In 2006, Clearwater Conservancy purchased and transfered to the Rothrock State Forest the track of land in Musser Gap. Located between Musser Gap and Shingletown Gap was another tract of land, known as the Hale property. This property was also purchased by Clearwater Conservancy and on October 29th, 2014 it became a part of the Rothrock State Forest. With this new addition it was now possible to easily travel between the two gaps. It was on this latest outing that I decided to explore some of the options for making this trek.
|Trailhead:||N 40° 45.27'
W 77° 49.07'
|Trail Length:||2.8 miles|
|Hike Time:||2.0 hours|
|Near:||Off route PA45 by the
town of Shingletown.
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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 1.8 miles where you will reach the town of Shingletown. Here turn left onto Mountain Road and travel another mile where you will come to the parking area and the trailhead.
The hike starts as we head up into Shingletown Gap. Shortly past the reservoir we take the path to the right and cross Roaring Run on the log bridge. Our climb out of the gap begins in earnest around 0.2 miles into the hike as we parallel Cruiser Run.
About 0.4 miles into the hike our climbs lessens a bit as we cross Cruiser Run. In a tenth of a mile we bear right off of Deer Path and continue our climb up to the top of the front ridge.
We reach the top of the front ridge at 0.7 miles. From here we will turn left and head west towards Musser Gap. The trail here is not blazed but the tread is easy to follow. At the time of my hike there were still posted signs along this section of the trail. I would suspect that these will be removed in the not so distant future as this is the Hale property that is now a part of the Rothrock State Forest.
The trail across the top of the ridge is very easy to follow. It looked as if some logging was done here prior to the transfer. A logging access road is crossed near 1.1 miles into the hike. Another tenth of a mile has us emerging from the woods at the powerline clearing.
From this powerline clearing you have some nice views to the north towards State College. A grassy trail leads off to the left, descending a short distance from this high spot on the ridge. From here I followed the powerline access road. It was flooded in a few spots, but alternate routes have been put in to bypass these wet areas.
At 1.4 miles the powerline and road begin a sweeping turn to the right. If we were to continue to follow the powerline, in another 0.5 miles we would come upon the trail that turns off the road and heads down into Musser Gap. However, we are going to turn left here and follow another trail back towards Shingletown Gap. This trail can be seen passing through the grassy field, but keep your eye open for the blue flagging as you could easily pass this trail by if you weren't looking in the correct direction.
This trail enters the woods and meanders on level terrain as it makes its way back toward Shingletown Gap. The trail was not blazed at the time of this hike. It was, for the most part, easy to follow, but I was glad that blue flagging was placed along the trail. It made it easier to make my way when I did wander off at an unexpected turn or jog in the trail.
At about 2 miles into the hike the trail will make a sharp right. If you look to your left at this point you will see a large number of rhododendrons growing, as well as a depression in the ground. There is a spring located here. This is the headwaters of Cruiser Run.
At just a bit past 2 miles we come upon the intersection with Deer Path. Turning left here we begin a gentle descent on a well worn trail. At 2.2 miles we are back in familiar territory, with the path we first took bearing off to our left. We continue straight, recrossing Cruiser Run, and finishing our descent as we retrace our steps back to Shingletown Gap and the trailhead.
It looks as if there are currently two options for traveling between Musser and Shingletown Gap. There is the trail on top of the front ridge as well as the trail that follows along the valley between the two ridges. I believe there may be a third option as well in the near future as a trail heading up from Musser Gap to the Mid State Trail is in the works. With these trails now available for hiking use, it will be nice to see more people exploring and enjoying the area of Musser Gap.