Why Every Hiker Should Visit Pennsylvania

Okay, so I might be a little biased, but I think that Pennsylvania may be one of the most underrated states in the US. The state boasts 2.2 million acres of protected wilderness, 120 state parks, and 20 state forests. In addition, PA is literally covered in multiple backpacking trails and endless places for day hikes. So, let’s take a look at some of the best spots in Pennsylvania:

Ricketts Glen State Park

Featuring 22 named water falls on an 8 mile loop, the Falls Trail is the showpiece of Rickett’s Glen. The highest of the falls, Ganoga falls, tops 94 feet. In addition, the park offers trails that climb mountains, walk along creeks, and traverse giant fields. You literally have four completely different types of hikes all within one state park, which means you can easily spend a few days exploring and getting lost in this massive park.

Shawne Falls
Ricketts Glen State Park

Boulder Field

Nestled in Hickory Run State Park, boulder field is a prime example of how the receding glaciers shaped our modern day planet. Sitting at 1800 feet long, this boulder field is one of the largest of it’s kind. It features small rocks that are barely inches big, to boulders more than 25 feet in length. Walking across the whole thing is a great way to become instantly exhausted, and test out the traction on your hiking boots.

Boulder Field
Hickory Run State Park, PA

Delaware Water Gap

This little spot is actually featured on the AT, so it may be a familiar destination for many of you. The Delaware Water Gap is the border between New Jersey and PA and offers extensive hiking opportunities in both states. In PA, the trail winds to the top of Mt. Minsi and offers views of Jersey, Mt. Tammany, and the Delaware River once at the top. Along the route there are several vantage points, all of which show a different angle and view of the area. On the opposite side of the park, Silverthread and Dutchman Falls attract visitors. The trail that showcases these falls is a flat boardwalk that makes these beauties handicap accessible. An experienced hiker could wrap up the falls trail in under an hour (this includes time to stop and appreciate the falls for a few minutes). I recommend seeing the falls first, and then driving to the trail head for Mt. Minsi and the Appalachian Trail.

Dingman's Falls Delaware Water Gap, PA

Dingman’s Falls
Delaware Water Gap, PA

Pulpit Rock and The Pinnacle

Yet another spot on the AT, The Pinnacle is a local favorite. There are two routes up, the easy service road, which offers really beautiful views of Furnace creek, or a pretty steep and intense section of the Appalachian Trail. When visiting, I recommend taking the AT up, and the service road back down. When going up, hikers are offered two different vista points: Pulpit Rock is smaller, yet is relatively uncrowded compared to the swarms of locals that you will meet at the Pinnacle. After you reach Pulpit Rock, the AT follows a flat and rocky ridge leading up the the grand prize: The Pinnacle. This huge overlook offers extensive views of the Lehigh Valley and Hawk Mountain. If you’re lucky, groups of hawks are known to fly over to the Pinnacle and come within a few feet of hikers.

The Pinnacle Hamburg, PA

The Pinnacle
Hamburg, PA

Loyalsock State Forest/ World’s End State Park

The 60 mile Loyalsock Trail acts as a connector between the heart of the Loyalsock State Forest and World’s End State Park. This beautifully mature and healthy forest is brought to life by the crystal clear Loyalsock creek. Abundant in waterfalls and mossy green rocks, it’s a hiker’s dream come true. Once the trail passes through World’s End State Park hikers can visit two jaw dropping vistas. High Knob features a panorama view of seemingly endless mountains and 90,000 arces, or nearly 80% of Loyalsock State Forest. The Loyalsock Canyon Vista showcases the Loyalsock creek carving it’s way through the beautiful PA mountains.

Upper Dutchman Falls Loyalsock Trail, PA

Upper Dutchman Falls
Loyalsock Trail, PA

It might not be as showy as the Grand Canyon, and we might not have mountains like they do in Colorado, but PA is beaming with all sorts of little nooks and extravagant vistas that make the state beautiful. So, next time you are passing through, or are looking for ways to kill time, be sure to check out some of PA’s little best kept secrets.

Happy Hiking!

 

Did I miss one of your favorite PA hiking spots? Let me know where I should check out next in the comments!

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Comments 16

  • Becky Elliott : Aug 3rd

    Check out Alan Seeger Natural Area in Huntingdon County! Gorgeous trees that are hundred plus years old. Very different feel to the area compared to other places around central PA.

    Reply
  • Paul Davey : Aug 3rd

    I live in Lancaster, PA, and I spend all my weekends running on the Conestoga, Mason Dixon, and Horseshoe trails. There’s a Pinnacle climb on Conestoga that might be worth checking out.

    Reply
  • Johnny Lawless : Aug 6th

    The article just mentions a few – there are so many places to get away from it all in PA -many isolated spots on the map that few venture into. Definitely an underrated hiker wonderland but I’m in no hurry to attract hordes into them.

    Reply
  • Hessian Hills : Aug 10th

    How do you define “protected wilderness”? According to Wilderness.net, Congress has designated 9002 acres of wilderness in Pennsylvania, which is a little short of the 2.2 million acres claimed here.

    Reply
    • Colleen Goldhorn : Aug 14th

      According to the Pennsylvania DCNR, the PA state forest system is comprised of 2.2 million acres!

      Reply
    • jujubee : Feb 25th

      Congress would only be designating “federal” land like National Forests and National Historic places like Gettysburg N. P. So maybe the rest is state park, state game lands and state-owned wilderness preservation areas. Don’t know for sure but just a thought.

      Reply
  • JoAnn : Aug 15th

    Check out the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trails..70 miles, from Ohiopyle, Pa to Seward, Pa.. Great trail, lots of rocks, great people on the trail!

    Reply
  • jonsen : Oct 16th

    Where was that photo at the top of this story looking through the trees and railing at the mountains taken? Beautiful shot.

    Reply
    • Colleen Goldhorn : Nov 20th

      It was taken at World’s End State Park!

      Reply
  • Mike kwortnik : Dec 24th

    Should have read your first post lol sry you mentioned Ricketts Glen

    Reply
  • Chiya : Feb 25th

    Can’t believe you didn’t include the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon,

    Reply
  • Donna : Feb 26th

    The Pennsylvania Grand Canyin has hiking trails in both sides of the creek. The view is breathtaking.

    Reply
  • Rachael : May 20th

    Theres Pole Steeple in central PA

    Reply
  • Gary Letcher : Jul 10th

    Two more great waterfall trails in Pennsylvania: “Indian Ladders” along Hornbeck Creek in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (3 falls more than 25 feet, plus at least 10 more over 10 feet); Glen Onoko, a side trip off the Lehigh Gorge trail (3 falls over 30 feet, including 75′ Onoko Falls — one of the highest and best in PA), a steep and tough trail, be careful! Visit http://waterfalls.nature.st/Pennsylvania/index.html

    Reply

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