On a day when the wise course was air-conditioning and a pitcher of margaritas, we left once again to the great outdoors, this time in Pennsylvania. Our two loop hikes featured highlights of the Appalachian Trail. Day 1 was a short section in the Lehigh Gap with a steep, bouldery scramble. Day 2 included the scenic views from Pulpit Rock and the Pinnacle.
Both hikes are well documented, and I don’t have too much to add to them except complaints about the weather. Ready? Here goes. The Lehigh Gap scramble faces west with very little shade, so the rocks get very hot on a sunny afternoon. The radiant heat increases the perceived temperature and, since the scramble requires handholds, it’s very uncomfortable to the touch. In short, I would have enjoyed this hike much more on a cooler day. It is rated as difficult, the conditions made it occasionally brutal.
The Pulpit Rock hike is steadily uphill but not steep, with a pleasant forest providing shade and obscuring views. Near the rock, it becomes bouldery. (Appalachian Trail through-hikers claim that all of Pennsylvania is bouldery.) The view from Pulpit Rock is extensive and interesting. However, there is also a road from the non-trail side so it gets busier than one might expect with bicyclists and dog-walkers.
From Pulpit Rock it’s a couple of miles to the Pinnacle, but mostly level, easy walking. The Pinnacle is an even more spectacular overlook, and it is one of the highest points you can see. A verdant valley spreads below, and great birds soar overhead and at eye level.
The Lehigh Gap scramble is only 2.5 miles, making it less than a third the length of the Pulpit / Pinnacle Loop, but it was more demanding on the day we did it.