Michaux State Forest, less than 3 hours from Philly, Pittsburgh, D.C., and 2 hours from Baltimore, MD and State College, PA, is well known as 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.
Here is a peak into some of the adventure Michaux offered Trail Guru Dave Gantz on a weekend getaway this fall. Get inspired to plan your own adventure in Michaux - a great destination anytime of year. Escape the chaos and head out to explore the beauty of 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. Learn more at the PATC website.
Visitors can also car camp for free at the nearby DCNR campsite #20. Campsite #20 has space for one to two cars, just along Swift Run Road north of Hermitage Cabin. Call ahead 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. They are primitive sites with no picnic tables or bathrooms. There are a few parking lots that you can camp in your car - call DCNR to inquire.
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.
Michaux is legendary for fantastic mountain biking opportunities. With hundreds of miles of trails it has become a true destination forest for riders.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Special Note: Michaux's Unmarked Trails
Michaux has lots of unmarked trails. There are several non-blazed shared-use trails shown on the Michaux Lizard Map. At the time of publication, these trails were not signed or blazed, meaning they have no formal names, signposts or blazes to help you follow them. They are legal trails and you are welcome to explore them, but be aware they may be harder to follow in some places. You will find additional unmarked trails on the ground that are not shown on the map. These trails were not formally recognized by DCNR at time of publication and as such are not included on the Purple Lizard map.
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. If you are a cyclist be sure to stop and say hello to the folks at Gettysburg Bicycle.
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 Appalachian Running Company and Quick Release Bikes.
Grab the Michaux Lizard Map and the Michaux Adventure List