Hike Mount Nittany

Save the mountain!

Mount Nittany is under attack from gypsy moths, and you can help.

The moths were devastating to the mountain last year, and the Conservancy is trying to do something about it.
Donate to the conservancy and you can help to offset the cost of necessary spraying.

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Hike Mount Nittany

GPS hiking map of Mount Nittany

Click above for the
Mount Nittany Trail Map
Location: PA
(near State College)
Getting there: Click here
4 if you take the full loop
3 if you just climb to the top
Vertical Rise: 600 feet
Length: 2-8 miles, depending on path. No more than 4-5 hours to see the whole mountain, or under 2 hours to circle the top.
10 - you'll never hike this alone!
Special needs: • No open fires
• Bring Water!
• Some parts of the blue trail are rocky
Why?: Famous landmark, camping, tradition, wildlife

Wonder how many calories you're burning on your hike?
try our Calorie Calculator

Nittany Mountain
as Viewed from Boalsburg

Mount Nittany by William Ames Photography
Mount Nittany by William Ames Photography
Photos of Mount Nittany
courtesy of
William Ames Photography

Virtual Hikes of Mount Nittany

our photo albums from two hikes

Click here for Mt. Nittany virtual hike #1
Early Spring 2003, Blue Trail

Click here for Mt. Nittany virtual hike #2
May 2001, Circuit Hike

Mount Nittany is the first hike many people take in Centre County, PA. Its fame comes from the legend of Princess Nittany, and it is a landmark for the Pennsylvania State University, whose mascot, the Nittany Lion, is named for.

Hiking Mount Nittany is easy, compared to most of the other hikes near Penn State. Please note that this web site is all-volunteer, and the hosting is funded by the links from our advertisers and affiliates, so please check out the various links here and spread the word.

Getting there:

View Larger Map

Find your way to Lemont, PA, near State College (off of route 26, east of State College). For directions, use the map to the left, or click here for 'door to door'.

Once in Lemont, you'll find your way around easily, since there are only a few streets in this quiet town. Find Mountain Road off of Pike Street (the main street) and take it all the way to the end—see GPS map.

After Mountain Road turns into a dirt road, you'll find a small parking lot near the trailhead. Park here, and lock up your stuff--this is a very popular hike, especially on nice days near sunset.

Please take the time to read the etiquette provided by Lion's Paw

The hike:

A child could hike Mount Nittany, since it's so well used, well marked, and popular. Don't let that go to your head! The climb is not the worst in the world, but for the beginner, it can take the wind out of you. Fortunately, the climb is a fairly short one (1000 yards to the top, 600 feet up), and should take somewhere between 18 and 30 minutes. Still, this is like climbing a 40 story building, so take your time.

Open fires are prohibited on Mount Nittany, and while it is open to the public, it is privately owned, so please respect the wishes of the owners. To learn more, visit the Mount Nittany Conservancy and Lion's Paw web sites.

The paths change from time to time to avoid erosion and overuse, so please stay on the current path, blazed white going up, and splitting into white and blue at several places. Signs and ropes cordon off the 'old' paths. Don't shortcut the switchbacks or 'bushwhack' on Mount Nittany—it destroys the trail and the mountain—pack out your trash. You'll have plenty of time at the top to have fun, but it is fairly tame by trail standards, so if you want something more "rugged," try the Mid State Trail or one of the numerous other trails in the area.

Mount Nittany - HikePA.com
Click here to buy photos of Mount Nittany

Once at the top, most people will go to a vista about 100 yards to the right. Don't go that way unless you want a boring, short, and people-laden hike. Take the road less traveled . . . left!

A white blazed path to the left will afford 2 excellent vistas, a little cliff, and a view of the Nittany Mall. It's a little more interesting of a path. Follow the white blazes until you reach a rock pile about 6 feet high. At this intersection, you can go in a couple of directions, check out the map for a better idea of where it leads. It only takes less than a half-hour to get to this section, so you can do it on a relatively short hike.

Take the white trail to your right (assuming you came up the white blazed 'main' trail) for a shorter hike, or keep going straight on the blue path for the a circuit hike of the entire mountain, which is worth your while if you haven't done it. This way is about 3 miles around the mountain. If you went right at the rock pile, after about 3/4 of a mile, you'll find a fork in the paths. Take the blue blazed path to the left for a nice view of Tussey Ridge, or take the white path to the right for a boring shortcut back to where you started. This will make better sense if you look at the map :-)

Click here for virtual hike #1

Early Spring, Blue Trail
19 photos

Click here for virtual hike #2
Late summer, Circuit Hike
over 70 photos

There are numerous 'keep out' signs on the mountain. These are for hunting seasons, and they have the dates clearly marked. Stay clear of those areas during the listed dates—usually in the winter—since you don't want to trespass or get shot. Other dates are fine, and hiking is encouraged.

Keep going! You're about a quarter of a mile from the 'popular' vista on the blue trail, which overlooks the Route 322 bypass, Beaver Stadium, the Bryce Jordan Center and Penn State. This is the best place to watch the sunset in Happy Valley.

If you're really into the Penn State tradition thing, camping is allowed on the mountain. It does get a bit windy, though, so be prepared! Watch out for "widow-makers", which are standing dead trees, as well.

Basically, there are two paths on Mount Nittany, keep to the white for a shorter, less interesting hike. Take the blue paths for the more interesting and longer hike. If you stick to the small circle around the mountain, you can hike it in less than an hour. If you take the entire circuit, it takes about 3 hours.

The Legend of Mount Nittany:

Reprinted with permission, Mount Nittany Conservancy
Please donate generously to the conservancy and preserve Mount Nittany

Quicktime VR of Mount Nittany
Click here
for a QuickTimeVR
movie from the top of the hill - 1.2MB

Email your photos to us—click here
Include your name, date and anything
else you'd like to tell us.

This is the legend, as told by Lion's Paw, which is pledged "To promote the welfare and best interests and to maintain and perpetuate the traditions of The Pennsylvania State University." The organization is largely responsible for saving Mount Nittany from contractors and lumber companies by starting the Mount Nittany Conservancy, together, they own the majority of the mountain.

Nit-A-Nee, which means "breaker of the wind," was an Indian maiden whose lover, Lion's Paw, was killed...

Nit-A-Nee enfolded him into her arms and carried his still erect body back to a place in the center of the Valley where she laid the strong Brave in his grave and build a mound of honor over his strength.

On the last night of the full moon, after she had finally raised the last of the soil and stone over his high mound, a terrible storm came up unleashing itself with thunder and lightening and the wailing of a horrendous wind from the depths of the earth. Every Indian in the Valley shuddered and all eyes were directed to the Indian Brave's high mound upon which the strong maiden Princess Nit-A-Nee was mounted with arms outstretched to touch the sources of the lightning bolts in the sky

Through the night they watched with awe as the Indian Brave's burial mound grew and rose into a Mountain penetrating the center of the big valley between the two legs of the Tussey and Bald Eagle Ridges. When the dawn finally came, a huge Mountain was found standing erect in the center of the Valley.

Mount Nittany in fall
Purchase professional photos of Mount Nittany
from William Ames Photography.

A legend had been born. The mound and the maiden had given place to a Mountain, and standing on its summit was a Lion surrounded by eleven orphaned male cubs, each of whom had the courage of the fearless Indian Brave and the heart and strength of the mysterious Indian Princess. From this day forward every place in the valley was safe, and the wind wrested nothing from the fields on which these Lions strode as fearless heroes from the Mountain. The people of the Valley from that date forward knew only happiness and bounteous plenty.

In the fullness of time, men and women came from across the farthest seas to build a college at the foot of this Mountain. The strength and courage of the students of this college became known far and wide.

As each student learned the destructive power of the North Wind across the fields, each also learned the strength of the Princess known as "Breaker of the Wind," called in her language Nit-A-Nee, and the courage unto death of the Indian Brave called Lion's Paw.

As long as this strength and courage is known in the Valley, Mount Nittany will stand as a breaker of the wind.

This is the legend of Mount Nittany. May it stand forever high and strong in our midst, our breaker against the harsh winds of destiny and fate which sweep down from the north.

May Mount Nittany ever rise above us as the Guardian before the gates of Old Penn State. May the mysterious Indian Princess ever stand in our midst as breaker and shield against the destructive power of the winds of fate. And may the Nittany Lion's cubs forever join in the games which are the guarantee of the life of the land we love.

Need Nittany Lion photos?

Professional photos of:

Old Main 

Old Main in November

Purchase professional photos ofMount Nittany from William Ames Photography.