Terrain By State: Pennsylvania

PA Pinnacle RockThe Appalachian Trail follows ridges of mountains east of the Alleghenies to the Susquehanna River in a long section of Trail notorious for its foot-bruising, boot-destroying rocks. The Trail north of the Susquehanna is characterized by long, flat, rocky ridges broken by fairly strenuous climbs in and out of gaps. About ten miles south of the Susquehanna River, the Trail crosses the Great Valley of the Appalachians to the Blue Ridge. This southern portion of the Trail through Pennsylvania has many sections that are gentle, and grades are easy, making it one of the easiest sections of the Trail.

Pennsylvania can be oppressively hot in summer, and water may be scarce. The Trail crosses many roads, and some shelters are near roads, where scattered crime problems make extra safety awareness a good idea.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy has a field office along the Trail in Boiling Springs.

Difficulty Ratings for A.T. Sections

Because the A.T. spans a great variety of terrain, ranging from relatively flat and easy, to extremely difficult, the following scale was created as a general guide:

1 = Flat and smooth
2 = Flat terrain but uneven treadway, or slight elevation change
3 = Moderate elevation change, but well graded trail, or flat trail with very rough treadway
4 = Strenuous climbs, but of moderate duration, or short but steep climbs
5 = Lengthy graded climbs, alternating with easier sections
6 = Extended climbs that may last hours or shorter climbs with difficult footing
7 = Includes rock scrambling that is relatively easy and of short duration
8 = Includes rock scrambling that is somewhat challenging
9 = Rock scrambling that is difficult and extended
10 = Use of hands required for extended periods of climbing, footing precarious, and leaping may be required — not recommended for those with fear of heights and not in good physical condition. Shorter hikers may be at a disadvantage

at a Glance
A.T. mileage 229.6 miles
Difficulty rating 3 (range: 1-9) 
Elevation 320 - 2,080 feet
Guidebook Appalachian Trail Guide to Pennsylvania
When to go Mid-April through mid-June. September-October. Summer heat and humidity can occasionally be oppressive.
Trail clubs Wilmington Trail Club
Delaware River (N.J.-Pa. line) to Pa. 191 in Fox Gap

Batona Hiking Club
Pa. 191 in Fox Gap to Wind Gap

Appalachian Mountain Club—Delaware Valley Chapter
Wind Gap to Little Gap

Philadelphia Trail Club
Little Gap to Lehigh Furnace Gap

Blue Mountain Eagle Climbing Club
Lehigh Furnace Gap to Bake Oven Knob Road and Tri-County Corner to Rausch Gap Shelter

Allentown Hiking Club
Bake Oven Knob Road to Tri-County Corner

Susquehanna Appalachian Trail Club
Rausch Gap Shelter to Pa. 225

York Hiking Club
Pa. 225 to Susquehanna River

Cumberland Valley A.T. Club
Darlington Trail to Center Point Knob

Mountain Club of Maryland
Susquehanna River to Darlington Trail and Center Point Knob to Pine Grove Furnace State Park

Potomac Appalachian Trail Club
Pine Grove Furnace State Park to Rockfish Gap, Va.