Tom's Run Creek, Pine Grove Furnace State Park, Pennsylvania

Harrisburg, PA
Length: 2.00 mi.
Type: Out & Back

About This Trail

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ACTIVITIES: Hiking, camping

LENGTH OF HIKES: 2 or 4 miles

OUT AND BACK OR LOOP: Out and back



PARKING FEE/PASS: Suggested donation $3







GEAR SUGGESTIONS: Hiking poles if child carrying

You don’t have to be a thru-hiker to enjoy the Appalachian Trail, but if you want to learn more about it all, consider visiting Pine Grove Furnace State Park to get the flavor of the AT experience. There’s a perfect toddler out-and-back trail that you
can do as either 2 or 4 miles, depending on what your legs are up to. Then visit the Appalachian Trail Museum, which sits near the midway point of the 2,186-mile trail. The museum pays tribute to trail pioneers like Early Shaffer, Grandma Gatewood, Gene Espy and Ed Garvey, whose blood and sweat went into helping make the trail what it is today. There is also a Children’s Discovery Center if you
find you’re just having one of “those” days when your little one has decided heading to the trail is just not going to happen.

The reason this is a Hike it Baby local favorite in the summer is because it’s an easy no-elevation gain journey with a nice end reward of a general store. “There are tons of stinky hikers stopping by the general store for their half gallon of ice cream to
celebrate hiking half of the Appalachian Trail, which is why we call it the half-pint hike. We like to do the same after our modified version,” explains Hike it Baby Gettysburg branch ambassador Liz Knapp.

The short version starts at Bunker Hill Road and is about 2 miles round trip. About 0.5 mile in, the trail meets up with the midway point of the Appalachian Trail, where you can snap a few pictures. The terrain can be rocky in parts, so consider a carrier for smaller kids. Dogs may also have trouble, so keep that in mind if you bring your four- legged friend.

Another nice thing about this hike is that there are wood shelters erected for  backpackers traveling through the area who camp and stop to picnic on the tables. If you need an outhouse, this is also available, which is great if you are potty training a little one. Consider this hike for a backpacking trial if you are interested in testing these waters. The close proximity to civilization makes it an easy
escape if backpacking doesn’t work out. If you consider making a weekend out of this spot and get a campsite, be sure to explore other nearby trails like the Pine Grove Furnace hike (2.5 miles) from Fuller Lake to Laurel Lake. This is a paved/gravel hike that’s popular for Hike it Baby families because parents can push strollers there and back and get 5 miles on trail after work. Half the trail is part of the Appalachian Trail (then it loops up into the woods to Pole Steeple). Be aware
that half of this trail is “hiker biker trail” accessible to bikes and motorized vehicles (so a ranger can drive down the road). There is swimming at both Laurel and Fuller Lakes and canoeing/kayaking at Laurel if you make it there in the summer. There is
also a spring to refill water bottles along the way. Parking is easy at either end of the hike.

Finally, try to get a hike in at Pole Steeple (1.5 miles), which is a little tricky for toddlers to hike, but it’s a short carry. There’s a scenic rocky outcropping that has one of the best views in the area with Laurel Lake down below.

“I love hiking on the Appalachian Trail and meeting thru-hikers, hearing their stories, and imagining what it’s like to hike for 2,000+ miles. Hiking to Tom’s Run is a quick and easy taste of the AT. I love that it can be a day hike or an overnight
backpacking excursion depending on how adventurous I feel. There’s just an energy in these woods that draws me in! You’re likely to meet other hikers, but it is not an overly trafficked area, so you still get that backwoods feel.” —LIZ KNAPP

“Our preferred hike is to park at the end of Old Shippensburg Road. This exact spot is known on Google Maps as Sunset Rocks Parking Area. This is not the official pink “P” on the DCNR map! (This hike starts at the Tom’s Run Creek.) The shortest
hike you can do here is Bunker Hill Parking Lot on Bunker Hill Road, across from an abandoned POW interrogation camp. This is noted on the official park map with a pink P.”

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Trail Features

Seasons Fall, Spring, Summer, and Winter
Surface type Dirt
Stroller friendly No
ADA accessible No
Water fountains Yes
Bathrooms Yes
Cell reception None
Pet friendly No
Nearby convenience store No
Camping Nearby No
Emergency support
within 5 miles

Trail highlights

Camping Nearby and Visitor Center

Fee & Parking Details

Fee : $3.00

$3 Donation

Trail Contributor

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Hike it Baby Trail Guide is managed by the Family Trail Guide team. If a trail has been “abandoned” by the initial owner, it gets adopted by the team. Also, if there are no trails in the area, the Family Trail Guide team researches trails that are family friendly in the area to insure that hikes cover all areas where Hike it Baby hikes.


Trail Map