Cooper's Gap Tour

An classic tour of Rothrock's best mountain biking trails at Cooper's Gap.

Mountain Biking Moderate

Distance
21 km
Ascent
559 m
Descent
559 m
Duration
1-2 hrs
Low Point
348 m
High Point
708 m
Gradient
13˚
Cooper's Gap Tour Map

Other than the acclaimed Allegrippis Trails at Raystown Lake, Coopers Gap is one of the go-to mountain biking destinations in central PA. Less technical than most of Rothrock, you'll enjoy short and punchy climbs, fast and narrow singletrack, and mellow terrain that'll have you begging for more by the end of your ride! Portions of this route also follow an IMBA Epic Route, a designation titled to some of the best mountain biking trails across the country.

Description

If you're wondering what kind of bike you need for this ride, there is no wrong answer. Hardtail, full-suspension, fat bike, or even a single-speed can all have their share of fun in Coopers Gap, though the latter might require you to push your bike up trails like Peep and Deer Tick. The trails also tend to hold up well to rain, though you should still give the area time to dry after a heavy downpour. The freeze-thaw cycles in the winter and spring can also produce muddy patches along the way, especially on Sassafrass.

There are tons of ways to access Coopers Gap, but the most foolproof is to take US-322 east from State College towards Milroy. Exit for Old US-322, turn right, then take Woodland Road to Coopers Gap. This route is mapped where Shittaka trail crosses the dirt road, but there are plenty of other options for parking along the loop. Though the road is unpaved, high-clearance or 4wd is not necessary.

Of the other need to know items, there are no restrooms or water in the area, or at any of the trailheads. Cell reception is also very limited, so download the map to your phone or GPS device beforehand to make sure you know where you're going. Hunting is also allowed through different parts of the year, so consider wearing blaze orange in the fall and winter and contact Rothrock SF if you're curious whether you're in the middle of a particular hunting season.

As this ride can be difficult to navigate and cell reception is limited, the route is as follows: Shittaka -> Deer Tick -> Beautiful -> Chicken Peter -> Peep -> Kettle Rd. -> Sassafrass -> Sass-xx -> Coopers Gap Rd.

Sources: https://pahikes.com/blogs/rothrock-state-forest/hiking-the-mountain-bike-trails-of-coopers-gap

Difficulty

Moderate

Mostly stable trail tread with some variability, with unavoidable obstacles 8in/20cm tall or less. Other obstacles such as rock gullies and steep sections may exist. Ideal for lower intermediate riders.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.

Remoteness

3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November

Features

  • Flow
  • Technical
  • Hike a bike
  • Picturesque
  • Singletrack
  • In the forest
  • Road sections
  • Roots
  • Rock Gardens

Guidebooks in this area