11 Best Hikes to Experience in Pennsylvania (2021)
When it comes to hiking in Pennsylvania, this State holds the richness of recreational park trails, to backpacker’s mountain trails, and even the intense rock trails. While you are exploring the hiking trails in Pennsylvania, every minute of your will take you towards either the lush forested landscapes or mind-blowing open natural views. With 121 State Parks, 1 National Parks, 20 State Forests, and over 20 Mountain ranges, the Keystone State can never feel short of options when it comes to hosting the hiking enthusiast from all over the World.
While most of the U.S. states ideally experience hiking while the warm weather hits in, but when it comes to Pennsylvania, the best timings are slightly different. Once Summer is down, and Fall starts giving its glimpse, the hikers and Nature enthusiast in the State pack their bags. Also, because shady woods, scenic views, and waterfalls here are more lightened during the Fall season, the locals head out to get closer to nature.
11 Best Hikes To Experience In Pennsylvania
Hiking in Pennsylvania is no less than a delight and the guide below will provide you with some of the best options for the same.
1. Montour Trail Hike
Montour Trail is the longest suburban rail-trail in the Nation. Its 63 miles long pathway goes from Allegheny County and Washington County in the State; however, the entire trails stretch to Washington, D.C. The trail was earlier used for the Montour Railroad, though today, it is noted as multi-use outdoor recreational amongst the locals of Pittsburgh. Some major points of interest on the way include McDonald Viaduct (Trestle), National Tunnel, Enlow Tunnel, Library Trestle, and the West Peters Trail region. Hiking the Montour Trail is an easier job where you can pull down the physical stress and enjoy the beauty of nature around you. Image Source
2. Quehanna Trail System
The Quehanna Trail System is marked as one of the most beautiful trails in Pennsylvania, where one can enjoy views of both the wild and developed side of the State. It goes through Moshannon and Elk State Forests, covering nearly 75 miles (out and back) loop path. The main starting point is within the Parker Dam State Park, which is also the western end of the trail and an ideal spot for day hikers. The entire pathway is marked with orange blazes though there are two additional connector trails that are marked with blue blazes. For difficulty level, the Quehanna Trail System is marked Strenuous thus, make sure you are well prepared before beginning. It is operational year-round, and if you want to watch nature in its most primitive form, do not miss this hike.
3. Golden Eagle Trail
The Golden Eagle Trail is one of the ruff, rugged, and strenuous hiking trails in Pennsylvania. Its entire 9 miles loop is within the Tiadaghton State Forest, and its highest point gains 2,247 feet in elevation. The entire trail passes through dense old-growth forest, massive old pines, several waterfalls, dams, rock formations, two lively streams, hemlock-covered gorges, old quarries, and basically one of the most spectacular views of outdoor Pennsylvania. Everything about the Golden Eagle Trail is fascinating; however, stay alert from snakes and wild bears. Also, avoid hiking here if the weather conditions are severe as it can get really dangerous.
4. Canyon Vista Trail, Worlds End State Park
Canyon Vista Trail is a 2.9 miles trail ideal for beginners and hikers who are heading up with kids. The trail is mostly flat and heavily trafficked and gains elevation no more than 650 feet. Canyon Vista goes through Worlds End State Park; thus, while exploring the pathway, one can come across wildflowers, a dense canopy of ash, black cherry trees, mature sugar maple, mostly shaded region. Once the trial ends, it offers one of the most magnificent natural views of 1,750 feet Loyalsock Creek gorge. Opposite to that is a small rock garden with a few large boulders, mainly lime and sandstone, some forming small rocky caves. The end view is the prime attraction of the trail attracting most of the people.
5. Great Allegheny Passage
Great Allegheny Passage is the longest multi-use trail in Pennsylvania and one of the most exciting as well. It runs through western Pennsylvania, Maryland and even connects to Washington DC. It is one of the great options for hikers of all fitness and experience levels, and one can customize their hiking distance but still grab one of the most adventurous experiences of their hiking journey. The entire trail is well marked so that hikers can know the distance to the next town on the way. If you are up for long-haul hiking and cycling adventure in the State, there isn’t any better trail than the Great Allegheny Passage.
6. Thunder Swamp Trail
A network of hiking trails in Pennsylvania, the Thunder Swamp Trail goes through 45 miles of wet, uneven, and rocky land. It is ideal for the professional level hikers who are looking for moderate to challenging trails as most of the time, you will either be hiking along ridges and streams or the uneven terrain. Though the entire passage system is marked with orange blazes, it is advisable to take a map along, especially to find the correct pathways where the trails intersect. On your way, make sure you stay extremely alert of black bear and snakes-copperhead. Also, wear full clothes and soak yourself in a trusted insect repellent as a mosquito (West Nile virus) and ticks (Lyme disease) are quite common here.
7. Balanced Rock Trail
One of the most amazing and probably well-known features of the Trough Creek State Park (James Creek) is its Balanced Rock Trail. Even though the trail is even less than a mile, the gorgeous and unusual views around will make your heart filled with joy. Ideal for experienced hikers, the trail takes you near cliffs, ledges, scenic gorge, Rainbow Falls, and ultimately to the unusual geological formation of Balanced Rock. The rock looks as if it will fall down any minute; however, it has been in the same position for centuries or at least from the recorded history of the region. The great views around and this impressive natural phenomenon, though, will excite you but be mindful before heading as hiking here isn’t an easy game.
8. Heritage Rail Trail County Park
The Heritage Rail Trail County Park is located in the York County of Pennsylvania, known for its nearly 22 miles of full freedom trails. The entire passage is popular for hiking, jogging, bicycle riding, and horseback riding and is quite populated during the summer season. The entire passage is flat and straight full of gravel with mostly unshaded pathways. The railway line is still operational; thus, make sure you stay extra cautious and avoid crossing it unwantedly. Hikers who have kids along can take their prams along, though the ones with thick tires only will go smoothly along.
9. Standing Stone Trail
Standing Stone Trail is located in central Pennsylvania right in the Ridge-and-valley Appalachians. It goes all along 84 miles and is a prominent part of the huge 1,600-mile Great Eastern Trail network that begins from Alabama and goes through New York. Hiking here is Moderate to Strenuous with few small sections in between crossing, which is no less than adventure. The entire passage is marked with orange blazes; however, unless you are an advanced-level pro hiker, this hike is not recommended for you. Depending upon one luck, bobcats, timber rattlesnakes, and bears can present potential dangers. Individuals who do not possess any jungle experience before must refrain from this trial.
10. Schuylkill River Trail
Schuylkill River Trail is the most famous hiking, running and cycling trail in Southern Pennsylvania. It stretches to 140 miles from Philadelphia to Pottsville and Parker ford. However, it is only a small section of the extensive circuit trails system. The entire Schuylkill River Trail is 10 to 12 foot wide with grass shoulders spread (ed) evenly. Marked as easy, it offers beautiful views of the Schuylkill River, old canals, Philadelphia Skyline, along with urban, suburban, and rural areas. It offers an ideal hike for families and cyclists and hosts more than 50,000 wanderers every year.
11. Wolf Rocks Loop Trail
Wolf Rocks Loop Trail is a challenging and heavily trafficked trail hiking trail located in the Forbes State Forest. It is an active part of the Laurel Highlands Trail System and offers a 9.9-mile harrowing yet adventurous hiking experience. The pathway here passes from Beam and Wolf Rocks while offering a marvelous view of the stream valleys underneath. The hike begins at Laurel Summit State Park right at the head of the fish run trail, later joining Hobblebush Trail and eventually reaching the Wolf Rocks. Because the pathway is mainly dense outcrops of hardwood trees, rhododendron, rocky pathways, mountain laurel, and steep lows, adventure hearts and rock climbers choose it as their ultimate hiking opportunity.