Hikers and runners looking for a quick adventure near Route 30 need look no further than Charcoal Hearth Trail in Caledonia State Park. This trail offers various hiking surfaces, some climbing and descending, and historical significance, all bundled in a slightly less than 3-mile loop. To top it off as a real adventure you can confidently claim this is the longest and most rugged trail in the park.
Before you go:
Grab your Michaux Lizard Map and head to the parking lot at the intersection of Route 30 and 233. Take note of the historic Iron Furnace before beginning the hike uphill on a paved surface. If they are open, you can stop in at the Caledonia State Park Office and get the interpretive trail pamphlet that talks about the history of this wonderful trail.
The trail quickly becomes a dirt surface, with a footbridge above a small, yet impressive, waterfall. Check out the waterfall and continue uphill on Charcoal Hearth Trail (rather than crossing the footbridge; you'll do that at the end of the hike).
The trail immediately becomes a steep staircase made of wooden steps. The climb continues for almost a mile and gradually tapers off as you summit near the top of Graefenburg Hill. Total ascent from the parking area to Graefenburg Hill is roughly 500 feet. Even though the trail is near two major roadways, the path itself is quiet and peaceful at the top of the hill.
Charcoal Hearth Trail skirts around the peak of Gaefenburg Hill and then utilizes a few fun switchbacks to descend to Caledonia State Park. Take note of multiple historical signs of old charcoal hearths on this section of trail. Be sure to look up and appreciate the huge white pine trees in this area!
Eventually the trail reaches the bottom of the hill, crosses a stream on a footbridge, and joins with Thaddeus Stevens Historic Trail. The Historic Trail crosses Route 233 and goes into Caledonia State Park, which can create a longer loop hike if you want to keep going. Today though, we will follow the old wagon road that runs in between this stream and Route 233.
There is a lot of obvious historical remnants along the stream, so keep your eyes open! After a quick jaunt on this flat dirt path, the trail turns left and rejoins Charcoal Hearth Trail and the footbridge we noted at the beginning of the hike. Cross the footbridge, turn right, and descend quickly back to the parking area and your car. If you want a bite to eat and a frosty beverage, head west on Route 30 to see our friends at GearHouse Brewing Company, located in a really cool industrial building in Chambersburg.
Ready to explore more of Michaux? Grab your Michaux Purple Lizard Map and Go!