Experience the Trails of Pennsylvania

Musser Gap: Revisiting Lion's Valley Vista

Last fall I hiked up into Musser Gap to check out some of the new trails. During that hike I discovered a trail sign pointing towards a new vista: Lion's Valley Vista. I was disappointed to find out that the vista was non-existent at that time. Turn the calendar ahead 5 months and another hike into Musser Gap brings me to the vista sign. To my surprise the vista was cleared and I got to enjoy the view of Happy Valley below.

Trailhead: N 40° 45.30'
W 77° 51.20'
Total Elevation: 1646'
Trail Length: 3.3 miles
Hike Time: 2 hours
Hike Type: Loop
Difficulty Rating: 66
Near: Rothrock State Forest
Access off route PA45

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The trailhead for this hike is easily accessible from State College. Coming from State College, either via route US322 or business route US322 (South Atherton Street), you will need to turn right onto route PA45 west near Boalsburg. Once you are on route PA45 west heading towards Pine Grove Mills, you will want to travel 3.4 miles traveling through the town of Shingletown. You will notice a dirt road on your left that angles up and away from route PA45. There is also a wooden Rothrock State Forest sign here. Turn at this road, travel about 200 feet up the hill, and you will find a large parking area. This is the access area parking for the Musser Gap area and the trailhead for this hike.

Shari and I decided to do this hike on a relatively warm day in early February. The snow was melted away and there were only a few places that was still icy. For the first 0.4 miles we hiked across the fields on a newly resurfaced trail. DCNR had been out the previous couple of weeks improving the trail. Soon we were at the end of the improved trail and began a slow, steady climb towards Musser Gap.

At 0.9 miles we reached a stream crossing.There is a newly erected bridge here. The stream is small and can be easily crossed but since someone took the time to erect a bridge, Shari and I felt obligated to cross on it. Shortly after crossing the stream we came to the intersection of Musser Gap Trail and Frog Hollow Trail. Frog Hollow Trail sweeps around to the right towards the front of the westernmost ridge. We turned left here and continued our climb on the Musser Gap Trail..

The ascent becomes a bit steeper, but only for a short distance. At about 1.2 miles into the hike the Musser Gap Trail bears off to the right. The Mountain Mist Trail continues straight and this is the route we chose. We followed the Mountain Mist Trail for another tenth of a mile when we came across the Huckleberry Loop trail coming in from our right. We turned right here and climbed up the back side of the ridge.

Once we reached the top of the ridge we found ourselves at the intersection with the Frog Hollow Trail.To our left was the sign pointing the way to the Lion's Valley Vista. He turned left here and soon found ourselves at the vista that was missing during our last visit here. There was a fallen tree that made for a nice bench. We sat there for a while enjoying the view and the late winter sunshine.

After ten minutes or so we retraced our steps and continued straight on the Huckleberry Loop Trail. We followed the Huckleberry Loop Trail as it made a leisurely loop back to where we entered the loop. Turning left here we were soon back on the Mountain Mist Trail hiking eastward towards Musser Gap.

We continued on the flat Mountain Mist Trail until we rejoined with the Musser Gap Trail at 2.1 miles. We continued straight as the trail began to descend steeply. At a little over 2 miles we were beside the spot where the old reservoir use to be. At 2.2 miles we were back at the intersection with Frog Hollow Trail. From here we retraced our steps back the to trailhead, completing this 3.3 mile hike in about two hours. It was a quite enjoyable hike especially considering the El Nino weather that was providing us with such a warm day for early February. The view from the Lion's Valley Vista was very nice and we now have another vista destination in Rothrock State Forest.

The trailhead and start of this hike.

The view towards Nittany Mountain from Musser Gap.

Walking on the newly resurfaced Musser Gap Trail.

The new bridge for crossing the stream at Musser Gap.

The sign points the way to the vista.

The view from Lion's Valley Vista.

Making our way along the Huckleberry Lop trail.

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