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​​Hiking in Michaux State Forest

From a heart-pounding hike up to Pole Steeple or a stroll on the Smoke Zimmerman Ski Trails, Michaux State Forest offers diverse hiking opportunities.

Michaux State Forest is rich with ecological and cultural history; please preserve the forest and these trails for the use of future generations by using the trails appropriately.

​The Trail Use Etiquette Guide (PDF) tells you what to do when you encounter others on the trail.

Trail Markings

Trails are marked with the name of the trail on wooden posts at trailheads and intersections.

To stay on the designated trail, follow the rectangular tree blazes.

The color of the blaze indicates the designated use of the trail:

  • Yellow and orange-blazed trails are hiking-only trails
  • Red-blazed trails are shared-use trails (hiking, biking, and horseback riding).
  • Blue-blazed trails are cross-country skiing trails (open to hiking) or hiking-only trails that connect to the Appalachian Trail.
  • The Appalachian National Scenic Trail (blazed white) is hiking only.

Informal Trails

If you see a trail without a blaze, this could be an informal trail created illegally by other forest users.​

These trails complicate navigation, end abruptly, or go through sensitive wildlife habitat.​

Please note that many external trail websites and mobile applications feature informal trails that are not blazed, marked on DCNR maps, or maintained.

​ Please use Michaux State Forest ​public use​​ map (PDF) for official trails.

​Cell phone service is limited throughout the state forest; please plan accordingly.​

Difficulty Ratings

  • Easiest: For beginners. Grade is gentle with few obstacles.
  • More Difficult: For most trail users. Grade is steeper, trails are narrower, with embedded rocks and roots on surface.
  • Most Difficult: For advanced users. Grade is steep and challenging. Routes may not be well-marked.

Route Types

  • Loop: Start and end at the same location and follow a single trail to form a loop.
  • Out-and-back:​ Start and end at a trailhead and follow a single trail to an endpoint or specific point of interest, then return along the same route.
  • Point-to-point: Trails are generally longer. Hiker starts and ends in different locations, often requiring a shuttle.

Hiking Only Trails

Buck Ridge Trail

6 miles | More Difficult | Point-to-Point | Yellow blazes

Trailhead: Located at Pine Grove Furnace or King's Gap Environmental Education Center

The Buck Ridge Trail winds down through Michaux State Forest as it connects King's Gap Environmental Education Center to Pine Grove Furnace State Park.

Find the Buck Ridge Trail on the ​Michaux State Forest public use map (PDF).

Pole Steeple Trail

.75 mile | Most Difficult | Out-and-back | Blue-blazes (AT connector trail)

Trailhead: Along the Old Railroad Bed Road by Laurel Lake in Pine Grove Furnace State Park

This steep trail climbs up Piney Mountain to a quartzite rock outcropping that offers great views of the surrounding area.

Be aware there is a steep grade and sheer drop-off; hikers should exercise caution when reaching the overlook. There is a more moderate route that avoids the steepest section of the trail.

Find the pole Steeple Trail on the Michaux State Forest public use map (PDF).

Beaver Tra​il

1.3 mile (one-way) | More Difficult | Out-and-back | Yellow blazes

Trailhead: Birch Run Road.

Beaver Trail follows the edge of Long Pine Run Reservoir, a 151-acre reservoir that serves as the drinking water source for the Borough of Chambersburg.

To protect the drinking water, swimming, wading, picnicking, alcohol, campfires, and camping are not permitted in this area.

Find the Beaver Trail on the Flat Rock Trail System Map (PDF).

Rocky Knob Trail

4.3 mile | More Difficult | loop | Orange blazes

Trailhead: Ridge Road, Birch Run Road

Rocky Knob Trail was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1937 and the Youth Conservation Corps in the 1970s. This trail offers views of Rocky Knob and a glimpse of Long Pine Run Reservoir.

Find the Rocky Knob Trail on the Rocky Knob Trail Map (PDF).

Shared Use Trail Systems​

The Flat Rock Trail System (PDF) is comprised of Rocky Knob Trail (hiking only), Beaver Trail (hiking only), and over 38 miles of shared use trails (hiking, biking, and horse riding).

The Mount Hope Trail System (PDF) is popular with horse riders and contains approximately 19 miles of trails.

The Smoke Zimmerman Cross Country Ski Trail (PDF) is composed of approximately four miles of interconnecting loops of wide trail that include level to moderate grades. The trail is marked with blue blazes, with signs indicating easy and more difficult trail sections.

This trail system also includes a .25-mile fitness trail. These trails can be used throughout the year for hiking and/or biking. Motorized vehicles and horseback riding are prohibited on the ski trails.

Appalachian National Scenic Trail

Several locations on Michaux State Forest provide access for hikers to the Appalachian Trail, a 2000-mile National Scenic Trail.​

The Appalachian Trail is a hiking-only trail marked by white blazes and traverses the entire length (37 miles) of Michaux State Forest.