The James Cleveland Trail

Posted by JMcVerry on October 17, 2010 

Every so often the topic of hiking squeezes its way into a conversation, and naturally so. There is a great collection of parks, forests, trails, and scenic overlooks in our area. It seems like no matter who you talk to, someone has done some hiking at some point. A few months back, a friend of mine told me about the Jimmy Cleveland crash site and his quest to find it.

I had never noticed the brown sign on Route 192, which may have been a good thing because the sign leads to a locked gate and what appears to be a solar powered electric fence. That was where we ended up early in the day, but luckily it's not where we gave up.

We turned around and made our way back to top of the Centre Hall Ridge and took a right onto Greens Valley Road. We almost gave up after the paved road ended and turned into rocks, but we moved forward. We passed a group of nice hunters who helped us out. After about three miles from Route 144, we found another sign. This one was far more helpful. 

We parked the car and began our hike. It didn't take us very long to figure out that this was not a popular hike. The blue blazes led us through an mostly overgrown trail. We hopped a small creek and began our ascent to the top. At times it was very steep and most times very rocky. We had been hoofing it for about an hour when we came across Jimmy's site. Near the top of the ridge, the path leads you to a small opening where there are two wooden benches, a fire pit, an obelisk, and a collection of plane parts from Jimmy's crash.

The story goes: Jimmy Cleveland was a mail carrier and crashed at this site in 1931.  It's interesting because it's literally in the middle of nowhere and it's a lot of work to find. The seclusion of the memorial creates a captivating sense of loneliness, but it was hard to be sad on such a beautiful fall day. If you continue down the path, there is a nice rock garden and overlook of Penns Valley.

It's hard to imagine how dark it was that May night 70 years ago and how long it took for people to find the wreck. It's neat to think of the rescue team plodding up the steep, rocky inclines. If it's possible to feature a bit of area history into a hike, that's all the better. Up next, "the stairs that lead nowhere!" 


 (I had photos but this stupid blog won't let me upload them.)


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