Pennsylvania has the most extensive system of backpacking trails in the east, in fact, it’s trail system exceeds many western states. These are the best of Pennsylvania’s many overnight trails.
Old Loggers Path. This 28 mile loop has become very popular in the last few years, and for good reason. It’s isolated, has two shelters, vistas, waterfalls, swimming holes, big rocks, and great camping. Rock Run is a stream of exceptional beauty and Sharp Top has a beautiful view. The OLP generally has moderate, gradual terrain.
Loyalsock Trail. This 60 mile route was first established in the 1950s, making it one of the older backpacking trails in the nation. The LT is famous for its diverse and beautiful terrain with gorges, waterfalls, vistas, big rocks, isolation, pond, whitewater rapids, and swimming holes. There are many scenic streams and campsites, not to mention hemlock forests along its eastern half.
Loyalsock-Link Loop. A great 14 mile loop for an overnight, beginning at Worlds End State Park, or from US 220 and include the Haystack Rapids.
Pinchot Trail. A great easier trail for beginner or younger backpackers. The south loop has been re-routed to include Choke Creek, Choke Creek Falls, meadows, wetlands, spruce forests, and cascades-dramatically increasing the scenic beauty of that section.
Appalachian Trail (Michaux State Forest). Widely considered the best section of the AT in PA, enjoy historical remnants, great views, several shelters, rock outcrops, ponds, two state parks, and not to mention the Appalachian Trail Museum.
Appalachian Trail- Port Clinton to Wind Gap. Yes, this section is known for its rocks. But with rocks, comes views and this section of the AT has some excellent ones, such as the Pinnacle and Pulpit Rock. The scrambling climb up the Lehigh Gap is a highlight as are the deep water gaps, shelters, and rock formations. The section of the AT through the famed Lehigh Gap will be rerouted to offer more views and open ridgetop hiking.
Black Forest Trail. One of PA’s premier trails, the famous 42 mile BFT is rugged and beautiful with stunning views of the Pine Creek Gorge, waterfalls, streams, meadows, and beautiful campsites. This trail has some of the best views in the state.
West Rim Trail. A popular 32 mile route on the west rim of the Pine Creek Gorge with several great views, scenic forests, small streams, and great camping. There are also several off trail waterfalls.
Susquehannock Trail. At 85 miles, the longest single-trail loop in the eastern US. The STS offers deep woods immersion with isolation, streams, meadows, some views, and great camping. There are now two shelters and one hut. The highlight is the Hammersley Wild Area and its famous swimming hole.
Hammersley Wild Area. PA’s largest and most isolated roadless area, the Hammersley is a gem. A great loop is via the Susquehannock and Twin Sisters Trail with stunning views from the Hammersley meadows. (Hint: to return to the STS, hike off trail down the ridge from the north side of the meadows, it is an exposed ridge with several great views of the canyon). More trails are planned in the wild area. Hammersley Fork is a stream of great beauty.
Quehanna Wild Area. PA’s largest wild area, the Quehanna is a hiking gem with many trails that feature open meadows, spruce and pine forests, gorges, vistas, huge rocks, pond, streams, and great camping. Jungles of rhododendron and laurel fill the gorges. One of my favorite areas. What trails should you hike? Check out the Quehanna, Bridge, Bellefonte Posse, Kunes Camp, Lincoln, Crawford Vista, David Lewis, Teaberry, East Cross Connector, Sevinsky, Meeker, and Big Spring Trails.
Allegheny Front Trail. A 42 mile loop west of State College offers superb streamside hiking, boardwalks, views, diverse forests, and rhododendron jungles. There are some excellent campsites. Trails offer a cross-connector and the eastern side of the loop is generally considered the more scenic.
Standing Stone Trail. Nearly abandoned in the 1990s, the SST has evolved into one of PA’s finest trails. Over 80 miles long and connecting the Mid State to the Tuscarora Trails. It is a part of the Great Eastern Trail. At times rocky and rugged, this trail has awesome views, old growth forests, rock formations, sinkholes, wildflowers, 1000 Steps, historical remnants, and one shelter.
Mid State Trail-Little Juniata Water Gap to PA 45
The heart of the MST in the Seven Mountains, PA’s longest trail, features rugged ridgelines with excellent views, old growth forests, natural areas, several state parks, a tunnel, gorges, good isolation and campsites.
Mid State Trail-Woolrich to SR 2016 near Arnot
An excellent, rugged hike through the Pine Creek Gorge region that features superb vistas, waterfalls, gorges, rock formations, isolation, historical ruins, big rocks, and incredible swimming holes.
North Country Trail-PA 346 to Red Bridge Campground. This trail explores the vast, beautiful Allegheny Reservoir with views over the water and great campsites. Enjoy hemlock shaded glens, scenic streams, giant boulders, and wetlands.
North Country Trail – Guitonville Road to Highland Drive. This section explore the stunning Cook Forest State Park and the Clarion River. The towering old growth trees are beautiful, as is the serene Clarion River with its pristine water in a forested gorge with jungles of rhododendron. Hikers love Maple Creek north of Cook Forest, and the waterfall on Henrys Run just south of the state park.
Morrison Trail. An 11 mile loop with a cross connector. Enjoy house sized boulders, streams, cascades, and views of the Allegheny Reservoir. Be sure to include the cross connector, the most scenic part of the trail.
Minister Creek Trail. A popular 7 mile loop is great for an overnight. There are huge boulders, chasms, a views, streams, and great camping.
Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail. The most popular trail in western PA, the LHHT is well known for its numerous shelters, big rocks, views, scenic forests, and streams. Hike south to enjoy Ohiopyle at the end.
Quebec Run Wild Area. A best kept secret, Quebec Run has a network of trails along streams filled with hemlock and rhododendron, making it feel like a jungle. This is a diverse place, with off trail caves, and huge rocks and cliffs north of Tebolt Run, also off trail.
Oil Creek State Park (Gerard Hiking Trail). A 36 mile loop with cross connectors that meanders around Oil Creek State Park. There are shelters, views, glens with waterfalls, and remnants of the oil industry, which began there.
Backpacking Pennsylvania for more trail info.