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  1. #1
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    Default Pa. section suggestions?

    I am looking to do a section of the trail in PA this summer. Probably around 80-100 miles, or about a week. Can you tell me what would be the best part to do within that range and why?

    Thanks

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    i'd do harpers ferry to and including the cumberland valley. to me the cumberland valley is the natural division of the trail through the area. the PA-MD border at penmar is purely geopolitical and in hiking terms, to me, is in the middle of the south mountain section of the trail. its about 110 miles. dont include the cumberland valley if you need to shorten it, but to me, if youre there its so easy you might as well knock it out.

    if youve already done MD and stopped at penmar i guess just going north from there until the week is out might be the wisest move. i dont know that skipping to an area further north would yield a spectacularly different hike, just maybe more rocks.

  3. #3
    Registered User OldFeet's Avatar
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    From PenMar it's 100 miles to PA route 325, 91 miles to PA 225 and 83 miles to Duncannon so this would give you a lot of options in your mielage range. This keeps you south of the worst of the rocks. The section has pretty mellow hiking with a lot of ridge walking. Last year I did Caledonia SP to Swatara Gap the first week in June and was happy with all the shelters along the way. Quarry Gap shelter is probably the nicest shelter I've stayed at anywhere on the trail. There was ample water when I did this the first week in June but as you get later in the summer you might want to look for more info on water. If you're interested in spending a night in town the Allenbury in Boiling Springs offers a hiker special.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by OldFeet View Post
    From PenMar it's 100 miles to PA route 325, 91 miles to PA 225 and 83 miles to Duncannon so this would give you a lot of options in your mielage range. This keeps you south of the worst of the rocks. The section has pretty mellow hiking with a lot of ridge walking. Last year I did Caledonia SP to Swatara Gap the first week in June and was happy with all the shelters along the way. Quarry Gap shelter is probably the nicest shelter I've stayed at anywhere on the trail. There was ample water when I did this the first week in June but as you get later in the summer you might want to look for more info on water. If you're interested in spending a night in town the Allenbury in Boiling Springs offers a hiker special.
    If your only option is PA in summer, than +1 on this. In addition to having less of the fabled PA rocks, the southern part of the state is a better bet for water availability in summer. Keep in mind though that the Cumberland Valley can be brutally hot in mid-summer.

    Any way you can postpone your hike to Sept. or October when the weather's nicer?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cookerhiker View Post
    If your only option is PA in summer, than +1 on this. In addition to having less of the fabled PA rocks, the southern part of the state is a better bet for water availability in summer. Keep in mind though that the Cumberland Valley can be brutally hot in mid-summer.

    Any way you can postpone your hike to Sept. or October when the weather's nicer?
    I second the above post.

    Believe it or not, Maryland has more rocks than southern Pa.
    "The aim of science is to make difficult things understandable in a simpler way; the aim of poetry is to state simple things in an incomprehensible way. The two are incompatible."
    -- Paul Dirac

  6. #6
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    Thanks guys. Maybe I will look into moving it into September.

    The only reason I was Looking in pa, is proximity. I only have one week to do this, so I figured I would limit the driving. Do you guys think it's better to cut the hike shorter and go somewhere else?

  7. #7

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    Given only a week, I wouldn't waste precious time and money driving to New England or Grayson Highlands, let alone the Smokies. If you can wait until mid-September when temps are cooler, you'll enjoy the hike more. And then there's October with Fall foliage.

  8. #8
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    Obviously there is not right and wrong answer, only your personal preference. PA was one of my favorite states. In fact, I am going to do it again next year. I would start at Wind Gap and go south. This is probably the rockiest section but I thought the views were much better in this section than anywhere else on the trail in PA. If you wait until September you may start to see the hawks at Bake Oven Knob.

  9. #9
    AT 4,000 miler, LT Blissful's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by john gault View Post

    Believe it or not, Maryland has more rocks than southern Pa.
    They are short bursts of rocks. Not that big a deal.



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  10. #10
    AT 4,000 miler, LT Blissful's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by redseal View Post
    PA was one of my favorite states. In fact, I am going to do it again next year.
    Wow this has to be a first.... Very few hikers I've seen rate PA like that or want to do it again. Bravo.



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  11. #11

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    The PA rocks can be fun--especially when they're medium-sized and you can rock-hop, or where there's elevation change and you can have the fun of scrambling. Through most of the state, the rocks are on again, off again, and you get a reprieve after every rocky section. Having just done Port Clinton to Delaware Water Gap, I can say the least desirable section of PA with the longest continuous, un-fun rocky section (with few views) is in the northern part of PA, from about three miles north of Palmerton/Lehigh Gap about 27 miles north to Wolf Rocks. There's a five-mile section in there with not a single entry even in the detailed official A.T. guidebook, and there weren't many wildflowers either. My hat's off to the trail maintainers in this area. They should get double pay!

    If you like views and occasional climbs, make Little Gap the north end of your hike (a little south of Wind Gap). If rocks are a deterrent and smooth trail is more appealing, then start in Harpers Ferry and go north. As Blissful says, there are a few very rocky sections in Maryland, but they are all relatively short (compared to PA's rocks in the middle and northern sections). If you are thinking of leaving a car at Little Gap (or anywhere on the A.T.), be sure to check out the Rohland's A.T. Parking site at http://appalachiantrail.rohland.org.

    I'm sure it's mentioned many place on WhiteBlaze, but the climb northbound out of Lehigh Gap is the steepest south of the White Mountains in New Hampshire. It's exhilarating and exciting, but can be daunting if you have a heavy pack or a fear of heights. You do have an alternative, though, in the much more gradual Winter Trail. The views and landscape on top are remarkable (you can read more about the history of how this came to be elsewhere), and for the time being, there's a temporary relo that takes you on a lovely, soft grassy road below the ridge with expansive views.

    Laurie P.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by redseal View Post
    .... PA was one of my favorite states. In fact, I am going to do it again next year....
    I haven't seen any posts by Emerald in a while but he'll certainly like this one.

  13. #13
    Registered User Ktaadn's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=OldFeet;1283469]There was ample water when I did this the first week in June but as you get later in the summer you might want to look for more info on water.QUOTE]

    I just got back last night from a 4 day hike from Pen Mar to the Scott Farm. There are water spigots in Old Forge Park, Pine Grove Furnace Park, the ATC Mid-Atlantic Regional Office in Boiling Springs, and at the Scott Farm. You will obviously want water more often than just at these locations, but knowing where there is guaranteed water should help a lot in your planning. You will also cross too many creeks and streams to keep track of but some of them may be dry when you are there. The stream in Caledonia State Park is one of the prettiest that I have ever seen and I doubt that it would ever be dry.

    As far as the actual hiking, I enjoyed it quite a bit. The shelters are some of the nicest you will see and I saw some great wildlife too. Enjoy your hike!

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by john gault View Post
    I second the above post.

    Believe it or not, Maryland has more rocks than southern Pa.
    This is awesome news! (I did Maryland 2 years ago and go to PA next week!)

  15. #15

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    Hey Folks,
    I'm considering the same sort of hike (in the same region) with a few of my international students who won't travel home over our spring break. So, we are looking at the second and third week of March '12. The boys will be very inexperienced hikers and I haven't hit a trail since my twenties. What can I learn from your collective knowledge and experience?

  16. #16

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    Make that March '13!

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by john gault View Post
    I second the above post.

    Believe it or not, Maryland has more rocks than southern Pa.
    We send our rocks to PA, they sharpen them and put them on their trail
    "Chainsaw" GA-ME 2011

  18. #18

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    A few people said the PA rocks were the same as the MD rocks, but they are wrong!

    Lower PA is worse, and upper PA is like = wow worse!

  19. #19
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    As long as you work the Doyle into your hike it should be fine. Pa is unremarkable including the overrated rock issue IMO . Have fun.
    "Take this bread, if you need it friend, cause i'm alright if you're alright" The Felice Brothers

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blissful View Post
    They are short bursts of rocks. Not that big a deal.
    I agree with Blissful, the rocks in Md are not nearly as plentiful or sharp as they are in PA. I have hiked a lot of southern PA and some of the northern end of Md and found PA rocks to be killer on the ankles. Do not wear lightweight trail shoes in PA. Opt instead for a study hiking boot that has a really good trail guard in it and you will find that the rocks are only an inconvenience not a real pain.

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