Sunday, August 5, 2018

Swatara State Park, PA - Applachian Trail and Moonshine Trail

Swatara State Park - Pennsylvania DCNR

GPS Coordinates 40.480772, -76.531475
But....  don't rely on your GPS.  Mine took me on a wild goose chase and fortunately I was familiar with the area so I was able to figure out how to go no matter how much my GPS protested.  Google Maps gives accurate directions.
Swatara Rail Trail - Waterville Bridge Trailhead Parking

Swatara State Park Trail Map - Pennsylvania DCNR
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3.4 miles of a planned 11-mile hike because of impassable Appalachian Trail section due to flooding.
Hiked together with 5.4 miles at SGL 211 - Stony Valley Rail Trail

I always bring along Plan B, Plan C and sometimes more because you never know what you might run into on a hike.  After a week of thunderstorms there was more flooding in Pennsylvania than I had expected so having alternate plans paid off.
To start head towards the kiosk then turn left following the Appalachian Trail blazes ...
... doubling back towards the parking lot.
Waterville Bridge
Swatara Creek although it looked more like a river to me.  The water was very high.
Continuing on the AT ...
... and crossing Route 72.
Some sections of trail were very wet.  There should be a drought in August, not flooding!
Water roaring down from higher up.
Some side trails on the left to a creek.
Coming out on AT which was full of construction trucks and equipment.
A jog to the right on the road then left.
Looking back at the parking lot - good thing I made note of it because in a few minutes I was going to realize I would need to park there on a day with no flooding to pick back up on this hike.
It was muddy going under Route 443 but at least the water had drained down enough.
Just after coming through the underpass, the AT was obliterated in deep flood water.
Even though someone had placed branches across, I could see after that section of dry land, way more flooding and roaring whitewater on the other side.  I was not going to chance it but Brodie ...
See I did not think this was going to be a good idea.
This was his worst nightmare but I am sure had had to agree that it felt pretty darned good on a hot and humid day.
This is how I was planning on finishing the hike on our return route but now was as good a time as any.
Either way comes out at the same place, we went left.
Then right ...
... on the Swatara Rail Trail.
Following along Swatara Creek.
Down a side trail for a closer look.
Back at the Waterville Bridge.
Union Canal on the left.
Back at the car and on to Plan B.


  1. It's great to see photos of a section we did earlier this year. So much more green then when we did it. I love the Echinacea!

    I hate river crossings. It's one of those things I feel like I need more skills in. I don't feel comfortable judging if a river is safe to cross There is a river fording class offered by a guiding company in NH - which I think I'll try to take next time I travel to the White Mountains for hiking.

    1. I just went and looked at your pictures from that area again and yes, everything looked so bare when you were there. Like a whole different world I am guessing you had no problems crossing the creek that became a raging river for us. Had Brodie not been leashed he would have taken off downstream in a flash. I had to pull hard to reel him back in!

  2. Beautiful pictures! I give you a lot of credit for hiking in the heat and humidity. That's a shame there was so much water on the trail but we did get a lot of rain and I'm sure PA got more. Thanks for sharing! Joanne from NJ

    1. Thanks! This is why Plan B ended up being a rail trail - it was already too late in the morning to take anything with a hill because of the higher heat and humidity.