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5.16.2021

Former Colerain State Park Overlooks: Spruce Creek, Indian Lookout, Canoe Mountain Overlook & Colerain Road Overlook

There are four tremendous scenic overlooks in the areas surrounding the Colerain Picnic Area in Rothrock State Forest.

Huntingdon County's Colerain Picnic Area in Rothrock State Forest was once known as Colerain State Park. It is home to some breathtaking views of Central PA's dramatic and breathtaking topography. On this particular visit for us, the weather could not seem to make up its mind and within view of most of the overlooks, you had glimpses of sunny weather, cloudy weather, and rainy weather, all within view at one time. It is easy to see why this place was given state park designation and it is still worth a visit, even after its "de-parking." It is home to an aggressive hike up a mountain with aggressive elevation change, another ice mine, small in scale like nearby Trough Creek State Park's, and numerous amazing scenic overlooks. The state forest road that goes through this spot, and deeper into Rothrock State Park, goes up and across a beautiful ridge. Stunning scenic overlooks and vistas can be seen in numerous spots, with only one requiring a short hike 1/10th of a mile hike from the upper end of the Yellow Arrow Trail (or a 1.1 mile hike if starting at the bottom of the mountain)

After heading up the mountain road, filled with giant trees and lots of hemlocks, through the old Colerain State Park, you reach a curve. This curve has the first visible scenic overlook, the Spruce Creek Overlook, which looks South/Southeast at the aggressive mountains and gaps, where you see how the old Pennsylvania Railroad ingeniously was able to get through the rugged central PA landscape through the Juniata River Valley.
Note the rain visible out in the distance in the Juniata Valley. There were hawks flying through the air in this spot, though as soon as I grabbed my telephoto lens, they were gone. 
One of my favorite things about scenic overlooks in most of Central PA is the views you get over multiple mountain ridges. This topography fascinates and mesmerizes me so much, from here, up through the Finger Lakes Region of New York, where this finger-like geology ended up with the region getting a series of giant lakes.
Back to ascending the ridgetop
Our next stop takes us to the top of the Yellow Arrow Trail to Indian Lookout. You can't miss this pull off and trail intersection. An easy tenth of a mile hike from the intersection takes you to Indian Lookout, which is quite beautiful. 
The view from the overlook shows the agrarian nature of the region and the rugged nature of the topography. The elevation of the overlook is roughly 1624 feet, according to topographic maps, and the valley below is around 900 feet, give or take, so there is roughly 700 feet in elevation change from here to the valley floor. 
The history of this spot is troubled though. In recent times, several people have slipped and fallen to their deaths in this location. The name of the lookout, Indian Lookout, was not given in that it was used by the native peoples in the region, but rather as a lookout and stalking point by colonizing settlers to surveil the native peoples that were defending their land.
This memorial was created for Kevin "Rocky" Burkhardt, one of two people who have perished in falls at the overlook. Stay behind the safety fence, for the rocks are both slick and unforgiving. A ten foot fall can be fatal, let alone a fall down hundreds of feet of rock face. 
Canoe Mountain Overlook (West/Southwest Overlook of Colerain Road). Roughly a mile further up the road, you reach a clearing that gives the most commanding view of the landscape seen at the Spruce Creek and Indian Lookouts. The other two overlooks work like puzzle pieces leading up to the grand overlook up here on Colerain Road. 
Sunny skies, cloudy skies, and rain were all visible in this classic day of moody Pennsylvania weather. The views from the overlook are seemingly endless, showcasing multiple mountains, gaps, and valleys.
A stark and dramatic exhibition of moody Pennsylvania weather.
Multiple sets of mountains rippling across the land, looking like giant waves heading towards the shore. This photo definitely brings about daydreams of boarding on some Pacific waves.
Windmills out on the furthest ridge
What an incredible landscape.

Colerain Road Scenic Overlook East is about a mile further up Colerain Road and gives a stunning view to the East, as opposed to the largely southwest, west and northwestern views given at the three other scenic overlooks in Rothrock State Forest near the Colerain Picnic Area. As far as views go, Colerain Road is fantastic. It is one of the most scenic short drives on a state forest road that there is. 

The only coordinates you need are to the road entrance to the former Colerain State Park Area: 

40.626878, -78.113405

All three of the four listed scenic overlooks are right along the road and you can't miss them within a 3 mile ride up the road. Indian Overlook is easy to find at the trail crossing of the Yellow Arrow Hiking Trail, and a one tenth of a mile hike down the trail to the overlook. It is very easy to access this place from the Raystown Lake/Huntingdon area, Altoona, and State College. 

 

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