Appalachian Trail: The Pinnacle

Loop • 8.7 mi • 868 ft

Walk the Appalachian Trail for spectacular views of Hawk Mountain, the Lehigh Valley, and Blue Rocks. Many Appalachian Trail thru-hikers claim the views at the Pinnacle are the best views on the Pennsylvania stretch of the Appalachian Trail. On this hike, you’ll get a vigorous workout climbing up the rocky path to the top (be sure to wear hiking boots). You then get a reprieve as you make a gentle descent on a wide dirt road. This is an extremely popular trail with hikers and mountain bikers. Mountain bikers are only allowed on the dirt road section of this hike, so you’ll only have to watch for them there. Terrain: Rocky forest footpaths and abandoned roads follow forested mountain trails and mountain streams to a ridge-top boulder outcrop.
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Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Hamburg
Length: 8.7 total miles
Elevation Gain: 868 feet
Trail Type: Loop
Skill Level: Moderate
Duration: 5 hours
Season: Year round
Trailhead Elevation: 750 feet
Top Elevation: 1,615 feet
Other Uses: Cyclists, hunters, dogs
Local Contacts: Southeast Pennsylvania Game Commission
Local Maps: USGS Hamburg
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4/10/2011

This is a pretty good hike. I followed the white blaze all the way to pulpit rock and then to the pinnacle overview. Gray, foggy views, but I love those views. Hiked back blue trail. Went up with my dog and we finished the hike in 3.5 hours. We did jog a lot on our way back though.

1/8/2011

Good trail, kind of a long walk for only two really good views. lots of people

5/22/2010

Great hike that offers a mix of rocky, smooth, steep, and level terrain. A lot of fun! Great views at the summit with a lot of vultures soaring. Definitely coming back this fall when there will be a lot of hawks! I didn't loop back to the parking area, but continued north to Pine Swamp Road for a total of about 9 1/4 miles.

9/25/2009

I started from Hawk Mountain Road at 9:34AM. I decided to make this a simulated weekend hike, even though it was just for the day. With extra water, tent, sleeping bag, food, cookset, etc. I was packing approx. 35 pounds. The hike is somewhat taxing, but really not all that difficult. I've hiked PA. all my life, so the rocks really don't bother me. The only rocks of any consequence are the last 100 yards to The Pinnacle and a short stretch from The Pinnacle to The Pulpit. Beautiful views from both vantage points. I'd like to try to get back when the fall foliage is in its prime. Be prepared to share your time there with others; I went on a Friday and met 26 other people along the way. But, it's definitely with the while. I arrived back at my car at 5:34PM and covered about 16 miles round trip. Not bad for a 50 year-old who doesn't get out near as much as I used to or would like to.

7/19/2009

An excellent hike! The trail guide was very helpful - got us easily to the trailhead and was accurate in regards to length of hike, type of terrain, elevation changes, etc. We had a beautiful day and saw amazing views. We're in our 50s and do a lot of hiking. The hike to the Pulpit Rocks was the most strenous, but invigorating. The rest was basically a steady downhill slope on a nice trail - many rocks, but what can you expect for "Rocksylvania". We, too, want to go back in the fall as the previous reviewer said. The entire 8.7 mile hike took us just under 4.5 hours with a couple stops at Pulpit Rocks, The Pinnacle, and the reservoir. I highly recommend this hike!

7/12/2009

Wonderful hike to Pulpit Rocks and then onto The Pinnacle. Excellent views of Lehigh Valley. The boulder fields were challenging, but fun. Definitely need to come back in the Fall when the leaves turn color.

7/11/2009

This was a very well maintained and marked trail. Pretty rocky so you'll definatley want your hiking boots. Wonderful views and the helipad on top of the moutain was neat to see too.

6/28/2009

great views. If your early in the morning sun you will see copper heads sunning on the rocks

5/9/2009

Did this loop again with our Venturing Crew. Beautiful weather so we allotted enough time for some extended down time on the Pinnacle and Pulpit Rock. If you get a chance and want to challenge yourself a bit, this is a great place in PA to go. (Careful though...take bug spray and watch for rattlers.)

5/1/2009

Hike from Pulpit Rock north to The Pinnacle is very rocky and sparsely blazed. Trail north of The Pinnacle is easy walking. Good views.

4/1/2009

It was a very pleasant hike. The ground is uneven once you get on the rocky trail and the views at the lookout are well worth it.

7/31/2008

This is a great hike! I have hiked this area many times and even camped out on Pulpit rock a few too. The trail is very rocky but the views are well worth it. I actually got engaged at sunrise on pulpit rock 11/21/2007. Sunrise here is amazing!

6/14/2008

Boy, was the second mile of this trip a real killer, on the very humid day that we went. However, the views and the rest of the hike made it all worth it. Very pretty. The mountain laurel was in full bloom, and quite beautiful. The last couple of miles before the reservoir have rhododendron everywhere; we had missed their blooming but I bet that was spectacular in May!

3/15/2008

Great hike. We went in February, no crowds - very peaceful, great views from the top.

12/10/2007

Good walk in the woods- challenging but not a butt kicking 8.4 miles. It snowed oin us from start to finish which made for beautiful silence, a slip here and there lovely hemlocks bowed with snow-- but also no views due to white out. One section about 1/2 mile before pinnacle is a little confusing as trail meanders through a rock field, otherwise well blazed. We thouroughly enjoyed it- 5 hours including 1/2 hour lunch break and an extra 1/2 mile when we over shot the left turn at the helicopter pad.

11/19/2007

If you are looking for a day hike with outlooking views, the Pinnacle loop is not a bad choice. beginner to intermediate terrain and easy for all ranges of experience. The hike itself measured in at 8.4 miles if I am not mistaken, and took about 3 and a half hours to complete. If you like bouldering, you will see some neat features along some of the outcroppings that you may want to mentally book mark for future ocassions. We hiked the trail on the 11th of November, and I was pretty shocked to see the fall foliage still on the trees. Also, pay consideration to the weather, as a group that hiked a day before us ran into fog and snow that limited visibility on some of the outlooks.

11/4/2007

Very nice trail - the other reviews give great directions to get there. Make sure to bring good shows as the trail does get a bit rocky. If you are a beginner, pace yourself on the climb to pulpit rock - this is by far the steepest part of the trail and can drain you for the rest of the trip. To get to the Pinnacle from Pulpit Rock - go up to the rock (after you walk up the steep gravel road, make a right, go past the telescopes, and follow a small trail on the left to the rock) - the pinnacle trail starts just before you get to the rock (ont he left). Great views from Pulpit Rock and Pinnace - the decent is very gradual and nice.

7/28/2007

The weekend was rainy and overcast most of the time, but it was exactly the recharge my soul needed! Strong ankles and/or good fitting shoes are a must for the rocky slopes you will traverse along the way, but it is all worth it. My husband and I stayed at the Blue Rocks Campground through the weekend and did all our trail hiking on Saturday. It was a great trip. As a reminder... shoes, shoes, shoes! The rain didn't help out too much by making the rocks slick, but having a little slippage room in your shoes makes for sore feet...just ask my poor husband!

7/26/2007

It's now the end of July and I've hiked to the Pinnacle (& Pulpit Rock) a total of 12 times since mid-May 2007. There are plenty of alternate routes, my favorite is the loop from the Hamburg reservoir, taking the "Blue Blazed" trail that follows the watershed (Furnace Creek) to the top where it meets the Appalachian Trail (there is a helipad). Turning right on the Appalachian Trail (North Rim) the path is relatively easy and picturesque until the last few hundred yards where it becomes quite rocky just before the Pinnacle overlook, which is breathtaking, especially on a clear day. The Appalachian's "South Rim" trail to Pulpit Rock is very rough and rocky but well worth the trek since the vista there is also spectacular, looking down on the Blue Rocks glacier deposit. Definitely take your camera. For more info on this loop and some worthwhile alternative routes, visit: http://www.harpweb.com/thepinnacle/index.html BTW, it's been an awesome year for Timber Rattlesnakes and Copperheads on the rocky overlooks, watch where you step and don't sit down unless you've checked the crevices around you. Two days ago I saw one rattler and three Copperheads within 30 feet of each other at the Pinnacle. I've found other hikers are always willing to alert you of snakes and other dangers on this hike.

5/28/2007

This hike was alot of fun and the views from both the Pinnacle and Pulpit rock were brilliant. There are one or two spots on the trail that could use some additional blazing, but we were able to figure it out. I can't wait to do this again. We stayed @ the Blue Rocks Campground, which was nice, but there are some campsites right near the Pinnacle as well. We would have camped there had we known about them before hand. Be advised, however, that these campsites may not be authorized even though quite a few people camp there.

5/26/2007

I went hiking on this trail right after arriving at my inlaws in Philadelphia. I live in Florida and I have to say going up the pinnacle was tough for someone who lives in such a flat area. Great and beautiful hike, however, if your climbing legs aren't up to par, go up the Pulpit Rock side and back down that side. I found it easier to find access to this hike by going to the Blue Rocks campground. They charge $4.00 for parking and access.

5/12/2007

The trail was great with stunning views of the landscape at both stops, Pulpit Rock & The Pinnacle. Suggest wearing good shoes, it is very rocky and if you're a first timer I could see a sprained ankle coming out of the trip. The directions given by Trails.com weren't very accurate and could have better pointed us in the right direction. Keep your eyes peeled for the white and blue markers along the trail. The first part of the walk is almost straigh up hill, for about a mile where you will reach several large white structures, they look as if they house telescopes (i.e. dome shaped) and there is a sign marked by some astronimical society. You would think this very clear land marker would be listed on the directions it is not. After you have reached this point continue to follow to the right to get to Pulpit Rock. After Pulpit Rock, returning to the trail, you will want to take the path on your right hand side. After walking this path for a 1/4 mile or less you will probably be confused, you will hit a big patch of rocks and see no markers. A path will be to your left though, if you walk out of the woods to the path and up the hill you will see a tower with some fenced in buildings at the top. You will probably again feel confused as if you have hit a dead end, but start walking to your left through the rocks and you will begin to see your white markers and a more clearly defined pathway will emerge. You will be walking this path for an hour and a half to two hours. Eventually you will come to a stacked pile of rocks, a pretty large pile. This is how you know you are almost to The Pinnacle and continue on past this for only a short bit. When you come back down, if you are up for a challenge go back the way you came, otherwise make sure you stick to the right side white path. This a MUCH smoother path with less rocks and a more smooth trail for you to climb down.

5/4/2007

I returned to 'conquer' the Pinnacle after an attempt last year left me failing miserably and returning after only getting to the Pulpit. Since then I lost 50lbs and I found the Pulpit a breeze. The walk to the Pinnacle was longer than I thought it would be, but it wasn't really that difficult. Enjoyed the rock scrambling. Took nice photos of the mountain laurel. Loved the great big cairn by the Pinnacle. The views are wonderful, and a nice rocky ledge to sit on for lunch. Make sure you take plenty of water. Saw many hawks and other birds. Took around 4 hours total - then went off to Cabela's which is only a few miles away (worth a trip).

3/10/2007

Have been to the Pinnacle several times in all seasons and it is always an enjoyable day. Camping is not permitted but there is a well worn camping spot there. Be sure to carry plenty of water. Bring it from home, carry it up from the creek, or check out the Gold spring down the trail on the AT. We've seen hot air balloons, biplanes, birds galore, snakes, and porcupines on the way up or at the Pinnacle. If you plan on taking the easy reservoir road to the top of the ridge, beware that it becomes rocky the last 200 yards to the Pinnacle.(Typical PA ridgewalking)

2/10/2007

The trail was well marked and provided some unique opportunities for taking pictures. I thought it was a good training for the Hike For Discovery program that the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society sponsors. I would highly recommend this trail.

10/21/2006

Best hike in Pa. More photo opts than any trail I've been on. Fall colors are beautiful from here.

9/23/2006

We camped at Blue Rocks Campground, came up the Yellow Trail to the Pinnacle Loop. The Yellow trail rises about 300 feet vertical in the last 1/2 mile making it very challenging for younger hikers. The Pinnacle loop is very challenging as well around Pulpit Rock. Very rocky trail in that area. Our day was overcast (can't blame that on the trail) so we could not see the spectacular views everyone writes about, If you run the blue blazes of the Pinnacle rim Trail, be careful around the open field called the "Helipad". The trail splits from the AT at that point, but it is not that well marked when heading North (counter clockwise around the loop. All in all, a very fun day trip.

8/27/2006

Fun day on the trail. We took the AT up - almost everyone else appeared to take the road. We only went up to Pulpit Rock. The road back was a welcome relief to get home fast after a long day on the trail up.

8/12/2006

Great hike. Watching the hawks ride the thermals from the Pinnacle was worth effort. I recommend it.

7/8/2006

ATTENTION! The exit number to the trailhead is outdated. If driving on I-78 West, take exit 35 (NOT exit 11!) to catch PA 143 North. All other mileage and directions are correct, although I would add the following: * The sign for Mountain Road is a bit obscured. Look for the sign for Long Road and a bridge on the RIGHT. Mountain Road is directly across from Long Road on the LEFT. * Mountain Road makes a weird turn. After 2.1 miles on Mountain Road, you will come to a farmhouse and a sharp turn to the left. DO NOT FOLLOW THE ROAD TO THE LEFT. Take the Y to the Right instead. Mountain road becomes Monument road to the left--if you come to the I-78 underpass then you have come too far. After this veering to the right, another 0.3 to 0.4 miles and you will see the turn for Reservoir road on the right, which leads to the parking area. This was a very pleasant day hike. It is very rocky so make sure you have sturdy shoes. The views were great and I saw several hawks at the Pinnacle. The decent was a bit more scenic--lots of ferns and a beautiful creek ran along the path. Including a 20 minute break for lunch at Pulpit Rock and a 15 minute stop at the Pinnacle, the hike took me a little under 4 hours.

6/10/2006

A very nice day hike. If you take the loop, the trail's most difficult portion is at the very beginning. Absolutely beautiful scenic overview at the Pinnacle, also a nice view at Pulpit rock. The hike to the Pinnacle is very rocky, wear good hiking boots. A great hike for the beginner and novice alike.

6/4/2006

I enjoyed this trail. It's a nice AT hike with some scenic pay-offs. The full loop to Pinnacle Rock gets challenging near the top where it's rocky and includes a few nice boulder fields to scramble. Some people have reported that the return route is a bit boring. True, is is not challengeing, but the descent is pleasantly scenic through a hemlock forest along a stream and gorge that is filled with wild rhododendrons. The view from Pinnacle Rock is impressive by eastern standards, although it is not a full 5-star breath-taker like, say, a view of the Grand Canyon or a Rocky Mountain vista. But still it is worth the climb. A real perk is that you will almost surely see some hawks or other raptor birds in the air or in the trees near the Pulpit and Pinnacle ledges. Sometimes they fly by at eye-level and you can even hear the whoosh of their wings. That sound is amazing to experience. This part IS breathtaking. If you want the view without all the rock-hopping you could start the trail in reverse of the recommended route doing the easy finish first going Trailhead to Pinnacle and then retrace your tracks to the trailhead). This would not be as much fun or as challenging, but it would get you there and it might be the way to go if you want to see the Pinnacle views and you have small children or a dog in tow.

5/29/2006

Nice trail. The first part of the trail is pretty challenging with some nice vertical gain and a small rock scramble to get to pulpits rock. The hike from pulpits rock to the pinnacle was pretty flat with some easy boulder fields. Very nice views of the valley below and plenty of hawks flying around. The hike back down the trail from the pinnacle is very easy with a nice descent on a dirt road. The only downside to the trail was the large amount of people on it (but it was memorial day). 4/5 stars.

5/12/2006

The trail itself is not very exciting, however the payoff at the Pulpit and Pinnacle make it worth the effort. Took the road from the parking area to the Pulpit. Moderately steep, but in direct sun so I would avoid that route on hot days and take the AT instead. The rest of the AT is pretty rocky with occasional boulder fields. Views from the Pulpit and Pinnacle are spectacular! Lots of Raptors soaring on this day as well. Hike is roughly 9 miles, did it in 3.5 hours by myself so maybe add some time if your taking kids or inexperienced hikers. Same great views of the Raptors as at hawk mountain but at no charge. Of course you'll have to hike a few extra miles.

4/2/2006

We both enjoyed the trail and thought it was a good training trail for longer backpacking trips, long enough and enough elevation change to get a bit of a workout. It was a pretty Sunday afternoon, so the trail was fairly popular, with groups of people hanging out at both the Pinnacle and Pulpit Rock lookout points. We did have difficulty with a couple of the trail directions. 1) The driving directions are a little tricky. The sign at Mountain Rd and Momument Rd was turned. You actually have to turn right to stay on Mountain Rd. 2)The hiking directions at 6.4 miles at the helicopter pad are not quite right. The left turn onto the dirt road is actually before you cross the grassy area.

3/24/2006

My husband took me up to the Pinnical for a birthday trip this spring and I have to say it was just fantastic! I was skeptical at the beginning, but once we got into the woods (which takes a while), the trip is very pleasant. And the views from the Pinnacle are just spectacular. We spent 30 minutes at the top while we marvelled at the birds of prey swooping all around. We did miss a turn on the way down. The helicopter landing pad wasn't exactly as obvious as we assumed it would be. All in all, a great day.

3/22/2006

Beautiful trail, I saw no other hikers! Many panoramic views. Trail well marked.

1/14/2006

Great trail, good steady climb over varying terrain with tremendous views as the payoff. The road down from the pinnacle is an easy walk but would be beautiful in the spring when the Rhododendron are blooming and the snow- melt has Furnace Creek cascading at full strength along the road. Worth the trip.

9/27/2005

I have hiked it three times. It is a fun day hike. The view from the top is great. Watching the Hawks is well worth the effort.

7/30/2005

beautiful veiw at the top ,clean trail that is easy to follow easy to find right off a major highway is the start of the trail

6/29/2005

Just a quick note about camping here. I've hiked this trail for almost 20 years and yes you can camp on the trail head.You must stay 50 ft from the trail and you can park down the street overnight. The state gamelands run in between the mountain and AP - trail. Hawk Mountain or the Pinnacle is one of the best look out points in PA on the AP - trail.

3/26/2005

Great day hike! I left early in the morning and got to the Pinnacle by 9:30 where I was treated to 4 hawks circling right around the look out!! Plenty of water available on the hike back to the parking area as it winds down a stream the whole way home. Total time of the hike was about 4 hours.

8/31/2003

Great day hike!! This trail is very well marked (most of it is on the AT). The terrain is a little rocky at first, but very do-able for anyone who's moderately in shape. The views are amazing--we saw several raptors circling below us. This a popular trail, though, and was very crowded on the Saturday we went. Don't plan on doing an overnight from this trailhead, overnight parking is not allowed.

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