Pulpit Rock & 1787 Brewing Company

Hamburg, PA

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
Difficulty: Moderate
Time:  1.5-2 hours
Trail use: Hiking, Leashed Pets
Parking: Large gravel lot at trailhead
H&H: 3/5

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
Website: http://1787brewingcompany.com/
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.

Our Beer:

  • 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!

Boyce Mayview Park & Recon Brewing at Hastings

Upper St. Clair, PA

Guys, I dunno about you, but this is the hardest time of year to hike. The ground is either frozen or muddy and there aren’t too many trails that are safe to hike! We still made it out to Boyce Mayview Park last weekend and we encountered some seriously sloppy trails. We stayed away from the lowland trails and just tried to take our time. Be careful when hiking and remember that a muddy trail might not be the safest trail! After a really nice long time in the woods, we headed to Recon Brewing at Hasting, a brand new South Hills extension of the Butler-based brewery.

THE HIKE: Boyce Mayview Loop

Length: Variable (We did 4.5 miles)
Elevation Gain: 482 ft
Difficulty: Moderate
Time:  2 hours
Trail use: Hiking, mountain biking, leashed pets (Note: pets are not allowed on the Wetlands trails) 
Parking: Large lots throughout park
H&H: 4/5

This is another of those parks that I can’t believe was so close to my home growing up and I never went to it! Boyce Mayview park is located in and maintained by Upper St. Clair Township, just south of the City of Pittsburgh. This nearly 500 acre park came to be in the mid-90s when Upper St. Clair purchased the Mayview Farm which happened to be directly next to the existing Boyce park. The combined parks now offer a variety of activities, including a community recreation center, ball fields, and pavilions. The large majority though is undeveloped except for miles of trails so despite being in a densely suburban area, these woods feel miles away from it all. 

When planning this excursion, the first thing that struck me was the lack of information! There were hardly any trails on AllTrails and the trail map had it very hard to tell which paths were paved. And several local travel pages mentioned how difficult it was to find your way around here. Expecting another disappointing day in the woods, we ventured out to Boyce Mayfield Park. Thankfully for us, we easily made it to the parking lot and trailhead off of Boyce Road. The lot was pretty full but we managed to squeeze in. From there, we found the trails to be very clearly marked with colored posts and even stone markers complete with printed trail names and arrows. I’m not sure if this was a recent project but we were very impressed with how well the trails were marked! Even so, be aware that to get a decent hike in, there’s not just one trail to follow. You’ll have to combine several to make a decent loop!

This park was so unique because it offered so many different types of habitats. There are wetlands, fields, creeks, rugged woods, and more! I honestly couldn’t have spent a LOT more time here if the trails hadn’t been so muddy. The big highlight of our loop was the unexpected waterfalls! On a whim we followed the signs for the mid-falls and it was so much bigger than I was expecting for a local park. Plus we had the place to ourselves so we could enjoy the peaceful water flow. I also really loved the Between Two Worlds trail which was up on a ridge overlooking Chartiers creek on one side and an open field on the other. The creek was such a thing of beauty, particularly at this time of year with the thaw causing rushing waters. It felt so far away from the world. We had both been feeling stressed lately and this hike was exactly the reset we needed.  

THE BEER: Recon Brewery at Hastings

Address: 1401 Hastings Cres, Bridgeville, PA 15017
Distance from Trail Head:  1.4 miles, 4 mins 
Website: https://www.reconbrewing.com/hastings
Food?: Full Menu
Details: Outdoor seating but no pets inside
H&H Rating: 5/5

Recon Brewing at Hasting is a brand new taproom for the Butler-based Recon Brewing. I have to be completely honest, I was a bit wary of checking this one out. It’s located in a brand new housing development and I frankly thought it was not going to be very good. But folks, I have to eat my words because this beer was SO GOOD! The taproom is pretty small so we did have to wait a few minutes for a table. There’s a small attached restaurant that serves pub fare so don’t be surprised if people are hanging out longer than at a typical brewery. 

We were very happy to be joined by my parents for this brewery! We love going out with them because we do a “wheel of styles” where everyone orders a different beer and we pace them around so everyone can try something new. So no, J and I did not single handedly have eight beers, I promise! Like I said earlier, I was really impressed with the beer at Recon. There was a wide variety of styles and there wasn’t anything that I disliked. All four of us have very different tastes and there was something for everyone! My favorite of the night was the headliner IPA, BRC. It was a smooth, slightly sweet IPA with a really nice balance of hops. Dangerously easy to drink

My only complaint about this space was that it needed an entryway. It was a bustling little brewery and the door was constantly opening, sending a freezing whoosh of air into the room. Not exactly ideal! Oh well, at least winter is on its way out. Right? Right??

Our Beer:

  • BRC – IPA – 7%
  • Immaculate – NEIPA – 6.5%
  • Witchin’ Brew – Farmhouse Ale – 6.7%
  • Burly Joe – Oatmeal Stout – 5.7%
  • 14 Leatherheads – Amber Lager – 5%
  • We Got the Wheat – Wheat Beer – 6%
  • Hastings Brown Ale – Brown Ale – 5.1%
  • Fixed the Newel Post – Porter – 7.6%

SUM UP: Boyce Mayview is a large township park in Upper St. Clair that has a surprising amount of wooded trails, in addition to ballfields and a recreation creation center. There are many different trails to choose from so have a map handy to help plan your route. Everything is very well marked though! This park is impressive for its variety of landscapes including creeks, wetlands, fields and waterfalls. Some trails can be difficult so make sure to have proper footwear! Afterwards, head over to the brand new Recon Brewing at Hastings for some really delicious beer. And if the menu there isn’t what you’re looking for, walk over the Over the Bar (OTB) Bicycle cafe for some mouthwatering fare.