Appalachian Trail offers quality Pennsylvania hiking experience

The white blazes of the Appalachian Trail guide both thru hikers and day hikers across 229 miles of Pennsylvania.

Our state gets the somewhat unfair classification of being some of the toughest hiking on this entire 2,190 mile long trail.

This classification doesn’t necessarily come from the need to climb to nose bleed high elevations or other challenges that hikers routinely face. It comes from the fact that much of the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania is rocky.

Most of us who hike in the woods of the Greater Susquehanna Valley became accustomed to hiking on rocky trails and even traversing boulder fields starting with our first walk in the woods.  We live in the environs left behind after the last ice age when massive glaciers pushed as far south as our beautiful Valley. Upon receding, these glaciers left behind lots of fabulous geography and geology, including rocks, and in some places lots of them.

About three million people visit the Appalachian Trail every year. Some of then take short hikes and these folks are known as day hikers.

Each year, a couple thousand folks set out to hike the entire trail from Georgia to Maine. These folks are called thru hikers.

This week marks the traditional send-off for many of these thru hikers. With very few exceptions, these intrepid souls will trudge from south to north and if they make it to Katahdin Mountain in Maine before the snow closes the trail in the fall, they will have climbed up or down the equivalent of a half-million feet in elevation.

Hiking the Appalachian Trail here in Pennsylvania is definitely worth your consideration. The trail enters our state in the south near Boiling Springs and arches in a crescent crossing the Susquehanna River on the Clark’s Ferry Bridge. From there, it hopscotches over several ridges and follows the northern ridge of the Lehigh Valley.

The trail passes the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary heading in a northeast direction into the lower-most reaches of the anthracite coal region. From there, the trail takes a more northerly route crossing into New Jersey at the Delaware Water Gap.

While I haven’t hiked every inch of the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania, I have hiked enough of it to say that its generally negative reputation is for the most part unwarranted.

In fact, I would say that the hiking along the southernmost section of the trail in our state could be some of the easiest hiking on the trail.

This spring, you and your family could take a trip down to the Boiling Springs area to hike the trail and find yourself strolling on a path that resembles a finely manicured garden. As an added treat, you’ll pass right by the mid-way point of the trail. This spot on the trail serves as something of a “promissory point” for thru hikers.

The Susquehanna Appalachian Trail Club (SATC) is one of 31 groups that maintain parts of the Appalachian Trail. The good folks in this club work tirelessly to insure that the trail is well-maintained in the central part of our state.

All in all, club members and volunteers donate more than 1,000 hours of service to the trail every year.

The SATC was organized to provide its members and guests with the opportunity to enjoy and to become educated about nature through hiking and other outdoor recreational activities. What’s more, the club members build and maintain trails and shelters for public use while aiding in the conservation of wild lands and wildlife.