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Pine Grove Furnace State Park to Toms Run and Birch Run Shelter

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This was a great hike ~20 miles one way from Pine Grove Furnace State Park to Caledonia State Park. We stopped half way at Birch Run Shelter. Parking is plentiful at Pine Grove Furnace. To park overnight, you need to fill out a pass which is available in the plastic box next to the front door of the office. The pass goes in the mail slot after you fill it out. Parking is just down the hill and there is a restroom right there where the Appalachian Trail crosses the parking lot. Very nice! For this hike, I teamed up with Backwardshatforwardthinking who is doing a through hike this year. He is in the process of tweaking his gear and wanted to get out a few more times prior to departure. He is also blogging for The Trek. His blog can be found here:
This was supposed to be an easy hike – split the cars, hike one way, and drive back. What neither of us realized was that were was recent snowfall in the area that has partially melted and then refroze with freezing rain on top. The icy, slippery, crusty mess was very difficult to hike on. Fortunately, I had left my pair of Hillsound Crampons in the back of the car from another trip. They were a lifesaver. The hike would have been near impossible for me without them. I also learned that hiking through snow is much slower and wears out a different set of muscles than what I was used to using! I also learned that when you have two pairs of socks, keep one set dry at all costs – hike in the wet ones the next day. After day 2, all my socks were wet. If this were a longer hike I would have been sad the next night with no dry socks.
From a hike perspective, there were no good views along this section of trail. There was ample water, and the shelters were extra nice! The trail also passes by the Pine Grove Furnace Store, famous for the half gallon ice cream challenge and the cool Appalachian Trail Half Way sign. This video shows both Toms Run Shelter and Birch Run Shelter. I’ve split the trip into two videos. The second half of the journey will be posted soon and includes the Quarry Gap Shelters.
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