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Appalachian Trail (Wind Gap, PA) - 03/21/10

This hike is a good choice for NJ hikers if you want some great views, don’t want to drive too terribly far and aren’t in the mood to battle Garden State Parkway/NJ Turnpike/I-80 weekend traffic. From Clark, NJ (GSP exit 135) the drive was 1 hour and 15 minutes to reach the Wind Gap, PA AT parking lot taking I-78 west where traffic tends to be decent on weekends both in the morning and afternoon.This web site has excellent information and directions for AT parking areas in Pennsylvania.

To reach the Wind Gap AT parking lot from I-78:
From I-78 west, about 6 miles into PA, take exit 71and go north on PA 33 (this is a 65 mph divided highway) for 15 miles to the southern Wind Gap exit. Go east then north and follow PA 512 through Wind Gap to the parking area on the right. This is about 2 miles from the PA 33 exit. There are plenty of options for restroom stops (McDonald’s on the left, Turkey Hill convenience store on the right, service stations) going through Wind Gap before you reach the parking lot.

The AT parking lot at Wind Gap is not very large, room for maybe 10 cars. I was surprised to find the lot almost full (2 open spots) when I arrived at 7:45 am. I later realized this was because it is a popular overnight area. The overnighters were all heading out as I was heading in on the AT. At the end of the hike around 3 pm, there were only a few cars in the lot.

I opted to go south on the AT since the map shows several scenic overlooks where northbound did not show any. Fortunately, I had found the link mentioned above which explained how to get to the southbound AT since there were no markers from the parking lot that I noticed. The trail from the parking lot heads north on the AT. For south, you need to cross over PA 512, turn right and walk under PA 33, then immediately go left up the steps and you are on the AT heading south. For the first mile you will be going up a switchback to the top.

Close to the top you will come to Lookout Rock on the right. There is no sign but a pink trail splits off to the right and the lookout is to the right of that.

A little farther along on the left is Hahn's Lookout:

For the next two miles you catch glimpses of scenery on either side but the trees, even without leaves, are pretty dense so there isn't all that much to see. There is pretty much traffic noise but it does eventually diminish as you get farther away from PA 33.

You will suddenly come out onto a pipeline clearing which looks like a huge field and the views on either side are spectacular. This was a very pleasant spot to hang out at for a break.

If you turn around and go back from this point, it's about a 6 mile hike. We went 2 miles farther to the powerline cut which made it a 10 mile hike total. There were views at the poweline cut but the towers and wires really detracted from it and it was a little disappointing after the great views at the pipeline.

At the end of the hike, a very tired hiker who normally does not nap in the car.

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