Three Fan Favorite Hikes for Warm Weather


Courtesy of Meghan Doebler

A lush field of ferns lines the Musser Gap Trail, one of State College’s most scenic hikes.

Sophia Bills, News Editorial Assistant

With Tuesday’s summer solstice marking the official start of the season, many are aching to get outdoors to enjoy the local trails. Central Pennsylvania offers a plethora of hikes suitable for individuals of all experience levels, and many trails are particularly beautiful in spring and summer. From the most picturesque vistas to the hardest workouts, the State College area has a hike for everyone. Featured here are a few favorite local trails shared by State High’s avid hikers.

Shingletown Gap Trail

Located in Rothrock State Forest on the outskirts of Boalsburg, the Shingletown Gap Trail is scenic, leisurely, and “a great introductory hike.”

“It’s really pretty,” senior Madeline Geduldig said of the trail. “There are all these big areas of—not even grass and rocks, but just straight moss, so it’s really cozy-looking. It’s just nice in the spring because everything is blooming.”

Geduldig also appreciates the creek, Roaring Run, that follows the trail, as does sophomore and Outing Club member Maya Salter. Salter named Shingletown Gap as a hike she goes on “over and over again.” Salter commented on what she enjoys about Shingletown Gap and her other favorite hike, the Musser Gap Trail.

“I really like them because even though they’re often uphill, both of them have interesting water features to look at, and at the top, there’s always great views, which is nice,” Salter said of the two hikes.

A map of the Shingletown Gap Trail can be found here.

Musser Gap Trail

Also located in Rothrock State Forest, the Musser Gap Trail is a five-mile, out-and-back hike of moderate difficulty. 

“I like that [the Musser Gap Trail]’s really close to State College, but it doesn’t feel like you’re in town. It’s a short drive, but then you feel really secluded,” Secondary Math Coordinator and AP Statistics teacher Meghan Doebler said.

Doebler and Salter appreciate the trail’s scenery. “I felt like I was walking through Lord of the Rings for a little bit because it was kind of misty, and there’s a stream crossing. I couldn’t believe we were so close to home, and it felt really isolated and beautiful,” Doebler remarked, discussing a time she hiked the trail this past spring.

A map of the Musser Gap Trail can be found here.

Indian Steps Trail

Located in Rothrock State Forest as well, the Indian Steps Trail climbs Tussey Mountain and is known for its beautiful vista that overlooks the valley. Doebler shared that she enjoys snowshoeing on this trail, but it is also a great hike for spring and summer.

The trail is a loop, and “the hike back is just as enjoyable as the hike [to the top].” The path itself consists of stone steps of unknown origin that were likely not built by Native Americans. The steps’ steep incline makes the 3.9-mile hike a moderately difficult challenge.

A map of the Indian Steps Trail can be obtained from the Mid State Trail Association

In addition to commenting on their favorite local hikes, Geduldig, Doebler, and Salter shared their gear recommendations.

Geduldig never hikes without her backpack, Nalgene, and Merrell boots. Doebler stated that walking sticks are a must-have for rocky trails. She added that while trusty shoes and appropriate clothing for the weather are essential, they don’t need to be an expensive brand name to be effective.

“Right now, I feel like the biggest concern is ticks, so always make sure you’re prepared to check for ticks,” Salter commented. “And also [bring] bug spray, and my family has these really hideous things called tick gators that are bright green but work really well to keep ticks away, so I recommend that.”

With the current tick-borne disease problem facing Centre County, Salter’s input is especially relevant. To reduce one’s chances of encountering disease-carrying ticks, the hikers advised staying on the trail, not wandering into tall grass and weeds, and using permethrin spray. Permethrin can be sprayed on socks and pants to kill ticks that attempt to latch onto clothing. 

If ticks attach themselves to hikers, they should be removed as soon as they’re spotted. Some diseases can be transmitted from ticks in as little as 15 minutes. Information on removing ticks can be found here. Learn about managing the risk of ticks here to safely enjoy time in nature.

Geduldig, Salter, and Doebler concluded with their advice to others interested in traversing the trails. 

“Just embrace nature; enjoy the beauty of it. Get out there,” Geduldig encouraged.

Salter mentioned some practical tips.

“Be safe,” Salter advised. “You can hike alone because it’s pretty safe, but know where you’re hiking. Bring a map. Bring water—you don’t want to forget water. And have fun!”

Doebler stressed the value and simplicity of escaping everyday life and seeking nature.

“Find someone you want to hang out with. Find a trail that’s not too far away. You don’t need a lot of stuff or a lot of experience. Just go out and get away from school, or work, or social media, or whatever it is that’s distracting you,” Doebler said.