Hike the Pinnacles and Pulpit Rock

Pennsylvania The Pinnacles Trailhead (Hamburg Reservoir)

  • Activities:

    Chillin, Camping, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:

    Loop

  • RT Distance:

    9 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    1200 Feet

Easy Parking
Forest
Scenic

The Pinnacles and Pulpit Rock offer some of the best views in Pennsylvania, only a short drive from Harrisburg and Allentown. There are two different vista views of the rolling Lehigh Valley Farmland.

Park in the lot near the Hamburg Reservoir and hike around the barrier and up the gravel road. Shortly on your right the Appalachian Trail branches off the road. Follow the white blazes of the AT for around 2 miles to the Pulpit Rocks, just before the trail passes the Lehigh Valley Astronomical Society road.

From the Pulpit Rocks you will get a glimpse of the sweeping grandeur the Pinnacles will have to offer only a few miles later. Note the Pinnacle itself, sticking out like an anthill just off the main ridge.

Continue along the AT for around 3 more miles until you come to the pinnacles, marked by a massive pile of rocks along the trail. Hike out on to the rock face of the Pinnacles to see the quilted farms before you. Also climb down the rocks to explore a series of small caves and crevices below.

After thoroughly exploring the pinnacles, follow the AT west through relatively flat terrain on what turns into an old fire road. You will pass two trails branching to your left. Take either of these to return to the parking lot for a 7 mile or 9 mile round trip respectively. If you wish to turn this trip into an overnight, perhaps to take it slow and really enjoy the area, continue on the AT shortly past the second left-bearing trail. You will encounter signs for State Gamelands. After passing these signs and the barrier, you can look for a spot to camp. There are a number of areas which appear to have regular use.

Water for purification can be located a half a mile back up the trail from a spring. However this source may be seasonal and is usually at a trickle so total reliance on it should be avoided.

The next morning, retrace your steps back to the closer branching trail you passed yesterday and follow it past Hamburg Reservoir to the parking lot.

Pack List

For a day hike:

- Small bag- Lunch- Water- Flashlights for cave/crevice exploring- First aid kit

For an overnight:

- Backpack- Sleeping bag- Matches- Stove- Water (plenty in case the spring is dry)- Food- Bear bag- Rope- Flashlight- First aid kit

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Reviews

Overall rating: 

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One of my go-to hikes. Have done it probably around 30 times over the past 20 years. Has been rated by Outside Magazine as the best view in PA. Have seen a couple of snakes recently, including a fairly good size rattlesnake. I have hiked it in all times of year - from blazing hot summer days to hiking in 10 inches of snow. It's been a good hike every time.

3 months ago
3 months ago

This might be the most popular hike in Pennsylvania. The views from the Pinnacle and the Pulpit are fantastic. Best to hike early in the morning (sunrise hike is amazing here) though because the trail does get crowded. Very rocky trail (average for PA) makes for healthy snake population on the mountain.

4 months ago
4 months ago

What a beautiful hike! trail was nicely marked, only issue we ran into was after the pinnacle we were looking for the two trails and never found them but we did follow the AT until we came to sign for the reservoir which led us back to our car, round trip was 10.2 miles. Also the bugs were kind of bad (Nats, mosquitos, and flies) to avoid constant swatting and bugs in your eyes I recommend bringing a mosquito net face cover.

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

To start, you gain elevation quickly but it evens out after that. Definitely would recommend hiking shoes, as there's not too much scrambling but the trail is practically all rock. Watch your step and enjoy the beautiful views! Some of the best in PA

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

We hiked it as a section point to point on the AT, the View is outstanding but arrive at trail head parking early as it fills up fast and expect to share your day with lots of people.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

A fun hike to do if you have 3 hours! Great look out at the top!

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

More challenging if you hike as a loop. Plan on stopping for a bit at the top. The view is fantastic!

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Ian Carey

Student, Varsity Swimmer at Colorado College. Amateur Triathlete, and outdoor enthusiast. Allentown, PA is home.

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