First of all, I’d like to give a big holy-moly THANK YOU to City Fit Girls for featuring me on their blog this week. Head on over there and check it out! I could go on and on about what an amazing community it is, so poke around the website and see for yourself.
All winter, I was hemming and hawing and whining and crying about how I just wanted to go on an outdoor adventure. And how “Philadelphia sucks. There’s nowhere to go around here.” But I’ve been trying regardless, and while I STILL have yet to talk about bikepacking…I have been trying a couple of day hikes that leave me feeling pretty good.
Granted. You may remember that one time I went hiking with my friends and there was no incline to speak of. But I digress.
Okay, yes. If I stick super close to Philadelphia, it’s going to be pretty flat. OR. I could (read: my amazing grad school bud EMILY could) drive 1 hour and 45 minutes and we’d be at Hawk Mountain. Guys. It actually has MOUNTAIN in the name. We knew this was going to be a win.
Hawk Mountain Hiking
You know that place where everybody in your hometown has been on a field trip? That's Hawk Mountain. I think everyone and their mother has visited Hawk Mountain Sanctuary with school to look for hawks and learn about them. I can't speak to the educational side of this trip because I just don't remember that far back. So I can only talk about what we did, which was hike!
The woman we spoke to at the information center was incredibly helpful. There are signs from the parking lot and it is super easy to find. You have to stop in to pay your trail fee anyway, so you might as well take some time to chat them up! We set out to conquer the River of Rocks Trail (red on the map), which is a 4 mile loop. It passes two boulder fields, which are really cool to climb across see!
As we sat down at the first trail connector, though, we had a different idea. My PB&J on a tortilla had put some energy in my bones and we were feeling refueled and ambitious.
New plan: River of Rocks --> Golden Eagle Connector Trail --> Skyline Trail --> Various trails back to the start
I will tell you that River of Rocks is classified as "moderate." We only did about 1.5 miles of the trail, but I would say that's pretty accurate. Then we turned left onto the Golden Eagle Connector Trail. The woman at the desk told us that there was some incline as you get to the ridge. I am here to tell you that that trail goes UP. And it goes up fast. For this flat-hiking girl, this was GLORIOUS. And gloriously tough.
You hike from down in that valley up to the ridge on the left. It's exactly what it sounds like! For any real mountain men or women out there, this probably looks like child's play. But I really enjoyed the trail. When you get to the Skyline Trail, BE HANDS FREE. This is a "most difficult" trail, and it's probably because the trail is comprised of giant rocks ("East Rocks") that you must scamper up, down, and over. And it goes on for quite a bit.
Ladies and gents, I have officially experienced scrambling. And it's AWESOME.
One note, though. If you do this trail on a sunny day, you better sunscreen up right here and right now. You are at the mercy of the sun at this point, so you want to be safe! Sunglasses that don't cloud your view are also a must, especially if you'd prefer not to step in cracks with spiders in them. Just saying.
We went during the week (HELLO, grad school summers), but we were really the only ones out there. I didn't even see a field trip! I'm sure this place can get nutty on weekends, but it was a really fun hike.
*Note: if you AREN'T as in to totally scrambling up the rocks, cut back on the Golden Eagle Connector to skip the tougher parts. You'll still have plenty of rock hopping, but less climbing! OR you can make this hike easier and just keep following the River of Rocks Trail all the way back to the visitor center. I've hiked it all three ways, and they're still all beautiful.
The Dirty Deets
I am not about to tell you that this is a "Hiking Spot in Philadelphia" because I HATEHATEHATE when people do that. It's about 1 hour and 45 minutes from Philadelphia. Longer if you get stuck in traffic on 76.
- Address: 1700 Mountain Road; Kempton, PA 19529
- $6 trail fee.
- Hiking trails range from “easy” to “most difficult;” there’s something for everybody! If you are doing the same route we did, we took about 4 hours to hike it. That was with generous water stops and food stops!
- Toilets, water, and a shop at the information center for last minute needs.
- I recommend throwing a couple of extra band-aids in the first aid kit if you are scrape-prone and don't like to leave them exposed! AND SUNSCREEN!
Have you ever been to Hawk Mountain? Have you ever been scrambling? Tell me about your first time, because I kind of love it.