The TRAIL was first laid out between 1978 & 1982. The original route was 68.1 miles in length. Over time the forest encroached on the original clearing. Extensive work has been done since the mid-1990’s to rehabilitate the trail and continues as SST takes its place in the Great Eastern Trail footpath network from Alabama to New York.
The TRAIL runs through Huntingdon, Mifflin, and Fulton Counties in Central Pennsylvania. The trail can be reached within four hours or so from anywhere in Pennsylvania, and the Washington D.C. area. It is a north-south trail with its northern terminus at Greenwood Furnace State Park.
On its journey south the trail makes use of vast tracts of State owned land. You will travel through four State Game Lands, two State Forests and one Natural Area. Its southern terminus is Cowans Gap State Park. The route links the Mid State Trail to the Tuscarora Trail. Hence the original name LINK TRAIL.
The SST makes use of many of the old logging trails, log slides and railroad grades that were used to take the logs to the colliers’ camps where it was turned into charcoal and then carted to the furnaces and used as fuel to melt the iron ore. The trail will take you by more than 70 charcoal flats, and the remains of at least one logging camp.
Greenwood Furnace was one of these iron furnaces, Established in the mid 1800’s, it was also one of the last to shut down. As a result the old furnace along with many of its support buildings still stand. The trail head is near the old furnace. The hiker may get a better understanding of the whole process of making iron by a visit to the Park. I recommend the short hike known as the Collier’s Trail, located in the Greenwood Furnace State Park.
Another major point of interest and perhaps the highlight of the trail is the Thousand Steps ( actually there are almost 1100 ).
The next to last historical point on the trail, is a small stretch of railroad grade known as Vanderbilt’s Folly. During the late 1890’s William Vanderbilt decided to set up a competitive railroad with the powerful Pennsylvania Railroad. He proceeded to dig several tunnels through the mountains and smooth out a grade and install culverts and bridges. However the project failed and was never completed. Years later most of the right of ways and the tunnels were paved to form the Pennsylvania. Turnpike.
Finally the last quarter mile of the trail uses a small portion of Forbes Road. During the French and Indian War, British troops, under the command of General John Forbes, used this road in their campaign to capture Fort Duquesne (Pittsburgh) from the French.
So you see a hike on the Standing Stone Trail is a hike that will take you back in time from the 1700’s, the 1930’s, and to today. This historical trip is done by using a most interesting route traversing rugged mountains with many vistas, to gentle sloping benches covered with blueberry bushes. Elevations run from a low 660 feet to a 2283 foot high point at Raven’s View on Jack’s Mountain. Yet, the trail is not considered an up – down trail. Once the hiker is on top of a mountain he will stay up for several miles before dropping back down into a valley crossing.