Hiking the Nature Trail at Poe Valley State Park in Centre County, PA

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Hidden away deep in the middle of Bald Eagle State Forest in southeastern Centre County, you’ll find Poe Valley State Park.

This park is just over 600 acres in size and is largely undeveloped, save for a small portion of the park around the 25-acre lake. However, for those looking to get away from the crowds, this is a great park to visit for a bit of hiking.

Officially, there are only three miles of trails within the park. However, you can not only use the park’s trails to connect to trails within Bald Eagle State Forest, such as the Mid State Trail, but you can also walk along the park’s normally quiet roads to spots like the dam.

Man standing in front of the lake in Poe Valley State Park in Centre County Pennsylvania
Poe Valley State Park is a beautiful spot that is centered around a 25-acre lake.

However, for this article, I’m going to focus on the one loop hike entirely within the park, the Nature Trail.

The Nature Trail at Poe Valley State Park is about a mile in length and is, for the most part quite flat. This makes it an easy hike. However, what it lacks in difficulty, it makes up for in beauty, especially the portion that runs along Big Poe Creek.

To hike the Nature Trail, start by parking in the lot next to the park office. This lot can be found at the following coordinates: 40.818860, -77.476958.

Park office in Poe Valley State Park in Pennsylvania
Park next to the park office to hike the Nature Trail.

Note that the roads to get to the park are, for the most part, well-maintained. However, there is no way to get to the park on a road that is maintained in the winter, so it’s best to visit somewhere else when there is snow and ice on the road.

While this is a loop hike, the two ends are probably 100 yards from each other, with the park office in the middle of them. I hiked the trail in a counterclockwise direction simply because that trailhead is a bit easier to find when you are at the park office. This trail is to the right of the office if you are standing facing it.

Nature Trail sign at the trailhead in Poe Valley State Park in PA
The starting trailhead for the hike on the Nature Trail.

Hiking in a counterclockwise direction, the trail follows along Big Poe Creek for roughly the first half of the hike. The trail is both well-trodden and well marked with yellow blazes.

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This portion of the trail is incredibly beautiful as the creek winds its way through the forest. The water here is impossibly clear, which really adds to its beauty.

Big Poe Creek in Poe Valley State Park in Centre County Pennsylvania
The Nature Trail runs along Big Poe Creek for half of its length.

It’s worth noting, however, that the trail runs very close to the creek at times, and this can mean that there can be wet and muddy spots. If it’s rained recently or water levels are higher, it might be best to wear shoes that can get wet.

The trail meanders along Big Poe Creek for approximately four-tenths of a mile before turning away from the stream. While the rest of the hike is through a beautiful forest, most of the best scenery is along the creek, so some may opt to just retrace their steps back along the stream (which would also make the hike a bit shorter and would skip the very slight inclines on the second half of the hike).

Nature Trail in Poe Valley State Park in Centre County PA
The Nature Trail is well marked and easy to follow.

If you continue on, as I did, the trail winds its way through the forest, making many turns. These turns are all well marked and since no other trails intersect with the Nature Trail, you don’t really have to worry about getting lost.

Along the way, there are several small inclines of 10-20 feet, but, for the most part, this portion of the hike is quite flat and a pleasant walk through the woods.

Trees along the Nature Trail in Poe Valley State Park in Bald Eagle State Forest
The second half of the hike is away from the creek but passes through a beautiful forest.

Eventually, the trail returns to the park’s access road. Turn left on the road and walk the short distance back to the park office and your vehicle.

Overall, the Nature Trail at Poe Valley State Park is a very nice little hike and a great way to get a feel for the park. While it’s probably not worth going far out of your way to visit, combining a visit here with some time swimming, fishing, and camping in the park or checking out the many great overlooks in Bald Eagle State Forest would make for a great day exploring this picturesque corner of PA.

Looking for more places to visit nearby? Check out Reeds Gap State Park, Woodward Cave, and the covered bridges of Snyder County.

[Click here for information on how to use the coordinates in this article to find your destination.] 

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