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5.27.2015

Pine Grove Furnace State Park and Michaux State Forest, Cumberland County, PA

Today we take a look at Pine Grove Furnace State Park in Cumberland County, PA. This old Iron Furnace town dates back to 1764 and it operated until 1895. The remnants are pretty amazing. The park itself dates back to 1912 and it was one of the first "forest parks" of the Pennsylvania system that would eventually turn into the State Parks and State Forests of today. This would eventually encompass both the Pine Grove Furnace State Park and the surrounding Michaux State Forest. Picnicking, camping, and hiking are popular activities within this area. As with many of Pennsylvania's state parks and forests, many of the roads, trails, and facilities were created by young men in the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) set up by President Franklin Roosevelt with his New Deal programs to get us out of the Great Depression. Many of these young men would go on to lead us to victory in World War II and would be known as the "greatest generation." Undoubtedly the CCC helped form the work ethics and discipline of the young men of that generation. Below you can see the Ironmaster's Mansion.
 Here you can see the restored furnace that dates back to 1764.

 Here you can see a former Gristmill that has been turned into a museum for the Appalachian Trail, that runs right through the Pine Grove Furnace State Park and Michaux State Forest.
Marker for the Appalachian Trail. Doing the whole trail is a bucket list thing for me that I highly doubt will ever happen. The portions I have walked in Pennsylvania and Virginia are stunningly beautiful, and the area it crosses through here is no exception. The camp here would serve as a good waypoint if you were walking the trail.
In waterfall chasing I attempted to check out Lewis Rocks and the waterfall that it has. Sadly an organization has made the falls area private property, which really is a shame considering the fact that this is a state forest for the enjoyment of all, and that natural landmarks like this should be a public asset to foster a love of nature. The photos below show the areas you can see before you get stonewalled from entering the waterfall area.
 A babbling brook flows from where the waterfall is supposed to be located. I really want to go up to the waterfall and the rocks at some point. 
 The Skunk Cabbages just starting to grow
The state flower and state trees abound in this beautiful spot. It really is a shame that the public cannot access beyond this point to see the rocks and waterfall. Not all is a loss though. In other areas of Michaux State Forest you can scale a number mountain peaks to see tremendous vistas of the valley below South Mountain. I highly recommend spending an afternoon or camping at Pine Grove Furnace State Park and Michaux State Forest. It is located not too far from the city areas of Harrisburg, Lancaster, and vicinity. 

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