Rothrock Trail Alliance is developing multi-use trails in Musser Gap, close to State College on route 45 between Boalsburg and Pine Grove Mills. Most of these trails–and more miles to come–are open to horse riding, and should eventually offer horse riding trails over the mountain to Whipple Dam state park.

Beautiful and rugged mountain trails are mostly open to horses… may have considerable traffic at peak times! Expect rocks and single file.


There is a fair size gravel parking lot on SR 45 between Boalsburg and Pine Grove Mills. The turn into it is quite sharp for a horse trailer if you are coming west on route 45.

Because it’s so close to State College, the parking lot gets quite full on nice days. You can easily find your horse trailer parked in by cars driven by people who have never seen a horse. We suggest you turn around when you get there and make sure you can pull straight out when you leave.

There is a brand new (March 2024) restroom, but when we visited on a 65 degree day it was locked tight. Convenient. There are a few picnic tables and some grassy areas suitable for grazing next to the lot.

Trail Overview

Waymarked Trails: Musser Gap

Map of horse trails at Musser Gap near State College, Pennsylvania
Overview map of Musser Gap trails open to horse riding (click for live map)

Trail Descriptions

For nearly the first mile, Musser Gap trail is an old farm road along a fence line, surfaced with gravel. It does have ups and downs. There are former meadows along it for grazing, then it heads into woods and wetlands. There are 3 stream crossings in this section; recent rain will determine how significant they are. None are deep, but they may get feet wet.

Note these stream crossings have remains of “chicken wire” type steel mesh which was an attempt at concreting the crossings. This could be a hazard for horses (especially with shoes), so use some caution. We hope RTA will get this removed!

At about 0.9 miles you meet Frog Hollow Trail, which crosses a wooden bridge to the right. That trail is not intended for horses. Although a bit rocky, this is a good spot to offer your horse a drink in preparation for phase 2.

From this point on, Musser Gap trail turns into a real trail ride! The trail is steep, narrow, rocky, winding. Segments are probably 20%+ slope. It’s hard to imagine you are only a few miles outside of State College; this feels like a true mountain ride and demonstrates just how rugged Pennsylvania mountains can be.

At 1.1 miles there is a stream crossing which utilizes a narrow bridge made from a large flat rock. Crossing that on a horse may not be a great idea. You can ford the stream on either side of the bridge and it’s not too bad.

After that, you are on to another steep and narrow (single file) climb along the face of the hill. The area is mostly hemlocks, and you can hear the stream cascading down the mountain as you climb above it.

About 1.5 miles in, the trail levels out at a junction which offers several potential routes. We went a short way north to do another water crossing which was fairly wide. This stream appeared pretty intermittent, but it’s hard to tell.

It was our original intention to continue north on Mountain Mist trail then do Huckleberry loop out to Lion’s Valley vista. After 1.5 miles of significant climbing, we thought that was enough for an early season trek! We will be back to explore more of this beautiful and challenging trail network.

Note that Musser Gap Greenway from the parking area across Rt 45 is not open to horses.

Graphhopper live map of trail to vista

Dealing with Other Trail Users

Be warned, these trails are pretty heavily used, and most of the users seem totally unaware that horses exist and thus have no idea how to behave around them. The people we talked to said they had never seen a horse here before. There will probably be lots of kids and dogs.

We pulled off to let one young woman blast past us on a mountain bike on the way up (how is that possible, anyway?). Coming down, she must have trailed us for some distance (neither my horse nor I knew she was there), but she never called out to pass us or alert us to her presence.

With limited visibility of the steep, narrow, twisty trail, you might be surprised by a mountain biker flying around a turn at you. Maybe if users start seeing horses here it will register with them that they also have a responsibility to keep their mounts under control at all times.

Insect Vermin

Unfortunately, after a very mild winter, ticks were already bad in mid-March 2024. After grazing at various spots along the trail, we repeatedly had to pick ticks off muzzles. We suggest you use repellent spray and check yourself and your horse carefully after riding here.