Sunday, November 11, 2012

Appalachian Trail, PA - Pulpit Rock and the Pinnacle

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

GPS coordinates to Reservoir Road Parking
40.583229, -75.941910

View Larger Map
The parking lot at 7:00 AM
The parking lot at 1:00 PM - there is an additional huge lot off to the right and cars were parked all along both sides of Reservoir Road.  This is only one of several parking lots which can be used to access the Pinnacle.This is a VERY popular hike so best to get there very early.

PA Appalachian Trail Map Sec. 1-6: Delaware Water Gap to Swatara Gap - Keystone Trails Association
Hiking Near the Pinnacle - Berks County, PA

9.35 miles
This site gives options for hikes of various lengths from different parking locations.

APPALACHIAN TRAIL SECTION HIKING: - AT section miles 1208.3 to 1214.9

The hikes starts on the gravel road beyond the yellow gates.
The gravel road is blazed blue.
A bridge over Furnace Creek just after turning right on the white-blazed Appalachian Trail at the site of the Windsor Furnace.
The AT starts out nice and smooth...
... but it just wouldn't be the AT in PA without some rocks thrown in.
The rocks bring you up to...
... an observatory on the left and
Pulpit Rock on the right.
Coming up on Pulpit Rock.
It was a gorgeous sunny day but fog obstructed the views in the valley below.
Over some more rocks and along the ridge ...
... to a blue side trail at the largest cairn you have probably ever seen.
Still lots of fog down in the valley at the Pinnacle.
I had the Pinnacle all to myself since I started so early.
Picture from a clear day when I hiked to the Pinnacle from Eckville on November 8, 2009.
The AT then continues on as a woods road with droves of people coming up to the Pinnacle as I was leaving.
At a clearing known as the helipad, a blue trail leaves to the left for the 8.7 mile hike but we kept going on the AT to make the hike longer.
Another blue-blazed trail leaves to the left as the AT makes a right turn...
... and it is a very pleasant grassy woods road where we only ran into two other hikers.  This is not a route used by the masses to get to the Pinnacle so it is a much quieter way to return to the parking lot.
This blue-blazed woods road leads down to Hamburg Reservoir...
Where I was mobbed by ladybugs!  They were everywhere and all coming at me.
The dam at Hamburg Reservoir.
A gravel road leads from the reservoir to the AT briefly, then to the blue-blazed gravel road back to the parking lot with yet more people heading to the Pinnacle.
One ladybug road all the way back to the parking lot on my backpack.

[  0.00]  Walk beyond yellow gate at the large map and continue on blue-blazed gravel road
[  0.40]  At intersection turn right on white-blazed Appalachian Trail, cross bridge, after bridge keep right on AT when gravel road goes left
[  0.65]  Rock hop over small creek
[  0.70]  Right on AT when blue side trail goes left to shelter
[  1.70]  Keep straight on AT when blue trail goes right to Blue Rocks Campground
[  2.05]  AT leaves woods road to the right and becomes rocky
[  2.30]  Observatory on left, Pulpit Rock on right
[  2.45]  Communications tower on left
[  2.75]  Keep straight on AT when red trail goes left
[  4.20]  Keep straight when yellow trail goes right to Blue Rocks Campground
[  4.50]  At giant cairn, turn right on blue trail to Pinnacle Overlook where AT turns sharply left; from overlook retract and keep right to resume on AT
[  6.10]  Keep straight on AT through helipad clearing when blue trail goes left
[  6.40]  Gold Spring
[  7.00]  Turn left on blue-blazed woods road when the AT turns right
[  7.45]  Keep straight when trail crosses over with Stephanie Spring on right
[  8.35]  Turn left at the reservoir and loop around
[  8.55]  At opposite corner of reservoir, turn right and continue around when blue trail comes in from the left
[  8.70]  Keep straight through yellow gate leaving reservoir
[  8.80]  Keep straight on gravel road when another gravel road comes in from the left
[  8.85]  Turn right on AT, cross bridge, then turn left on blue gravel road
[  9.35]  Back at parking lot


  1. Hi! We did this hike today. Thanks for your trail notes. There weren't TOO many people, but it was raining.

    1. Good for you to go in the rain! Hope you still were able to see the views.


  2. Are the numbers for the trail notes "[8.80] keep straight,,," the mile point at which we should keep straight? thanks..

    1. --Also if you have a map of the trail you did, that would be awesome and would complete my research!

    2. Yes, that is correct regarding the mile points and there are links at the beginning of the post for the map.

  3. do your notes correspond exactly with the pictures above? I would love to see the Hamburg Reservoir as well...

    1. Sorry, I don't quite understand what you mean.


    2. the pictures in the post above, do they match the hike summary that follows them?

    3. The pictures are in the order of the hike but no, they were never intended to follow the mileage - that would be impossible to do.


  4. Thank you so much for your wonderful blog and trail notes! My partner, dog, and I hiked the Glen Onoko loop you described yesterday, and today I did the Pulpit and Pinnacle solo. Great weather (if hot) for both hikes, and clear skies at the lookouts. Both gorgeous hikes I had never done before, despite living in Philly and growing up in SE PA.

  5. That is a great hike - there is a neat cave one can climb through at the rock formations. Also, I took my scout troop up and was able to set up for top rope rock climbing. By the higher rock formation are a few cliffs that are safe to set up for and around a 5.5 difficulty rating - not too bad for most of our scouts to make it up with the safety gear. I know a few people who do this hike yearly. There is an appalachian trail shelter not far from the parking lot for people who want to stay over night.

    Note to Shawnee's mom - I have ideas of SE PA hiking trips - if you email me at erickrieg verizon I could offer ideas

    1. Thanks, Eric. I don't get to SE PA all that often but if I am ever in need of ideas, I'll get in touch with you!


  6. Did this hike this weekend and the weather and views were gorgeous! Thanks so much for pulling all this together - I will definitely be following more of your hikes - always looking for hikes in this mileage range or maybe even some overnighters.
    I just printed out your Hike Summary and took it with me. Here's a tip for hikers - when you're looking at Pulpit Rock, take the trail that goes to the left.....the right one goes back to the parking lot - ask me how I know!! Oh well, I got an extra few miles in with that loop. I was determined, so I started the hike all over from the parking lot and then realized that people were heading to the right. - the rest was easy to follow. Great day!

    1. I meant heading to the left!!! Now you can see why I got lost :)

  7. I took a copy of your 'step-by-step' directions and it was so helpful. The only part we couldn't seem to follow was the part around the reservoir. We found our way, but we really had wanted to go the way you mapped out. Maybe next time. (I think you mean 'Cold' Stream, not Gold Stream.) Thanks for the helpful information!

  8. Should try Hyner View state park in PA

  9. Thanks for the write up, was a good hike with awesome veiws.

  10. How long did this hike take you? Looks awesome, thanks! Doing it this weekend.

    1. I have no desire to track time while hiking so I pay no attention to how long it takes. If you know about how far you hike per hour, you can figure out your personal time based on the mileage.

  11. My wife and I hiked this during a snowstorm once. We only got to Dan's Pulpit on that day. What a trip.

    I'm surprised you didn't mention the cave at the Pinnacle. It doesn't go in too far. It makes a hard left after 20 feet or so. You can sit in there for an hour and you still will not be able to see the hand in front of your face. Best bring a headlamp.

    It's quite common to spot copperhead and black race snakes at the Pinnacle. The copperheads like the rocky crevices during late spring and early summer. Once I was watching a black race snake chasing around a bunch of chattering chipmunks. What a hoot!

    There's also a chance you might come across a timber rattlesnake so if you're going to be wearing shorts it would be advisable to wear boots with gaiters.

    It's best for people to be prepared for a fairly full day. After that go to Cabela's or the Texas Roadhouse for a really large meal. It will be guilt free after burning up all those calories.