Hiking the Appalachian Trail: Boots not made for Pennsylvania

The Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania is “where boots go to die,” and “lots of people leave Pennsylvania limping and bruised.”

After traversing all 220 miles of the AT in the Keystone State, both statements are indeed accurate. The reason is entirely geological, owing to the amazing jumble of rocks of all types, sizes and shapes – known scientifically as felsenmeer – that make up the progressively more difficult mountain terrain.

The Pennsylvania rocks at best have hikers stumbling about much like a drunken sailor for miles at a time; at worst the jagged rocks grab and tear at boots, twist ankles, snap trekking poles, bloody shins, sap spirits and exhaust already weary walkers. Take a fall on the nasty rocks, and all bets are off.

The trail enters Pennsylvania on South Mountain and follows its long ridges north through the piney woods of 85,500-acre Michaux State Forest. Several state parks punctuate the route through the forest.

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