A short climb up a steep mountainside will bring you to one of the most spectacular views you will find in northern Pennsylvania. Once you reach the top you will quickly realize that the strenuous climb was well worth all of the effort. Known locally as the "Matterhorn of Pennsylvania", Gillespie Point is located just south of the town of Blackwell. The hike to the top of Gillespie Point is well defined as the Pennsylvania Mid State Trail, at it's northern terminus, is routed so as to include the spectacular view from this fine vantage point.
|Trailhead:||N 41° 33.37'
W 77° 22.89'
|Trail Length:||4.6 miles|
|Hike Time:||3 hours|
|Near:||On PA414 in the town of Blackwell.|
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To reach the trailhead that I have indicated here (there is one closer and I'll list those coordinates in a bit) you simply follow route PA414, coming from either the north or the south. From the south, take the PA44 exit off of US220. After 12.3 miles you will bear right onto PA414 and then stay on this road for another 24.8 miles until you reach the town of Blackwell. After just entering the town of Blackwell you will see a small parking are just off to your right. This parking area is used by people canoeing Pine Creek as well as hiker's of the Mid State Trail. If you are coming from the North I would suggest route US15 to the Liberty/PA414 exit. From this exit, just stay on PA414, through the town of Morris, for 15.6 miles.
The other trailhead (N 41° 33.38' , W 77° 22.55') is somewhat closer and does not require you to walk on the streets of Blackwell. If using this trailhead, the total miles hiked and hike time will be slightly less than listed here as we used the parking area in Blackwell.
The Gillespie Point trail starts following the blazes of the Mid State Trail. The initial ascent is rather strenuous, but if you take it slow and steady you'll have no problems. The trail levels out a little at about 0.8 miles with the steep climb only being 0.5 miles in length. After another 0.4 miles you will find yourself at Gillespie's Point. I highly recommend taking 20 to 30 minutes to catch your breath and to take in the scenic and breathtaking views. We did this hike in early spring and I am anxious to do it again when there are leaves on the trees.
With the climb to the summit behind you, the rest of the hike is a simple "walk in the woods". You'll hike across the back of this mountain for another 0.3 miles before you turn right and make your way down a saddle. Your hike will then parallel a small stream that, depending on the time of the year, could very easily run dry. This stream then enters another run which is where you bear to your right and continue down the mountain.
At 2.3 miles the trail intersects with a well maintained, dirt mountain road. If you follow this road to your right (north and then west), you can follow it the whole way back to where you started the hike. Taking this route makes this hike a very easy and leisurely hike. However, when we did this hike we opted for the more scenic (and slightly more difficult) route.
After crossing the dirt road, we continued on the blazed Mid-State Trail. After 0.8 miles, about 3.1 miles into the hike, the Mid State Trail takes a left and heads up the side of another mountain. If you look closely, there is a trail that continues downward, along the small run, towards Pine Creek. This part of the trail is not blazed, but it isn't too difficult to follow. After 0.3 miles you will find yourself on the eastern shore of Pine Creek and the trail emerges beside a very nice campsite. We then crossed the small run, and followed an unblazed trail up the back on the other side. Following this trail for 0.2 miles brought us back onto the dirt mountain road that I mentioned earlier. We followed this road the rest of the way down the mountain to our starting point.
The total hike time took a little longer than we expected, but this can be blamed on our alternate route using the unblazed trails. The exercise was much needed after a long winter and the view from the top was amazing. You could walk this trail in reverse, even driving your car further up the dirt road and parking it by the intersection with the trail. This would make for an easy and short hike that even younger children could take, and all could enjoy the view from Gillespie Point.