How to Enjoy the Outdoors in Happy Valley This Summer

– by Anna Cook

With 750,000 acres of public land in Happy Valley there is no shortage of opportunity to enjoy the outdoors. From hiking to biking to relaxing in a park, there’s something that fits your adventure level here.

Anna Cook Hiking Overlook 2

- Photo courtesy of Anna Cook

Rothrock State Forest and Mount Nittany are iconic places to hike in the area but don’t forget about the nearby state parks either.

Local parks offer easily accessible opportunities to enjoy the warm weather and sunshine by laying out a blanket and having a picnic or taking a leisurely stroll.

Outdoor patios of restaurants and craft beverage producers also welcome you to grab a drink or delicious meal and enjoy the season.

Here are just a few places you can enjoy the outdoors in Happy Valley!

Mid State Trail in Rothrock State Forest 3694

Rothrock State Forest

Rothrock is one of the go-to spots in the area for great hikes and mountain biking trails. If you’re hiking, make sure you have sturdy footwear as the trails are very rocky!

Some of the most popular hikes in this state forest are the Thousand Steps Trail, Colyer Lake Loop, Little Flat Fire Tower, and Shingletown Gap.

If you are a mountain biker then you’ll be in heaven at Rothrock. Trails range from beginner to advanced so be sure to do your research on trail difficulty before visiting.

State College is located just minutes from Rothrock which means you can have an adventurous hike and then come back into town and enjoy the amazing restaurants and other amenities here.

Summer_Mount nittany looking over

Mount Nittany

Designated as the most popular hike near State College on AllTrails, this one is a can’t-miss when you’re in the area.

The entire loop is about five miles and rated as moderate but you can also hike up via the white blazed trail to the Mike Lynch Overlook and head back down the way you came. This option is about 1.4 miles and rated moderate as well.

It’s such an iconic trail because of the stunning view over State College and Penn State from the Mike Lynch Overlook.

Since it’s so popular, you’ll want to arrive early as parking fills up quickly, especially on weekends!

Water Anna Cook

- Photo taken by Anna Cook

Bald Eagle State Park

Bald Eagle State Park is the perfect place to get out on the water whether that’s on a motorized boat, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard.

If you’re in a kayak or SUP, then Bullit Run is a gorgeous place to put in and paddle around. Keep your eyes open for bald eagles in the area!

Bald Eagle is also the only state park in Pennsylvania that has a lodge. The Nature Inn is a stunning property with beautiful views of the lake and top-notch amenities.

There is also a beach at Bald Eagle State Park where you can enjoy lounging on the sand or swimming in the lake.

At sunset, stop at one of the lake overlooks for a stunning show as the sky changes colors behind the mountains.

Black Moshannon Lake Philipsburg

Black Moshannon State Park

One of the most beautiful state parks in the area, Black Moshannon offers plenty of different ways to enjoy the gorgeous scenery.

Hike on the many trails here, rent a boat and get out on the water, swim or fish in the lake, or you can even mountain bike!

There are 20 miles of trails within the state park and you can also access the Allegheny Front Trail, which is one of the most popular thru-hiking trails in central Pennsylvania.

The Bog Trail is short but beautiful and you’ll see lots of wildlife if you come early or visit around dusk. Boat rentals are available seasonally if you aren’t able to bring your own.

Anna Cook Penns Cave House

- Photo taken by Anna Cook

This is a unique way to get outdoors in central PA and is great for kids and adults alike!

Instead of walking through this cave, you take a tour by boat on the river that helped carve it out. On the tour, you’ll learn how the cave was formed, a bit about the history, and some fun facts along the way.

You can also tour the Wildlife Park via bus where you’ll see animals like elk, black bears, red & silver foxes, and more. This tour also includes a walk through the natural butterfly garden which is most alive in the spring.

Anna Cook Walk in Tallyrand

- Photo courtesy of Anna Cook

Talleyrand Park

Talleyrand is a quiant park in the heart of downtown Bellefonte which is an adorable little town, full of Victorian-era architecture.

Running right through the park you’ll find Spring Creek and on nice days there can be fly fishermen wading here in search of trout.

This is also one of the top places in the area to walk or have a picnic, as there are tables right by the creek. Just beware of the ducks! It’s illegal to feed them.

Towering white willows arch over Spring Creek and set an incredibly romantic scene. Don’t miss the edible landscape & pollinator garden and the George Grey Barnard Sculpture Garden either.

Robin Hood Brewing Company

- Photo courtesy of Robin Hood Brewing Company

Central PA Tasting Trail

One of my personal favorite ways to enjoy the outdoors is from an outdoor patio. Many places on the Central PA Tasting Trail, have gorgeous outdoor spaces that are perfect for beautiful summer days.

Places like Big Spring Spirits sit right beside Talleyrand Park or Mount Nittany Vineyard & Winery has picnic tables around their beautiful pond. Make sure to make a reservation in advance as the spots fill up fast.

Otto’s Brewery and Pub also has a nice outdoor patio where you can enjoy a meal with one of their house-made brews.

Harvest fields john Balogh

Harvest Fields Skills Park

Want to get into a new hobby this summer? Why not try mountain biking? Located in Boalsburg, Harvest Fields Skills Park is where you can practice your skills on wooden, earth, and rock features before getting out on other trails in the area.

You’ll find wide and easy trails here as well as difficult trails with more rocks and obstacles so you can build your confidence and riding skills no matter what level you’re at.

If you want to rent a bike, then you can do so at State College Bike Company in State College or Rothrock Outfitters in Huntingdon.

Arboretum flowers

The Arboretum at Penn State

If you aren’t looking to do anything strenuous but love flowers then you must visit The Arboretum at Penn State!

The H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens is the most visited area of the Arboretum and where you’ll find unique installations and a variety of garden types. If you’re looking for something a bit more “wild”, then take a walk through Hartley Wood - especially the Gerhold Wildflower Trail.

The Arboretum also holds a variety of events through the summer like their Music in the Gardens and Stories Under the Sky.

Mens golf2

Golfers of all skill levels can find a great place to hit the links in State College. Penn State boasts two challenging courses, the Blue and the White course, with beautiful landscapes and unique layouts.

The Blue Course is a great option for any golfer and the White Course offers a challenge as it was designed by World Golf Hall of Famer Willie Park Jr.

The Walker Clubhouse has everything you might need for a full day of golf. Grab any gear you need at the Golf Shop or have a meal or snack at The Nineteenth Hole Cafe.

Anna Cook in Bald Eagle State Park

Anna is a travel blogger and photographer at Stuck On The Go where she loves writing about outdoor adventure and small town USA. She created her blog to help busy people incorporate more adventures into their lives and inspire them to try new things - even if it's scary. She is based in North Carolina with her husband and German Shepherd who often tag along on weekend trips but she's known to take off on long solo road trips often.

Read more of Anna's Happy Valley articles!

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