The Appalachian trail is the most famous backpacking trail in the eastern United States. It runs through Pennsylvania for 229.6 miles. The trail enters Pennsylvania from Maryland south of Harrisburg and leaves northeast of Allentown into New Jersey. The Pennsylvania section of the Appalachian Trail is considered to be easy to medium difficulty compared to the rest of the trail, but the trail does tend to be very rocky.
What Makes It Great
What makes the Appalachian Trail great is its length, history and beautiful scenery. The Appalachian trail is one of the longest footpaths in the world, it stretches 2,180 miles over 14 states, and it draws over 2 million visitors a year. The section of the Trail from the New Jersey border to the Susquehanna River follows atop rocky ridges broken by gaps with steep descents and climbs. Some of the popular day hikes for this stretch of trail are Wolf Rocks near the town of Wind Gap, Weathering Knob near Danielsville, and Bake Oven Knob near Palmerton. The section from the Susquehanna south towards Maryland is flatter and less rocky. Table Rock north of Harrisburg and Blue Ridge Summit near the Maryland Border are popular day hikes for this section.
The best times to visit the PA section of the Appalachian trail are the Spring and Fall. The summer can be very hot and humid while walking on top of exposed rocky ridges. During the fall you will get great views of leaves changing color and you may find some wildflowers in forested trail sections during the spring. For more information checkout the Appalachian Trail Conservancy website and consider purchasing a guide to the Pennsylvania section of the Appalachian Trail.
Who is Going to Love It
The Appalachian trail is great for day hikes or backpacking trips spanning several months. the Appalachian Trail Conservancy rates the Pennsylvania section as a 2-4 out of 10 on the difficulty scale. This rating suggests that the PA section of trail ranges from flat terrain to short steep climbs. To plan day hikes, visit the Appalachian trail website to find a parking lot and section of trail to hike. To hike the entire Pennsylvania section of the Appalachian trail start at Delaware Water Gap in the North, or Rouzerville near the Maryland border south of Harrisburg.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
There are many places to get on the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania. The closest parking area to Philadelphia is the parking lot at the Lehigh Gap north of Allentown. To get to the Lehigh Gap parking from Philadelphia, take 76 West to 476 North. Follow 476 N for 50 miles and take the exit towards Lehigh Valley. Get on US-22 E for less than a mile and exit onto PA 309 N. Follow 309 N for 8 miles then continue straight onto PA 873 N. After 7.5 miles, turn right onto PA 243 E and the road to the parking lot will be on your left in less than a tenth of a mile.