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Happy Valley’s Best Running & Hiking Routes Not Named Mount Nittany

Now that students have been cooped up in their dorms or apartments for the better part of the last month, they’re probably itching for some socially distanced adventures out in the real world. Most of the time, that means a quick foray up the steep slopes of Mount Nittany.

While Mount Nittany has a lot to offer when it comes to beautiful views, there are so many alternatives around State College. We decided to spark your imagination when planning your next hike, run, or trip outside.

Hubler Gap Vista

Hubler Gap Vista is tough to reach, but it’s well worth the trip.

Begin at the Musser Gap Trailhead in nearby Shingletown, which is about a 4-mile drive from downtown State College. Then, hike up Musser Gap Trail, a wide gravel path that gets steep at times.

After a little more than a mile, you’ll reach the dirt access road that follows the telephone wires. The road can get you to many other places on the mountain, but the best view still lies ahead.

Cross the dirt road and make your way up the final stretch of the Musser Gap Trail. The top section is a quarter-mile of basically climbing over rocks, and at some points, the trail disappears. Follow the markings on the trees, and you will connect to Mid State Trail, where the Hubler Gap Vista lies.

Believe me, it’s worth the view.

We don’t recommend hiking this route alone, and definitely have a charged phone for directions! This route is more of a day-long hike. The view is south-facing, so don’t expect a glorious sunset.

There are many other trails that lead off of the Musser Gap Trail, so feel free to explore everything the route has to offer!

Ironstone Trail Loop

Further southwest of Shingletown, Lake Perez offers some good areas for adventure.

Trails in this area tend to be a little less maintained but offer great scenery. The Ironstone Loop is a common two-day backpacking loop that can offer amazing vistas during the hike. Only attempt the Ironstone Loop if you are experienced since it includes portions such as the Indian Steps, which are steep sections of trail that can be in excess of a 20% gradient.

Courtesy of purplelizard.com

The Ironstone Loop is typically started at Jo Hays Vista and is hiked counterclockwise. Take the Mid State Trail to the Indian Steps, where you will descend to Lake Perez on Ironstone Trail. Then you will begin the ascent all the way back to Jo Hays Vista on Ironstone, a rigorous yet rewarding excursion.

If you have the time, make sure to take a break at the lake.

Lake Perez

Most trails in the region lead to Lake Perez, a small yet scenic hidden gem. If you don’t want to spend the whole weekend on back-breaking inclines, we recommend taking a day trip to the lake, where you can circumnavigate it using the 2.5-mile Lake Trail.

For more information on the Lake Perez area, check out the Penn State Student Affairs’ page on the region.

Other Spots To Consider

If you are up for a drive, we recommend exploring Bald Eagle State Park. The nearly 6,000 acres of beautiful forest lies just a half-hour east of State College and contains the scenic Foster Scenic Joseph Reservoir. There are many areas to hike and run, as well as swim, making the state park a perfect weekend getaway with friends.

If you don’t want to make the trek to Bald Eagle, you can start at Tussey Mountain and make your way to Bald Knob as well as many other destinations in that area.


While we continue to wait on Penn State football to make a comeback, what else do you have to do on a Saturday? Get outside! Have fun, be safe, and don’t forget to stay hydrated while enjoying the Centre County nature.

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About the Author

Otis Lyons

Otis is a sophomore majoring in print journalism. He lives just outside of San Francisco, and is a diehard San Jose Earthquakes fan. Unfortunately, that means a lot of sadness. Feel free to send over your soccer hot takes to his twitter @otisnlyons1 and instagram @otislyons

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