Located in State College, PA, at the foothills of Rothrock State Forest, the Musser Gap Trail is accessible from Shingletown Road, near its intersection with Pine Grove Road (Route 26). Just 6.5 miles from downtown State College and Penn State University, the trail is easy to reach via car (there’s a small parking lot available), foot or bike via the Musser Gap Greenway (my typical access route).
From Shingletown Road, Musser Gap Trail starts as what looks like a single-lane gravel road, though it’s not open to vehicle traffic. A little over a mile down the trail, you arrive at a stream crossing. There’s a make-shift foot bridge that looks to be under construction (two currently disconnected parallel logs), or you can easily cross the creek on foot, as I did (the safer option right now, in my opinion).
After the stream crossing, you have the option of taking Musser Gap Trail to the left, or Frog Hollow Trail to the right. This past weekend, I did a little bit of both. First, Frog Hollow Trail led me up a fairly steep incline, which included a short length of rock scramble, to a section of trail called Mountain Mist. I followed this for a stretch, then retraced my footsteps back down to Musser Gap Trail, which I followed out for about 1.5 miles before turning around.
Though I had limited knowledge of both trails prior to my run, I now see that my little jaunt only scratched the surface of what is an extensive and fairly intricate trail network in the Rothrock State Forest area of State College.
Both trails are well marked and maintained, and do not appear to be heavily traveled. Always wear bright colors (fluorescent orange, maybe?), and check the current hunting season status before you head out. (I failed to heed this advice and did encounter a few hunters this past early May weekend, which was a surprise to me)
Having started my run/hike from a residence just off the Musser Gap Greenway, my total route encompassed 10.4 miles and 1,482 feet of elevation (almost all of which was gained on the trails) at a pace of 11:55/mile.