Weekend Backpacker: Washington, D.C.
The Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania is within easy distance of the Washington, D.C., metro area. And, like the Maryland section of the trail, it offers many items of historical interest along a scenic and easy ramble.
Recommended trip: This easy 20.3-mile hike takes you past the preserved ruins of the iron furnace and the former ironmaster's mansion at Pine Grove Furnace State Park, as well as the iron furnace and museum at Caledonia State Park. The furnace at Pine Grove produced firearms for the American Revolution in the late 18th century. The trail passes by Fuller Lake, a 90-foot deep hole that was once mined for ore for the furnace. The ironmaster's mansion is now an AYH youth hostel. During the Civil War it was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Caledonia State Park also features one of the ten iron furnaces in this area. The trail passes the site of Camp Michaux, which includes the ruins of an old stone barn. Camp Michaux has served as a Civilian Conservation Corps camp, a church camp, and a POW camp for German submarine crews.
Getting there: From the Washington metro area, take Interstate 270 from Interstate 495 to Frederick, Maryland. From Frederick, take U.S. 15 north toward Gettysburg. Just east of Gettysburg, take U.S. 30 west. At the junction of PA 233, turn north to both Pine Grove Furnace and Caledonia State Parks.
Permit information: No permit is required to hike on the Appalachian Trail but there are fees for camping in the state parks. Camping along the AT is free.
Maps: Maps are available from the Appalachian Trail Conference and from most outdoors stores.
Practical information: Because this hike is one-way, a car shuttle will have to be arranged.
Recommended guides: The Appalachian Trail Guide to Pennsylvania by the Keystone Trails Association and The Best of the Appalachian Trail: Overnight Hikes (Menasha Ridge) by Victoria and Frank Logue are both excellent guides to this hike.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication