Well it looks like I have to eat my words from last week because here’s another Appalachian Trail hike! We went to Harrisburg last weekend and got to have another excursion in Rocksylvania. This time we tackled Peter’s Mountain Ridge, just north of the capital. The hike starts out a bit dicey with a dash around a street and railroad then takes you straight up, up and up! This hike is not for the faint of heart. Thankfully there are plenty great breweries in the area to quench that thirst you’ll work up! Some friends of ours introduced us to ZeroDay Brewing in the heart of Harrisburg. They had great brews and a full menu if you’re famished after those rock scrambles!
THE HIKE: Peter’s Mountain via Appalachian Trail
Length: 4 miles
Elevation Gain: 974 ft
Time: 2-2.5 hours
Trail use: Hiking, Leashed Pets
Parking: Park in commuter lot across road
As with all of my posts about the Appalachian Trail, I like to start out with a bit of a background on the trail just in case some people are new to hiking! The Appalachian Trail (or AT for short) runs for about 2,200 miles from Georgia to Maine and is very popular with backpackers and day-hikers alike! The AT stretches for almost 230 miles in PA, from the Mason-Dixon Line to the New Jersey border. The PA section is affectionately called Rocksylvania for its extremely rocky terrain in central PA. Throughout the whole length of the trail, it is marked by white blazes, so you can always find your way!
Now that we’re back in PA, I have a dream of doing the whole PA section in day hikes (not a backpacker here!). So far I think we’ve gotten about 4 miles out of 230. Clearly we’re making strides! See what I did there…
Okay back to last weekend’s hike. Since we were in town for a concert, we wanted a hike that wasn’t too far from our hotel and that we could tackle in about 2 hours. Peters Mountain was the perfect choice, being a 4 mile loop and only about 20 minutes north of downtown Harrisburg. The ascent to Peters Mountain starts at the Clark’s Ferry Park n Ride where you’ll have to cross a large street and train tracks to get to the trail head. We didn’t love this part but the road wasn’t too busy so the sprint across traffic was doable. Just keep your fingers crossed that a train isn’t coming by because you might be waiting for a while! From there it’s up up up. Follow the white blazes for the AT as you go along switchback, quickly gaining elevation. The highway noise is quite loud and you can hear it most of the way up the hill. It was quite off-putting at first but eventually it faded to the background.
I’ll be honest, this was another tough hike for us! The humidity was pretty high and the majority of the elevation is gained in the first 1.5 miles of the hike. Take breaks when needed and bring plenty of water! I couldn’t believe how quickly we went through our water. One great thing about this hike was how low the foot traffic was! I thought this would be a popular spot on a weekend but we only saw one other couple. I also love the rock scrambles along the ridge of the mountain. I just wish that we had been able to do this hike later in the year. We could only catch glimpses of the vistas through the trees but I can imagine that it’s gorgeous in the fall/winter.
Be aware that this area is HIGHLY infected with spotted lantern flies. We tried to kill as many as we could but their numbers were just overwhelming. There had to be 100s along the ridge. It was so sad to see how they were destroying certain trees. They leave a gross black sludge around the base of large trees and I can’t imagine how devastating this might be for our forests! Also be prepared for lots of gnats and flies. Summer hiking always seems to mean constantly swatting! Oh and we saw a huge black snake slithering into a tree trunk on our way back down the mountain. Frankly I deserve a medal for not screaming. In fact I was so silent that J was confused why I was suddenly backing up.
So overall, this hike was just middle of the road for me. I love the switchbacks and rock scrambles, but I hated the bugs, running across a busy road to the trailhead, and the loud highway noises. I think I would have enjoyed it much more if we had been able to see the vistas at the top! Oh well, this just has me excited for fall hiking!
THE BEER: ZeroDay Brewing Company
Address: 925 N 3rd St, Harrisburg, PA 17102
Distance from Trail Head: 14 miles, 20 mins
Food?: Full Menu
Details: Outdoor seating but no pets
H&H Rating: 4/5
One of the best parts of doing hikes in central PA is getting to meet up with friends along the way! One of my best friends from college lives in Philly now so we try to split the difference whenever we can. They’re also huge craft beer fans and were more than happy to introduce us to their favorite breweries in the Harrisburg area! One of the places they took us to was ZeroDay Brewing Company. ZeroDay has several locations in the Harrisburg area so be sure you know which one you want to go to! We went to their main taproom location and it had a great vibe. Lots of beers on tap and plenty of seating all around. I love when I go to a brewery and see so many different types of people, all enjoying the same space!
If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering what “Zeroday” means. Well little did I know at the time but it’s actually a connection to hiking! From their website Zeroday means “a day taken during a journey in which no miles are logged, usually because the traveler has stopped in a town to resupply, rest and reinvigorate”. The name was actually inspired by one of the founder’s Appalachian Trail thru-hike and they see the name as a reminder to everyone to take a pause and “enjoy some of the side trails like offers because the views are almost always worth it”! Now that’s something I can get behind!
Zeroday has expanded quite a bit in the years since their founding. Their original taproom is now their production facility and they offer three other bar locations throughout Harrisburg. The location we went to is their urban taproom only a few blocks away from the Capitol and features tacos from the Mexican kitchen La Catrina. They also have two outposts in Harrisburg, one at Broad Street Market where people can enjoy the farmers market and one at the Midtown Cinema which also has a gourmet hotdog menu.
Also a fun fact, Zeroday’s Head Brewer is a woman named Hannah! What are the odds?!
- Pine Palace – West Coast IPA – 6.4%
- Mango Habanero – Spicy Pale Ale – 6.66%
- Sunday Soiree – Mimosa Pale Ale – 5.6%
- This Pilsner is My Love Language – Pilsner – 5%
SUM UP: The Peter’s Mountain ascent on the Appalachian Trail is a moderately difficult day hike just outside of Harrisburg, PA. There is amply parking in the Clarks Ferry Park n Ride but be aware that you will have to cross a large road and train tracks to reach the trailhead. ON this hike, expect to encounter steep inclines, switchbacks, and some rock scrambles. If you go in the fall and winter, you will have expansive views of the river valley. Sturdy boots are essential and hiking poles might be helpful. Afterward, head back into Harrisburg for a bite and a brew at ZeroDay Brewing. This is the perfect stop post-hike because one of the founders is actually an AT thru-hiker!