Happy Travelers are explorers at heart and relish discovering off-the-path relics that turn an afternoon jaunt into an adventure. Pennsylvania is packed with history, and not just in the obvious spots — if you know where to look, you can encounter the archaic structures left to the mercy of the wilderness. These 11 trails will lead you to storied ruins and a look into the past.
1. Valley Forge National Historical Park
With 19.5 miles of trails, Valley Forge National Historical Park is a great hiking destination in its own right, but for those looking to wander into the past, this national park has just the spot! As you ascend Mount Misery on the Horse-Shoe Trail – the yellow blaze – in Montgomery County, you can walk through the stone remains of the old Colonial Water Bottling Plant.
Types of ruins: An old water bottling plant
2. Pymatuning State Park
Pymatuning State Park in Crawford County has more than 17,000 acres, including seven miles of hiking and biking trails — some of which lead to an abandoned campground and a railroad grade. Follow the multi-use Spillway Trail to check out the railroad or go down the Fries Road Trail to explore the abandoned buildings and beach at the Tuttle Point campground, which closed in 2010.
Types of ruins: Abandoned campground, buildings and railroad grade
3. Standing Stone Trail
The Thousand Steps of the Standing Stone Trail were constructed in Jack’s Narrows in 1936 by quarry workers for the Harbison-Walker Refractory Company to access their job site at the top of Jack’s Mountain in Huntingdon County. Today, the Thousand Steps section is a popular spot for hikers. The steps lead you by the old dinkey grades used to haul the stone down the mountain on small trains. You can see the concrete Dinkey House that used to house the locomotives, plus other leftovers of the old quarry operation.
Types of ruins: Thousand Steps, old dinkey grades, and an abandoned quarry operation