Posted by: davepidgeon | October 27, 2009

The Pinnacle of Pennsylvania

A stunning view from the Pinnacle in Pennsylvania.

A stunning view from the Pinnacle in Pennsylvania.

Epic.

For Pennsylvania.

Those are the best words to describe The Pinnacle in northern Berks County, a rock outcrop jutting out of Blue Mountain about 800 feet above the Lehigh Valley. No finer vista exists along Pennsylvania’s 229 miles of Appalachian Trail. While the experience of hiking there may not have the adventurous quality of New England’s alpine zones or the mysteriousness of those balds in southern Appalachia, you can be assured of a camera-pleasing day if you attempt to reach The Pinnacle by way of a 8.7-mile loop.

Goofin' off during a previous trip to The Pinnacle.

Goofin' off during a previous trip to The Pinnacle.

What makes this vista so memorable is how on a good day, one where you aren’t struggling to look through brown haze or low-hanging clouds, you can see not only the checkerboard quality of those Lehigh Valley farm fields but also the tall gray buildings of downtown Allentown some 30 miles away. To the left, like an outstretched, muscular arm, continues the long ridge of Blue Mountain and across its crest rolls the A.T.

I’ve seen some of the best natural vistas in Pennsylvania, from Pine Creek Gorge to the Loyalsock to the Black Forest. All of them stand out, but the best of the best for the Keystone State is The Pinnacle.

DIRECTIONS: From I-78, take Exit 35 and turn northbound on Route 143. In less than a mile, go left at Mountain Road and follow that until turning right onto Reservoir Road. The road turns to a gravel path and ends at a parking area near a building for the Hamburg Reservoir.

GET THERE: From the parking lot, follow the gravel path into the woods until within half a mile you meet the white-blazed Appalachian Trail. Turn right to go northbound on the A.T. For about 2.5 miles, you’ll ascend Blue Mountain over a stony path, including a brief rock scramble near the top just before reaching Pulpit Rock, itself an excellent viewpoint. But Pulpit Rock serves as only a preview for what’s to come. You’ve ascended about 750 feet from your car, but your hard work is mostly done as the remaining two miles is a ridge run over rocky terrain. When you arrive at a pyramidal collection of stones, you know you’ve arrived at The Pinnacle. Follow the blue blazes for a quarter of a mile to the vista. To return to your car, return to the pyramid of stones and continue along the Appalachian Trail northbound, which turns into an abandoned road in half a mile. After a mile and a half, arrive at an open grass area used as a helipad and turn left onto a dirt road with blue blazes. Take this for just over two miles past the Hamburg Reservoir and returning to the gravel path you initially followed into the woods. Take the gravel path back to your car.

Lounging at the Pinnacle.

Lounging at the Pinnacle.

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