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What to expect

Pennsylvania has 1270 trails including medium, easy, and difficult trails. The trail with the highest elevation climb is the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge Impoundment Loop and the one with the least climb is the American Perimeter Trail - Southern Appalachian Primary. The longest trail is American Perimeter Trail - Southern Appalachian Primary at 1560 km. To complete this hike you should budget at least 92 days. For a shorter adventure, you can try the Cold Run Loop Trail a t 234 m. This could be done in as little as 1 days. Trails with the best offering of hostels include Horse-Shoe Trail and Middle Creek Trail Loop, Pine Creek Rail Trail, Tracy Ridge Loop Trail, Drake's Well Loop via Gerard Trail, and Blue-White Trail and Mid-State Trail Loop.

Guide to hiking in Pennsylvania

Be prepared for hiking in Pennsylvania with the HiiKER app

FAQs about hiking in Pennsylvania

What is the climate like for hiking in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania experiences a temperate climate with distinct seasonal variations, influencing the hiking experience. Springtime hiking, from March to May, can be unpredictable with fluctuating temperatures and frequent rain, turning trails slippery. Summer, spanning June to August, brings warmer temperatures, making daytime hikes potentially challenging, but offering the best visibility and flora exploration.
From September to November, the autumn season paints Pennsylvania's hiking trails with vibrant colors. This is an ideal time for hiking with moderate temperatures and less rainfall. However, trails can be covered with leaves, making them slippery. Winter hikes, from December to February, require proper gear due to freezing temperatures and potential snow, but the stark beauty of the landscape can be a reward.
It's generally recommended to hike in Pennsylvania during the fall for the most comfortable temperatures and scenic beauty. Always check the weather before hiking, and prepare accordingly. For detailed forecasts, the National Weather Service (https://www.weather.gov/) can be a reliable resource, and for specific trail conditions and advice, the Keystone Trails Association (https://www.kta-hike.org/) offers a wealth of information.


Do I need a permit to hike in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, most hiking trails are open to the public without requiring permits. However, for overnight backpacking in some state forests and parks, you may need a free permit. These can be obtained by contacting the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). For information and inquiries, visit their official website (https://www.dcnr.pa.gov/).


Is wild camping allowed in Pennsylvania?

Wild camping in Pennsylvania is generally permitted in state forests and some state parks, but with restrictions. Campsites must be at least 25 feet from trails and 100 feet from streams or other water sources. Overnight stays may require a permit from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (https://www.dcnr.pa.gov/).


Are there mountain rescue services in Pennsylvania?

In case of emergencies during hiking in Pennsylvania, dial 911 to reach local law enforcement, who coordinate with other agencies for mountain rescue operations. The Pennsylvania Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team (PA-HART) may also be deployed for complex rescues. For more information, visit their website https://www.dcnr.pa.gov/Recreation/SearchAndRescue/Pages/default.aspx


Are there dangerous plants in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania's trails offer diverse flora, with deciduous forests in the southeast and coniferous in the northwest. You'll find oak, maple, and pine trees, and wildflowers in spring. Beware of poison ivy and poison oak. The DCNR's "iConservePA" portal (https://www.iconservepa.org/) provides detailed information about local flora.


What wildlife should I be aware of when hiking in Pennsylvania?

On Pennsylvania's trails, hikers may encounter white-tailed deer, squirrels, and birds like the ruffed grouse. Insects include ticks, which can carry Lyme disease. Black bears are present but generally avoid humans. Information on wildlife safety is available on the Pennsylvania Game Commission's website (https://www.pgc.pa.gov/).