After a few cold weeks, Sunday we had some spring-like weather. My family and I took advantage of it by taking a trip to the 1000 steps. As it turned out, a lot of other people had the same idea; the parking lot was nearly full.
In spite of having to pass a lot of other hikers going up and down, it was a great hike. Upon reaching the top, we hiked out to the locomotive shed and the western overlook.
The trail-head for the thousand steps is located on route 22 about two miles west of Mount Union. This is where the road follows the Juniata River through a narrow gorge known as Jack’s Narrows with high ridges on either side.
This was named for a trader by the name of Jack Armstrong who lived in the 1700s. It was near this location in February of 1744 where Jack and his two servants were killed by Indians after a dispute over a horse.
The steps were built in the 1930s by miners who climbed the mountain each day to work in the quarry. Sandstone mined from the quarry was taken to Mt Union where it was made into bricks. At one time Mt Union was the largest producer of silica bricks in the world.
How long it takes to climb the steps depends on how physically fit you are but for most people will take between twenty minutes and one hour. At each 100-step interval you’ll see a number of painted on the rocks to tell you how many steps you’ve climbed.
Turn right or left at the top of the stairs to continue exploring. Turning to the right will take you to a lookout that will allow you to catch a glimpse of the town of Mt Union. If you turn left the path will lead you to a concrete building. This building housed the locomotive that moved the sandstone from the quarry to the bottom of the mountain.
If you still have some energy left, climb the steps beside the building that lead a little higher up the mountain. After a short climb you’ll come to trail that leads further west along the mountainside. After walking about half a mile you’ll come to a lookout that allows you to see the town of Mapleton along with the railroad, route 22 and the Juniata River.
If you’re in the south central region of PA and you’re looking for interesting hike, you definitely will want to visit the 1000 steps. In fact, you might like it so well that you’ll find yourself making the trip every year.