QUICK TAKE: Michaux State Forest, PA
DRIVE TIME: The forest is 115 miles (2 hours) northwest of the Washington, DC, Beltway, 95 miles (11/2 hours) northwest of the Baltimore Beltway, and 160 miles (3 hours) west of Philadelphia.
THE WAY: From Gettysburg, travel 15 miles west on US 30 to Caledonia State Park. Avoid parking along Ridge Road due to vandalism and theft.
TRAILS: The Dark Hollow loop (8 miles) uses the AT, Hosack Run, Locust Gap, Three Valley, and Ramble Trails. The Rocky Knob loop (18 miles) uses the AT, Rocky Knob, and Locust Gap Trails.
ELEVATION: From 900 feet at the East Branch Conococheague Creek to 2,100 feet north of Methodist Hill.
CAN’T MISS: The view from 1,930-foot Sier Hill, which takes in the Cumberland Valley to the west and Gettysburg to the east.
CROWD CONTROL: Day-trippers inundate Michaux during spring, when mountain laurel and rhododendrons bloom, and backpackers are a common sight on the AT-good reasons to explore side trails.
PIT STOP: At the Flamingo, 2 miles west of Caledonia State Park on US 30 in Fayetteville, the fare is home style and cheap, and the portions are hearty.
WALK SOFTLY: Along Rocky Knob Trail, look for 3- to 4-foot-high mounds, home of the Allegheny moundbuilding ant. Look, but don’t touch, unless one crawls up your leg.
MAPS AND GUIDES: The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club’s Circuit Hikes in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania ($6, PATC, 703-242-0764) is the one resource you need. Order the PATC’s topo map No. 23 ($5) separately. Also, pick up a free map at Michaux Forest headquarters on US 30 in Fayetteville.
MORE INFORMATION: Michaux State Forest, 10099 Lincoln Way E, Fayetteville, PA 17222; (717) 352-2211.