View Full Version : Simple overnight hike near Reading, PA?

06-12-2012, 15:46
I'm looking for a spot along the AT in the Reading, PA, area where a friend and I can go on a simple overnight. Any recommendations of good trailheads to start at? I need to be able to leave a car & come back to it safe & sound. I also hope to have only a short (less than 10 miles) hike from where we start to a shelter, as our goal is to go slow and enjoy the woods more than to cover great mileage. Also, are there maps online of fairly consistent water sources?


Jeremy hess
06-12-2012, 16:20
Try where the AT crosses PA 309 there is a huge parking area there and hike north. I hiked it a couple weeks ago nice easy hike.

06-12-2012, 21:36
YIKES! Nuthin' simple about THIS question....
First, about water sources: spend the money and buy the PA. maps from either ATC or KTA - the money will go towards the care and feeding of the trail. As far as the dependability of ANY water source, that depends upon the time of year, how much recent rainfall there has been, and HOW HIGH UP THE RIDGE THE SPRING IS LOCATED. If you are leaving within a few weeks, then almost any of the ridgetop springs should still have some water in them (and all of the lower ones should still be flowing really well); later in the summer, most of the ridgetop springs will be dry.
"Safe and sound" trailheads: any trailhead may have sporadic episodes of vandalism; for a while, it seemed like the one mentined at Rt. 309 was having more than its fair share of it, but this can change almost overnight (or as soon as the police begin to step up patrols in response to incident reports filed on a particular location). DON'T LEAVE ANYTHING OF VALUE IN PLAIN SIGHT WITHIN YOUR VEHICLE!!!
Ten miles a day seems like a nice easy pace - as long as you're not gaining a significant amount of elevation, or traversing large rock fields (you can have either one or both in the Reading area).
All of that being said, let me give you a few options. Parking at Rt. 183: hiking NORTH on the trail will put you at the Eagle's Nest Shelter after only 4 miles; going SOUTH from 183 will get you to the Rt. 501 Shelter (complete with live-in caretakers) after about 10 miles. Both ways are rocky, with one short descent/ascent to the Hertline campsite area a little more than halfway to Rt. 501. Parking at Rt. 501 would put the William Penn Shelter about a day's walk SOUTH of you, but be prepared for ROCKS during the first half of the day. Parking in the vicinity of Pa 72 and Pa 443 would put you within a day's walk of the William Penn Shelter heading NORTH, but you must first ascend to the ridgetop, and you will have several rockfields interspersed between sections of old logging roads. (OR - you could head SOUTH to the Rausch Gap Shelter, which is currently being torn apart and being reconstructed...no roof on this one right now! Two sets of ups-and-downs and some logging roads.) Parking in the Port Clinton area (Rt. 61) would put you a day's hike away from Eagle's Nest Shelter heading SOUTH on the trail, but the ascent out of Port Clinton is a killer! The ascent heading NORTH out of Port Clinton is also quite a slog, but the Windsor Furnace Shelter is less than 10 away, and there are a few views between the trees before you drop off the ridgeline at Pocohantas Spring. If you parked along the Albany-Drehersville Road in Eckville (below the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary) at the "wide spot along the road", you could also make the Windsor Furnace Shelter in a day, but again, you have a steep ascent on a logging road, followed by some KILLER views at the Pinnacle and Pulpit Rocks, and a descent to the shelter. (Note: most of this walk is through Hamburg Watershed property, so there's no camping except at the shelter.) And if you went NORTH from Eckville, you could reach the Allentown Shelter in a day, but you have an ascent to start off, followed by lots and lots of rocks (and a few boulder fields). The water source for this shelter is downhill a good distance. (Water for the other shelters is between a few yards to 1/10 mile away, but NOT significantly downhill.)

Have fun....

06-12-2012, 23:42
Please^ Learn to hit that enter button once in a while.
I can't reay that ^

My suggestion, park where the AT crosses Hawk Mt. Road and head in either direction although if you go South, you'll have an added bonus of the Pinnacle.
North takes you around Hawk Mt. which also has some decent side trails up to lookouts and the opportunity to see a lot of raptors.
It's a fairly safe parking area comparably to Port Clinton and 501 and 309 anyway.

Have fun.
(that enter button is very easy to find with the small finger of your right hand)