Hike to the Pole Steeple

The Pole Steeple is a rather odd name for a prominent rock outcrop in the Michaux State Forest, near Pine Grove Furnace State Park.  Located just off the Appalachian Trail, the Pole Steeple is a popular hiking destination as it looks over the beautiful wooded valleys and rolling mountains of the state forest.

I was in Harrisburg recently for a seminar.  After I was done for the day, I decided to do some exploring.  After a forty minute drive I found myself in Pine Grove Furnace State Park.  It was late afternoon.  I parked near the park store where several thru-hikers were attempting the half-gallon ice cream challenge, a tradition among the Appalachian Trail hikers.  A few of the hikers were struggling; others were keeping time.  One finished his half-gallon after 30 minutes or so.

I was soon on the trail as it explored woodlands along a stream and passed a small pond.  The trail followed the creek more closely where I passed another thru-hiker, this one heading south.  I passed a young family who were going for a hike.  The Appalachian Trail began a gradual ascent up the mountain.  I was making good time, but the humidity could not be avoided as sweat stained my shirt.  I passed several campsites, empty of people.  On the ground at one campsite, someone wrote “1,100”, indicating they were about half-way along the trail’s 2,200 plus miles.

The trail leveled off and I took a side trail to the Pole Steeple.  A steep climb brought me to the outcrop and I was treated to beautiful views.  I also had it all to myself.  Shafts of sunlight spliced the clouds at the horizon.

View from the Pole Steeple

View from the Pole Steeple


I sat and enjoyed the view as a thunderstorm passed to the south.  Laurel Lake was far below.  A faint veil of mist began to spread across the valley.

I retraced my steps and came across a small pack of cub scouts climbing the trail to the view.  The kids seemed so small to be hauling packs so big, but they all seemed happy.  I said “hi” and one kid exclaimed to me, “We’re camping!”  I said “Good for you!  Have fun.”  “I will!” came the confident reply.  I soon disappeared into the twilight of the forest and could hear the kids’ excitement when they reached the view.

I returned to my car in darkness.  The thru hikers were gone, on their journeys both north and south.

More pictures.


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