Little Rocky Ridge is another one of the many wonderful summits that lies within the boundaries of Michaux State Forest . The most popular attraction to this summit is Sunset Rocks which is a large outcropping on the eastern side of the ridge that affords wonderful views in a 240 degree panorama. Some of the other nearby summits are Pole Steeple , Rocky Knob , and Hammonds Rocks on Broad Mountain. Little Rocky Ridge is also just outside of the perimeter of Pine Grove Furnace State Park to the east.
Lying near the crest of South Mountain, Little Rocky Ridge is similar to many of the areas other summits in that it has a very steep and narrow summit ridge. The trail which passes over Little Rocky Ridge (Sunset Rocks Trail) can be done as a loop with the Appalachian Trail. The loop is 2.4 miles which is just a little longer than the actual A.T. itself. The Sunset Rocks Trail will take you right over the ridge crest and at points you'll have some fun Class 3 scrambling available to you. The views are also plentiful from many spots along the trail in almost every direction.
For anyone interested in some of PA's geologic past, this place is heaven. You'll see many indications and evidence of this area's once volcanic history. You'll find dikes of quartz and quartzite in every boulder around you ranging from pure white in color to the rosiest red you've ever seen. The ridge crest is made up of rock spires and pinnacles that will definitely keep your attention. Also check out the couple caves found near the summit. Be very careful on the ridge in wet conditions as it is very exposed rock.
The views from Sunset Rocks are possibly the best in Michaux State Forest , rivaling Pole Steeple for top spot honors. From steep climbs to views though, this short hike has something interesting to offer everyone. If you're into "Fall Foliage", the most beautiful time to hike here would be at the climax of the leave change in early October. This place is just gorgeous!
MICHAUX STATE FOREST
Michaux State Forest is one of the wilder places you'll find in Pennsylvania as much of it has been left untouched. The game here is plentiful, from Whitetails to Black Bears. You will be able to tell that you are in a state forest though, because near the start of the trail you'll see where they've lumbered out and replanted new trees. This system of take and replenish is popular all over the eastern seaboard now.
Take Interstate 81 south to the Mount Holly Springs exit at Carlisle. The exit number is 34A but don't be confused. 34A comes after 34B from the north. Follow 34 south for five miles through Mt. Holly Springs. About a mile south of town you'll come to the intersection with Route 94. Turn right with 34 south. Continue until you reach Pine Grove Road, which leads you into Michaux State Forest along with Pine Grove Furnace State Park. Once inside the state park continue past Laurel Lake all the way to the park headquarters, just past the intersection with PA 233. Old Shippensburg Road is directly across from the HQ's. Follow this road for two miles as it turns into a dirt road and then comes to a dead end parking lot. The trailhead is directly south.
From town take the Lincoln Highway (Route 30) west for fifteen miles to the stop light and the signs for Pine Grove Furnace State Park. Head north on this road (PA 233) for about ten miles to the state park HQs and the Old Shippensburg Road is directly across PA 233. Follow this road for two miles as it turns into a dirt road and then comes to a dead end parking lot. The trailhead is directly south.
There are no permits or fees required to hike or climb in this area. There may be possible seasonal closures in winter due to snowfall and/or ice. For wildlife conservation and to protect the land just follow the “LEAVE NO TRACE” program and you'll be fine.
When To Climb
The best time to climb would be from the beginning to the middle of October because of the Fall Foliage. With snow conditions it would be a little harder. Make sure if you do attempt this climb in winter that you have plenty of cold weather gear because PA can have some brutal winter conditions. This is also a great summer hike and of course a great place to watch the sun set :) This summit is climbable anytime of year though.
Camping is allowed in the state forest, but pack it in and pack it out. Tagg Run Campground is just up the road off of PA 233. This area is at a strong risk for forest fires, so make sure you put them out.
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