Beginning at the Pine Grove Furnace State Park general store (site of the Appalachian Trail halfway point—and the half-gallon ice cream challenge for thru-hikers), this 7.4-mile lollipop sets off on the AT to explore forested trails, boulder scrambles, and mountain vistas of Michaux State Forest. After crossing Tom’s Run creek for the first time on a narrow log bridge (at mile 1.7), the AT joins up with forest roads for one mile before heading back into the woods and looping south to Tom’s Run shelter area (mile 4).
Just past the shelters, the route turns off the AT (which continues south), heading east on the signed Sunset Rocks Trail. After a southward jog on the Michaux forest road, the trail turns up the spine of Little Rocky Ridge, following blue blazes that hop intermittently from trees to boulders. This strenuous stretch of trail features several boulder scrambles, affording a handful of above-the-trees vistas along the way—although the climb is not technical, it’s not well-suited for dogs or small children. The payoff vista at the Sunset Rocks summit is just past the turn-off towards the AT. Enjoy the South Mountain views before managing the steep descent back to the AT and ice cream rewards at the general store—you might not be thru-hiking the AT, but you’ve earned it nonetheless.
-Mapped by Miranda Crotsley