Discovering Penn State’s Trails This Fall

Photo by Jared Yarnall-Schane.

Here at Penn State we sometimes get a bum rap for our long and arduous winters. A looming grey sky that seems to go on for months, it almost makes us forget about how gorgeous the fall foliage in our local area can be … almost. State College is home to countless woodland areas, from Mount Nittany right at our doorstep, to the hundreds of thousands of acres that outstretch Rothrock State Forrest a small drive away. The beauty of the autumn vegetation allows us for not only incredible views, but a way to reset and de-stress ourselves for the semester up ahead.

With every coming school year, gym memberships skyrocket throughout campus. The IM Building becomes the mecca of sweaty workout clothes, self-judgement and the realization that even badminton has a waiting line. That’s why this fall, VALLEY implores you to try slipping your old trainers on and hit the trails running.

What do you need?

Like everything, there’s an app for that. Strava is perhaps the best GPS plug-in available for any kind of workout, be it run, bike or swim. You’re able to constantly track your pace and distance and map out endless numbers of trails to always stay as precise as possible, with the best part of it all having to be the “segments” feature. This allows for notable parts of any course to be recorded by community members and uploaded into the trails database, so if you happen to be out alone, you’ll find plenty of paths ran by fellow Penn State students to keep you exploring in areas that are known to be safe and runner-friendly.

Breathable clothes are a MUST. There is no need to buy any high-end gear when starting off, but that said, try to avoid throwing on a cotton shirt at all costs. Is it doable? Yes. Will you be as comfortable after? Probably not.

Water should not come as much of a surprise, just try to save most of it for the end of your run. As important as it is to stay hydrated before heading out, too much too soon will only lead to cramps.

Lastly, and perhaps most notably, a positive mindset. It can be so easy to get down on yourself when going for a run. Maybe you think your form looks funny, or your calf isn’t feeling one hundred percent, or possibly it really just isn’t your day. That’s okay! It is important to listen to your body and know when to stop, but keeping a positive outlook on the activity at hand will always help push you that extra mile, eliminating those minor issues that happen to everyone who’s ever laced up a pair of running shoes before.

Some Top Trails

Photo by Timothy Gleason.

Shingletown Gap

Features a lovely river that runs side by side to the main flat trail. As well as an alternate route that leads to quaint vistas upon Tussey’s mountain range.

Indian Steps to Tussey (Rothrock)

Some of the best foliage one can take in around the Penn State area. At times steep, the views are well worth it. To also be enjoyed with a post-run coffee at the wonderful Rothrock Café!

Photo from

Mount Nittany Loop

Of course! Something I believe every Penn State student or alumna should visit no matter what. Always filled with friendly people and frequent hikers, and rich history. This very hilly course offers challenge to even the most in shape athletes. Simply walking this one is a good workout in and of itself!





Hiked it, Liked it: Five Best Hikes Near State College

Mixing It Up: Trail Mix Edition

Here’s Where You Should be Running this Fall

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