Hiking Pennsylvania  by John L. Young

Hiking Pennsylvania Guide Book

by John L. Young (Falcon Guides)
Hiking Pennsylvania  by John L. Young
Completely updated with full-color maps and photographs throughout, Hiking Pennsylvania offers a unique look into the history, culture, and incomparable beauty of Pennsylvania. Veteran outdoors writer John L. Young leads the way to the state’s top trails, including challenging backpack adventures in the mountains, easy family rambles through historic battlefields, and scenic hikes past canals to picturesque waterfalls.

© 2015 John L Young/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Hiking Pennsylvania" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 55.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 55.

The hike begins as a gentle nature walk on a pine needle path that leads to some of the oldest trees in the state. You crisscross a delightful mountain stream as you wind your way through tunnels of rhododendrons, some as high as 20 feet with a 4-inch diameter. You make a major climb as you ascend to the mountaintop and a fire tower, which provides a panoramic view. Like unsolved mysteries, on this hike there are two. The first concerns the area’s namesake, Alan Seeger. Seeger was an American who moved to Paris to become a poet. When World War I broke out, he joined the French Foreign Legion and received a number of medals for his courage. His claim to fame came about as a result of his poem, “I Have a Rendezvous with Death,” which eerily came true when he was killed in battle on July 4, 1916. Today, no one knows why his name was attached to this natural area. There are no available records to show if or when Seeger ever visited this part of the state.
State College, PA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.1
The highlight of this hike is a viewing platform 480 feet above the Allegheny River. The trail follows an old wagon road to the ruins of a nineteenth-century iron ore furnace and then leads you across a plateau to the viewing platform. From there it descends another gorge to a stream with four cable bridges. The hike begins easily enough on two relatively level state game land access roads, but in less than half an hour, you’re headed down a steep gorge on a washed-out road alongside Bullion Run to the Bullion Run Iron Ore Furnace. That’s right; this road was once considered the best and easiest way to ship materials. Workers back in the 1800s used this route to transport dense iron ore and massive logs to the Bullion Run Furnace. Remember this road the next time you feel like complaining about your job.
Franklin, PA - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking - Trail Length: 8
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There are a number of highlights on this hike. The trail begins in a pristine stand of pines, continues on gently rolling grassy roads, and finally leads to a heart-stopping view into the 1,700-foot-deep Youghiogheny River Gorge. Returning from the gorge, you pass Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural masterpiece. The Bear Run Nature Reserve is a 5,000-acre natural area owned and maintained by The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. On the east side of the reserve, you’ll find gently rolling grassy terrain, the visitor center, and a bulletin board of information about the trails. Across PA 381, on the western side of the reserve, it’s rugged, rocky terrain that ends at the Youghiogheny River Gorge. Here you’ll also find an unusual treat for a woodland hike: The conservancy also owns and operates Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous structure Fallingwater, built of local sandstone and cantilevered over a waterfall on Bear Run.
Ohiopyle, PA - Backpacking,Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking - Trail Length: 8
This easy hike provides a tour of popular Black Moshannon State Park. It starts on the bridge across Black Moshannon Lake and continues along the lakeside and past the dam spillway; it then follows Black Moshannon Creek as it meanders through the forest at the north end of the park. The trail leaves the stream and loops back to the bridge across the lake. Here you cross the lake a second time and head toward the south end of the park, where you can explore the bog and its wildlife and exotic flora from an elevated boardwalk.
Phillipsburg, PA - Hiking - Trail Length: 7.3
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There is one world-class view of Pennsylvania’s Pine Creek Gorge on this section of the West Rim Trail—and legions of hikers consider the climb out of the gorge worth it. Along the way to the top, there are views of Pine Creek and sparkling mountain waterfalls. The final leg is on the Pine Creek Rail Trail. This hike comprises sections of two of the state’s most popular backpacking trails: the West Rim and the Mid State Trails. The West Rim Trail stretches 30 miles along the western rim of Pine Creek Gorge—Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon. The Mid State Trail runs from the Pennsylvania-Maryland border south of Everett to its connection with the West Rim Trail near Bohen Run in the north. Regardless of where you enter this gorge, you’ll be struck by the sheer strength of the force that turned a mountain plateau into a corrugated landscape that, seen from an adjoining mountain peak, looks like a giant green washboard.
Wellsboro, PA - Hiking - Trail Length: 8.5
Canoe Creek State Park is a jewel in the crown of the state park system. At 958 acres it’s small, but it’s loaded with features. There are modern rental cabins, a food concession, and hot showers in the beach changing bathhouse. Canoe Lake is a 155-acre lake that provides crystal-clear, icy cold water for swimming, canoeing, and fishing. It’s stocked with walleye, muskellunge, bass, trout, chain pickerel, catfish, crappies, and other panfish. There is also ice fishing when there is an extended trout season. This is an easy, pleasant hike where you can explore the limestone kilns used in the early 1900s to supply limestone for the bustling iron and steel industries. Visit an abandoned quarry operation, now a bat colony, then make your way up a knoll for views of the valley. Walk alongside Canoe Creek on its way to Canoe Lake. Both bodies of water are good for fishing.
Altoona, PA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.6
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This hike provides one of the premier vistas in the state, but you do have to work for it—the climb to the summit is more than 1.0 mile.The Rock Garden is a rock climber’s delight, as you make your way over and around the huge sandstone boulders. If you want to do some hiking in the Worlds End region, you should know that hiking here means climbing. Canyon Vista is a good example of a typical out-of-the-gorge trek. The summit is 1,750 feet above sea level, but because of the switchbacks and lengthy circumnavigation, you’ll end up walking more than 1.0 mile to reach the top. But the top is where the views are—some of the best in the state. It’s difficult to describe a vista.
Laporte, PA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.2
The highlights of this hike are a visit to Big Spring Reservoir and the views of Conemaugh River Gorge. Pass through a dense understory of rhododendron and mountain laurel to get to the gorge’s edge, where outcroppings provide excellent places to relax and take in the deep gorge panorama. Looking into this great gorge, it’s difficult not to be awestruck by the forces that have steadily worked for millennia to create this giant gash in the earth. For all its serenity, it’s equally difficult to imagine that you’re looking down on the site of one of the most disastrous events in US history—the Johnstown Flood. For residents of southwestern Pennsylvania, the summer of 1889 will forever be memorable for its unprecedented flooding and natural disasters.
Johnstown, PA - Hiking - Trail Length: 7.2
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This hike takes you into the Clarion River Valley and alongside the dark waters of the Clarion River. This descent is followed by a climb out of the gorge to River Valley and a heart-stopping view from an 80-foot fire tower. There is also a natural overlook for the faint of heart. As you loop back to where you began, you’ll pass through the Forest Cathedral, a virgin stand of white pine and hemlock that loggers—for some reason—left behind. Be sure and look for the plaque that proclaims the area a National Natural Landmark.
Clarion, PA - Cross-Country Skiing,Fishing,Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 6.6
This is a fun hike and a great place to be on a hot summer day.Wooden walkways, steps, and a series of wooden footbridges lead through the bottom of a deep hemlock ravine to two dramatic and distinctly different waterfalls, where the mist and the shade from the hemlocks cool the air. Follow a trail that parallels Dingmans Creek to another spot with three more dramatic waterfalls, old factory ruins, and a picnic area. This hike is located within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area— a 67,000-acre watershed atop the Pocono Plateau that stretches for 40 miles on both the Pennsylvania and New Jersey sides of the Delaware River. The trail begins on a wooden walkway that takes you to the foot of Silver Thread Falls, where water from a tributary to Dingmans Creek drops 80 feet through a narrow shale crevasse, cascading over a series of ledges.
Milford, PA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5
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This easy hike loops the 100-acre Ferncliff Peninsula, giving hikers the best views of the Youghiogheny River rapids and Ohiopyle Falls. The trail leads you right to the river’s edge onto flat sandstone boulders, where you can examine tree fossils embedded in the rock. At points, a canopy of rhododendron shades the trail. At marked sites along the way, learn about the peninsula’s unique environment, which includes Southern wildflowers and umbrella magnolia trees. Simply stated, this hike gives you an unparalleled view of Ohiopyle Falls. You’re led right to the edge of the Youghiogheny (pronounced YAWK-a-gay-nee) River and onto a series of flat boulders, which at points jut into the river. You’re as close to the falls as anyone is going to get. That is reason enough to lace up your boots.
Ohiopyle, PA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.4
A short, rocky climb leads to a springhouse for an icy drink then continues up Blue Mountain to Flat Rock for one of the top views in the state. From this overhanging ledge—one at rock no bigger than your SUV—there is a 180-degree view of the majestic Cumberland Valley and (on a clear day) South Mountain. Tiny cars whiz along the roads, while tiny farm tractors stir up the dust in the fields. Along the trip you’ll cross the famous 248-mile-long Tuscarora Trail.
Carlisle, PA - Hiking - Trail Length: 7.4
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After you finish this 6.0-mile loop, you can visit historic Hopewell Furnace, a once- thriving industrial plantation built on the border of Berks and Chester Counties in 1771. See a restored ironworker’s village, complete with implements and tools, sheds, furniture, and houses.
Reading, PA - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 6
When you’ve finished this hike, you’ll have a comprehensive idea of what took place July 1 through July 3, 1863, at the Battle of Gettysburg, when more than 150,000 troops clashed on the rolling hills surrounding this small Pennsylvania town. Considered by most historians to be the turning point of the American Civil War, it was also one of the bloodiest conflicts in modern warfare. Just like the auto and bus tours, this hike visits the important battle sites and monuments; however, the hike leads away from the paved roads and monuments and onto the battlefields. Hikers get a firsthand experience of what it was like for Confederate soldiers to charge through an open field with bullets whizzing by. Let your imagination take over as you position yourself behind a boulder on Little Round Top or walk along a line of cannons.
Gettysburg, PA - Hiking,Road Biking,Scenic Drives - Trail Length: 9.1
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This hike asks only one question: Would you climb a little more than a mile up the side of a gorge to take in a once-in-a-lifetime view? Begin on an improved forest road, climb to the viewing area, and then loop back to this same forest road for an easy walk back to the starting point. Tioga State Forest consists of 160,000 acres of mountains and valleys, with a range in elevation from 780 feet to more than 2,500 feet. Unlike the state’s Ridge and Valley Province, faulting (folding of the earth) didn’t create this area. It was formed during the last ice age when a glacier blocked the northerly flowing water, creating a glacial pond. When the glacier retreated, glaciations occurred, leaving behind a moraine of gravel, clay, and sand that reversed the flow of the water.
Wellsboro, PA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.9
This is simply a great hike. It starts in a restored nineteenth-century village that was once the company town for Greenwood Furnace IronWorks. The entire village has been designated a National Historic District. Old wagon roads and tramway trails lead hikers through the village and into the surrounding mountains, where the remains of charcoal pads can still be seen. There are visits to a historic cemetery and a pristine mountain lake, and, believe it or not, there’s even a top-notch view. Bring your camera and your children on this one.
State College, PA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.5
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The highlight of this hike is the spectacular and unusual Hawk Falls. The falls occur when Hawk Run, which is 40 feet above Mud Run, empties into the lower creek at a three-sided canyon. The water cascades down the center of the canyon, ever widening, from one ledge to the next and empties into a deep pool of crystal-clear water. The trail passes through a huge rhododendron tunnel to the magnificent Mud Run Natural Area in the bottom of Mud Run Gorge. It then turns downstream and runs alongside Mud Run, one of the top trout streams in the state. There are plenty of streamside boulders and smaller waterfalls along the way.
Wilkes-Barre, PA - Fishing,Hiking - Trail Length: 3.1
This is an easy, pleasant hike along Loyalsock Creek to the Haystacks boulders area and Dutchman Run Falls. At the falls you can explore the site where the falls empties into the creek. With its deep, hemlock-shaded valleys and plenty of pine needles covering the ground, this area could justly be described as picturesque. This hike got its name from a section of Loyalsock Creek where sandstone boulders—which are said to look like haystacks—create a series of rapids in an otherwise calm creek. The best time to see these rapids is when the water level is high—in spring after the winter melt-off or late fall after the area’s rainy season. The Haystacks lie at the eastern terminus of the 59.3-mile-long Loyalsock Trail.
Laporte, PA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.5
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There are two highlights to this hike that make it a must-do: the view of the sparkling green waters of Chappel Bay and the crystal-clear water of Chappel Fork feeding into that bay. This hike is mostly downhill, but it’s not easy. The multiple stream crossings and the effort it takes to pick your way across the rocks make this a challenging—but rewarding—hike. The North Country National Scenic Trail is one of the more ambitious trail-construction projects currently under way in our park system. When completed, the trail will stretch 4,400 miles through seven northern states—from the Adirondack Mountains in New York all the way to the vast plains of west-central North Dakota. Hemlock Run Trail is your opportunity to hike a part of this extensive trail system—and an immensely popular one among folks who should know.
Warren, PA - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.8
This hike is designed to give hikers a chance to explore the Hickory Run Boulder Field Natural Area—a 16-acre, 12-foot-deep phenomenon created during the last ice age.The Boulder Field—the only geological formation of this type in the East—has been studied by scientists for more than one hundred years; the core of their studies is displayed on bulletin boards in the on-site educational area. At 15,500 acres, Hickory Run State Park is one of Pennsylvania’s largest state parks. It’s also one of the most picturesque. Its forests are a mixture of second-growth white pine and hemlock, mixed oaks, and northern hardwoods. Sand Spring Lake, the largest of the four dams impoundments, has a swimming beach. Two clear mountain streams, Sand Spring Run and Hickory Run, intersect in the center of the park, at the site where a booming nineteenth-century logging mill and village once stood.
Wilkes-Barre, PA - Hiking - Trail Length: 7
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