Running along the weathered summit of Tussey Mountain the Jackson Trail connects Jo Hayes Vista and Route 26 to the Mid-State Trail. On the way to Old Pine Vista you encounter numerous scenic views on the northern and southern slopes of the mountain that look out over Nittany Valley, State College and Rothrock State Forest.
Parking Lot GPS Coordinates: 40° 42′ 59.986″ N 77° 53′ 39.119″ W
Trail Length: 4.5 Miles
Estimated Time To Complete: 2.5 Hours
Elevation Change: 76′
Trailhead Location: The gated road across Route 26 from Jo Hayes Vista.
Trail Type: Out & Back
Trail Map: Rothrock State Forest Map
Recommended Equipment: Sneakers or Hiking Boots, Water,
Optional Equipment: Trekking Poles,
- Iron Stone Loop Trail
- Mid-State Trail
- Alleghany Front Trail
- Whipple Dam State Park
- Shaver’s Creek Environmental Education Center
- Black Moshannon State Park
From the parking lot for Jo Hayes Vista carefully cross Route 26 and start down the gated forest road directly across the highway. Follow the road passing the various communications towers and buildings until you reach the last one, here the trail enters the woods to the left of the building. After entering the woods the trail becomes moderately rocky before soon entering a boulder field, shortly after which in the middle of the trail you’ll notice a green metal survey from 1938 in the middle of the trail.
At .7 miles you’ll arrive at a campsite and in less than another 200’ you’ll come to Dave’s Vista which looks out over a rock field on the southern slope of Tussey Mountain. The view from Dave’s Vista and all of the vistas on this side of the mountain is dominated by Rudy Ridge directly in front of you with Hubler Gap at the end of the ridge, piled up behind the ridge are Greenlee Mountain, Bell Ridge & Gettis Ridge. The long, high mountain in the background that parallels Tussey Mountain is Stone Mountain where you’ll find the Standing Stone Trail.
After Dave’s Vista you come to another small vista overlooking Nittany Valley and State College, across the valley lays Bald Eagle Mountain. Continuing down the trail you’ll pass multiple vistas, rock formations and block fields. In many places the trail is moderately to extremely rocky with easier stretches of trail interspersed along the mountain top.
Tussey Mountain 300 Million years ago was the eastern slope of a mountain that surpassed the Himalayas in height, nearby Bald Eagle Mountain, Brush Mountain and Dunning Mountain are all that remains of the western slope of the mountain. The rocks you pass mostly consist of Tuscaroran Quartzite, Bald Eagle Sandstone and Juniata Shale and are the oldest of the rocks that once lay deep in the heart of the mountain when two ancient continents that parts of eventually became Africa and North America slammed together.
At 2.25 miles you come to Old Pine Vista from which you can see out over Rothrock State Forest to the South and State College to the North. As this is the final vista on the Jackson Trail before it connects to the Mid State Trail turn around here head back to the parking area at Jo Hayes Vista. Expect to encounter other hikers and timber rattlesnakes on the trail from early spring through the fall.