View Full Version : First hike questions

08-10-2012, 10:59
I'm very interested in the outdoors and hiking/biking. I've been thinking about doing an overnight hike for about a year now and just haven't made the time for it. My girlfriend and I go dayhiking occasionally but haven't done anything really serious. I want to go on a one or two night hiking trip in September or October and am trying to find a good trail to start on close to home. Does anyone have any suggestions? I live near about an hour outside of Philadelphia, PA. This is the trail I was thinking about doing:


Thanks for any advice.

08-10-2012, 12:04
1) You mention that you've done hiking -- great! But have you done camping? The two skills are related -- learning to do well with minimal luxury -- but are, indeed, different skills. I would suggest you first find out how well you do when the only roof over your head is a tent, and the only cooked food you have is what you can make with a camp store or a fire. There are several state parks in the area where you can find out how well you can handle setting up the camp site and using fire to cook your meals. The nice thing about car camping is that, if you realize you forgot something, you just get in the car and drive to where you can buy it.

2) Okay, let's say you've mastered the skills both of hiking and of camping. The next step is to combine the two skills into back-packing. It's one thing to walk ten miles carrying only what you need for a few hours, it's another skill to eat and sleep well while overnight in the woods, and it's still another skill to do the latter with only the stuff you carry on your back. It's a good idea to start small, with a one-nighter -- that way, the WORST scenario is that you have a miserable night's sleep and eat cold food. More likely you'll find out what you need, what you DON'T need, and that you really CAN handle the experience. Successful experience is a great confidence builder, and success in this is as much mental as physical. What you MIGHT want to do is a "fake" backpack -- drive to car-camping park, place everything you THINK you need for the night in your backpack, carry that backpack from your car to the campsite (you could do a walk of five miles or five yards), and then see how well you do with only the stuff in your pack. If you find you've goofed, that you didn't pack something you actually DID need, just learn from your mistakes and try again.

3) Okay, let's say you're pretty confident about walking to a campsite and spending the night with only what you carried on your back. The question is, "WHERE do you do this close to where I live?" As usual, the answer is, "That depends." Specifically, it depends on how you plan to get back to where you parked your car.
Just hiking to a campsite, after which you just hike back? Just about anywhere that has a camp site close to a parking site will do.
Using two cars? - then go to just about any linear path between two, easy to reach parking spaces.
is a good place to find such places.
Hoping to do a loop? Not a lot of those in PA, but the Rausch Gap area might suffice.

4) One problem I see in the general area at which you want to start -- the area has some of the rockiest terrain you'll find on the A.T. It is NOT conducive to an enjoyable first back-pack, as you'll spend a lot of time trying to avoid falling on dangerous rock piles.
You might find easier hiking in the Michaux State Forest area
Perhaps you can park your car at Pine Grove State Park, and then head south. You can stay at either of the shelters south of there, or camp for one night at a spot you like.
Title 17 of PA Penal Code, Subpart C, Section 21.61 states, "Primitive backpack campers not using developed facilities do not need a permit if they stay no more than 1 night at any campsite."

08-10-2012, 13:35
I've been camping overnight before in a campground. So, I have a feel for what that's like as far as camping goes. Thanks for the detailed info. I'll check into the Michaux State Forest area but it looks like it's pretty far from where I live. I'd prefer to stay within an hour and a half. I'm about an hour north of Philly near Allentown. Any other suggestions?

tf bear
08-10-2012, 16:14
You are not far from the AT. Just go for it but take it slow. Three or four miles just to shake it all out. Be ready for rocks and having the first mile a climb out of the valley. Port Clinton just past Cabelas north to Windsor Furnace shelter. There is a privy and a good water source. You won't be far from multiple bail out points if you totally hate it and need some one to get you. You can search the photos on WB to see what you are getting into. Have fun! And HYOH