August 21, 2017 5 min read

Outdoor recreation in the forest can sometimes feel intimidating, and it is often not advisable for one to adventure alone. This is especially true if you are just learning an area or starting out in a new outdoor activity.  

Since it can be difficult to find new trails or find friends available and willing to explore the outdoors, we’ve compiled a list of many of the weekly group events in the Central PA region that will keep you as busy as you want to be enjoying the fantastic outdoor recreation in the region.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it does highlight a large array of options and gives a good idea of where to look for similar groups wherever you may find yourself.

Rothrock Trailhead Sign: Rothrock State Forest Pennsylvania

A lot of the events listed below take place in Rothrock State Forest or Bald Eagle State Forest, during the evenings of the warmer seasons of the year. Most bicycle events require a helmet, water, appropriate footwear, and lighting. Hiking events require much of the same…except the helmet… 

Getting Started: Keeping it Fun

Group events can be great starting point for those looking to become more familiar with outdoor recreation in the area.

Almost all of the events listed below are considered ‘beginner’ or ‘no-drop’ outings. This means adventurers shouldn’t worry about being left behind or feeling like they are slowing down the pace. The point of most of these events is enjoying the journey. The relaxed outing pace affords participants the time and energy to meet each other and the opportunity to possibly schedule separate events in the future.

Group Mountain Bike Ride: Rothrock State Forest

Beginner Hikes, Rides and Runs

The Bicycle Shop in State College hosts a Women’s Mountain Bike Ride every Tuesday at 5:30PM in Rothrock State Forest. Weekly location announced on Facebook. Front suspension mountain bike strongly recommended.

Local outing club, R.V.O.C, offers easy hikes every Tuesday, beginning at 6PM. Locations vary.

Rothrock View

Group Kayaking and Canoeing on Spring Creek Canyon happens every Tuesday evening around 5:30 at Sunnyside Park near Tussey Mountain Outfitters in Bellefonte. This Happy Hour paddle takes out downstream at Milesburg.

Freeze Thaw Cycles in State College offers a Gravel Bike Ride every Wednesday at 7PM in Rothrock State Forest at Galbraith Gap Lot. During the cold season, this ride stays in town and begins in the parking lot behind TGI Fridays on N. Atherton Street. Bring headlights and expect to be out until after 9pm.

Rothrock Group Ride

Local mountain biking club, N.M.B.A., offers a No-Drop Ride every Thursday at 6PM at Galbraith Gap Lot in Rothrock State Forest. Contact:

State College Cycling Club offers a beginner road ride every Thursday at 6PM (June-August) beginning at Haymarket Park. 

The Bicycle Shop in State College hosts a Lunch Road Ride every Friday at 12:05PM from the shop. 

Nittany Valley Running Club offers group runs on local roads and trails multiple days every week. This group also helps with the annual Tussey MOUnTaiNBACK Race, which is directed by Mike Casper. This race offers monthly Tussey Teaser runs and Discovery Training Series runs before the main event: a 50-mile race every October.

Group Hike

The Sierra Club Moshannon Chapter posts group outings on Facebook.

Trail Markers Rothrock

Meetup is an online resource with multiple local outdoor groups including Women’s Adventure Club of Centre County, State College Explorers, State College SUP Board Group, and more…

Group Hike Rothrock

Looking for other group events? Don't forget to check out the calendars at all of the wonderful State Parks in our area! DCNR hosts a plethora of activities at each park listed below; some parks host activities year-round! Links below for a small sample of state parks in Central PA:

Bald Eagle State ParkBlack Moshannon State ParkGreenwood Furnace State Park, Parker Dam State ParkPoe Valley State Park

Hike Central PA

Of course, Universities often have organized outing clubs for affiliated students and staff, and Penn State is no exception. The Penn State Outing Club (PSOC) used to host over 30 trips per year and was open to any student, faculty, or staff member of PSU. Penn State Adventure Recreation now leads group adventures for any student, faculty, or staff member of PSU. Stone Valley Recreation Area and Shaver's Creek Environmental Center also host various group outings that are open to the general public in and near Rothrock State Forest. 

Intermediate Group Activities

The Bicycle Shop Intermediate Mountain Bike Ride every Tuesday at 5:30PM in Rothrock State Forest. Weekly location announced on facebook. 

State College Cycling Club offers intermediate-expert road rides every Tuesday at 5:30PM or 6PM (seasonal). Location varies throughout State College.

Freeze Thaw Cycles in State College offers a Spring Creek Canyon Ride every 1st and 3rd Thursday at 7PM. Meet in the parking lot behing TGI Fridays on N. Atherton St. Bring headlamps and prepare to ride 20+ miles.

Tandem Bike on a Group Ride

Nittany Valley Running Club offers longer Saturday group runs on roads and forests in our area. 

All of the events listed above are open to all genders.  But sometimes women prefer to adventure together, so there are also some local group events geared especially for women. 

Women’s Specific Adventures

Women's Adventure Club of Centre County Group Ride

A local meetup group. Women’s Adventure Club of Centre County, offers a wide array of activities for women interested in outdoor recreation.

The Bicycle Shop in State College hosts a Women’s Mountain Bike Ride every Tuesday at 5:30PM in Rothrock State Forest. Weekly location announced on Facebook. Front suspension mountain bike required.

Work with a Group: Trail Maintenance Opportunities

Looking for a good workout and some camaraderie with others who love the trails? Try joining a trail maintenance crew.  Trail maintenance can be just as satisfying as trail exploration! Put your hands and skills to use in the forest. Trail work can be difficult, and is made easier with group effort. Clubs listed below conduct much of the volunteer trail work in our area. These groups are always on the lookout for good help, too.

Friends of Rothrock

Nittany Mountain Biking Association (NMBA)

Keystone Trails Association (KTA)

Mid State Trail Association (MSTA) contact

Nittany Valley Running Club (NVRC)

Group Clinics

If you've read through this whole blog and still aren't quite ready to leap into PA forests, you may want to consider getting your feet wet figuratively by visiting some speaking events where you can learn from other adventurers. Appalachian Outdoors, which hosts many speaking events including Free University discussions twice a month, featuring lots of topics relevant to outdoor recreation in the area. 

Appalachian Outdoors Free U

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