The Appalachian Trail Pennsylvania (AT) Dips through Gaps and Traverses Ridges!

From Maine to Georgia, the 2,179 mile Appalachian Trail, cuts across southeastern Pennsylvania between New Jersey and the Mason Dixon Line at Maryland.

Appalachian Trail, Cuts Across Southeastern Pennsylvania
Appalachian Trail, Cuts Across Southeastern Pennsylvania

Logging some of its most rugged miles within this state, the AT dips through gaps and traverses ridges. The better part of a month, the Pennsylvania leg takes to complete.

Pennsylvania has 369 km (229 miles) of the trail. The trail extends from a tiny town straddling the state line, the Pennsylvania/Maryland border at Pen Mar, to the Pennsylvania/New Jersey line, at Delaware Water Gap. Between the northern and southern sections of the Pennsylvania Appalachian Trail, the Susquehanna River is generally considered the dividing line. Near Duncannon, the AT crosses the Susquehanna via the Clarks Ferry Bridge.

Pen Mar Park AT
Appalachian Trail, Pen Mar Park AT

The AT passes through Caledonia State Park, Michaux State Forest, and Pine Grove Furnace State Park (the actual midpoint of the AT is near this State Park), in the southern half of the state. Geologically distinct from the Valley and Ridge section further north, these areas in south central Pennsylvania are the northernmost portions of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Midpoint Of The AT
Appalachian Trail, Midpoint Of The AT

Crossing large highways and many farms, the two parts are separated by the broad Cumberland Valley, where the trail has a change of scenery. Between Alec Kennedy and Darlington shelters, there is no camping allowed in the 29 km (18 mile) stretch.

Cumberland Valley
Appalachian Trail, Cumberland Valley

The Appalachian Trail passes through St. Anthony's Wilderness, which is the second largest roadless area in Pennsylvania and home to several coal mining ghost towns, such as Rausch Gap and Yellow Springs and In the northern half of the state, climbs back up into the mountains.

Rausch Gap
Appalachian Trail, Rausch Gap

Trail towns that are popular stops with thru hikers are Delaware Water Gap, Wind Gap, Palmerton, Port Clinton, Duncannon, and Boiling Springs.

Delaware Water Gap
Appalachian Trail, Delaware Water Gap

The trail runs along the top of the Blue Mountain ridge, northwest of the Schuylkill River. The Blue Mountain ridge becomes the Kittatinny Ridge, just before entering New Jersey.

Blue Mountain Ridge
Appalachian Trail, Blue Mountain Ridge

Although many feel the rocks are overrated, Pennsylvania is infamous among thru hikers for having more long stretches of rocky trail than any other state, with the description of where boots go to die. North of the Susquehanna River, the worst rocks are in the northern half of the state. Since it is mostly walking on ridges with relatively small elevation changes compared to many other states, many consider Pennsylvania one of the easier parts of the AT.

Where Boots Go To Die!
Appalachian Trail, Where Boots Go To Die!

Organized to oppose suggested changes by The National Park Service (NPS) to the sixteen mile route in the Great Cumberland Valley between Carlisle and Harrisburg, the longest route that follows a paved highway, four local townships and the ad hoc citizen's group Citizens Against the New Trail (CANT), formed in 1984.

Great Cumberland Valley
Appalachian Trail, Great Cumberland Valley

Appalachian National Scenic Trail

Including Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail spans fourteen U.S. states during its journey that is 3,507 km (2,179 miles) long. It begins at Springer Mountain, Georgia and follows the ridgeline of the Appalachian Mountains, crossing many of its highest peaks and running with only a few exceptions almost continuously through wilderness before ending at Mount Katahdin, Maine.

Mount Katahdin, Maine
Appalachian Trail, Mount Katahdin, Maine

By right of way or state or federal land ownership, the trail is currently protected along more than ninety nine percent of its course. Assisted by some thirty multiple partnerships and trail clubs, annually, more than 4,000 volunteers contribute over 175,000 hours to maintain the trail, an effort coordinated largely by the ATC (Appalachian Trail Conservancy).

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