White Rocks Trail and Cove Mountain (Appalachian Trail)

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View from Cove Mountain

After a Keystone Trails Association board meeting, I decided to do some hiking while in southcentral PA. My first stop was to the Appalachian Trail Museum at Pine Grove Furnace State Park.  There were many thru-hikers, and hikers in general, about, relaxing in the shade, out of the hot sun.  The museum was small, but the exhibits were very well done, offering a nice snapshot of the history and culture of the trail.

I then drove through the scenic village of Boiling Springs, where there were more thru-hikers, and made my way to the White Rocks Trail along Kuhns Road. The trail is blazed light blue and follows a narrow ridge with many quartzite rock outcrops and some nice views.  The climb wasn’t too difficult, but I was soon sweating from the heat.  I saw some rock climbers and many other hikers.  The rocks were impressive as they rose along the rugged spine of the ridge.  Some geologists believe White Rocks to be the northern end of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which begin in Georgia.  I reached the Appalachian Trail (AT), hiked to Center Point Knob, and returned to my car.

I then drove north to hike the AT to the top of Cove Mountain. As I reached the trailhead, I saw two hikers with their thumbs out, hitching a ride.  Since I never picked up a hitchhiker, I thought this would be a good time to start.  One was a thru-hiker with Warrior Expeditions, an organization that helps veterans on long hikes.  The other was a friend of his.  Both were very nice and appreciated the ride south so they could get the friend’s vehicle.     The thru-hiker was from Ohio and his friend lived in Philly.  Since I lived in Ohio for a few years, we talked about some of the beautiful places in that state, like Nelson Kennedy Ledges.  He said this hike was the best thing he’d ever done.

Big outcrops on White Rocks Trail

I drove back to the trailhead and began the hike as the AT crossed meadows and scenic woodlands with small streams. It was a very nice hike.  I passed a few people camping and began the gradual climb up Cove Mountain as sunlight splintered through the trees.  I soon reached the top and enjoyed the fine views from a pipeline swath.  To the west were rolling ridges, to the east was the Susquehanna River as it cut through mountains adorned with cliffs, masked in the summer haze.  I heard footsteps behind me, and it was the thru-hiker.  We talked a bit; he hoped to stop by the famous Doyle Hotel in Duncannon, get a beer, and camp on the other side of the river that night.  He had some miles to cover.  I wished him luck on the hike.  I had a feeling he’ll make it to Katahdin.

I retraced my steps and made it quickly down the mountain. I crossed the meadows, cast in the golden light of the setting sun, and returned to my car.

For more photos, click on the image below:

Appalachian Trail Museum
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