Living Columns & Blogs

Have you explored State College’s gateway to Rothrock State Forest?

Join Centred Outdoors for the final summer outing of the season. This week’s adventure takes place on the outskirts of State College at Musser Gap — the gateway to the expansive Rothrock State Forest.

The 423-acre tract of land known as the Musser Gap Recreation area was purchased in 2006 by ClearWater Conservancy (host of Centred Outdoors). The land was then transferred to Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Bureau of Forestry to become part of Rothrock State Forest, one of our state’s largest forests and named after Joseph Rothrock, the commonwealth’s first forestry commissioner and Pennsylvania’s “Father of Forestry.”

The Musser Gap area is essential to filtering and recharging groundwater and also serves as a vital plant and wildlife habitat for a wide range of species. In fact, Musser Gap is located in Audobon’s Important Bird Area and also sits within Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Central Mountains Important Mammal Area.

Musser Gap offers visitors a wide range of recreational opportunities including hiking, biking, horseback riding, hunting, fishing and bird watching. The area’s trail system provides ample opportunities for both day users and also those looking to connect to the interior trails of Rothrock State Forest. The state DCNR highlights several “points of interest” located within Musser Gap and the surrounding area including:

Musser Run: A beautiful mountain fed stream that cascades over boulders and rocks as it runs into the valley below

Lion’s Valley Vista: a beautiful and rewarding view of Happy Valley

Highline Vista: a panoramic vista with views of State College, Boalsburg and the surrounding areas

Hubler Gap Vista: a view of the interior of Rothrock State Forest, devoid of buildings, towns or major infrastructure

The Centred Outdoors hike will be led by The Friends of Rothrock and visitors will learn about current and future work to help keep our drinking water safe while providing recreational access to Rothrock. Guests can expect to walk in the presence of history, learning about the geologic, economic and social forces that have shaped our home.

Following the Musser Gap outing, only three Centred Outdoors Events remain. The fall outings including Millbrook Marsh Nature Center on Sept. 15, Poe Paddy Tunnel on Sept. 22 and a walk in Penn’s Woods at Musser Gap on Oct. 6.

Planning to attend this week’s adventure? Here’s what you need to know:

What: Centred Outdoors: Musser Gap

When: Sunday, with guided hikes at 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. and Wednesday at 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Where: Musser Gap Trail (off of Route 45), State College

Parking: Ample parking is available at the trailhead

What to bring:

  • A refillable water bottle

  • Sun protection including a hat and sunscreen

  • Sturdy and water-resistant footwear capable of walking on a forested path

  • Long pants and high socks may be preferred for additional protection from insects and ticks

  • A light snack or picnic, especially if you plan to come early or stay after the hike

  • Child carrier/backpack is recommended for very young children

  • Binoculars for bird and wildlife watchers

Difficulty of hike: Hike is approximately 2 miles long with moderate elevation change-making it difficult for some attendees.

Additional Information:

  • Pets must be kept on a leash and owners must clean up after their pets.

Centred Outdoors will continue hosting free, guided adventures through Oct. 6. The complete schedule can be seen at, where users can login to create their own profile, RSVP and receive weekly emails about each event. While online registration is not required, it is the best way to receive event updates. Look to the Good Life every week for complete details about the upcoming Centred Outdoors destination.

Jon Major is the communications strategist for ClearWater Conservancy.