Out of the blue I was thinking about the J4 cave today and found your photos after a quick Google search.  Thanks a lot, they bring back some good memories.  I must have been in that cave a dozen times while at Penn State in the early 90’s and didn’t take one stinkin’ photo! 

What’s with the straps in the entry culvert?!  Like you said, if you need handles, you probably don’t belong there.

I understand it’s closed these days; that’s too bad.  I’m glad some of us had the opportunity.  Thanks again for posting the photos.


Posted by Frank on 53 replies


01. Jan 19, 2006 at 01:39am by Anthony:

Hi Frank, thanks for checking out my photos and for leaving a comment!  It’s fun to hear from another J4er.  I live in Pittsburgh now, and J4 is the #1 thing I miss about State College.

Yeah, from what I heard, it was closed after the land was bought by some company (a quarry company?), because they didn’t want the liability.  I guess I can see that point of view, but it really stinks that it has to be that way... that such an amazing natural treasure is off-limits just because the legal situation in this country allows people to totally shirk personal responsibility and then sue for outrageous sums of money.

But I digress (obviously).  I miss J4.

02. Feb 13, 2006 at 10:16pm by Verone:

The subject of caving came up the other day for me and  I did a search on J4.  Thanks for the memories.  I grew up in Clarion county and made 5 or 6 trips to j4 in the late 70’s and early 80’s.  I have some 35mm pictures I will have to dig out.  I now live in Jefferson Hills, near Century III mall, just south of Pittsburgh.

Although it’s been 25 years I can still say it was the best cave in PA.

03. Feb 14, 2006 at 03:29am by Anthony:

Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Verone.

And if you have any interest in putting those photos online, I’d be happy to add them as a photo-set here (credited to you of course)...

04. Mar 7, 2006 at 11:03pm by Jobie Gibboney:

I’m currently a Penn State student, and I’m originally from right outside State College.  I visited J4 a few years ago w/ some friends, and would love to show some of my new friends this amazing natural formation.  I remember how to get to the cave from where we parked, and I remember how to get into the cave up the quarry wall and through the pipe, but I forget actually where the place is in State College.  Would you (or anybody else) possibly remember how to get to the place where you park to walk back to the quarry?  Thanks a lot, and happy spelunking!

05. Mar 8, 2006 at 11:43am by Anthony:

Take 26 north/east out of town, go about 5-10 miles.

Turn right onto 144, go less than a mile.

There is a small school on the right, then a road after it; turn right onto this road.  It dead-ends shortly, into the field that you walk through to get to the cave.

06. Aug 22, 2006 at 09:29pm by William Nash:

i was just in j4 recently and looking for a brave group of people to come join me before winter comes

07. Aug 27, 2006 at 10:29am by David:

Hey there....I read about the closing of J4. And I think it wasn’t due to the the quarry land owners, I could be wrong though, I think I heard it was a group of cavers who were loud and disruptive to the family in the last house on the dead-end where everybody parks their cars at the gate. You cannot block their driveway and be noisy roudy at late hours of the night......I have had my share of midnight caving trips when in college, but always respected the house there at the gate.
Sounds like from the last entry from William Nash that its open again?
I have a few friends who wanted to take a trip through....by the way, I have a detailed map of J4 if anybody needs me to email them a copy I can. Last visit to J4 was 2000 I think for me...I’m ready to go again if its open. Can someone confirm that its open for sure?

08. Aug 27, 2006 at 11:48am by Anthony:

If the owner of the house was bothered by people parking and/or being noisy in the dead-end in front of his house, he could complain to the police about that, but it’s extremely unlikely that he could get the cave closed as a result of that, since it’s entirely unrelated.  There are plenty of other roads in the vicinity that you can park on, and there are other things behind that dead end other than the cave (like farmer’s fields and lots of forest); I don’t think you can shut down legal activity on an adjacent property just because a small group of those who use the property are disruptive.

Regarding the map: if your map is different than this one, please contact me and I’ll post it here.

As to whether the cave is open or closed, I believe it is still closed, and has been for quite a few years.  But that has never seemed to affect whether spelunkers went into it or not.  There is nothing physically preventing people from entering it.

09. Sep 8, 2006 at 01:21am by William Nash:

i never said anything about it being open i just show respect when i go back in and i have a friend who lives right by there so i park at his place but i would like to see a better map not that the one on here is bad it just looks to me the somethings missing on it. but if u could David Please get in contact with me my email is biker116823@yahoo.com make the subject j4 so i dont mark it as spam i want to see if the map u have is a little better than the one i have

10. Sep 12, 2006 at 07:32pm by Bruce Richmond:

i was in J4 two days ago and took my camcorder to get some footage. ive went to j4 with nash. i really wanna get a group of people and go to j4 and tape some more.ive only been to j4 a couple times and have only stayed in for a couple hours. but for real i think we should gather a group and go. oh and david it would be awsome to get a detailed map, me and the crew are trying to get to the mudroom.

11. Sep 14, 2006 at 01:03am by Justin Novosel:

i just got back from J-4 my first time in there it was great next time in im going to take a camera and get pics of the marks on my map, i got all the way to the Hi Way i went about half way back when we all decided to turn around well next time i post anything i should have pics to add here

12. Sep 14, 2006 at 01:06am by Bruce Richmond:

today me and the crew found the ufo buey, and beside the buey weve found the highway step across. so some time soon we are going to go back and continue on our way to the wedding cake room and the 1st mud room. we all signed the journal thats inside the ufo buey that every one else has wrote there names in. i still wish that we had a better map though, the map that we have isnt to great because every thing runs together. well ill be sure to post next trip.


13. Sep 20, 2006 at 09:27pm by Bruce Richmond:

me and the crew were in j4 lastnight we made it to the wedding cake room and the mud room.next time we go i plan on building a couch outta clay. ive seen about 80%of the cave now but am hoping that we can find a more detailed map and find more tunnels to explore.well will post next trip.


14. Nov 19, 2006 at 07:06pm by justin:

hey guys i was just at J4 Sat Nov. 18 and noticed there was a small cave in on the out side of the cave. the group and i didnt go in the cave after seeing that we wont know the damage it caused untill we go back in, as soon as most of the water is gone were going back in and then will posted anything we notice

16. Apr 4, 2007 at 09:59am by Ross:

i went to juniata college from 96-2000 and visited j4 about 5 times.  i have pics i can send if you want to upload them, ill just have to dig thru them.  does anyone have pics of the dome room?  or pics at all?

im pretty sure its closed now.  but now that its closed its like magical in a sense that you cant ever go back in.  SO WE NEED PICS PEOPLE!

17. Jun 7, 2007 at 08:57am by Shinola:

I just had a huge discussion lastnite with some friends of mine who are j4’ers from wayyy back and I had to do a search online today and found you guys. I live in the Philipsburg area, moving further out to the Grassflat area, actually moving right now. I’ve been to the entrance but it was a spur of the moment drive by to see if it was real and if we could find it, sure enough we did. We werent prepared to enter but I definetly plan to, new owners or not. I know lots of people who still enter the cave so the access is still there, you just have to walk down the quarry to get to the "manhole" entrance. I guess maybe we shouldnt go in anymore because we could be sued or who knows what but its just soooo awesome I cant stop myself. I’ll write back after we go in.

18. Sep 9, 2007 at 01:17pm by William:

if u have myspace look up J4 Caving Society its our group look us up and leave us a message we would be glad to go in with you some time

19. Nov 25, 2007 at 03:09pm by Thomas Meyer:

  Just did J4 yesterday 11-24-07. Had a great time got some good picks, no problems with anybody, Met two other groups of splunkers inside.

20. Nov 17, 2009 at 11:39am by Paul:

cave open anymore- who owns it?

21. Nov 29, 2009 at 02:30pm by Carl:

Great site.  Normally, I’d be upset that a cave location is publicized so openly but we all know J4 is widely publicized.  I spent many hours in J4 back in the late 80s early 90s.  I had heard it was intentionally sealed but, have no real information.  I was back in town on business a couple of years ago and would have loved to visit my old friend.

22. Jan 2, 2010 at 09:09am by Patrick:

so, can anyone say if the cave is still accessable?

23. Jan 2, 2010 at 06:54pm by Dave:

Hello all,

I went on my first exploration of J4 a few days ago with a few of my climbing friends and had a blast. This cave is an absoluting amazing site. It is a shame that the access is sketchy at best and even more of a shame that kids have left so much trash and graffiti in this cave. If anyone on this site has a better map than the one that is posted I would be much interested in getting a copy. I can be reached by e-mail at promotions@C3airsoft.com.

Looking forward to taking another trip soon and if anyone here would like to show me around hit me up. Thanks.

24. Apr 4, 2010 at 07:13pm by rickster:

Just getting into caving.. Going looking for J4 entrance very soon , was wondering if theres a good copy of that map still floating arouund or if the one posted is the best copy?Thanks

25. Apr 17, 2010 at 02:11pm by James:

Hello All,

I played in J4 a couple dozen times back when I was at PSU in the early 80’s (yeah, carbide drip lamps and all, he he). We all had a copy of that infamous map (Nittany Grotto, N.W. Davis, 1970) that was folded ten different ways and then photo copied a hundred different times.

So near the end of the last millenium, I redrew the map at a large scale by hand and included some features we found since the Davis version (can’t say we discovered them, merely mapped them).

But is was really big and really hard to copy.  So recently, I converted it to an electronic format and now it can be made any size you want.

So for those of you that want a copy, drop me an email and I’ll shoot one off to ya. It’s 3.6M (10k x 5k pixels). If you want it smaller, let me know.

Feel free to share it. And feel free to send me pix of your adventures J4. If you find anything in there that has changed in 25 years, or come across anything on the map worthy of updating, drop me a line.

Yours in Adventure,


26. May 4, 2010 at 07:52pm by rickster:

Id love a copy of that may but you didnt leave me your email.Thanks...

27. May 14, 2010 at 07:27pm by Anthony:

The map that James mentioned is now on the J4 page.

28. Oct 17, 2010 at 09:43pm by Greg:

I was just relating a few bedtime stories of caving expeditions to my son tonight, and we both wondered if the cave was still open.  We spent many long and late trips on Friday nights and early Saturday mornings back in the mid 90’s. 

Crawling through that culvert was always a great scare for first timers, and we loved taking a lights-out break at the wedding cake... the highway step across was also a good part. 

Thanks for the memories, I’ll be sure to check out photos this week!


29. Jan 19, 2011 at 09:19am by Joey:

I went in last night (1/18/2011) for the first time in 15 years and it’s still accessible. It’s a shame how people brought in spray paint and painted on the walls and some of the formations. Don’t ever go in unless you’re with someone who knows what they’re doing and is familiar with the cave. Something as simple as rolling your ankle in there could put you in a really dangerous situation.

30. Jan 24, 2011 at 09:57am by Dusty:

I’m heading to the cave on wendsday Jan 26, anybody want to join me? I will be going in the morning as to explore as much as I can before driving to Michigan for a few days. You can email me at dklifman@windowslive.com, its unfortunate about all the graffiti, I don’t understand why people can’t respect things like this that we share with others... But ill be taking my camera and tripod with me to get some good photos I hope. Joey, can you give me the current condition of the cave? Ie.. Real muddy and slippery, or pretty solid? Thanks!

31. Jan 31, 2011 at 09:04pm by john marsden:

I was the leader of the group of cavers that discovered and did a lot of the initial exploration of J4 back in 1964. WOW, we new it was big but not that big. We were always amazed at how dry the cave was. Hardly even any mud.  Enough for now, the original group was John Marsden (67), John Van de Bow, John Kosinski, and John Frantz.

32. Mar 20, 2011 at 05:09pm by rick obanion:

This is adressed to Mr John Marsden,
Hello John! Love the cave, as does everyone in our grotto,I was wondering if you would be interested in sharing some of your stories with me via email or phone.Everyone in our grotto adores J4 and im local to the area.We would all love to hear whatever you can tell us about your discoveries there.We can even turn you on to some Secretive Virgin cave passage in the area if your still caving...Were currently digging in several recently discovered caves fairly close to J4, 2 of which are maze caves with already over 4000 feet of sureveys passage and no end in sight.Waterfalls, crawls, exposed climbing, Pure white speleothoms, and very few foot prints.. Just ours..! Anyways,  You can email me directly at rickyschat2002@yahoo.com
Hope to hear from you soon!

33. Jul 11, 2011 at 04:22pm by Shecky:

When I went to Penn State in the 80’s we used to explore J4, respected the cave, had a blast.  Took my son there last week to check to see if I could find it again and if the opening was still accessible.  It is.  Cave on...:)

34. Jul 20, 2011 at 12:30am by Dick Moss:

I was reading thru the posts where people were saying they were in there in the early ’8os and began to wonder if I was the oldest guy to post (I last visited in 1967).  That is until I saw the post by John Marsden.  Didn’t know you then but must have just missed you.  I remember Rick Riggen, etc. but stopped when I graduated from PSU in Jan ’70.  Many great memories - sneaking in at the dead of night so as not to get caught by the quarry owners, getting the car stuck and terrified I would be caught when I left at 6AM, escorted a couple of newbies one time, one of which turned out to be claustrophobic deep in the cave.  I got him out successfully but I’ve never seen a person so terrified - even through a tour in Vietnam.  It was pretty much pristine in those days.  Heartened the hear that it is still accessible.  Disheartened the hear that it has been desecrated with paint.  Miss the smell of carbide.  And who installed the pipe?  If I can find a few pictures, I’ll send them.  It was a great cave, on par with another nearby cave, Hosterman’s pit.  But isn’t J4 in Pleasant Gap, not State College?  I’m no longer a spelunker, but I am a diver which in many ways is much like spelunking.  Hang in there John Marsden.  That’s a great cave you discovered and everyone who ever explored J4 owes you a debt of gratitude.

35. Dec 2, 2011 at 12:27pm by Joe H.:

I was in J4 quite a few years ago and would love to go back. I’ve got a few fellow cavers that enjoy one of the local caves near my house (South central PA). Is this cave still open? It appears so from the posts here, but before we drive 3.5 hours I’d like to know.


36. Jan 3, 2012 at 07:22pm by Ross:

i have tons of pictures of the interior of this cave, and a few of the entrance i believe.  i attended juniata college from 96-2000 and went a few times during those years.  i did go back sometime in 2004-05 for a quick trip through the front of  the cave.  ill try to get the pics posted soon.

37. Jan 6, 2012 at 12:25pm by Joe H.:

Met up with Dusty on this forum and went to the cave! My buddy brought his HD night vision camera and got a few shots, hence a youtube video. Don’t worry, it doesn’t give away the location :)

HD Youtube video

38. Jan 6, 2012 at 01:57pm by Anthony:

Great video!  Man, that brings back memories.  J4 is definitely one of the coolest things in PA.

39. Jan 31, 2012 at 02:36pm by ross:

so from what im reading the cave is still open?  when is the latest date anyone has gone in? 

i think we should organize a date in the future for everyone interested in going back to the cave... far enough down the road for everyone to plan it. 

being afraid of heights, i always hated the 5 inch ledge you had to cross to get to the entrance.  but it was always hard to leave the cave because it was pretty awesome inside.  i had no idea people have been exploring this cave for 40+ years when i went in late 90’s. 

when were the pipes installed, and the flat steel door in the first room after the pipe?  was the entrance just a hole?

40. Jan 31, 2012 at 06:28pm by ross:

here is a link with a bunch of J4 pics


41. Feb 17, 2012 at 07:25am by Joe H.:

I just went in with a few buddies back in early january / late december. Still open :)

42. Feb 20, 2012 at 12:56pm by Shane McMinn:

Hello, i was wondering if you could shoot me a copy of the J4 map. I went in there yesterday for a little fun and got lost. It would be a huge help if next time i had a map. thank you,

Shane McMinn

43. Feb 21, 2012 at 01:37am by Anthony:

The map is here.

44. Jun 5, 2012 at 01:01pm by KenC:

Just went in on 6/3/12.  Still open.  All 4 of us were first timers.  Took the map but it was so disorienting in there, that we couldn’t follow it.  We were in there for over 4 hours and still couldn’t find the "highway".  We found the "chandelier".  is the highway close to that.  Does anyone know how to get to the highway??  We’re planning on going back really soon.

45. Sep 5, 2012 at 07:07pm by Jonathan:

I just went in on Labor Day 2012. I had been going there from 1997-2000 religiously. I hadn’t been in for 12 years and needed another adventure. Graymont, a quarry owner, bought the quarry and posted a few signs, but none said no trespassing, only no fishing or hunting. People had signed the log book as recently as two days before us. I was angry at the mess people had left behind. The Penn State Nittany Grotto has the J4 listed as "closed indefinately". They are the ones responsible for keeping the cave clean. I went in with them back in 1999 and they explained to me that they would go in and collect the trash. Had a great time. It’s nice to know that I can still get through the cave at 43!

46. May 28, 2013 at 10:31pm by John C:


It looks like I didn’t do my research before creating a J4 blog site - this one is very good.  I recently put a new capsule in the cave and in it wrote the website of my blog.  The capsule is pretty deep, down the second rope and close to where we thought was the deepest/furthest area of the cave.  Check it out at http://www.j4cave.blogspot.com/ and I hope you adventure to find our capsule. 

John C

47. Jun 14, 2013 at 01:46pm by Ross:

is anyone interested in a group cave of J4?  Im thinking late winter/early spring 2014.  that should give us enough time to plan.  let me know on here or on my email.

48. Dec 21, 2013 at 12:30am by Heather:

Can anyone give detailed directions to J4? Maybe the name of the school you turn at or even it’s address. I was there years ago but can not remember. Thank you !

49. Apr 27, 2014 at 01:55pm by Chris:

I went to j4 with 3 other guys for years every weekend back in the late 80s and in the 90s . I have been in there over 50 times and know the entire cave . In the begging there was no trash at all and the last year I went people started leaving garbage . We would see people with only one flashlight and nothing else . Yes I am a highly experienced climber and able to climb without ropes to where other need them . I do agree with the guys that say you better take food, etc. . I agree with him . We took safety ropes , munchies ,drinks,first aid kits, extra batteries,extra flashlights , etc. We always were prepared and had to help a lot of people over the years in some tricky situations that they thought they were able to do and or was prepared for....., but they weren’t !! The cave can be a death trap and you can be seriously hurt ....... a boy scout fell down in the highway step across part of the cave. He got hurt , but could of got killed instead. I miss the cave and would like to go back sometime if it was still open . My biggest advise is be very  prepared , right clothing ,equipment,food,water,etc ,because you think you you will be in there for a hour or two ,that could lead in to more if something happens. I have seen huge rocks even move over he years in the cave .... it was a nice place to go and great memories with the great guys from Potter county .....

50. Apr 18, 2015 at 01:52pm by Chris Carano:

Hey everyone, just curious about the real reason the cave is closed. I heard a rumor throughout my group of friends that the cave sits on or is a sink hole and is unstable, which is why it is now closed. Is this true? I’d like to know the truth so that I feel comfortable venturing in again. I’ve been at least 10 times, got to the second geocache, and I hope to do it again but I don’t want to return if there’s a risk that the cave is unstable, especially since most of PA sits atop a massive gas shale. Also, I would love to know any insight about how the cave formed if there’s any geologists in this forum. My theory is glacial ice that was lodged in the ground from the movement of glaciers across this region, and when the ice melted, the limestone remained in tact forming the cave. Let me know if you have any answers to these questions or other insight, theres plenty more of that cave id love to further explore. Thanks

51. Jun 17, 2015 at 11:39am by Matt C:

I have visited the cave many times with a fellow explorer. She and I find great interest in the "impassible" or "to-tight-for-comfort" locations. In going through several of them, we’ve actually found errors in the J4 cave map. Be wary if you are attempting to explore the cave to the fullest extents and trusting the map to be correct.

52. Jul 28, 2015 at 01:22pm by Tom:

That sucks. I haven’t been in years and didn’t know it was closed off. I was going to go back. I read some comments on here I wanted to address. I repelled down the crack at the highway step. It ends not far beneath in another cavern that you will eventually get to if you stay the usual course. It actually shaves time off the trip if your goal is to get farther into the cave. Most of the caverns seemed water formed and pretty old, but there was one huge cavern that was circular and looked like an underground roman stadium turned upside down, and there was a small house sized chunk of rock in the middle of the cavern that you could see had at some point, dislodged from the layered rock ceiling about 100 foot above (that’s an approx, per my failing memory). I had eventually made it to the bottom where you run into the water table and there is a huge underground lake that is so dark and placid, it really gave me the creeps. I had intended on taking a dry suit and a blow up rubber raft down there at some point and seeing if there was anything to explore on the opposite shores of this lake??, but then had an accident in an unrelated endeavor and started doing other things when I got back on my feet, and never took my raft down there.

53. Jul 29, 2015 at 09:18am by Anthony:

Nice.  That sounds like the dome room.  I never heard about the lake before but I’d love to see it.

54. Oct 10, 2015 at 12:56am by Chris:

Went into the cave on 10-9-2015. We had a group of 6 in the cave and had been in once the year before. While in we got to the highway steps and heard loud boulder crashing sounds. I could not tell where they were coming from, but my group members claimed from below us somewhere in the cave. We heard the noises 4 times in 5 minutes and the last time something fell it shook the whole cave. Needless to say we got the hell out of there quickly but carefully. We are all lucky to make it out alive. Has anyone else ever had an experience like that?! Please do share.


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