I had taken many hikes in the Musser Gap area. Early on, there was only one trail, the Musser Gap Trail. Now there are a few more, including the Huckleberry Loop, Frog Hollow, Lone Pine and Mountain Mist Trails. Of these trails, I had not hiked all of the Mountain Mist Trail. That was the goal of this hike; to take a stroll on the unexplored Mountain Mist Trail.
|Trailhead:||N 40° 45.30'
W 77° 51.20'
|Trail Length:||3.8 miles|
|Hike Time:||2 hours|
|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.
It was a warm, Sunday morning when I started this hike. There has been quite a bit of activity on improving the trail since my last visit to Musser Gap back in February. The tread was mostly crushed limestone for most of the climb up towards the gap proper.
At 0.9 miles there is a newly erected bridge. The bridge has been "rebuilt" since my last hike, with the bridge having skid proof tread and sturdy railings on both sides. Shortly after crossing the bridge, the trail comes to an interseciton. The Frog Hollow Trail sweeps around to the right towards the front of the westernmost ridge. The Musser Gap Trail heads off to the left and climbs up through the gap. I turned left here and continued my ascent on the Musser Gap Trail.
The ascent becomes a bit steeper walking through the gap, but only for a short distance. At about 1.2 miles into the hike the Musser Gap Trail bears off to the left. The Mountain Mist Trail continues straight and this is the route I wanted to go. I followed the Mountain Mist Trail for another tenth of a mile where it intersected with the Huckleberry Loop Trail, coming down the ridge from the right. I decided to take a short detour off of the Mountain Mist Trail and headed up the Huckleberry Loop Trail to take in the views from the Lion's Valley Vista.
Reaching the top of the ridge I was at the intersection with the Frog Hollow Trail.To the left is a sign pointing the way to the Lion's Valley Vista. I headed off in this direction and soon found myself at the vista. I snapped a few pictures and took a couple minutes to enjoy the view before I retraced my steps back down to the Mountain Mist Trail.
Having logged a little over 1.6 miles since the start of the hike, I found myself back on the Mountain Mist Trail heading west. The trail had just the slightest climb here before leveling off. At 1.9 miles the trail began a sweeping turn to the left.
The trail meandered through the hardwood trees located in this area of the forest before emerging into a powerline clearing at 2.1 miles. A short walk through some high weeds and found myself on the road the runs parallel, and underneath the powerlines.
Still part of the Mountain Mist Trail, I turned left here and started hiking in an easterly direction. At 2.5 miles I came upon the intersection with the Musser Gap Trail. From here the Mountain Mist Trail continues straight, eventually arriving at the Highline Vista. At this point I had achieved the goal of this hike; to walk on the unexplored sections of the Mountain Mist Trail. Having completed my goal, I turned left here and followed the Musser Gap Trail back down to the trailhead and my waiting car.