This gently winding trail in Pine Grove Furnace State Park passes along the shores of two lakes and through the woodlands of Michaux State Forest. Pine Grove Furnace began operating in 1764 to take advantage of the small but rich South Mountain iron ore deposits. The furnace closed in 1895 when new technology made the operation of small ironworks unprofitable. The 17,000-acre property of the South Mountain Ironworks was sold to the state of Pennsylvania in 1914 to become part of a new forest reserve system. Remnants of the days of iron production are evident in the park. The iron-master's mansion, furnace ruins and other buildings provide a historical perspective.
The park's two lakes, 25-acre Fuller Lake and 1.7-acre Laurel Lake, are also remnants of the area's iron making heritage. Fuller Lake was an iron ore quarry that filled with groundwater when operations ceased. Laurel Lake provided water power to Laurel Forge, which produced wrought iron. Both lakes now provide opportunities for swimming and fishing. Boating is permitted on Laurel Lake, which has a launch area, mooring slips and boat rental. Only electric motors are permitted.
The trail follows the route of the South Mountain Railroad. Constructed in the late 1860s the railroad brought raw materials to the furnace at Pine Grove and delivered finished iron products to market.
Pine Grove Furnace State Park marks the "unofficial" halfway point along the Appalachian Trail. The historic ironmaster's mansion now serves as a hostel with dormitory style overnight accommodations and cooking and dining facilities.
The trail begins in the park at the Appalachian Trail parking lot near the Furnace Stack Day Use Area. A short paved section of trail leads from the parking area to the Fuller Lake area, which has a beach. Swimming is permitted from late May until mid-September. Beyond the lake, the trail crosses a small bridge and turns left. This section of the trail runs on a gravel service road bordered by a swamp on one side and Mountain Creek on the other. The service road is closed to all traffic except official park vehicles. At a gate, the trail opens onto Old Railroad Bed Road and shares the corridor with occasional automobiles.
Beyond Laurel Lake, Old Railroad Bed Road intersects Pine Grove Road and the trail ends.
Parking and Trail Access
To reach the Furnace Stack Day Use Area Trailheadthe best access pointfrom PA Route 233, take Pine Grove Road and turn onto Bendersville Road. Turn onto Quarry Road. Parking is available at the Appalachian Trail parking area.