Thru-hikers refer to the Keystone state as “rocksylvania” because the trail seems paved haphazardly with jagged stones. The payoff for the occasional stubbed toe? Long, rolling views from countless outcropping and balds. Access the trail, northbound, in Wind Gap for an easy start along a gentle climb through oak and box elder, crossing the Blue Mountain Water Company Rd. at 2.1 miles. Gain 570 feet as you climb to a wooded ridge and track along it for 4.7 miles.
At mile 6.8, you’ll reach 1,620-foot Wolf Rock, a lichen-covered knob with views over a sea of white pines. On a clear day, you can spot New Jersey’s Kittatinny Ridge, whose name means “endless mountains.” In .3 mile, you’ll reach an old road. Turn right and follow it .9 mile. At mile 7.7, head left back into the woods. Walk .5 mile to Fox Gap at PA 191. The Kirkridge shelter (sleeps six) lies straight ahead at mile nine. (Pack a tent? Hike another .5 mile north to camp in an open meadow.) Spend the night listening to thru-hiker anecdotes (they’ll be blazing through en force midsummer).
The next day, hike .8 mile to Lunch Rocks and another sweeping vista. The trail turns into a gravel road at mile 11.1 and back into singletrack 1.7 miles later, where you’ll begin an easy ascent of 1,461-foot Mt. Minsi; look and listen for red-bellied woodpeckers (chuf-chuf-chuf’s alternating with br-r-r-r-t’s). A mile after the summit, the AT crosses the Lookout Rock Trail, which leads to, yes, a sweet lookout. Gaze across the Delaware River to see 1,527-foot Mt. Tammany.
Continue .1 mile through a rhododendron tunnel to Eureka Creek. Slosh across and reach Council Rock at mile 14.4. Descend .7 mile to the Lake Lenape trailhead and your shuttle car.
Gear up: Get last-minute supplies like duct tape, batteries, and fuel at Cramer’s Home Center (519 N. Broadway, Wind Gap, PA; 610-863-6064).
-Mapped by Jeff Chow