Hiking at Pine Grove Furnace State Park
4 miles of trails
0.3 mile, yellow blazes, easiest hiking
This short trail connects the Brickyard Day Use Are to the Organized Group Tenting Area.
Buck Ridge Trail
6 miles, yellow blazes, easiest hiking
This trail through Michaux State Forest connects Kings Gap Environmental Education Center and Pine Grove Furnace State Park. The trailhead and a small parking area are across from the park office.
0.5-mile, yellow blazes, easiest hiking
Creek Trail begins at the amphitheater and winds past vernal ponds and a stand of white pine along Mountain Creek near the campground.
1.4-miles, yellow blazes, easiest hiking
This trail is a link between the rail trail to Fuller Lake and Icehouse Road to Laurel Lake. The trail affords the hiker an alternate path to Laurel Lake Day Use area other than the paved roadway. The trail meanders through forests and wetlands as it follows Mountain Creek downstream to Laurel Lake. Deer, heron, waterfowl, and beaver can be seen along this trail.
1 mile, yellow blazes, easiest hiking
Begin this scenic loop trail at the far end of the Fuller Ball Field. The footpath crosses Toms Run and passes through stands of mature pines and hemlocks.
Pole Steeple Trail
0.75-mile, blue blazes, most difficult hiking
This Michaux State Forest trail contains some steep climbs. The entire park can be viewed from the Pole Steeple Overlook, which is a quartzite rock outcropping. The trail begins at the Pole Steeple parking lot, along the Railroad Bed Road by Laurel Lake, and proceeds up Piney Mountain to the rocky overlook.
The steep grade and sheer drop may stress some individuals. Parents are advised to closely supervise children, especially when they are on the rocks and ledges.
0.25-mile, yellow blazes, easiest hiking
This short trail circles a small, forested swamp filled with interesting plants and animals. The trail begins and ends on the rail trail.
Appalachian Trail (National Scenic Trail)
Running through the heart of the park is probably the most famous footpath in the world, the Appalachian Trail (AT). The 2,186-mile long trail traverses the Appalachian Mountains, stretching as a continuous footpath from Springer Mountain in northern Georgia to Mt. Katahdin in central Maine.
The trail is marked with white blazes, which can be seen near the Pine Grove General Store, Appalachian Trail Museum, Fuller Day Use Area, and on the rail trail.
About 2,000 people attempt to hike the entire AT in one year. These long distance hikers are called thru-hikers and most pass through the park from late spring through the summer months.
About one out of four thru-hikers will complete the whole trail. Reaching Pine Grove Furnace State Park is a milestone. The halfway point of the AT is several miles south of the park, in Michaux State Forest.
To commemorate the completion of half of the journey, it is a thru-hiker tradition to attempt the “half-gallon challenge” of eating one half of a gallon of ice cream in one sitting. On a summer day, it is common to see hikers working on the challenge at the Pine Grove General Store.
Hiking the Appalachian Trail
The Appalachian Trail is a popular destination for short-term backpackers and day hikers. About two to three million people walk a portion of the AT each year.
Pine Grove Furnace State Park is a popular staging point for short-term backpacking on the Appalachian Trail.
Boiling Springs to the north and Caledonia State Park to the south are each about a 20-mile hike from Pine Grove Furnace.
Overnight parking is available for backpackers in a special section of the Furnace Stack parking lot. Hikers should register their car and supply contact information and an itinerary at the park office.
Information, maps, guides, shuttles, and more are available.
For a Safe Hike
- Wear sturdy shoes to protect your feet.
- Carry the proper safety equipment, such as a first aid kit and a poncho.
- Stay on the trail. If you hike off the trail, you might get lost or damage fragile habitats.
- Carry drinking water. DO NOT drink from streams, springs, or lakes without properly treating the water first!
- Observe wildlife from a safe distance. Do not try to get close to wild animals.
- Check the weather before you hike. It is not safe to hike in thunderstorms or when heavy snow is expected.
- Tell someone where you are going and when you will return.
- A cell phone can be useful for calling for help, but many sections of the park do not have cell phone coverage.