Shikellamy Rocks and Shikellamy Overlook are two wonderful summits on the Appalachian Trail within a mile of each other just northeast of Harrisburg. These two summits are a part of the Peters Mountain main ridge and are eight miles back the Clarks Valley. Named for Chief Shikellamy of the Iroquios, both summits have a trail (Shikellamy Trail) which joins the A.T. just east of Shikellamy Rocks.
There is another Shikellamy Overlook which is about fifty miles north along the Susquehanna River called Blue Hill , but these summits differ greatly in topography. Out of the Overlook and the Rocks on Peters Mountain ridge, Shikellamy Overlook has the better views as Shikellamy Rocks is more of a scree slope where the trees can't grow. This section of Peters Mountain ridge is very narrow and at some places just wide enough for one person.
There are a few options in doing these summits in terms of trail routes. You can use the North A.T. from Rt. 225 and then end at Rt. 325 in Swatara Gap. You could also just start from Swatara Gap and do an in and out hike which would be about nine miles round-trip. Of course, the best option is the Shikellamy Trail, but if you want more exercise, consider the other two.
The ridge crest here is made up of sandstone and conglamerate which can make for some slick trails in spots. Summer gives the Shikellamy Trail its most use, so if you do these summits in winter you'll have the trail all to yourself. Views from both stretch eastward up the entire Clarks valley. From Shikellamy Overook you have a 180 degree panorama of the entire Clarks Valley.
From Interstate 81, just north of Harrisburg, take the exit for 22/322 West (Lewistown). Head north along the river for approximately seven miles until you reach the exit for Halifax (Rt. 225) north. This is the road that heads over Peters Mountain.
-If you're just planning on taking the Appalachian Trail from the top of Peters Mountain, park at the top where the A.T. road will lead you to a parking lot.
-For using the Shikellamy Trail, take the 325 East road, right past the bridge over Clarks Creek. If you pass the 3B's Ice Cream parlor on the left you've gone just a little too far. Head back 325 for approximately eight miles until you reach the Shikellamy Campgrounds. The trail is just past this sign on your left. It is blue-blazed and heads north.
-For using the north end of the A.T., continue on 325 East until you reach the Swatara Gap and the signs for the Appalachian Trail. You'll want to head south on the A.T.
There are no permits or fees required to use this trail. Parking is available just past the trailhead for the Shikellamy Trail. For conservation purposes, follow the “LEAVE NO TRACE” program and you'll be fine.
When To Climb
These summits are attainable at any time of the year. The best time though would be in early October for the Fall foliage. Do be aware though, at this time there will be hunters around the mountain so wear something bright. Winter is always a great time to hike in PA's mountains so if you get the opportunity, take full advantage.
There is no camping in this area.
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