Mount Nittany is located in State College, PA just a few miles from the center of the Pennsylvania State University. For those unfamiliar with the area, Mount Nittany plays a large role in the identity of the town of State College and Penn State University. In fact, the football team gets its name from this mountain (the Nittany Lions). There is even a famous legend that comes from the Native Americans who used to live in the area that can be read on the Mount Nittany Wikipedia
page. The mountain is one of many that result from the ridge and valley geography of Pennsylvania that cuts from the upper northeast diagonally through to the southwest corner of the state. This geography is marked by long, but relatively narrow valleys that are surrounded by mountains on either side. From the top of Mount Nittany the view of Happy Valley (State College area) can be seen, stretching for miles. The mountain offers some of the best views of the State College area (great view of Beaver Stadium and PSU), however it is hard to find a view without some part of the city included. Nonetheless, there is a path that circles around the top of the mountain (approx. 3-4 miles), which is often low populated and an overall relaxing hike in the seclusion of nature. For best views, go in the late Fall or Winter. The trees become thick in the Summer and the views are greatly compromised. For students who want to escape the busy business of studying, Mount Nittany offers a convenient escape into nature.
As for the climb, there is about a 700 foot elevation gain that is basically straight up the mountain. The path is well maintained and a map of the trail is posted at the trail head. Don't count on maps being available at the trail head (sometimes they are), instead, go to the Mount Nittany Conservancy
page and print one out. Follow the trail head up to the top of the mountain, at the top, the circle hike begins. Follow the white blazes. Whether you head right or left, you will soon encounter one of the two main viewing spots. Head right if you can't wait to see the views of Beaver stadium, downtown and the University. Either way, the trail is a circle, so you don't have to worry about missing either of the two lookouts.
From State College PA take S Atherton Rd (Business Rt 322E) to Branch Rd (at traffic light look for Lemont sign), left onto Branch Rd 2 miles to traffic light. Continue straight 2 blocks to Mt. Nittany Rd, take a right and go up hill 1 mile to trail head. Be sure to keep going straight on Mount Nittany Rd East. The road bends right after a mile and turns into Mount Nittany West, don't go right...head straight and you will see parking and the trail head only a few hundred feet ahead. A short distance up the trail you will see a box with trail maps. (Lat:40.8114 Lon:-77.807)
Or, from downtown State College, PA take Beaver Ave to Route 26 N heading out of town. You will see Mount Nittany on your right as you head out of town. After about a mile, watch for the Lemont sign on your right. Head into Lemont and at the light take a left onto Pike Street. Mt. Nittany Rd will be 2 blocks on your right, take right and go up hill 1 mile to trail head. Be sure to keep going straight on Mount Nittany Rd East. The road bends right after a mile and turns into Mount Nittany West, don't go right...head straight and you will see parking and the trail head only a few hundred feet ahead. A short distance up the trail you will see a box with trail maps. (Lat:40.8114 Lon:-77.807)
You can search: Mt Nittany Rd State College, PA 16801 on Google Maps
Google Maps Link
Open year round, no red tape.
There are a few small camping spots at the top, but fires are not permitted. See the Mount Nittany Conservancy
for more info.
External LinksMount Nittany Conservancy
: has lots of info including Trail Maps, Topo Map, other maps, conservation info, etc.
Mount Nittany Wikipedia