Sunday, July 29, 2012

Appalachian Trail, PA - Sand Spring to Auburn Overlook via Phillips Canyon

The BMECC Section of The Appalachian Trail - Blue Mountain Eagle Climbing Club

GPS Coordinates 40.537671, -76.123345

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Parking on either side of the road just before the gate.

PA Appalachian Trail Map Sec. 1-6: Delaware Water Gap to Swatara Gap - Keystone Trails Association

Sand Spring Trail - Phillips Canyon - Auburn Overlook: 13 miles
Sand Spring Trail - Phillips Canyon - 8.75 miles

APPALACHIAN TRAIL SECTION HIKING: - AT section miles 1193.6 to 1200.2

Shortly after crossing the barrier and walking up the the service road, the blue-blazed Sand Spring Trail leaves to the left.
The Sand Spring Trail starts out as a woods road...
... and becomes a footpath.
Someone camping off of the Sand Spring Trail.
My dog freezes the minute I tell her to STAY...
... so this little red eft lives to see another day.  Whew.
A few cascades along the Sand Spring Trail.
When I hiked this trail on January 1, 2012, there were several tricky creek crossings.  Not today with what used to be a raging creek next to the trail now a dry creek bed even after rain the day before.
Sand Spring with some water but it was nasty looking.
The Appalachian Trail alternated between nice, smooth sections and...
... very rocky sections.
A punky looking caterpillar on the AT.
Spring updates at the trail to Phillips Canyon.
The unmarked trail descends very steeply...
... to a bone dry spring.
Picked this litter up at the spring.  You have to wonder how well that product actually works if it did not give those who consumed it enough energy to pack out the waste.
Berries along the AT.
Auburn Overlook.  If you look very closely to the right, you can see rain falling in the distance.
The service road is a smoother, faster way back than backtracking on the AT.  The sun had gone behind the clouds so it was not too hot, otherwise there would have been full sun.  There were some interesting things to see along the service road like the critters below.
Remember that rain in the distance at Auburn Overlook?  It caught up with us and the camera had to be put away for the last 2 miles of the hike which was in a downpour.

[  0.00]  Continue walking on service road beyond gate
[  0.10]  Turn left on the blue-blazed Sand Spring Trail
[  0.20]  Keep right at fork
[  0.35]  Keep right at fork
[  0.65]  Camp site on left
[  1.35]  Keep right at fork
[  1.45]  Keep left at fork (one blaze on tree in middle of fork - unclear which way to go)
[  1.80]  Cross over creek on logs, Sand Spring on right, keep right towards AT when orange Tom Lowe Trail goes left
[  2.00]  Turn right on white-blazed Appalachian Trail when it crosses over and blue continues straight
[  2.50]  Cross over gravel service road
[  2.65]  Keep right on white-blazed AT when blue trail leaves left to Eagle Nest Shelter (view at Eagle Nest Shelter might be limited with foliage - did not go this time but there was a view with leaves down in January)
[  4.55]  At intersection mowed path (Old State Coach Road Trail on map) goes left, gravel service road curves in from the right - continue straight on the gravel service road a short distance then leave service road to the right on footpath following white blazes
[  5.50]  The AT makes a sharp right turn, becomes rocky and climbs steeply
[  5.65]  Stone steps to top of ascent
[  6.05]  Cross service road
[  6.75]  Turn right on unmarked side trail to Philips Canyon (very steep descent), limited/seasonal views on the way down; trail ends at spring, retrace
[  6.90]  Back at intersection with AT, turn right to continue on AT
                        ***Turn left and pick up from [11.15] for 8.75-mile hike***
[  8.05]  Cross service road
[  8.30]  Keep straight on white-blazed AT when unmarked trail (Marshall's Path on map) crosses over
[  8.95]  Auburn Overlook on left; retrace and continue straight crossing over AT on unmarked trail
[  9.00]  Turn right on service road; keep right when service road forks (going right briefly there are views but since I was there previously, did not go down to the views this time)
[  9.80]  Keep straight when the Appalachian Trail crosses over
[11.15]  Keep straight when the Appalachian Trail crosses over
[11.60]  Nice views at top of rise on service road
[12.00]  At T-intersection with another service road, turn left
[12.90]  Keep straight on service road when blue-blazed Sand Spring Trail goes right
[13.00]  Back at parking


  1. This looks like a nice hike to team up with another nearby that's perhaps a bit longer for a good weekend getaway for us...once we can actually get two full days w/o rain that is!

    Any suggestions for a bit longer one that's within a 1/2 hr.- 1 hr nearby? We'd probably stay somewhere inbetween both.

    Looking forward to the summary.


    1. This is SUUUUPER late, but the Pinnacle is nearby in Hamburg; a famous hike with vistas and can be 9 miles. Hope you hiked both!

  2. Linda,

    This actually wasn't one of my favorite hikes. Creeks were dried up and there wasn't all that much to see. The best views were actually from the service road and I missed getting pictures of those because of the rain. It might be a bit more exciting when the leaves are down but I basically hiked it to finish off an AT connection between these two hikes that I liked better - but then I hiked those when creeks were raging and leaves were down.

    All of my favorite hikes in that area are either on water or in full sunlight so they would not be good for this time of year. If you haven't hiked The Pinnacle, that is a hugely popular hike definitely worth doing but you would want to start very early to beat the crowds. The lack of flowing water or abundance of full sunlight should not be an issue on this hike.
    You can also incorporate Hawk Mountain into the hike, which I hear is very nice, but they don't allow dogs so I have never hiked there.

    I'll message you if I think of anything else.


  3. Daniela! Such a beautiful post--since the heatwave and drought, we've been living like turtles ourselves here--staying at home all weekends--too hot for hiking. So I come here to live vicariously through your hikes! That red guy--whew! And someone's been to doggie obedience school! That command/stay would have NEVER happened with our kids--never! Loved the photos from this hike!

  4. Thank, Kelly! And yes, FIVE years of doggie obedience school. Shawnee was feral when I first got her out of the shelter (no human socialization whatsoever) and obedience class (not the treat kind of obedience class, the verbal praise kind) did wonders for her self-esteem so we just kept going through all of the levels and I got a very well-trained and social dog out of the deal :) Thank goodness you got some rain. The whole time I was hiking in the rain I kept saying "Go west to St. Louis. Go west to St. Louis." Glad it worked.


  5. This is a tough, long, 7-hour or so hike, but well worth it. If you do this hike around this time of the year as I did yesterday, unless you're very, very fit you'll find yourself being quickly passed and outdistanced by the thru-hikers carrying much heavier packs. Somewhat embarrassing, if you get bothered by things like that, but after all they've been doing this daily for 2 or 3 months, assuming they started from Georgia. A couple of things to note: at mile 9.00 where it says "going right briefly there are views," it should say "going left briefly there are views." Also, in summer there is definitely no view from Philips Canyon. And many thanks again to Daniela for putting this hike together!