Two Great Overlooks – One Day Hike
Boy Scout Troop 103 recently hiked to Pulpit Rock and the Pinnacle vistas. Located near Hamburg, Pennsylvania, the overlooks afford some of the best views along the (AT) Appalachian Trail in our state. The Troop traveled to the area on Friday and camped over the next two nights at the Hawk Mountain Scout Reservation.
Weather was gorgeous for the entire weekend. As daylight was breaking on the cool Saturday morning, scouts awoke to the distant sounds of gobbling turkeys and nearby barking squirrels. The forest was alive. Scouts prepared their own breakfasts and quickly departed by vehicles to the trailhead parking near the Hamburg Reservoir. The 9 mile loop hike began at 8AM. This is a great hike since the first half of the hike ascends to the overlooks followed by a long gradual descent back to the parking area.
Pulpit Rock was our first destination and is just two and a half miles up the Appalachian Trail. As we followed the white trail blazes up to Pulpit Rock we were joined by an AT through-hiker with a trail name “Rambo”. He is from North Carolina and decided to hike the entire 2,184 miles of the trail after graduating from high school early last Fall. His adventure started in February at the AT trailhead in Georgia and will finish in Maine. Although we were only hiking one day, it seemed that Rambo was carrying much less than we were. He had many interesting stories to tell about his trek.
As we neared the first vista we had to scramble up and over large rocks. The trail markers were hard to follow at places. After the rock scramble we passed by the Pulpit Rock Astronomical Park. The 4.3 acre open area on top of the mountain has three observatory domes and is maintained by the Lehigh Valley Amateur Astronomical Society.
Pulpit Rock gave us a great view of the area. Turkey vultures soared in light winds along the ridge of quartzite rocks. At an elevation 1582 feet above sea level, you could see the Blue Rocks Boulder Field below. The boulder field is a large area of rocks about one-half mile long by 400 feet wide. Located on the slopes of Blue Mountain, it is believed that the boulders were left behind at least 10,000 years ago by the ancient glacier activity from the Wisconsin Glacial Episode.
Our journey continued along the Appalachian Trail for another 2 miles toward the Pinnacle. As you approach the overlook you pass by a giant cairn trail marker. This 15 to 20 foot tall pyramid of rocks is the largest cairn that we had ever seen. A copperhead snake was basking in the warm sun on the enormous pile of rocks. As you come out of the forest and onto the outcrop of rocks you have great views of the Lehigh Valley. We had lunch on the rocks while taking in the amazing views. We were entertained by a black rat snake that slithered along the cracks in the rocks and a caterpillar.
After lunch we explored the far-end of the vista where we found a mailbox containing a log book with descriptive notes from hikers who passed by over the last year. Nearby was an entrance to a small cave-like cavity in the rocks. The scouts explored the cool dark shafts and interesting crevices. We then made our way back to the AT and scouts led the way along the north ridge for 4 miles and back to the vehicles. On the way back to camp we stopped at Cabela’s, an outdoor outfitter. This place hosts museum quality wildlife exhibits of animals and fish from Pennsylvania and other places around the world. The African display is well done with zebras, water buffalos, lions and elephants.
We returned to camp and relaxed at the site with perfect temperatures as the sun filtering through the leaves. After scouts prepared their dinners, the day ended at the campfire with a ceremony conducted with dignity and respect to retired American flags that were worn beyond repair.
NOTE: YOU ARE TO BRING YOUR OWN NON-PERISHABLE FOOD FOR ALL SATURDAY MEALS
Fri., May 11, 2012
- 6:00 pm: Drop-off at the St. Joseph Church Parking Lot
- Eat Dinner first or bring a sack dinner.
- Drive to & camp at Hawk Mountain Scout Reservation
- Tanglendam Campsite (See Camp Map)
Sat., May 12, 2012
- Hike Pulpit Rock to The Pinnacle – 8.7 miles.
- Day Pack only (not full pack).
- Camp overnight at Hawk Mountain Scout Reservation Tanglendam Campsite
Sun., May 13, 2012
Morning: Mass in Lebanon, PA. 3 Options:
- 7:45 or 9:15 am: Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary 2 N. 8th Street
- 8:30 am: St. Cecilia: 202 E. Lehman Street
- 9:00 am: St. Benedict the Abbott: 1300 Lehman Street
Breakfast 12 noon: Return (approximate)
- Click here for the Hawk Mountain Scout Reservation Map