I always love great hikes to scenic vistas, and the hiking along the Allegheny Front Trail to Ralph’s Majestic Vista and onwards to Ralph’s Pretty Good View is a fantastic one. In fact, it’s one of the best hikes near State College.
The Allegheny Front Trail is a 41.8-mile backpacking trail in western Centre County, PA. It is located primarily in Moshannon State Forest, though some portions of it are also in Black Moshannon State Forest.
However, while I’ve heard that the entire trail is excellent, this article is going to focus on the 1.6-mile round-trip hike to two of the best vistas along the Allegheny Front. Along the way, the trail passes through an incredibly beautiful forest (especially when it’s filled with blooming mountain laurel like it was during my late June hike), and a very cool rock outcropping.
This is definitely one of the best hikes I’ve done in the Allegheny Mountains of PA.
Parking for Ralph’s Majestic and Pretty Good Vistas
While there are many spots where you can park to access the Allegheny Front Trail, the closest spot to access Ralph’s Majestic Vista and Ralph’s Pretty Good View is located along Underwood Road.
This spot can be found at the following coordinates, where there is plenty of room for several cars to pull off on the side of the road near the spot where the trail crosses the road: 40.893433, -78.001500.
Underwood Road is a gravel road but the portion that I have driven of it from Beaver Road in the south was in very good shape as of the summer of 2022 (No issues at all driving a regular car on the road). Underwood Road also connects through to Rattlesnake Pike (Route 504) in the north, near the main parking area for the Allegheny Front Trail, but I haven’t driven that part of this road to confirm its condition. That being said, I would anticipate it being in good condition as well.
This parking spot is located 1.3 miles from Beaver Road and 2 miles from Rattlesnake Pike, so it’s fairly easy to access from either end.
[Click here for information on how to use the coordinates in this article to find your destination.]
Hiking to the Vistas on the Allegheny Front Trail
From the parking area, it’s a 0.6-mile hike to Ralph’s Majestic Vista and then an additional two-tenths of a mile to Ralph’s Pretty Good View. Ironically, in my opinion, Ralph’s Pretty Good View actually provides a better view than Ralph’s Majestic Vista, so it’s definitely worth hiking the extra distance to see it.
To start your hike, follow the Allegheny Front Trail to the southeast (which is to your left if you are facing towards Beaver Road). The trail immediately enters the woods and very soon starts a slow and steady uphill hike.
The yellow-blazed trail actually reaches its peak elevation about half a mile into the hike, 165 feet above where you started, near the rock outcropping.
Along the way, the trail winds its way through an incredibly beautiful forest, and while there are no specific highlights in the first half-mile, it’s definitely a beautiful hike.
On the morning that I visited, the entire forest was covered with fog and the mountain laurel were at their peak bloom, which gave the forest an almost magical feel. But even on the way out, when the fog was mostly gone, the beauty of Moshannon State Forest was still very evident.
After half a mile of hiking, the trail winds its way through a very cool rock outcropping. This is the one area where there is a bit of tricky footing along this portion of the Allegheny Front Trail, but it shouldn’t pose any issue if you are able to hike to this point of the trail.
Shortly after the rock outcropping, you’ll reach Ralph’s Majestic Vista, which you can’t miss thanks to a signpost and a log bench being located here. For those that like to hike with coordinates, this overlook can be found here: 40.888550, -77.995133.
Like Ralph’s Pretty Good View, Ralph’s Majestic Vista is named for Ralph Seely, who founded the Allegheny Front Trail, which has been open for hiking since the late 1990s. Interestingly, Seely was also instrumental in the creation of the Quehnna Trail, another great backpacking trail a short distance northwest of the Allegheny Front Trail.
Ralph’s Majestic Vista offers views to the southeast, which are very nicely framed by the trees around the vista. On a clear day, you might be able to make out the community of Jullian in the distance.
While this is certainly a majestic view, it’s not overly large in scale as the surrounding trees keep the scope of the view fairly limited.
From Ralph’s Majestic Vista, it’s about two-tenths of a mile to Ralph’s Pretty Good View. This portion of the trail is rather overgrown in spots but is easy to follow as it passes along the very edge of the Allegheny Front.
Unlike the previous overlook, Ralph’s Pretty Good View is located just off of the Allegheny Front Trail, but an obvious sign points the way to it and a well-worn trail runs approximately 150 feet from the main trail to the overlook.
For those that hike with coordinates, Ralph’s Pretty Good View can be found here: 40.890033, -77.991267.
Without a doubt, Ralph’s Pretty Good View offers a much larger view than Ralph’s Majestic Vista, and while the view here is also primarily to the southeast, the sightlines are different, so you are seeing an entirely different part of Centre County.
To be honest, since this sits off of the trail a few feet, I wonder if the more lackluster name is an attempt to keep this spot a bit quieter. After all, if you can see the “majestic vista” on the trail, why hike off the main trail to visit the “pretty good view”? Sort of a Greenland/Iceland situation, if you will.
Ultimately though, this is a spot that I enjoyed taking a break while watching the fog clear from the valley below, and I very much enjoyed the peacefulness here on a foggy summer morning.
Once you’ve finished enjoying this view, you could certainly continue hiking along the Allegheny Front Trail for as many as 40 more miles, or, you could do as I did, and retrace your steps for the 0.8-mile hike back to your car.
Overall, I found this short section of the Allegheny Front Trail to be an absolutely fantastic hike and one of the best that I did in 2022. While I do get a bit of a laugh that Ralph’s Pretty Good View is a better overlook than Ralph’s Majestic Vista, they are both great and worthwhile hiking destinations.
So, the next time you are looking for a great hike in the Alleghenies Region of PA, make sure to check out this beautiful trail.