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Trail Construction is Underway for RTA's Musser Gap Project

By Terri Rudy


Happy Valley is home to many outdoor enthusiasts like hikers, mountain bikers, trail runners, equestrians, backpackers, and families. According to the Pennsylvania Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan, trails continue to direct the feedback provided on how to improve outdoor recreation in the state. It is no surprise that our community is backing the efforts of the Rothrock Trail Alliance (RTA) and the Rothrock State Forest Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to enhance the trail system in Rothrock State Forest.


A process is currently underway to begin the construction of a 7-mile-long trail in Musser Gap that will extend into the Hubler Gap area of Rothrock State Forest. Future proposed construction will carry users through trails in Centre and Huntingdon counties and create connections to other areas in the Rothrock State Forest including Shingletown Gap, Bald Knob Trail, Tussey Mountain Trail, Mid State Trail, Galbraith Gap, and Whipple Dam State Park.  


“These new, sustainable multi-use trails will serve to further enhance our already world-class outdoor recreational assets,” said Fritz Smith, President and CEO of The Happy Valley Adventure Bureau (HVAB), the official destination marketing organization for Centre County. “This project provides tremendous benefit to community quality of life for those who call Happy Valley and the region home, and to the local tourism economy, as our visitors seek opportunities to be outside and appreciate nature.”


Funding received from the HVAB’s annual tourism grant program assisted with the design of the 53-mile trail project. Additionally, the Chamber of Business & Industry of Centre County (CBICC) and HVAB are partnering to make a $50,000 contribution for the next 11-mile phase of the project.

Outdoor recreational opportunities such as the multi-use trail system in Rothrock, have many benefits to the surrounding communities and organizations. These benefits include increased tourism locally for individuals to recreate, new businesses established to promote goods and services targeting outdoor recreation opportunities, and the attraction of new residents and workers creating a more diverse community. These expanded opportunities also provide individuals who currently reside in the community with the advantage to engage in outdoor recreation and physical activity that can positively impact their own and their family member’s health and well-being.   


“The Rothrock trail project is a fitting initiative for joint support from our two organizations,” Smith said. “It is satisfying to know that a lasting legacy of outdoor recreation in beautiful Rothrock State Forest is being created through a collaborative effort between the state and local groups.”


CBICC President and CEO Greg Scott said the new trails would not only enrich the quality of life for our residents but also strengthen efforts in attracting and retaining employment in Centre County. “Prospective and current employees will have even more reasons to live and work in our vibrant community,” Scott said.


Rothrock Trail Alliance (RTA), a committee under Clearwater Conservancy, is excited that this project is bringing together a wide range of groups and organizations offering their support for the expansion and sustainable modification of existing trail infrastructure.  


“RTA is proud to lead the community with this valuable, responsible project to improve the area's quality of living, to create sustainable trails for generations to come, and to enhance the economics of the region,” said Jay Ziegler, President of the RTA. “We are excited with the support we received from the community in such a short time. The HVAB, CBICC, businesses, and members of the community have all recognized the importance of this local trail project."


For those interested in learning more about RTA’s efforts, you can read more here.


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