On the Trail with Darcy and Lizzy: the Schuykill to the Susquehanna

Next up in Boots & Backpacks, Darcy and Elizabeth end their visit with Marianne Dashwood and Chris Brandon, and climb back up from the Schuykill River Valley. The Appalachian Trail follows the ridge of the Blue Mountain for many miles, and there are many more boulder fields along the way.

Kessel view from Blue Mountain
The Kessel view from Blue Mountain.
Photo by Kyle Fawcett

Darcy and Elizabeth eventually need to stop for supplies and to do laundry. Where Interstate 81 and the Swatara Creek cross the trail, they hitchhike into Jonestown, Pennsylvania. The good Samaritans who pick up our backpackers happen to be siblings John and Isabella Thorpe! Hijinks ensue. But I won’t spoil any of the fun here. Let’s just say that Darcy and Elizabeth make a quick escape.

They head back onto the trail through Swatara State Park.

Waterville Bridge in Swatara State Park
The Waterville Bridge carries the AT over Swatara Creek
photo by Ray


Monroe Valley
View of the Monroe Valley from Swatara State Park
photo by Ethan Myers

Now the Appalachian trail passes through the second largest roadless area in Pennsylvania, sometimes called St. Anthony’s Wilderness. But it wasn’t always so remote. The area is home to several ghost mining towns that went through a boom and bust in the 1800s. Ruins, cemeteries, and historical markers can be seen along the trail.

Rausch Gap
Rausch Gap marker along the Appalachian Trail
photo by Joe Coyle
Rausch Gap, PA
An old railroad bridge now carries the Appalachian Trail over Rausch Creek
photo by WabbyTwaxx

Darcy and Elizabeth emerge from St. Anthony’s Wilderness with a stronger partnership. The trail comes to the Susquehanna River, Pennsylvania’s largest. Hikers must cross the river via the Clark’s Ferry Bridge.

Appalachian Trail on Peters Mountain near Duncannon, PA
View of the Susquehanna River (foreground) from the Appalachian Trail on Peters Mountain
photo by WabbyTwaxx
Clark's Ferry Bridge
The Clark’s Ferry Bridge over the Susquehanna River
Photo by kinzr13
Susquehanna River at Clark's Ferry bridge
Susquehanna River at Clark’s Ferry bridge
photo by Bucknell Susquehanna River Initiative


Next up on the trail: heading south from Duncannon.


Previous On the Trail with D&E posts:

Delaware Water Gap Part 1

Delaware Water Gap Part 2

Eastern Pennsylvania

Hawk Mountain and the Pinnacle

The Boots & Backpacks Map