Every January for the last few years some friends and I have gone and camped along the Appalachian Trail. It's you can park at Pine Grove State Park and then hike your way into locations or park at other trail heads. Water is easily found and views like Sunset Rocks are simply gorgeous. These trips are what gave me the experience, and confidence, to go from tent camping to tarp camping.
Best place to come camping our first time here
Water, food store, lake, hiking, easy access.
This was our second time in Michaux State Forest. We previously stayed at #6, but this site #10 was definitely an upgrade.
There's a parking area which fits several cars, and I actually counted 4 campsites there is immediate access to. One is immediately to the left, one is maybe 50 feet further down the trail, another straight down the hill and along to the left, and the last is about a 5 minute walk from the road, straight down the hill, right at the T, and then at the back of the open field you come to.
We stayed at the second site to the left, where there is a sign that says "Camps Trail", and I believe this is the main site. It is very roomy. There's a large fire pit, and two decent spots for a tent. My two drawbacks were no stream/creek, and lots of big flies, especially in the morning, though harmless.
The Upper and Lower Lollipop trails are literally at this campsites front doorstep. Both trails branch off the the right where there is a sign for the Lower Trail. You can do a loop if you connect at the bottom along the road the come to. It is an easy trail, 1-2 hour loop depending on your speed.
The Camps trail starts at this campsite's back door. We hiked part of this gorgeous trail, which enters many different types of forests. We saw a baby deer on this hike. We were the only hikers, but mountain bikers love this trail.
All in all the campsite was gorgeous, though not incredibly private because of all the trail heads, but that didn't bother us for everyone passing by was very friendly.
Most of these roadsite sites are listed on Google. You can stay for free, but you need to obtain a permit for large groups, or if you plan to stay for 2 or more nights.
6. This was the last site available on this section of road when we arrived on Sunday night. The site had some discarded food items around, but was otherwise pretty clean. Its right in the nook of a hairpin turn up the hill, so you hear cars come and go from almost the same direction, though the site is somewhat hidden. The fire ring was a good size, there's a few level spots for a tent, and plenty of nice trees for shade and a hammock. No bathroom, bring your shovel. Wished there had been a stream or creek near this site, but there wasn't.
The Appalachian Trail was a few minutes drive up the hill, where you can take a short hike North to the AT midway marker. It’s a beautiful, clean trail where you pass very few, even mid-spring on a gorgeous day.
You can also drive 10 minutes to the Sunset Rocks trailhead from this campsite. It is a short but very steep climb to Sunset Rocks, with a limited but very decent lookout.
Michaux State Forest campgrounds have vault toilets and the sites are well-maintained. I went in late fall and was the only camper at the area I stayed in. Unfortunately you cannot reserve sites online and it's a little tricky, but it's free…
Camping is free in several areas throughout Michaux State Forest (as well as other PA State Forests), BUT you usually need to have a camping permit (also free) and you can only stay in designated campsites. To obtain a permit, find out where the designated sites are, and/or find out what designated campsites are available, you have to contact the State Forest District Office for the forest you would like to camp in.
More info can be found here: