I told Catie Simpson at Onward State a few years ago that I don’t think climbing Mount Nittany is an experience that should be treated as a bucket list item—as something to be checked off as complete in a one-and-done manner. Mount Nittany is a beautiful and historic part of Central Pennsylvania’s Nittany Valley, and it’s something that one should have the opportunity to come to know over many visits and much time spent together.
As I’ve been thinking about the Mountain, and the need to get back and hike it soon now that it’s getting colder, I revisited some of the reflections that Onward State readers shared with me about Mount Nittany a few years ago. I’m sharing those here:
I’ve always loved Mt. Nittany and what it means to Penn State. My favorite memories of the mountain are climbing it with the Blue Band. Finding things to do with such a large group are hard, but this was one of the easiest to get people involved. It was a great time becoming closer with different people in the 300+ band and having fun enjoying the wonderful views the mountain gives with everyone. It is one thing that never gets old doing. – Matt Wagner
I’ll always remember the first time I climbed Mount Nittany, the summer before my freshman year. I was a bit uneasy preparing for the ‘college experience’ but ultimately very excited. The view from the top of Mt. Nittany at dusk, the setting sun covering State College in a hue of sunset orange, is an incredible sight It left me feeling secure and calm. Any incoming student who is a little anxious or worried about the years ahead should take the time to hike up to the top of Mt. Nittany at dusk and enjoy the tranquil experience. It can really make a difference and calm any concerns. – Kieran Carlisle
We had the perfect afternoon a few days after a snowfall in February. The skies had cleared up, it was sunny and a warm 45 degrees. The ice on the trail made it an adventure to get to the top! The view was incredible that day. Snow blanketed the valley and it was calm and quiet. We will never forget that day and what led to many more hikes/races to the top! – Clark H.
I climbed Mt. Nittany many years ago as a child. I don’t really remember getting to the spot where we could look out over State College, but I do vividly remember the view. One of these days, I’m going to have to climb it again with my kids so they can remember the view too. Several years ago, just after Mt. Nittany Middle School was built, I drove up to road next to the school and took a photo of the mountain. That single picture has served as quite a few backdrops on various things I’ve created over the years. It’s such an icon. – Scott Barbara
Most non-Penn Staters ask me what’s a “Nittany Lion?” I’m so proud to tell them every time the story of how the famous Nittany Lion nickname came about. I’ve only climbed Mount Nittany once but if you’re going to do it, try doing it while also carrying a wooden pallet up with you for a small campfire cookout with friends. In the fall of 2009, myself and 34 other THON Rules & Regulations Captains made climbing Mt. Nittany one of our team building exercises. On a nice weekend morning, we helped each other climb to the top with the wooden pallet, some hot dogs, marshmallows, and all of our cameras or camera phones for that picture every Penn Stater should take at the top with the Happiest Valley in the world in the background! – Brian Martin
My first trip up Mt. Nittany was in the spring of my junior year. After hearing so much about the awesome views at Mt Nittany and experiencing a few other trails in the area, namely Shaver’s Creek and Whipple Dam I knew it was time to climb Mt. Nittany. Being a newcomer to the trail, I ended up taking the long way around to the look-out point of Happy Valley. Hiking the entire trail wasn’t disappointing at all (not that I expected it to be) and I found it to be quite refreshing to get a different view of the area surrounding our beloved Happy Valley. So many times you hear 45,000 students, small mountain town, etc– but to see it from the top of Mt. Nittany really showed me how big our community was. I loved looking through my binoculars and pointing out Beaver Stadium, Old Main, west campus (where I lived at the time). These were all of the Penn State staples and for the first time I really got to put into perspective how immense our campus is and thought about how so many diverse activities could fit into such a relatively small area. I had always heard our campus referred to as the “Penn State bubble”, but from this view it didn’t necessarily seem like a bad thing. – Jackie Dunfee