Climbing to the top of Bald Mountain will give you one of the most impressive views you can find in the state of Pennsylvania.
There are a few different places in Pennsylvania called Bald Mountain. So, to eliminate any confusion, we’re talking about the one a little bit west of Scranton, PA.
Experiencing the Bald Mountain Hike
One thing to know about hiking Bald Mountain is that this is an “out and back” hike, rather than a loop hike. At the end of the hike is a spot called Pinnacle Rock with impressive views in almost all directions. So, get ready for an incredible 3.7-mile (round trip) journey.
Be Prepared for a Steep Trail
The Bald Mountain trail itself is fairly steep and primitive due to the limited number of hikers who are adventurous enough to take this challenge. It is recommended for experienced hikers who are in good physical condition.
You will gain about 900 vertical feet in the span of about a mile and a half, so get ready for your legs to burn.
You’ll definitely want to come prepared to fend for yourself. There are no campgrounds, picnic areas, drinkable water, or bathrooms along this trail. Bring plenty of water, as the vigorous hike should have you working up quite a thirst.
And, hikers definitely need to follow the “pack it in, pack it out” rules, so be prepared to haul any trash home with you.
Enjoying the Views at the Summit
At the summit of Bald Mountain is Pinnacle Rock which features amazing vistas both far and near. The first views that will take your breath away are those looking out across the valley.
You’ll see the postage-stamp size squares of farmland, other mountains in the distance, and the Susquehanna River valley.
In the late spring and early summer, you’ll be looking out over lush fields of various shades of green. You’ll be looking over the treetops of the Bald Mountain foliage and soaking in the sights of the new growth across the valleys and hills.
However, if you come in the late summer and early fall, you may see a bit more browns and yellows, in place of the abundant greens. The heat of the summer takes its toll on the vegetation across the region.
And, if you then visit in the late fall, winter, or very early spring, the view had yet a third look to it. With the leaves fallen from the trees, they look scare-crow like. But, now the extent of what you can view is increased.
You will actually be able to look down on another mountain: Montage Mountain, which is normally hidden by the foliage of Bald Mountain.
If you aren’t afraid of heights, one of the ledges juts out over the edge of the mountain and the effect is that of a thrilling overhang. So, if you’re a bit of a thrill-seeker, get as close to the edge as possible and peer over. Just don’t lose your footing and tumble over the edge!
In 2016, a brave hiker chronicled his journey up Bald Mountain on YouTube and posted this video which includes a shot over the edge of the overhang.
The final prominent views at the top of Bald Mountain are only noticeable if you look down instead of out. There are many carvings in the rocks, meant to commemorate others who have summited to Pinnacle Rock in the past.
One of the more elaborate carvings shows a bald eagle perched on a branch. This one doesn’t have a date carved next to it, but others do. You can see where a person named Bob carved his name in 1930. And, one of the older ones is almost fully eroded away, but you can just make out the year 1888.
If you want a sneak peak of what the views look like in the early spring, they can be found in this post by Endless Mountains Experience.
Getting to the Bald Mountain Trail
Bald Mountain is located in Lackawanna County in Pennsylvania. The nearest large city is Scranton, but the smaller town of Clark’s Summit is the closest.
You will actually be looking for signs to the Pinnacle Rock Trail instead of Bald Mountain. The trailhead to Pinnacle Rock Trail is located on the west side of Bald Mountain and offers a parking lot, so you don’t have to park along the street.
Other Things to Do Near Bald Mountain
Hiking to the top of Bald Mountain shouldn’t take you all day, so take some time to enjoy some of the other things to do in the area.
Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour
Experience an important part of American history by touring this restored coal mine in Scranton, PA. You will have the opportunity to go 300 feet underground, where the temperature remains a constant 53 degrees year-round.
The mine is operated by the County of Lackawanna Pennsylvania and has won the National Award-Winning History Attraction. It is open daily between April and November.
Full details can be found on the Lackawanna County website.
Steamtown National Historic Site
If you have an interest in railroad history, the Steamtown National Historic Site is a great place to go after you’ve finished your hike up Bald Mountain.
With a focus on the history of the steam railroad, you can learn about the people who built the railroad and those who were early travelers on this mode of transportation.
You can go for a ride on commuter trains from the 1920s and 1030s. According to their website, “This brief ride allows the park visitor an overview of the former Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad Scranton Yards, including a view from Bridge 60 over the Lackawanna River.”
In addition to riding the rails, you can also participate in one of four “living history” demonstrations. These immerse you in the life of a hobo, a WWII military policeman, a mail clerk and a yard worker.
Detailed information about hours of operation and all of the amenities can be found on their website.
Nay Aug Park
If you have kids with you, a visit to Nay Aug Park is the perfect way to reward them for making the vigorous trek up Bald Mountain.
This is the largest park in Scranton, PA offers swimming pools, water slides, picnic areas, and rides. There are also waterfalls and a gorge that provide you with an amazing nature experience within this city park.
Directions and details can be found on the city of Scranton website.
Anthracite Heritage Museum
In addition to the Coal Mine Tour listed above, this museum also highlights the rich coal-mining history of northeastern Pennsylvania. It is operated by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
There’s a section of the museum dedicated to educating visitors about the people of the area. Starting with the Paleo-Indians, and covering up through present-day immigrants, you will see an amazing amount of information about the lives and works of these different ethnic groups.
You can also visit the Scranton Iron Furnaces which are left from a very large plant run by the Lackawanna Iron & Steel Company, which in the 1860s was the largest iron producer in the United States.
Full details about these experiences can be found at AnthraciteMuseum.org.
The Bald Mountain Region Offers a Unique Experience
We hope that after reading this, you’ve decided that Bald Mountain should be next on your list of places to hike. Between the hiking experience itself and the other fun things to do in the area, you could easily fill a weekend with unique experiences.
Just remember that this hike is not for the faint of heart – it is a vigorous hike with a steep climb. And, as stated before, you need to bring all your own supplies.
But, if you’re well prepared, this hike really will be a highlight of your hiking experiences. Head up to the top of Bald Mountain; experience Pinnacle Rock, with the carvings from the years and the views that are some of the best in the whole state of Pennsylvania.
If this is your first trip to the Appalachian Mountain Range, this is the perfect introduction. And, once you’ve hiked Bald Mountain, you can find other parts of the Appalachians to hike up and down the eastern United States.