Route: Mike's Mini-mOUnTaiNBACK (Thanks to Mike Dooris, with apologies to Mike Casper and Steve Bodner)
Mileage:  8.5 miles.
Hillage: The first half is a constant uphill. The way back is the way you came.

Total elevation change: 1069 ft.
Average Grade: 5%. Up to the end of Mile 3, the average grade is 6%. The final assent to the lookout is a little less steep. Likewise, on the way down the route gets steeper as you approach the end. Notable rises on the way up:

Mile ½:  Early on, about half a mile from the start, there is a short stretch with a 10% grade.
Mile 2½-3: For about a half-mile just before Mile 3, the grade steepens to 7.5%.

Description:  Mike's Mini-mOUnTaiNBACK starts in the parking lot of the Tussey Mountain Ski Area, which is about 6 miles outside of State College off of US Rte 322. Take Rte 322 (Business) East from State College. This is called South Atherton Street in State College. About 2 miles past Boalsburg, PA, there is a sign for the Tussey Mountain Ski Area. Make a right at the sign onto Bear Meadows Rd. Less than a mile up the road is the Tussey Mountain Ski Area. Park in the parking lot.

The route begins on Bear Meadows Rd. Start up the mountain. About a half-mile up the hill, make a right on Laurel Run Rd. Continue on this winding gravel road, passing two switchbacks, for just about 3 miles. A quarter mile or so past the second switchback is a gated gravel road on the left. Take this road for the final one mile ascent to the lookout. At the lookout, take a rest, take in the view, then turn around and head back the way you came.

Remarks: Mike's Mini-mOUnTaiNBACK is a challenging out-n-back hill run on gravel roads in the mountainous Rothrock State Forest land near State College. NVRC Webmaster Mike Dooris likes to run this route with his son, Tim. You may be wondering about the funny use of capital and lower case letters in the name of this route. The name is a take-off on the name of a local long-distance team relay race, the Tussey mOUnTaiNBACK 50 Mile Relay. In 2000, Mike Casper and Steve Bodner concocted a 50 mile tour of the Tussey Mountain area and co-directed a great relay race. Mike's Mini-mOUnTaiNBACK samples a small part of the course.

The course itself is challenging, but beautiful. Most of the route is shaded and cool in the summer. In the winter, the roads can be un-runnable. There is an occasional vista. At the top there is a ranger's cabin and lookout tower, as well as some impressive radio towers. You can relax and enjoy the view, climb the tower, marvel at the rockiness of the Mid-State hiking trail, which passes near the tower, and then head back down the mountain.


                       Added: 6/01