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Musser Gap: Visiting Lion's Valley Vista A Bit Early

I've made a few trips into Musser Gap. Early on, Musser Gap did not provide much variety for hiking: it was essentially an out-and-back hike to a powerline clearing. More recently connecting trails have been added to connect Musser Gap with Shingletown Gap as well as the Mid State Trail on top of Tussey Mountain. One of the more recent additions is a trail system on the western most front ridge of the gap. That was the destination for this hike.

Trailhead: N 40° 45.30'
W 77° 51.20'
Total Elevation: 1476'
Trail Length: 3.1 miles
Hike Time: 2 hours
Hike Type: Loop
Difficulty Rating: 61
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.

Myself and a couple fellow hikers from work did this hike on a nice, early autumn day after work. We hiked back the main access trail towards Musser Gap. For the first 0.4 miles we hiked across the fields before we reached the forest and began a slow, steady climb towards Musser Gap.

At 0.9 miles we reached a stream crossing. Currently this is a wet crossing, however the stream is small enough that you should be able to get across without getting wet. There are plans to put a bridge here, as evidenced from the bridge pylons located just to our left. 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 left towards the front of the westernmost ridge. We turned left here and continued our gradual climb.

Soon the ascent on Frog Hollow Trail became much steeper as we began to climb the ridge in earnest. We had a relatively strenuous climb for about 0.3 miles until we finally reached the top of the ridge at 1.4 miles into the hike. There is a sign located here indicating the Lion's Valley Vista to our right. We headed down this trail to take in the views from this vista.

After ten minutes of searching, we came to the conclusion that the vista did not exist. It wasn't until a few weeks later that I learned that the vista was marked, but had not yet been cleared at the time of our hike. I am assured that there is a nice visa there now. I guess I will need to venture back up Frog Hollow Trail and see what the vista looks like without all of the trees in the way.

After our disappointment at not find the vista, we backtracked until we came upon the Frog Hollow Trail. We were at an intersection with the Huckleberry Loop Trail, with the option of continuing straight or going right. We headed straight.

Suffice to say we got way off trail heading out the Huckleberry Loop Trail. I am not certain when we lost the trail, but as soon as we headed into thick undergrowth crowding into and onto the trail, I knew we were no longer on the Huckleberry Loop Trail. We did emerge, on what I think is the lower section of the Huckleberry Loop Trail at a little over 1.6 miles into the hike. We turned right here, and then made a left at 1.7 miles and then another left shortly after, now following the Mountain Mist Trail eastward towards Musser Gap.

The rest of the hike was relatively easy. We continued on the flat Mountain Mist Trail until we joined up with the Musser Gap Trail at 1.9 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 stand. The dam for the reservoir was tore out a few years back and the reservoir itself is starting to revert back to the forest.

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 3.1 mile hike in a little less than two hours. I will need to come back out to the Musser Gap area to see the views from Lion's Valley Vista. I hear that it is a nice vista, but I have yet to enjoy it.

The trailhead and start of this hike.

The view towards Nittany Mountain from Musser Gap.

Hiking up Frog Hollow Trail.

Making our way along the Mountain Mist Trail.

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