Route:  The Deer Pens Loop
Mileage:  7.7 - 8.0
Hillage: The Deer Pens Loop contains a number of steep hills.

Elevation change: 203 ft. 
Average Grade: 2%. Notable hills: 

Fox Hollow Descent: A 135 foot drop in nine-tenths of a mile from the rise on Porter Rd. near Beaver Stadium to the corner of Fox Hollow and Big Hollow Rds: Long 2.9% downhill.
Fox Hollow Rise:
A long climb of nearly 200 feet in about a mile and a half from the end of the above descent  to turn into University property from Fox Hollow Road. The last three-quarters of a mile rises nealy 140 feet for a 3.8% grade.
Deer Pens Descent:
A steep descent of about 100 ft in less than a third of a mile from the gate above the Deer Pens to the intersection of the University gravel road and the gravel section of Big Hollow Road. A 6% average grade. Some sections are even steeper.
"4 Hills" Rise:  An 89 ft rise over three-tenths of a mile from the curve on Big Hollow up the four bumps to the gate: An intense 5.6% climb.

Description:  Start in front of Rec Hall and head down Curtin Rd., dodging students all the way to Porter Rd., next to Beaver Stadium. Make a left on Porter and carefully head past the light at Park Avenue, where Porter Rd. becomes Fox Hollow Rd. Continue on Fox Hollow Rd as it descend for almost a mile to  underpass, and then as it climbs for another mile-and-a-half. After passing the entrance to the Toftrees development, the road bends to the right. About a third of a mile after this bend is an entrance to some University land on the right. A sign near the road says "ARL Steam Plant". Take a right here. Run for about three-quarters of a mile on this gravel road past some University agricultural fields. The road starts sloping downhill and bends to the left. Just past the bend, there is a road that heads steeply down hill to the right. Make this right and run past the Penn State Deer Pens. Take a minute to see if the deer are nearby. At the bottom of the hill is the gravel portion of Big Hollow Road. Go right here. head back to Fox Hollow Road. Make a left and carefully cross Fox Hollow Rd, making an immediate right just past the overpass onto the macadam portion of Big Hollow Rd. Take Big Hollow Rd for about 1½ miles as it makes a wide bend, goes up "4 Hills", and ends up at Services Rd. next to the Penn State Salvage Building. Go right on Services Rd., follow it as it bears left and becomes Bigler Rd. Carefully cross Park Avenue and continue on Bigler Rd. to Curtin Rd. Take a right on Curtin Rd. and head back to Rec Hall.

Option: On a hot day, you can add a pleasant three-tenths of a mile to the above loop just past the halfway point, when you need it most. On the University gravel road above the Deer Pens, about a third of a mile from Fox Hollow Rd, another gravel road heads off to the left. Take this as it heads toward a hedgerow of tall trees. The road then goes right along those tall, shady trees and then heads back to meet the main route at the intersection of the road down to the Deer Pens.

Remarks: The Deer Pens Loop provides a moderately long training route on both macadam and gravel surfaces that combines flat portions, steep hills, open spaces, and shade. About two thirds of the way into the run, you can take a break and look at the deer in the University Deer Pens. There are some native and exotic species.

The Deer Pens Loop is a nearly three mile extension of the 4 Hills Loop. It also links up with many other popular running routes, including the East Aaron Loops, the Town Loops, the Tunnel Loop, and the Toftrees Loop, and can be run in combination with pieces of these routes to make even longer runs.


        Added: 3/03