For this Hike n Hop combo, we trekked all the way out to central PA to tackle a section of the Appalachian Trail! This was our first time on the AT in Pennsylvania and it really showed us why it has the nickname “Rocksylvania”. The descent on this small section in Hamburg, PA was really rocky but the view from the high point at Pulpit Rock was completely worth the sweat! If you have time, definitely turn this into a longer loop by staying on the AT and going to the next lookout point, Pinnacle Rock. After this heart-pumping hike, it’s only a quick car ride to the quaint town of Hamburg where you have a plethora of spots to grab a pint and a snack!
THE HIKE: Pulpit Rock Loop via Appalachian Trail
Length: 4 miles
Elevation Gain: 900ft
Time: 1.5-2 hours
Trail use: Hiking, Leashed Pets
Parking: Large gravel lot at trailhead
Now that we live in Pittsburgh, a trek on the Appalachian Trail is a bit more of an undertaking! The AT runs 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.
Sadly, getting onto the AT is now a bit more than a day trip for us! So while traveling out to Eastern PA to visit friends, we decided to squeeze in a small hike along the way! We stopped in Hamburg to tackle a tiny portion of the AT that leads to a gorgeous overlook.
The trail starts at the Hamburg Reservoir where there is plenty of parking on a gravel lot. No bathrooms though! A couple of reviews on AllTrails mentioned that the lot can fill up early on weekends so keep that in mind! First, follow a gravel road for a bit before hitting the white blazes signaling the Appalachian Trail. This gravel road is a bit of a drag as it is fairly sunny and not too interesting. But we absolutely loved the sections along the AT. As much as I appreciate a quiet walk in the woods, I just love scrambling over rocks and having elevation changes to keep things interesting. Clocking in around 900ft in elevation, the first half of this hike is not for the faint of heart. There’s a lot of switchbacks and rocky inclines so hiking boots are highly recommended and even trekking poles if you’d like the extra support. The view point is completely worth the sweat and black gnats though. The rock is small, but it is just incredible how far you can see. I just wish it hadn’t been so scorching the day we visited! We could barely stand in the sun for more than a few moments. This would be an absolutely stunning view in the fall.
Just behind the Pulpit Rock overlook are three observatories maintained by the Lehigh Valley Amatuers Astronomical Society. A few of the members were doing maintenance and J had a great time chatting astronomy with them! Unfortunately, this was the last enjoyable part of the hike. The entire rest of the path followed a steep gravel road down the hillside. It was so hard on our knees that we started walking backwards! I would have much rather done an out and back and come back along the AT or continued along to Pinnacle rock. Just make sure you have the energy and supplies for a 10 miler if you choose to continue on! The only positive was the abundance of wild raspberries on the hillside that made for a great snack.
Overall, this trail was definitely still worth it for the incredible overlook. Just be sure to have plenty of water especially in the summer, as the rocky incline will definitely have you sweating! We were glad we made time on our drive out to stop for this hike.
THE BEER: 1787 Brewing Company
Address: 43 S Fourth St, Hamburg, PA 19526
Distance from Trail Head: 3.2 mi, 7 mins
Food?: Full Menu
Details: Outdoor seating but no pets
H&H Rating: 3/5
Despite being a pretty small town, Hamburg boasts not one but two brewpubs! Since we had limited time, we flipped a coin and ended up at 1787 Brewing Company. This brewery has been around since 2018 and gets its name from the year that the town of Hamburg was founded. The owner is born and raised in the area and this brewery is a loving nod to his roots. All of the beer names come from local places and people, making this a truly local pub. 1787 Brewing Co. is located right on the main drag in Hamburg and seemed to be a popular hangout. It had a great atmosphere with bar seating in front and more restaurant-style, family-friendly tables in back. There were also some tables out front along the street but it was too damn hot to even think of being outside any longer! As a courtesy to the other diners, we took a spot at the bar far away from everyone else (a hike in 90F definitely doesn’t leave you smelling rosy).
Thankfully, this bar offered flights so we were able to have a nice sampling of their wares. We tried several of their IPAs and one sour. This was a great pub to relax after a hike and their beer was fairly refreshing. We didn’t end up getting food, but everything looked pretty tasty! Overall, I’m glad we stopped and got to chat with the exceptionally nice bartender who offered some local hike suggestions and well as a good chat about the beer scene in Pittsburgh.
- Blue Rocks – Hazy IPA – 7%
- Aptitude IPA – American IPA – 6.8%
- Everlong – Session IPA – 4.2%
- Let’s Gose – Grapefruit Gose – 4%
SUM UP: Pulpit Rock is a stunning overlook on the Appalachian Trail in Central Pennsylvania. Although the ascent is steep and very rocky, this is a great hike for those wanting to experience the AT without undertaking a huge backpacking trip. The viewpoint is just over 2 miles from the trailhead! Do the incline and rocky terrain, we thought this was moderately challenging. We’d suggest coming back down along the AT as the loop from AllTrails takes you down a gravel road that is unpleasant. Afterward check out one of the brewpubs in Hamburg and give yourself a pack on the back for tackling Rocksylvania!