The portion of the Appalachian Trail through southern Pennsylvania has many sections that are gentle, and grades are easy, making it one of the easiest sections (according to some thru-hikers) of the Trail. However, the Trail north of the Susquehanna River is characterized by long, flat, rocky ridges invaded by numerous strenuous climbs in and out of gaps. In fact, the rocks of Pennsylvania are infamous. Most of the chronicles of thru-hikers that I have read remark that PA is notorious for its foot-bruising, boot-destroying rocks. Pennsylvania has the tag line of “where the feet cry out and boots go to die”
I have three basic concerns that I will have as I reach the state of my birth (Franklin, PA). First, Pennsylvania has been known to be oppressively hot during the summer months of July and August, although my body and mind seem to do better with heat than with cold. Second, if it is a hot summer water sources in PA may be scarce. And third, the Trail crosses many roads in the Keystone State and some shelters are near those roads – as a result of the close availability to civilization, there are scattered crime problems that make extra safety awareness a good idea. My goal is to find shelter and camp sites at least five miles from the intersecting roadways.
Pennsylvania has 229.6 miles of the trail. The trail travels from the Pennsylvania-Maryland border at Pen Mar, a tiny town right on the state line, north to the Delaware Water Gap located close to the Pennsylvania-New Jersey line. There are several towns that have been established close to the trail itself. Some of the more popular communities among thru-hikers are Boiling Springs (The Appalachian Trail Conservancy has a field office in Boiling Springs), Duncannon, Port Clinton, Palmerton, Wind Gap, and Delaware Water Gap.
Coming soon – two more parts to Pennsylvania – the museum and the ice cream.