Sunday, November 4, 2012

Appalachian Trail, PA - Bake Oven Knob to Lehigh Valley Tunnel

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

GPS Coordinates to Bake Oven Knob Parking 40.744774, -75.738075

View Larger Map
My GPS did not tell me this, but when on paved Ulrich Road, at a fork where a gravel road goes to the left and the paved road continues right, turn left on the gravel road which switchbacks uphill to the parking lot.
Huge parking lot on right to access the AT northbound.  There is also a parking lot on the right.

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

From Bake Oven Knob parking - 10.55 miles
From Ashfield Road parking - 4.25 miles

APPALACHIAN TRAIL SECTION HIKING: - AT section miles 1234.0 to 1239.3

Bake Oven Knob -

The AT northbound starts in the corner of the parking lot.  Because Bake Oven Knob is only a short distance from this lot, expect a lot of graffiti and litter along the way.
There are several old county boundary markers along the way.
Don't be fooled by the smooth trail leaving the parking lot.  Although the elevation change on this hike is minimal since the entire hike is along the ridge, there will be several challenging boulder crossings and the trail, for the most part, will be pretty rocky.
Graffiti announces the arrival at Bake Oven Knob
View to the east.
View to the north - the hike will be following this ridge on the AT northbound.
View to the east.
View to the west with the sun rising from behind over the ridge.
The AT continues north from Bake Oven Knob along the rocky ridge...
... the over boulders with lots of rock hopping along the western side of the ridge.
Blowdowns from Hurricane Sandy were minimal but I brought along some snippers to clear the way...
... because Shawnee doesn't do blowdowns if small branches are blocking her way.
Cross a power cut where they saved the jumbled mass of boulders special for the AT to cross over!
After the power cut, about a mile stretch of easier trail.
Enjoy it while you can because...
... next up is the blue-blazed South Trail, if you dare.
They aren't kidding!  If you have ever hiked The Giant Stairs in the New Jersey Palisades, this is very similar.  It took me 1 1/2 hours to do this 1-mile stretch.  Shawnee demonstrates in the video below.
Looking back to the south along the ridge where the AT resides.
The relentless sea of often wobbly rocks and boulders continues on...
... and on ...
But with rewards of great views.  The views are better than at Bake Oven Knob and there is no graffiti or litter.
Had to render a little first aid at the end but it looked worse than it was, just a scratch from the boulders.  Be sure your first aid kit is stocked before heading out on this hike!
The blue-blazed South Trail meets back up with the AT almost over the Lehigh Valley Tunnel at I-476 then southbound on the AT all the way back to the parking lot.
To shorten this hike to about 4 miles and only do the nothern South Trail lollipop part you can park on Ashfield Road at the power cut where the AT crosses over.  GPS coordinates are 40.7696,-75.694051

[  0.00]  From the northeastern corner of the northern parking lot, head north on the white-blazed Appalachian Trail
[  0.15]  County marker on left and side trail on right that goes to campsite; keep straight
[  0.40]  Bake Oven Knob with views on both sides
[  0.90]  Bake Oven Knob shelter on right
[  2.85]  Blue Eagle Mountain Climbing Club sign on the left
[  2.90]  Woods road crosses over diagonally coming in from the right and leaving to the left at red game commission boundary sign
[  3.05]  Enter power cut
[  3.15]  Cross Ashfield Road at AT parking area and communications tower
[  3.35]  Kiosk on left
[  4.25]  Concrete SGL boundary marker
[  4.35]  Keep left at unmarked fork then veer right at next fork at blue South Trail sign
[  5.40]  Turn left on white-blazed AT when blue ends
[  6.30]  Keep straight when beginning of blue South Trail goes left
[  6.40]  Concrete SGL boundary marker
[  7.30]  Kiosk on right
[  7.40]  Cross Ashfield Road at AT parking area and communications tower
[  7.50]  Enter power cut
[  7.65]  Woods road crosses over diagonally
[  7.70]  Blue Eagle Mountain Climbing Club sign on right
[  9.65]  Bake Oven Knob shelter on left
[10.15]  Bake Oven Knob
[10.40]  County marker on right and side trail to campsite on left
[10.55]  Back at parking lot


  1. Beautiful vistas and wonderful photos. Negotiating those rocks looked tough though.

    1. Thanks, Bill! Those rock/boulder fields were very tough and it was very slow going. It was worth it for the views but my knees were glad to be out of the rocks and back at the car at the end!


  2. Daniela! This was a gorgeous hike! The hubby and I would one day like very much to hike at least "part" of the AT. Poor Shawnee--I hope she feels better!

    1. Thanks, Kelly! It was nice to find a place relatively untouched by Hurricane Sandy coming from the war zone once known as New Jersey. Hiking trails are pretty much off limits in NJ right now. Shawnee is doing well other than the trauma of one side of the Band-Aid I put over her owie being permanently stuck to her fur. She is not very pleased about that.


  3. This looks very tempting after being cooped up since returning from Va. Just concerned about icy/slippery rocks and wind factor along those open stretches. About what time of day did you hit that 'endless' rock pile? Wondering if things might warm up a bit by noon. Thinking about this weekend...if we don't get hit w/a snowstorm that is. That's some owie for poor Shawnee! (Did you hear my "Awwwwwwwwww, poor baby!", when I read that?) Give her some extra smooches & skritches for me, please.

    1. Linda, I think this weekend would be the perfect weekend to do this hike. There is too much full exposure to do it in the heat of the summer or when it is really cold. It was not wet at all so it wasn't slippery but the rocks are wobbly and sometimes when you step on a slab that you think looks big enough to be stable, it's like stepping on a seesaw so it is extremely slow going because you have to test every rock before you put your full weight on it! When I was there, based on the time stamps on my pictures, I started at 7:54 AM from the parking lot, got to the 1-mile boulder stretch at the blue-blazed South Trail at 11:33 AM and was at the end of that and back on the AT at 1:04 PM. The temps were 37 low/45 high with 10 mph winds. This weekend the forecast is for low in the 30's, high in the mid 50's with 1-5 mph winds so you would have better weather than I did, if they are correct with the forecast. (That is the forecast for Hamburg, so probably a little colder and windier up on the ridge.) Just remember it is EXHAUSTING and it will take much longer than you think it will. You have a rocky stretch over Bake Oven Knob, then another along the way, then again through the power cut before you even get to the 1-mile stretch and you have to go through the first 3 rocky stretches again on your way back but the good news is, they don't seem quite as hard after that 1-mile part, but you are more tired on the way back. It is most definitely a good workout! Oh, and after you get off the blue trail with all of the rocks, the AT back southbound running parallel to the blue trail is not rocky, just the normal stub-your-toe stuff so at least you only have to do that 1-mile part once.


  4. Hello! My husband and I found your blog while looking for some local hikes near Philadelphia. We are residents of South Philadelphia and you have helped us get out of the city in to the "burbs" for some fresh air and great views.

    This hike was EXHAUSTING!! We were cooked by the end and my Merrell boots didn't make it in the last mile the sole came off!!

    Thanks for the great directions! We've been able to get out toValley Forge Park and Wissahickon Park in previous weekends. The weather has been too beautiful these past weekends to stay in the city. Thanks for the great information and I'l keep you posted on where we end up next!