September 24, 2023 4 min read

One of PA's most accessible outdoor recreation playgrounds!

Michaux State Forest, less than 3 hours from Philly, Pittsburgh, D.C., and 2 hours from Baltimore, MD and State College, PA, is a fantastic destination for hikes along the Appalachian Trail; bouldering, trad, and top rope climbing routes; and hundreds of miles of sweet mountain biking trails.

Michaux adventure inspiration

Michaux State Forest PA

Michaux offers something for everyone: Over 85,000 acres of public land loaded with more than 250 miles of biking and hiking trails, great climbing crags, cross country ski trails, 40 miles of the Appalachian Trail, and four state parks. Michaux is just waiting for you to explore! Have a peak into just some of the adventures Michaux offers on an autumn weekend getaway below.Get inspired to plan your own adventure in Michaux - a great destination anytime of year!


Hermitage Cabin, PATC, Michaux State Forest

The Hermitage Cabin is a rustic cabin that is perfectly tucked away in southern Michaux State Forest. The Hermitage Cabin is on Swift Run Road, just a few miles south of South Mountain, PA, and merely a 0.2-mile walk from the parking area. This cabin is one of three public cabins within Michaux State Forest, all managed by The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC). Highlights include space for 8 people, pets are welcome, wood stove, kitchen area, front porch, a porch swing under the cabin, and an outside shower.

Visitors can also car camp at the nearby DCNR campsite #20. Campsite #20 has space for one to two cars, just along Swift Run Road north of Hermitage Cabin. Find this campsite on your Michaux Lizard Map, then go on-line to reserve this site. Car camping sites in Michaux often require a short hike to the tent area, so plan to be able to carry your stuff in. You park your car at the gate and hike in. These are primitive sites with no picnic tables or bathrooms. 


Shaffer Rock

Michaux's topography offers lots of fun for climbers. Shaffer Rock, a popular climbing area, is merely yards away from Hermitage Cabin. Prepared climbers can boulder, top-rope, and trad climb in this area. Rapelling is also an option here. There are over 50 named routes in this area; all routes are single-pitch.

Gravel or Mountain Bike Rides

Michaux is legendary for fantastic mountain biking opportunities. With so many roads and trails it has become a true destination forest for riders looking for singletrack or gravel.

In this spot the riding begins at the front door of the cabin. Two shared-use trails lead up to Chimney Rocks Road, which is a gated dirt double track road. Multiple unblazed trails in this area allow riders to create loops that tailor to their wants and desires. Not into mountain biking? Bring your gravel bike and ride the gravel forest roads throughout Michaux! Don't forget your Michaux Lizard Map, so you can get back to the cabin for dinner.


Chimney Rocks and Shaffer Rocks

Again, grab your Michaux Lizard Map, step out the front door of the cabin, lace up your hiking shoes, and follow the signs to Chimney Rocks. Shaffer Rock Trail is blue blazed and leads to Chimney Rocks Road (dirt road), and then to Chimney Rocks and the Appalachian Trail.

Chimney Rocks Appalachian Trail

Chimney Rocks is a very special place, so bring a lunch and plan to stay awhile. Enjoy the views eastwards of the South Mountain region, including Waynesboro Reservoir. Climbers will want to bring their bouldering shoes and some chalk to enable a bit of scrambling around on the boulders.

Tumbling Run Shelter Appalachian Trail Michaux State Forest

After lunch, continue south on the AT to get a taste of one of the most popular hiking trails in the world. The AT descends rather gently for about a mile before reaching Tumbling Run Shelter Area, where thru-hikers rest their weary bones at night. Amenities include a privy, group tenting and individual tenting areas, two shelters (snoring and non-snoring), a covered picnic area for cooking, clothes lines, and more! Be sure to sign the shelter log book and thank the volunteers for maintaining this site.

Tumbling Run Shelter Appalachian Trail Michaux State Forest

The Hermitage Cabin is less than a mile from Tumbling Run Shelter Area. Simply follow the signs to Tumbling Run Stream, then turn right on the blue blazed Hermitage Trail. This trail runs on the eastside of Tumbling Run, and follows the beautiful cascading stream upstream to the Hermitage Cabin.



South Mountain Fruit Belt

Still haven't had enough adventure for the day? There's some great fun to be had in Michaux outside the forest too! Hop in your car and head east a few miles on Route 30 to enjoy the Historic South Mountain Fruit Belt. Soil conditions in this region have encouraged the most productive orchards in America. Wine and Hard Cider enthusiasts will love the tasting room at Boyer Cellars. Historic Gettysburg is only a few miles further east on Route 30. 

Hops at Gearhouse Brewing Company

Hops enthusiasts will prefer to drive west on Route 30 into Chambersburg to visit Gearhouse Brewing and check out their homegrown hops. While in town, update your gear and local trail knowledge at Quick Release Bikes.

Purple Lizard Maps exist to help you make your own adventures!