Rocky Knob is one of Pennsylvania's hidden treasures in terms of summits with an interesting draw. Resting within the confines of Michaux State Forest , this mountain lies within the South Mountain Massif to the west of Gettysburg. One of its more commonly used neighbors is Pole Steeple to the north. Also, its location between Pine Grove Furnace State Park and Caledonia State Park makes it quite accessible since these are some of the more greatly used parks in PA.
One of the biggest charms of this mountain is on the hike at its base. You'll find yourself surrounded by beautiful groves of rhododendron which turn this trail into an expedition into the rainforest. It is absolutely gorgeous. Also near the beginning of the trail you'll have to cross a very enchanting stream. This stream is Knob Run and may very well have the clearest water you'll see anywhere in the entire state. The rest of this mountains geography includes steep, colluvium filled slopes which afford very fine views over to Big Flat Mountain (South Mountain ridge-crest) and down to the beautiful Long Pine Run Reservoir which brings back memories of the Alps and the ranges beautiful lakes.
In terms of hiking and climbing you'll find no shortage in the area. Rocky Knob is actually almost a forgotten gem based upon the lack of use encountered along the trail. Some of the blazes have been on the trees for quite a while and possibly since the trails birth in 1937. Because of the peak's many rock slides which the trail encounters, wonderful vistas extend towards the reservoir. The steepest side of this peak (the northeast face) has no trails but is vertical in many spots if you want to bushwhack. If you're looking for technical climbing, head up the road to Pole Steeple . The area of Michaux State Forest which includes Pine Grove Furnace State Park and Caledonia State Park also has many more miles of trails to offer hikers of all skill level.
For accessing the Long Pine Run Reservoir area which includes Rocky Knob, use Rt.233 via Rt. 34 from Mt. Holly Springs.
To access Rocky Knob from Harrisburg, take Interstate 81 south towards Carlisle. The exit you'll want is just after the downtown exits for Carlisle. The sign will say Rt. 34 and will have two exits, one to go north and one to go south. You'll want to take exit 34A which will actually be the second one. After exiting head five miles through Mt. Holly Springs. About a mile south of town you'll reach the intersection with PA94 and you'll want to stay right on 34. After 1.5 miles turn right onto Pine Grove Road (PA Rt. 233) and head south for ten miles to Shippensburg Road where you'll want to go right (west). You'll then head up South Mountain's ridge crest and once you reach the top of the mountain you'll see a dirt road on the left with a large parking area. Turn here and head for five miles south until you cross the bridge. As soon as you cross the bridge park and look for the orange blazes about 100yds. up from the bridge.
Take Rt. 30 (The Lincoln Highway) west to the turn-off for Caledonia State Park and Rt. 233. Head north on Rt. 233 for 1.7 miles where you'll reach a turn-off for Long Pine Run Reservoir which is where you want to go. At the first intersection stay right as well as at the second. You'll then cross a bridge. Continue north on the road until you see the second bridge. Park along the road about one hundred yards below the bridge and look for the orange blazes of the Rocky Knob Trail.
This summit is accessible in all seasons and the only possible closures would be due to snow. Winter maintenance can be a problem in this area since it is decently far from any town. There are no permits or passes required to hike here. For conservation purposes, follow the “LEAVE NO TRACE” program and you'll be fine as will the area in use.
When To Climb
This mountain is climbable at all times of the year. My advice would be to do it in the fall with the changing leaves. The views and the foliage on the trees make for a nice mix and a beautiful day. With snow on the ground this ascent would be a little tougher but there would still be no need for technical gear.
There is camping along this trail from the approach mentioned. after you cross the stream about 0.2 miles from the trailhead you'll find a tent site on your right in a little hollow. A little farther up the trail on your left you'll find a more developed site that has space for probably 6-8 tents. It also has a large fire ring.
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