break. These spots were actually right-of-way for a small railway that carried product to and from the quarries. In addition to this, six inclined planes carried product as well.
I had a blast taking in every little detail, including this moss. I was like a dog sticking its head out of a car window for the entire hike. 
The steps situated through a large rock sweep.
The view looking down the steps from the same spot!
Brit is somewhere up there!
The view from another one of the old railway switchbacks

Getting steeper as we go!

As the mountain gets steeper, the steps also get larger.
Another switchback! 
As we reached this elevation, we first heard some screeching, and then saw bald eagles. Due to the tree cover, we would only see the eagles for a split second. This was the only shot I managed to capture. 
A mountain spring managed to crop up and flow over a few of the steps.
A thousand eh? There are just under 1100 steps on the "Thousand Steps," though 1100 has less of a ring to it than 1000.
The first view of Jack's Narrows from the top of the steps. There are spans of trail that go in either direction to get a better look at the beautiful Jack's Narrows.
Brit even managed to capture some Pokemon on the hike!

Looking down on some of the mountain's rock sweeps.

Jack's Narrows. Notice the rail line at the bottom of the narrows. That is the old Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line and the current Norfolk Southern Pittsburgh Line.
The old Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line, adjacent to the Juniata River.
One more look until we begin descending again.
The steps themselves have some cool variations in them, including some fossils within them.
"Leave nothing but footprints." That was not the main aim of taking this photo, but rather in highlighting the makeup of this particular stone.

The descent gives you even greater views of the spectacular mountains.
The remains of an old building

And back to the historic Route 22 William Penn Highway as it threads the needle at Jack's Narrows. That was one awesome hike! If you love a great hike, be sure to check out the Standing Stone and the Thousand Steps Trail.

The coordinates to the trailhead for are 40.41680, -77.89940
It is hard to miss the trailhead. While it does not have a huge sign, the trailhead has a rocky pull off area from Route 22, just west of Huntingdon, and on the north side of the highway. You will likely see a few cars pulled off. The trailhead is located at the bottom of a large hill, within Jack's Narrows, a huge gap. 

1 comment :

  1. Join the club's group on Facebook to learn more about the SST! https://www.facebook.com/groups/1448906822007403/


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