Travel, USA, Weekend Activities

The Appalachian Trail – Pulpit Rock Trail

Back in September, my boyfriend and I spent a few hours hiking one of the trails on the Appalachian trail here in Hamburg, Pennsylvania. If you love hiking and are craving a challenge, then this trail is the one for you!

The Appalachian National Scenic Trail is quite a massive undertaking. It’s the longest hiking (only) trail you can do by foot in the world. It’s about 2,190 miles long and it goes through fourteen states, Pennsylvania (the state I live in) being one of them.

My boyfriend and I are fortunate enough to live about 30 minutes from the nearest trail, which is in Hamburg. I’ve been trying to get into hiking this year and I figured this would be perfect to do.

Appalachian trail sign

Getting To The Trail

If you have the AllTrails app, you can look up the address. If not, the parking lot for this portion of the Appalachian trail is located on 400 Reservoir Rd, Hamburg, PA 19526.

It’s a very tiny parking lot. Be sure to get there before 9am as the space is filled up quickly and you’ll have to park along Reservoir Rd., which leads up to the parking lot.

The drive up to the trail wasn’t bad at all. It was actually lovely because it was a warm and sunny day. We went through the little town of Hamburg, down scenic backroads, and up the narrow road to the trail. My boyfriend especially enjoyed the drive, he loves taking back roads.

Wooded portion of trail

The Beginning Of The Trail

After you park in the parking lot, you walk towards the entrance to the trails. It’s going to look weird, because there’s a big guard that blocks the path to the trails. Just hop over it, go around or under it, and you’ll get to the trails.

My boyfriend and I originally wanted to do the Pulpit Rock and Pinnacle Loop trail. Altogether, that’s a nine mile long trail and would take about four to five hours to complete. However, we figured we’d only spend about two to three hours, so we cut the Pinnacle loop out to save time.

The Pulpit Rock trail is pretty easy in the beginning. Once you pass the gravel portion, you have to walk on flat ground that’s covered in dirt, leaves, and grass. Take advantage of this while you can before you get to the harder portion of the trail.

It was a pleasant walk, for the most part. Certain portions of the trail have small but steady inclines. It’s nice that the terrain varied like that so it wasn’t just a straight shot on one level. This beginning portion of the trail was a breeze for my boyfriend and somewhat good for me. I have mild asthma, so those small inclines tend to get to me, but I still managed to get up them without incident.

Pulpit Rock Trail

Getting To The Hard Parts

As you go up the mountain, of course the incline gets steeper. It’s ok, I like the challenge and I know it’s good for my fitness. My boyfriend walked, even ran at certain points, like it was nothing.

I, on the other hand, started to struggle. I had to take several breaks when the incline got steeper. I was trying to keep up with my boyfriend, which meant going at a faster pace. This is not the smartest thing to do, especially if you’re like me and have asthma. I didn’t have an attack but I had to slow down and go at my own pace after a while.

Another reason why it got harder, besides the incline, was the terrain itself. Here in Pennsylvania, the terrain is very rocky, pebbly, and wooded. As you hike up the mountain, it becomes harder because you’re constantly going against the terrain.

Being the city girl that I am, and just getting into hiking, the terrain creates new challenges. As we continued our hike, I started to feel the soreness in my lower body. I was also starting to become out of breath a bit but I still pushed on!

Pulpit Rock Overlook

The Toughest Part Yet

Up until this point, I thought we were at the hard part. The incline was steep with a rocky and uneven bottom. How could this get any worse? Trust me, it did.

I’d say about the last third of the hike was tough. We weren’t stepping over small rocks anymore. We were stepping over legit large boulders and huge rocks. You couldn’t even walk, you had to climb up them. Since I’m very short, it was extra challenging for me and my short legs.

Like with the rest of this trail, I managed to make it up the boulders. If you’re not physically fit or have joint problems, this portion of the trail may not be for you. Even seemingly fit people, my boyfriend included, were going at a slower pace to get through the maze of boulders and rocks.

My boyfriend on the edge of the rock

Pulpit Rock

It took about 2 hours to get up to this point but we finally made it! Pulpit Rock are two huge rocks that overlook the mountains and valley below. It’s such a beautiful sight to see. It is a very busy area though, so don’t be surprised to see at least ten other people there.

But I totally understand it. With views like that, why wouldn’t you want to flock here? The trail, with that terrain and incline, was all worth it for these views. My boyfriend and I stayed here for about 40 minutes. We ate our snacks, taking in the views, and pictures.

We were both pleasantly pleased, albeit very tired, with this hike. It was challenging but we enjoyed the challenge. Both of us would definitely do the hike again. If you wanted to get to Pulpit Rock without going through the tough portions, there’s other trails that lead to the same lookout point.

Pulpit Rock

What You’ll Need For This Trail

If you’re thinking about doing this trail for yourself, there’s a few things you’ll want to bring with you.

  • Good hiking day backpack
  • Water bottle or reservoir
  • Snacks/food
  • Inhaler (if you have asthma)
  • First aid kit
  • Medicine
  • Good hiking shoes (very rocky and unstable terrain)
  • Flexible and comfy clothing
  • Merino wool socks
  • AllTrails app – have the trail saved offline
  • Survival Paracord bracelet
  • Camera for pictures

Remember to be safe and aware of your surroundings at all time, safe hiking!