Description - The Appalachian Trail is a footpath of more than 2,150 miles with 222 miles lying in Pennsylvania. In 1921, U.S. Forest Service planner, Benton MacKaye wrote a magazine article suggesting a trail be established to connect Mount Washington in New Hampshire to Mount Mitchell in North Carolina. As a result, in 1925 the Appalachian Trail Conference chose the exact path, flagged the path, built various sections, including shelters, bridges and steps. They even wrote guidebooks to aid the hiker and backpacker. In 1968, Congress passed the National Trails System Act, making the A.T. and the Pacific Crest Trail (a Canada to Mexico path) the first National Scenic Trails. Today there are ten clubs in Virginia that help maintain the trail which now extends from Mount Katahdin, Maine to Springer Mountain, Georgia.
- The white-blazed Appalachian Trail (A.T.) passes through 14 states, 8 national forests, 2 national parks and numerous state parks. The Pennsylvania section of the A.T. spans from Pen Mar, Maryland to Delaware Water Gap for a length of 222 miles.
Pen Mar is a tiny burg found on the Maryland and Pennsylvania state line. Just east of Waynesboro, PA it lies along Falls Creek within South Mountain. The trail heads north brushing Buena Vista Springs, crossing Red Run and on up into Michaux State Forest. Traveling at an elevation of approximately 500 feet, the trail parallels Chimney Rock Road for a few miles before reaching Snow Mountain Tower Road. From this location, the trail follows Rocky Mountain Creek for about 1 mile then turns south and back north again, all within a mile or so.
In the Monalto Mountain,a small range visible to the west, as you hike the rolling hills of Rocky Mountain, you will come to Caledonia State Park. Here you may find overnight camping, fresh drinking water and hot showers. Leaving Caledonia, the trail remains within Michaux State Forest for approximately another 40 miles.
Traveling in a northeasterly direction about 20 miles from Caledonia is another state park, Pine Grove Furnace. Once again, camping, drinking water and hot showers are available. This area is known for its great trout fishing. The Commonwealth stocks Mountain Creek on a regular basis. The trail descends in the area of Hunters Run to an elevation of 250 feet. This is where you will cross SR 34 then SR 94.
Within 15 miles or so you'll be leaving Michaux State Forest and traveling over private lands to reach the small towns of Allenberry then Hickorytown. Three major roadways will be negotiated, I-76 (PA Turnpike), US 11 and I-81. About 6 miles north, the trail enters State Game Lands No. 170 within the Blue Mountain Range. The A.T. crosses Trout Run, Fishing Run and SR 850 heading due north. The State Game Lands carry you to the town of Duncannon, where you will hike through the town and reach the confluence of Juniata River and Susquehanna River. Here you cross a bridge heading south along Susquehanna River before heading northeast onto Peters Mountain.
The trail travels Peters Mountain for about 18 miles before heading south a mile or so then back east along Stony Mountain. At this point, the trail is within State Game Lands No. 211. Trout fishing may be found along Rausch Creek and Stony Creek. The trail heads south to reach SR 443 which offers access to Trout Run. From here, the trail enters Swatara State Park which is presently underdevelopment.
Traveling at an elevation of approximately 250 feet, the trail is now within State Game Lands No. 80, which is part of Little Mountain. The trail heads east onto Blue Mountain crossing SR 61 and Schuylkill River before reaching Furnace Creek. After crossing Furnace Creek, the trail weaves west then back east approximately 4 times all the while staying within the State Game Lands. The trail straightens back out in a gradual northeast direction crossing over SR 309 and I-476.
There is approximately 20 miles of lower mountainous travel and very few creeks between the two roads. The next major waterway is Leigh River at the small town of Weiders Crossing. The trail continues in a gradual northeasterly direction along Blue Mountain. This is a popular area for downhill skiing. From this area the trail takes a more distinct route north onto Kittatinny Mountain. The mountain carries you to the Pennsylvania terminus at Delaware Water Gap, just south of East Stroudsburg.
Recreation - The A.T. passes through Michaux State Forest, Caledonia State Park, Pine Grove Furnace State Park, Swatara State Park, Buchanan State Forest, Cowans Gap State Park, Delaware State Forest, Tuscarora State Forest and Weiser State Forest. Day and overnight hikes are possible. Trail amenities include: trout fishing, camping, picnicking, wildlife viewing, overlooks and more.
Climate - Pennsylvania's summer is usually hot and humid often extending from late May into September. Expect temperatures in the southeastern part of the state to reach 90 degrees F. The averages range in the high 70's. Summer lows usually don't dip below 60 degrees F.
Winter temperatures average between 25 degrees and 45 degrees F in southeastern Pennsylvania. The mountains receive colder temperatures that average between -10 degrees and 35 degrees F. Spring and fall are excellent times to visit the state as temperatures are mild with little humidity. Spring brings a variety of wildflowers and shrubs into bloom and fall color displays of deciduous trees draw many to the forests of the state.
The Appalachian Trail enters Pennsylvania just north of Pen Mar, Maryland and exits at Delaware Water Gap, just south of East Stroudsburg. The 222 mile trail within the Pennsylvania state lines offers hundreds of access points. Many of these points are within the boundaries of Caledonia State Park, Pine Grove Furnace State Park and Swatara State Park. The State Parks offer overnight parking. Please inform park staff. Parking is also available within the Michaux State Forest.