Sunday, December 30, 2018

Appalachian Trail, PA - Route 309 to Tri County Corner

Appalachian Trail Pennsylvania - The Appalachian Trail Conservancy

GPS Coordinates  40.707904, -75.807830
Parking in State Game Lands 217 lot off of Route 309.

Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania Sections 1-6 - Appalachian Trail Conservancy
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HIKE DISTANCE:  11.2 miles (5.6 miles each way)

To get to the AT southbound, either take the blue-blazed trail directly across from the parking lot (we returned that way) or walk out the drive back to Route 309, cross slightly to the left ...
... and down the steps on the Appalachian Trail.
It's a footpath parallel to Route 309 until ...
... the AT turns left on a woods road.
For the first 4 miles it is mostly woods roads connected by more narrow paths on occasion.  Because the AT follows along county lines, there will be concrete county line markers throughout.
Crossing Fort Franklin Road where there is another State Game Lands 217 parking area.
Nice partial winter views of the Pennsylvania countryside along the way.
Pileated Woodpecker
The Allentown Shelter - we'd be stopping here for a break on the way back because we were going to need it then.
Enjoy the woods roads just a few steps after the shelter because ...
... the trail will become rockier.
The first part isn't too bad since many of the rocks have been moved off of the trail to form a border.  (Nice idea!)
Ah, here is the Pennsylvania AT we know and love.  Or not.
The next mile and a half are mostly like this.  But there is supposed to be a really nice view at Tri-County Corner so it will be worth it, right?
A short reprieve every so often but it doesn't last.
At the Allentown mileage sign ...
... the AT turns right (a blue trail goes left) on a smooth section.
The double blue blazes are for a side trail on the right to Tri County Corner,
The missing part of the sign indicates that this is the site of the very first blazing of the AT in Pennsylvania by the Blue Mountain Eagle Climbing Club.  The old AT guide I have also says "Trail to the left leads 400ft. to the top of a rock pile where there is a marker denoting the intersection of Berks, Lehigh and Schuylkill Counties.  Excellent views."
This is the easy part.
This was not going to happen with Brodie attached to me.
So he was tied to a tree like a common dog.  Sorry Brodie.
I scrambled to the top and got pictures of the marker.
And, disappointingly, of the "excellent" view.  OK, my guidebook is a 1998 edition so apparently a lot has changed in 20 years.
Scrambling back down to retrieve my dog who had been waiting patiently.
Heading back on blue ...
... then retracing on the AT.
Once the border of rocks starts, it's not much farther until the insane rockiness ends.
Ahhhh, smoother ground at last.
And a stop at the Allentown Shelter for a break.
Back on our way to finish up.
Crossing back over Fort Franklin Road
This must have been covered with snow early on since I missed it.
Leaving the woods road to the right ...
... where all of the garbage between the trail and Route 309 had also been covered with snow early in the morning. 
Back up the steps ...
... to the best view of the hike while crossing Route 309 (quickly as there is poor visibility and the speed limit is 55 mph).
This time we stayed on the AT and took the blue trail on the left back to the parking lot.

And to close out 2018, one picture from each hike.