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Pennsylvania Hiking Trail Finder
This site is designed to provide organized access to informative Pennsylvania hiking and backpacking websites. Hiking enthusiasts like you have created excellent web pages on Pennsylvania hiking trails -- then posted those pages on free web servers -- only to be ignored by search engines. The purpose of this site is to provide a way to find these personal hiking pages, and make your research easier.
- Allegheny Front Trail The AFT is a newly-opened Pennsylvania hiking trail that encircles Black Moshannon State Park. While currently being plotted using GPS equipment, the estimated length of the trail is 40 miles. Under construction since late 1995, the AFT traverses some rocky, rugged portions of the Allegheny Plateau, passes along five different mountain trout streams and the Moshannon Creek, and includes 11 viewpoints along its circuit.
- Allegheny Portage Railroad NHS This isn't a trail, exactly, but it has a couple of short, charming (if somewhat knee-popping) trails that retrace the portage. Otherwise, it's an absolutely fabulous place to visit. Here's a semi-useful National Park page.
- Allentown Hiking Club the aspiration of this club is to escape the crowded city; to walk, hike and climb for enjoyment and exercise with nature loving companions; to maintain its section of the Appalachian Trail.
- Appalachian Trail personal journal by a Pennsylania local, Bob Wardecker, on trailjournals.com.
- Appalachian Trail site has divided the Pennsylvania Appalachian Trail into the 14 sections as defined in The Appalachian Trail Guide - Pennsylvania to help you find the area that you are seeking quickly. Excellent list of parking areas; indispensible for the true slackpacker. Five-star site by Cyndi & David Rohland.
- Baker Trail is a 141-mile hiking and backpacking trail, following forest paths, old jeep trails and dirt roads through woods, farmlands, along rivers and creeks.
- Black Moshannon State Park official site;scroll down for a well done table of trails with descriptions.
- Central Pennsy Growing site with a few hikes in north-central and central region; excellent narrative pages with directions, description, photos, and topo maps. PAhikes.com site by Scott Adams.
- Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area page by the National Park Service outlining the hikes on the Pennsylvania side of the river. Clearly the various waterfall sites -- Dingmans, George W. Childs area, etc -- are the best sightseeing, although the hiking trails tend to be short. This page has brief descriptions and links to maps, trail maps, and various lengthier trail descriptions. An important page to know in this region.
- Delaware Water Gap NRA - Raymondskill Falls Not exactly a "hike," perhaps if you string all the trails and shorts together, you might get a mile out of it. We include this link because it does a great job of describing Raymondskill Falls, a series of cascades a few miles south of Milford. Includes directions and photos. If you know the area at all, you're probably familiar with Bushkill Falls and Dingmans Falls, but many people feel that Raymondskill Falls are the most spectacular.
- General -- Keystone Trails Association here's a federation of individuals and organizations dedicated to providing, preserving, protecting and promoting recreational hiking opportunities in Pennsylvania. PRetty cool, huh? KTA builds and maintains trails, advocates trail protection, land acquisition, all that sort of stuff. Good group; if you hike in Pennsy you ought to get to know the KTA.
- Golden Eagle Trail terrific ridgeline trail with outstanding views near Cammal, central PA. Well done narrative with photos and topo map on PAhikes.com
- Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania Actually, Pine Creek Gorge; here's a page about hiking the West Rim, with photos, info, and a fun to read journal on the perryzip.com website.
- Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania/Barbour Rock Nature Trail Brief description with a couple of photos on the Natural Born Hikers website.
- Great Allegheny Passage Trail linking Cumberland Md. to Pittsburgh; official site. Did you know that the G.A.P. Trail has been inducted in the Rails-to-Trails Hall of Fame? Did you know there was such a thing? Neither did I. In any case, this is a terrific route as old rail trails go; all sorts of history, tunnels, and funky trestles. Most importantly, it crosses the rugged Allegheny Mountains and Laurel Highlands without exceeding a grade of 1.5%! If you like hiking on the level, this is about as good as it gets.
- Harrisburg/South Central Pennsylvania Susquehanna Appalachian Trail Club maintains this site, which is chock full of information on the region. Maps, descriptions...much more that just AT info. This is a must-click if you live in the Harrisburg area.
- Holtwood Recreation Area site by Mike Juskelis on the MidAtlanticHikes.com website. Quite complete; you can't do a better hiking site than this one. Holtwood Recreation Area is on the banks of Lake Aldred on the Susquehanna River; hike reports include Kelly's Run/Pinnacle Overlook, Mason-Dixon Tr-Otter Creek Loop, Mason-Dixon Trail, and Conestoga Trail.
- Laurel Highlands Trail meanders for seventy miles atop Laurel Ridge over rugged sandstone formations, under deep hemlock cover, and along ledges high above the Youghigheny River. The LHT connects Ohiopyle State Park to the western extreme of the Conemaugh River Gorge, near Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
- Loyalsock Trail possibly the definitive site for this trail; excellent description, photos and links. From Al's hiking & climbing site.
- Mid State Trail A Three-Day Hike through Pennsylvania's Bald Eagle State Forest -- a slackpacker's dream (requires a car shuttle!) site by GORP.
- Michaux Forest site by Mike Juskelis (leads hikes for WV Highlands Conservancy) is about as in-depth as you can get -- topo maps, photos, hike profile, narratives, directions -- outstanding site. His Michaux Forest (near Gettysburg) hikes include Chimney Rocks, Caledonia State Park-Quarry Gap Circuit, AT/Sunset Rocks Circuit, Pole Steeple Circuit, King's Gap Loop, and other info. A must click. When you use this link, an interactive map will pop up; you might find it easier just to scroll down to the alpha listings. Either way will get you there.
- Old Logger's Path 3 day slackpack near Williamsport offering sweeping vistas and a bonafide ghost town in the Alleghenies.
- Pike County Region hiking trail page on the Pike County Chamber of Commerce website lists a dozen or so trails in the Milford area, including Raymondskill Falls, the Milford Glen, Delaware State Forest, and a few others. The descriptions aren't long, but there is enough information here to get you started.
- Pine Creek Gorge Also known as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania; here's a page about hiking the West Rim, with photos, info, and a fun to read journal on the perryzip.com website (link repeated from above).
- Presque Isle State Park This is the "recreation" page on the official state park website; scroll down a little for the hiking trail information. Presque Isle isn't particularly challenging even for us slackers; it's essentially flat and the trails are quite short. Yet the hiking is quite enjoyable. Good site to familiarize yourself with prior to a visit.
- Quehanna Trail Fun narrative on a Western PA group thru-hike with a humorous "kiss the blaze" angle. Good reading on the AdventureMatters.com site.
- Rachel Carson Trail and the Baker Trail are two of Western Pennsylvania's premier hiking trails, boasting miles of rugged, hilly terrain that challenge even the most seasoned hikers. This web site serves as a guide, with location, preservation, descriptions and other information.
- Rickett's Glen very nice ice climbing feature from Al's hiking & climbing site. Excellent photos.
- Schuykill River Trail This link goes the hiking page on the official website of The Schuylkill River National & State Heritage Area, which is a long name for a group of pretty cool people who are pretty serious about protecting the river. Which, by the way, is pronounced "Skoo-kill" -- unlike the Schuykill Expressway, which is pronounced "Sure-kill." (A little humor there. alright, I'll move on) Anyway, you've got quite a few trails happening here, including the AT, but the one we'll point you to is the Schuykill River Trail, which is a rather varied affair, but in general is a greenway type trails. Nice trail, recommended.
- Scranton Area This is the "Hike Northeast Pennsylvania" website by David C Doyle and Theresa Duick, and it covers quite a bit of territory throughout the Poconos/Endless Mountains regions and beyond. Plenty of hiking trails described, with some outstanding photos as well. Be sure to check this one out.
- Tioga State Forest -- Gillespie Point Nice descriptive hike narrative with photos and topo map of this scenic ridgeline route. Well done, well worth a click on the PAhikes.com site by Scott Adams.
- Valley Forge National Park Service website, use this link, then click on "hiking." Surprisingly long and scenic trails at this historic treasure.
A Commonwealth of Quirks
Despite the fact that some of the quietest, scenic, or geologically exciting spots in the Northeast U.S. are located in the Keystone State, the number one tourist attraction is an art museum in downtown Philadelphia. While this sounds inspiring at first, the sad truth is that fewer than 5% of those tourists actually go inside the museum. They simply want to see where Rocky Balboa climbed the steps in the Rocky movie. Forget the Picassos, Monets and Klees...where's the statue? Alas, it was simply a prop created by Hollywood for use in Rocky II, which now stands outside the Spectrum.
Once you finish the hike up the steps of the art museum -- and you're tired of skipping around with your fists held aloft --
Nature Walks Near Philadelphia: An AMC Nature Walks Book by Linda Shalaway & Scott Shalaway should prove helpful. You'll find these walks more fulfilling than the victory dance at the museum.
A friend of mine once bicycled across the USA in his youth, and I asked him which state was the most difficult. He immediately replied, "Pennsylvania!" It seemed the concentration of hills, folds, anticlines and what have you would never end. While the highest elevation in Pennsylvania is relatively mild at 3200 feet, the never-ending hill and valley topography arguably gives Pennsylvania the greatest variation in altitude per linear road mile of any state in the union.
Strangely enough, the most popular recreational mountains in Pennsylvania are not really "mountains" at all. The region known as the Pocono Mountains is actually a massive plateau that has been eroded in many places. Because so many people live in the eroded areas, they look up at the remaining plateau and see "mountains," while the people who live on top of the plateau are forever driving up and down a "mountain" to go anywhere. If you ever happen to be at a vantage point with a distant view of the Poconos, you will see that while definitely not mountains, it is a stunning example of plateau geology.
Lest the good people of the Poconos get too upset, I will report that these non-mountains provide some of the best hiking surprises in the Northeast. Ricketts Glen, on the western edge, is described in the link above and is widely regarded as a world-class natural area. To help you find other gems, I recommend either of two fine books:
50 Hikes in Eastern Pennsylvania: From the Mason-Dixon Line to the Poconos and North Mountains by Tom Thwaites, from the ubiquitous "50 Hikes" series, and
Great Hikes in the Poconos and Northeast Pennsylvania by Boyd Newman and Linda Newman, which gives a soup-to-nuts rundown for some 40 different trails. (I actually prefer this book, but the trails in the 50 Hikes book tend to be less known to the crowds).
Eastern PA's "other" mountains are the Endless Mountains, north of the Poconos. The Endless are -- geologically speaking -- real mountains. And they've managed to avoid the development and cheesy commercialization so prevalent in the Poconos. The downside to that is that you can be 1000 yards from a great hiking opportunity and have no idea that it exists. For this reason alone, I have to recommend Jeff Mitchell's Hiking the Endless Mountains: Exploring the Wilderness of Northeast Pennsylvania. I've camped in the Endless Mountains many times, and never really knew my way around until I put my hands on this tome.
Incidentally, the best skiing in Pennsy is found not in the Poconos but in the Endless Mountains. It's Elk Mountain, in Union Dale. It feels more like Vermont than Pennsylvania. Outstanding skiing.
Moving West, we can again count on Tom Thwaites and the "50 Hikes" series to keep us on the trail. For the central region -- Grand Canyon of PA, State College, Altoona and on south -- Thwaites has penned
50 Hikes in Central Pennsylvania: Day Hikes and Backpacking Trips. And for the most varied terrain in the commonwealth,
50 Hikes in Western Pennsylvania: Walks and Day Hikes from the Laurel Highlands to Lake Erie completes the trilogy.
Please click here for the Slackpacker web site
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