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South Mountain Series LbNA #10076

Owner:Lightnin Bug
Plant date:Aug 14, 2004
Found by: The Nature Lady (3)
Last found:Apr 23, 2018
Last edited:Aug 14, 2004
South Mountain Series

This adventure will send you climbing around the Nature Conservancy’s South Mountain Preserve. You’ll be going for 3 letterboxes – The Spring Peeper, the Mountain Laurel and the South Mountain H³ (Hitch Hike Hostel). This is a pretty serious hike, about 4 miles round trip of climbs and rocks. Nothing is dangerous, but you should wear sturdy shoes and have an accurate assessment of your physical fitness.

From route 309 Northbound, exit at Emmaus Avenue and go south. Continue down the street about 1 mile and turn left onto Alpine Street. Follow Alpine down to a parking lot on the left near a playground. Park Here. does a good job pinpointing it as “400 Alpine St., Emmaus, PA”

Spring Peeper

Go to the trailhead at the yellow gate. The map in the sign post will really not help you. Start heading back following the trail, blazed orange. You will pass over a wooden footbridge and the trail will turn left and go uphill. At trail junction, head left and continue uphill. You will come to a sign board and another bridge. Go Right here and follow the trail downhill. At a junction, go straight. Cross a small stream, then a smaller stream (may be dry). The orange trail goes uphill. You will come to a strange, blue capped structure. From the cement lip, go due North 15 scrambling paces towards a large rock and two trees directly behind it. The pile of rocks hides the Spring Peeper. The large depression directly behind here houses many a Spring Peeper.

Mountain Laurel

Time to get sweaty! Continue on the orange blazed trail, going left uphill (155°) at the sign board, double blaze and barricade to avoid the private property. At the next double blaze, and a 4-way intersection, go left at 115°. At the T, turn left, going due North. You’ll pass through a couple of wet areas with rocks to step over and then you will cross the same small stream. You will go uphill a tiny bit then come to a choice. Go right at 115° for an easy switchback up the hill, following the orange trail. The second leg will be much longer, but you will reach another sign board. There is much Mountain Laurel here, but not what you seek. At the sign board and a bowl depression, turn right (90°) to leave the orange trail behind. You’ll alternatively climb, wind and level off as you pass a large pile of sticks, and a series of huge boulders. You’ll eventually come to 2 very low rock walls. Pass over these and turn right at the T, bearing 130°. A tree on your right will have a yellow band and the trail will parallel the rock wall. You’ll come to 2 stone pillars (one toppled) on your right. Go between them and sight 3 trees at 115°, one of which has been reduced to a stump. 15 uneven paces take you to the center tree (dark bark) and the Mountain Laurel, in rocks at the base.

South Mountain H³

It ain’t getting any easier!! From the pillars, take the trail that you came here at a bearing of 320°. This trail will go STEEPLY downhill, so you better switch to low gear! You’ll come to a makeshift fence and follow a trail off to your right, bearing easterly. This trail will follow the contour of the mountain. Ignore trails branching to your right (they go uphill), but do take the time to go to a very short trail to a rocky overlook for a cool view. This is what we call Jack's Pulpit. Continue on this trail for about 0.4 miles, coming to a power line cut. Emerge and look at the vista at 280°. You can see South Mall from here and “Hey I can see my house from here!” Well, maybe not you, but Lightnin Bug can! There was a fire circle behind you. Go back to the edge of the forest and take a bearing of 170 deg. 10 paces to a tree, look behind and under the rocks to find the H³.

Heading Home: We gotta get out of this place!

Continue back on the trail that got you here. You should be heading SW. Again, this trail runs along the side of the mountain. At a split, bear 220°, or right and at a T, bear right again, this time 230°. The spur to the rocky overlook again beckons. You will return to the makeshift fence. Do NOT go downhill here, but rather follow the trail to you left (155°). You will see a yellow banded tree and this trail follows the contour of the hill. You’ll pass some boulder fields and finally return to the sign board and small bowl depression. You can go down the switchback at 130° or take a steep shortcut down at 240° (going straight). The trails rejoin at the bottom, heading 250° to cross the streams and wetter areas. Prior to the trespassing barriers, go downhill (right) at 275°. At a 4-way cross, bear right again, going 345°. At the signboard, turn right and you shall pass the Peeper zone. Cross our favorite little streams and at a tree with yellow and orange blazes, turn left (350°). At a T, go left again (330°). You will go downhill and encounter the first wooden bridge again. The forest will diminish as you head back out to the start.