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Backcountry backpacking/camping in Eastern PA
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James Tomasino
(jamestomasino) - MLife

Locale: Bucks County PA
Backcountry backpacking/camping in Eastern PA on 10/22/2011 23:25:44 MDT Print View

I've been searching for some good trails for weekend backpacking in Eastern PA but I've run into a little snag. I read in a few places that PA has laws against camping in public lands. Some say that goes for all of the parks in the state.

So far I've only managed to find one park that allows backcountry camping: Lackawanna State Park, specifically on the Pinchot trail.

Do any of you have any experience in this area? There must be more options than this one park, right?


Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Go West Young Man! on 10/23/2011 15:22:22 MDT Print View

But only just a little west and north to the 82 mile Susquehannock Trail System loop (Potter County, I believe). GOOGLE them online and buy the topo maps/booklet set and you'll never regret it. And what an amazingly remote trail it is for Pennsylvania. As the name system suggests, it connects to other great trails like The Black Forest Trail.

Send 1/2 of your food to yourself care of General Delivery at the little town (I forgot the name) at 6 'o clock on the loop for a lighter pack. But count on getting there by 4 PM Mon. thru Sat. to pick it up.

BTW, You may not camp overnight on any PA State Game Lands, and there are hundreds of them in the state.

Edited by Danepacker on 10/23/2011 15:24:04 MDT.

Joe Geib
(joegeib) - F

Locale: Delaware & Lehigh Valleys
Re: Backcountry backpacking/camping in Eastern PA on 10/24/2011 14:27:31 MDT Print View

Yeah, I think things are really tight in PA regarding BC camping. I wanted to do something in the DWG, but couldn't find a definitive answer. By Hawk Mtn and the Pinnacle, they are ticketing people who camp outside the designated area. Again, more backwards PA rules.

Then again, it's only illegal if you get caught doing it.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
AT on 10/24/2011 14:31:40 MDT Print View

The AT runs through the water gap. I did dayhikes there when I lived in the area. I can't say about what shelters there are, though.

Will Webster
PA camping on 10/24/2011 16:38:59 MDT Print View

State Game Lands may be camped on IF you're on the AT AND you exit the trail at a different spot than you entered (Game Commission's definition of a through hike).
State Parks you can only camp in the official campground.
State Forest you can camp just about anywhere that isn't posted.

The Black Forest Trail is a great 40-mile loop. Also try the Loyalsock Trail. Check out the Keystone Trails Association website for a lot more ideas.

Kevin Babione
(KBabione) - MLife

Locale: Pennsylvania
Backcountry Backpacking/Camping in PA on 10/25/2011 07:24:01 MDT Print View


Welcome to the wacky world of Pennsylvania backpacking! As another poster said, you can't camp on State Game Lands except along the AT. I've done out-and-back along the AT without any issues and doubt you'd really run into any problems if you're on the AT.

There are lots of other trails going through State Forest land where you can camp anywhere. The State Forest rules are different - and actually seem to be written specifically with backpackers in mind. You are not required to have a permit to spend the night on State Forest land unless you're spending more than one night in the same spot. This usually doesn't apply to backpacking.

There are two exceptions to this rule:

1 - When you're in a State Park - you cannot camp within the boundary of a PA State Park unless you're in a designated campground and have paid the appropriate fees.

2 - The Laurel Highlands Trail is probably not an exception this rule but it seems like it is...The 70-mile LHT is contained entirely within Laurel Ridge State Park and, as such, you are required to pay for and reserve specific sites if you're going to hike it. That's one of the reasons I haven't done the LHT - I like the flexibility to stop at 2:00 if I want or to go on until 8:00. With the reservation system of the LHT you have to get to your destination or risk a fine.

With that said, there are a lot of opportunities for backpacking in PA in addition to the couple already mentioned:
- Allegheny Front Trail (42 mile loop northwest of State College)
- West Rim Trail (30 mile linear trail along the western rim of the PA Grand Canyon)
- Old Loggers Path (27 mile loop north of Williamsport)
- Mid State Trail (300+ mile linear trail running South-->North through the center of the state)

Feel free to PM me if you have other questions...I'm always happy to help other backpackers.

daniel B
(dbogey) - F - M

Locale: East Coast
Rules are odd just like our beer, wine and liquor rules ??? Go figure on 10/25/2011 09:01:23 MDT Print View

there are two really good trails side by side that have been mentioned already.
Black Forest Trail and the PA Grand Canyon West Rim Trail.

I'm located in Pittsburgh and heading out to the PA Grand Canyon Trail next week. I did the Laurel Highlands trail from Ohiopyle out 8 miles and back last week. That was an A$$ kicker. Rocks and hills, rocks and hills.

Joe Geib
(joegeib) - F

Locale: Delaware & Lehigh Valleys
Re: Rules are odd just like our beer, wine and liquor rules ??? Go figure on 10/25/2011 14:09:48 MDT Print View

Yes... Beer and Wine. So frustrating. That's why I stock up on my 6-packs when I visit friends and family in NJ.

James Tomasino
(jamestomasino) - MLife

Locale: Bucks County PA
Thanks on 10/26/2011 15:57:26 MDT Print View

Thanks everyone. I knew there was more to it than I'd read on my own. I have a few more trails as potentials now, at least for longer hikes. Most everything is too far for a quick weekend trip though. At least I've got New Jersey close by. (Yes, for the wine, too.)