Reviewed by: Bill Ames
Where to buy: Mid State Trail Assn/Appalachian Outdoors/Link above
Cost: about $12-$40, depending on whether you buy the maps or just the book.
The Mid State Trail runs right through central Pennsylvania, from the Maryland Border to New York. It is the longest trail in Pennsylvania, and having hiked parts of the AT, I would vote for it as being a superior experience—it has better signage, a better guide book, and it's not nearly so crowded. The views are unparalleled in Pennsylvania, and rival the best in Virginia. You can find photos of the MST throughout this site.
Like all trail guides, this one tells you where to start, where to end and how to get there. A detailed set of topographical maps is included for the entire trail, as well as the numerous side trails. Intermediate access points are fairly easy to find if you have a state forest map or county map to help you. Mapquest, Google Maps or one of the other online service can help you out, too.
If day hikes are your thing, this book will help you to find some of the intersections, but you'll need to scout things out before attempting them. I've found that the sections outlined are too long for me to hike in a day, but the maps and a little planning will help you out. For overnighters or three-day weekends, the trail sections are just about right. For day hikes on the MST, look no further than HikePA.com for suggestions :-)
Springs, rivers and other water sources are mentioned, as well as most of the interesting points along the way and a fair bit of history.
The descriptions are pretty much up to date, at least in the areas I've hiked, but recent extensions and re-routes are now going to be covered online.
If you need a trail guide for any of the Mid State Trails, or the connecting trails, this is it.
If you are looking to pick up a copy of this book, it's available directly from the
Mid State Trail Association
PO Box 167
Boalsburg, PA 16827
Notes on the 10th edition versus the 9th edition:
There is also a good deal more on the history of various places and things, and there is a generally more didactic tone. Updates like fire towers being closed are especially appreciated, and Mr. Thwaites' mini essays are always welcome. This edition contains his argument for renaming the trail to "Seven Mountains Trail". I've also noticed that new measurements have been taken, and some of the distances have changed . . . not by much, but it's nice to see the attention to detail.
The 11th edition renumbers some of the trail sections, since they were more than a bit confusing.