Monday, November 21, 2011

Appalachian Trail: Auburn Overlook to Port Clinton, PA with Schuylkill River Trail

Appalachian Trail - Keystone Trails Association
Schuylkill RIver Trail - Schuylkill River Trail Association

GPS Coordinates 40.5521 -76.0542

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Turn on the gravel road at the State Game Lands sign then proceed to a large parking lot on the left.
If the gates are open you can drive all the way to the top and shave 2.4 miles and a huge climb up off the hike but this is one-way so you will be driving out a different way and missing a great view.
Parking at the top just before the Appalachian Trail and Auburn Overlook a short distance to the left before the barrier.

PA Appalachian Trail Map Sec. 1-6: Delaware Water Gap to Swatara Gap - Keystone Trails Association (3rd item down to purchase map)
PA State Game Lands 110 - Pennsylvania Game Commission (Auburn Overlook in wrong place on map)
Schuylkill River Trail Hamburg to Pottsville Section - Schuylkill River Trail Association

Full hike with additional section of Schuylkill River trail:  13.6 miles
Full hike:  10.8 miles
Hike from upper parking lot:  8.4 miles
Deduct .9 mile if not detouring into Port Clinton

APPALACHIAN TRAIL SECTION HIKING: - AT section miles 1200.2 to 1202.7

NOTE:  Most of this hike is on state game lands and should only be hiked on Sundays from September through February.  Hunting is currently not allowed on Sundays in Pennsylvania.
From the parking lot walk up the gravel road which will start to switchback up more steeply.
Near the top, nice views to the east.  The view is better on the way down when the sun is not directly ahead.
At the top turn right towards a wooden barrier (alternate parking) then just before the barrier turn left on a short unmarked trail which will cross over the white-blazed Appalachian Trail and go directly to the Auburn Overlook.
Auburn Overlook with views of Weiser State Forest, Stony Creek and the Schuylkill River.
From the overlook, turn around back to the AT, turn left and make note of the sign on the right which will remind you where to turn on the unmarked trail coming back at the end of the hike.
The Appalachian Trail follows the ridge of the Blue Mountain with views all around when foliage is not present.
The small town of Port Clinton comes into view as the AT descends, very steeply at times.
The AT comes out on the multi-use Schuylkill River trail.  Continue to the left on this cinder trail or follow the AT to the right for a .9 mile loop of Port Clinton.
Continuing right on the AT, a very short but very steep set of stone steps lead down to the railroad tracks.
Carefully cross live railroad tracks over to picnic tables along the Schuylkill River.
View of the Schuylkill River at the picnic tables.
Watching trains from the picnic tables at the river.
Continue on the AT into town following arrows and blazes.
When the AT turns right just beyond the fire station, keep straight to busy Route 61 and turn left. 
Walk 1 block along Route 61 to the Clinton Peanut Shop, an old-fashioned candy store...
... with a ton of snack choices.
Loop around the block from the candy store to avoid Route 61 and meet back up with the Appalachian Trail.  Follow over the railroad tracks and up the steep stone steps back to the Schuylkill River Trail.
Follow the Schuylkill River Trail to the right where the live tracks run a level below and the Schuylkill River a level below that.
After a little over 2 miles turn left into the Stony Creek Parking Lot.
Or continue straight on the rail trail for 1.4 miles to the end of the trail as it exists today with a break spot and the river flowing below.  From this point retrace back to the Stony Creek parking lot.
Walk straight through the parking lot to a short footpath then left on a woods road which will start to ascend, steeply at times
When the woods road ends at a pipeline cut, turn left and ascend very steeply but be sure to stop and turn around for great views in the opposite direction nearing the top.
After the pipeline cut turns left and flattens out along a ridge, the ridge of the Appalachian Trail is visible to the right.
After just a little incline, the pipeline cut meets up with the AT just before descending steeply.  Turn right on the AT and when meeting up with the woods road, that can be taken the rest of the way to give weary feet a break from the jagged rocks of the AT.
Take the gravel road back down the switchbacks to the lower parking lot.  The views are clearer now with the sun out of the way.

[  0.00]    Continue up gravel road beyond gate
[  0.80]    View to the east along switchback
[  1.20]    Veer right towards upper parking; turn left before wooden barrier on path, cross AT to Auburn Overlook
[  1.30]    From Auburn Overlook retrace to AT, turn left on AT
[  1.35]    AT joins woods road briefly before leaving to the left
[  1.65]    AT crosses over woods road
[  2.20]    First pipeline cut (will be coming in from the left at end of hike)
[  2.60]    Second pipline cut
[  3.30]    Cross unmarked trail
[  3.40]    Turn left briefly on cinder trail then follow AT to the right down steep steps; cross live tracks and follow AT over two bridges
[  3.70]    AT turns right after fire station; continue straight to end and turn left to follow along the left side of Route 61
[  4.90]    Port Clinton Peanut Shop; continue to end of block, turn left 1 block, turn left back to AT, right on AT over bridges then railraod tracks
[  4.25]    Ascend steep steps and turn right on Schuylkill River Trail
[  6.60]    Turn left into Stony Creek parking lot, walk straight through to path then left on woods road
               (Continue straight for 2.8 mile out and back to end of Schuylkill River Trail)
[  7.20]    Woods road ends at pipeline cut, turn left and go uphill very steeply
[  7.30]    Pipeline cut turns left and levels out following ridge
[  8.60]    After short incline turn right on AT at top before pipeline descends
[  9.20]    Turn left on woods road for smoother walking surface (or continue on AT to Auburn Overlook Sign)
[  9.50]    AT joins woods road briefly before leaving to the right
[  9.60]    Walk through upper parking then turn left on gravel road to switchback down
[10.00]    View to the east along switchback
[10.80]    Back at lower parking lot


  1. Did this hike on Sunday; wanted to do the extra mileage, but 2+ miles on the multi-use trail was enough. I am glad I didn't go the extra, because the real challenge is on the last 4 miles and I needed the energy. It was a great loop hike and provided a nice variety of challenging hills, multi-use trail, and in-town scenery. Coming up the pipeline clearing is in the sun, so if you're hiking in the summer (like I did), just be aware that you'll need extra water, as it got really hot. Those hills are killer; I have to admit to stopping several times to catch my breath! Really, really, enjoyed the hike and will probably do it again when the trees are down so that I can appreciate the views from the ridge line. Oh, and I saw a porcupine! Thanks for putting this loop hike together! Look forward to doing more.

  2. I really like this hike! Thanks so much for having such a great guide to go by! I will alert travelers that at mile 7 or 8 you have to hike up an extremely steep mountain. I think you are just hiking from the bottom of the mountain to the top to give you some perspective. We had a few inexperienced hikers with us and it was very difficult for them to get up that hill. Also, if the second parking lot is closed, the road from the first to the second is the same type of elevation in the beginning for 1.2 miles completely uphill. Be careful.