The vista stretches out over the valley below, chasing the sunlight after daybreak. More than 1,900 feet up, the Mike Lynch Overlook watches the town of State College rise like specks of dust, settling again and falling still upon nightfall.
On most nights anyway. On game days, Beaver Stadium becomes a pool of light and sound, as does the Bryce Jordan Center when the latest act rolls into town.
It’s all visible from the overlook, named for the eponymous alumnus who hiked Mount Nittany’s trails time and again. Mike Lynch could trace his life’s chapters through his treks up the mountain, first as a student at Penn State in the 1940s, then as a professor and chairman of the Lion’s Paw Mountain Committee.
Since then, thousands have trudged up and down the White Trail, all for a glimpse of everything the sun touches in Happy Valley. But with those thousands of steps and the constant prodding from Mother Nature, the Mike Lynch Overlook is in need of a facelift.
“With so many people climbing the White Trail up from the trailhead and then looking out to see Beaver Stadium, Bryce Jordan Center and Jeffrey Field, the topsoil is gone,” said John Mentzell, a board member of Mount Nittany Conservancy. “It’s down to the rocks. The erosion and downpours wash big rocks over the edge, and it’s just in terrible shape.”
Time and wear have whittled away at the overlook’s trails, which climb more than 600 feet up from the starting point. Board member Bob Andronici said the conservancy, a steward of the mountain, agreed in December to spend about $100,000 to repair the overlook.
Sweetland Engineering was contracted and has since completed an engineering study. Andronici said Glenn O. Hawbaker, which put in the bid for the project, is looking to complete construction by late April, and trails near the overlook will be closed during that time. While the timeline is indefinite, he said a formal announcement will be released once construction begins.
“The Lynch Overlook itself will be cordoned off,” said Andronici, who also co-chairs the conservancy’s mountain and recreation committee. “But the rest of the mountain, people will be able to hike. We have to keep it open so it can be seen, but not disrupt the environment.
“So we walk a delicate balance between ensuring we preserve the place in its natural state and at the same time that we make it safe and enjoyable for people to hike.”
Mentzell said Hawbaker received approvals to begin in December and construction will be contingent upon the weather.
“They said they’d like to do it in their offseason because during the warmer months they’re out building roads,” he said. “But right now they don’t have as much work in the wintertime, so that’s going to be happening pretty soon.”
The project involves construction of three terraces. Using oak trees, Mentzell said, they’ll craft a series of steps and use stone to divert water closer to the top where the trail has been worn out.
According to map and car counts, the conservancy estimates about 50,000 people hike up to the Mike Lynch Overlook every year.
“If you look at it now, it’s just this big washed out section where the actual overlook is,” Mentzell said. “With that kind of foot traffic on the mountain and combined with the water, it just washed it out like crazy.”
The conservancy, which has overseen upkeep of the mountain since 1981, has worked with local organizations to maintain one of the highest peaks in Centre County.
In 2011, a volunteer group of Lion Ambassadors installed a stepping system along the overlook’s right side in response to the ongoing erosion. A year later, another work party laid groundwork for a separate access point, providing reprieve to a heavily trodden trail.
“We’ve been trying for years to rehabilitate it,” Mentzell said. “But nothing we have done has had the desired effect.”
Yet with the forthcoming construction, Andronici said, the scenic views of the valley will remain open to anyone with enough gusto to climb the mountain.
“It is a beautiful view,” he said. “Unfortunately, it is slowly eroding away, but we’re going to finally put a stop to that.”
Nightclub to replace former Levels location
The lights, neon or otherwise, will soon go on again in the former home of Levels Nightclub.
Located at 420 E. College Ave., Envy Nightclub will replace Levels, which operated from 2012 to 2015. Envy recently announced the forthcoming 2017 opening on its Instagram page, with no specified open date.
According to its website, the nightclub is hiring for multiple positions, including bartenders and bouncers. Envy management said the nightclub will announce updates via its website and social media sites.
Hair salon to open in State College
A national hair salon chain will add a State College location in 2017.
Located at 1890 N. Atherton St., Great Clips will hold its grand opening on Jan. 7, the company recently announced, and held a soft opening on Wednesday. According to a release, the salon is offering $4.99 haircuts through Feb. 19 in celebration of the opening.
Bob Bell, the franchise owner, said he’s been looking to open a franchise in State College for six years. He said an initial deal fell through after taking about two years to put together. The new franchise, Bell’s 12th, also experienced delays before coming to fruition.
“Getting good space in State College is not easy,” he said.
The salon will be joined by a Mattress Firm location, a Qdoba Mexican Grill and a Vitamin Shoppe at the former A&P site, located across from Trader Joe’s Plaza. Bell added the salon is hiring stylists.
“I think we’re going to do phenomenal there,” he said. “It’s a great location.”