One of the things that makes Huntingdon one of the Coolest Small Towns in America is the fact that you don’t have to leave town to experience wilderness. One of the coolest things about Huntingdon’s wilderness is how easy it is to find and access. All you need to do is look from nearly anywhere in town (or within a couple of miles of town) for the giant American flag flying on a hilltop, and go there! The appropriately named Flagpole Hill and its trail system connects the enormous symbol of our nation with another cool landmark at the Juniata College Baker Evans Peace Chapel.
The day we hiked the Flagpole Hill Trails was an early November day that you might call “seasonable” for central Pennsylvania – temperatures in the low 50s, overcast and windy on the exposed hilltop. The leaves were nearly all removed from the tree limbs, opening up views that are not available in the summer, but also making the trail extremely noisy as our steps kicked through the 3-4 inch deep leaf litter.
We set off to hike the closest loop to the flagpole consisting of Cemetery, Beech Tree and Oak trails. After making good time through the first leg, we added Bearcat to our hike, and still made it back to the cars within a little more than an hour. For their location the trails are surprisingly flat, largely following the contours of the hill rather than climbing or descending.
As we returned to the vehicles we took in the view of Huntingdon, and all agreed it had been a good afternoon for a hike.
There are three parking areas to access the Flagpole Hill Trails. The one we used is the main trail head located at the north end of 5th Street, another can be found at the far northern corner of Riverview Cemetery (accessed from Standing Stone Avenue) at the intersection of Cemetery and Beech Tree trails. The other popular trail head for the network is from Peace Chapel Road near the Juniata College campus. Maps are usually available at the 5th Street and Peace Chapel Road trail heads, or at the Huntingdon Borough building on Washington Street.