Allentown Hiking Club
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Our Club
The Allentown Hiking Club was formed in December 1931. As our bylaws state, the aspiration of this club is to escape the crowded city; to walk, hike and climb for enjoyment and exercise with nature loving companions; to maintain its section of the Appalachian Trail; and to stimulate public interests in every phase of nature and the outdoors through programs and lectures.

The club is sponsored by the Allentown Recreation Bureau and is a member of the Keystone Trail Association and the Appalachian Trail Conference. We maintain 10.3 miles of the Appalachian Trail, including two backcountry shelters, Allentown (north of New Tripoli) and G.W. Outerbridge (west of the Lehigh Gap).

The AHC meets the first Wednesday of the month at 7:30 pm in the St. Timothy's Lutheran Church meeting room, 140 South Ott Street, Allentown, PA. Meetings are held to discuss previous and upcoming outdoor activities, which include hiking, walking, backpacking, climbing, cycling, and canoeing, just to name a few interests of the club members. Also discussed are reports by club committees, correspondence from the past month and any other business pertaining to the club. After-meeting activities include members slide shows, movies, equipment demonstrations or presentations by local organizations.

Although we encourage membership in our club, you do not need to join to participate in a hike or two, or to check out a monthly meeting.
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Club dues are a mere $10.00 per person per calendar year, or $15.00 for households. Funds are used for the printing and mailing of the Newsletter/Schedule, book and video purchases for our library, miscellaneous dues, needed trail maintenance equipment, and other expenses. Newsletter and activities schedules are mailed to club members on a quarterly basis.

Payment should be sent to the membership coordinator:
Paula Uhrin
283 Ridgeview Drive
Alburtis, PA 18011
Make checks payable to "Allentown Hiking Club."
To print a membership application click here.
For more information, email the membership coordinator:
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Our History
Formation and Early Years
An Allentown Hiking Club History
by Barbara L. Wiemann
In the summer of 1931, Elwood S. Thomas, a member of the Allentown School Board, visited Europe, where he was impressed with the vigor of Europeans who walked and hiked. Upon his return to Allentown, he advocated for the formation of a hiking group to introduce the benefits of hiking to the residents of his home city.
In response to his enthusiasm, the Allentown Recreation Commission, under the leadership of Irene Welty, formally issued an invitation to local citizens to meet on Wednesday, December 2, at City Hall to organize a hiking group. 23 people attended. In what was obviously a busy and productive meeting, the attendees
  • chose the name Allentown Hiking Club for the club,
  • elected officers (Walter Benning was elected President),
  • set the yearly dues at $1.00,
  • appointed a committee to write by-laws (Clarrisa Krommes and Anne Ritter),
  • agreed to accept responsibility for maintaining the Appalachian Trail, from the New Tripoli-Tamaqua road west for a distance of seven and one-half miles to the Tri County Line‚ &
  • adopted a plan of holding two Saturday hikes, one Sunday hike and a business meeting each month and scheduled the first month's hikes.
The club's first hike, led by Irene Welty, went to the Pinnacle on December 6. Club attendance records indicate that 18 members and 6 visitors participated in the outing. The club kept detailed records of attendance at all hike; Clarissa Krommes was recognized as the member who attended the most hikes during 1932.
Judging from the minutes of the monthly meetings, one of the most vexing concerns was arranging transportation for hikers. In January 1932, after a lengthy discussion, members voted to charge everyone attending a hike ten cents, which would be placed in a gasoline fund. The issue was revisited at the next two meetings. In March, members decided to discontinue the gasoline fund and secure a truck and driver for $5.50, for which amount he would "transport hikers for a distance of fifty-seven miles." In September, members decided to revert to using members' cars for transportation, and in January 1933 the minutes note that "on all hikes where machines are required, a box be put at a place of convenience, for all to contribute what they like, and the total to be distributed equally among the car drivers."
The club soon added activities that continue to this time. Speakers and programs enhanced meetings. Club vice president Charles Wisely presented a talk outlining a hiker's duties. Other presentations included an amusing talk entitled "Reflections on an Amateur Hiker‚" and a first aid presentation. An annual banquet was approved. And at the annual meeting in December 1936, the Club named its first honorary members: Elwood Thomas, Ernest Ashley, Frank Beary, Percy B. Ruhe, and Myron Avery.
John Leibig was elected President in 1933 and served for five years. Leibig began a regular newspaper column "With the Hikers" for the Allentown newspaper. Hand drawn maps of the hike routes were included. In addition to this external publicity, the club began a mimeographed official members publication entitled the "Trail-O-Gram." It included hike listings, recaps of past events, trail news, articles of interest to hikers, and hiker humor.
In September 1932 the club appointed Walter Benning as the club's first Supervisor of Trails. He would be responsible for organizing the work parties needed to keep the club's Appalachian Trail section cleared. In January 1935, E. M. Zimmerman and Louis Haas of the Appalachian Trail Conference attended the club meeting and Zimmerman presented a talk on the Appalachian Trail. The Club voted to become a dues paying member of the Appalachian Trail Conference and decided to embark on an ambitious new project: building a "cabin" on the Appalachian Trail.
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Building a "Cabin" on the Appalachian Trail
An Allentown Hiking Club History
by Barbara L. Wiemann
As related in the first installment of this anniversary history, the club assumed responsibility for the section of the Appalachian Trail from present day PA 309 to Tri County corner in December 1931. The need for accommodations for overnight trampers soon became a club concern. As listed in the 1934 Appalachian Trail guidebook, the nearest hiking club built shelter going north on the AT was east of Wind Gap (the Blue Mt. Club Shelter) and the closest to the south, west of PA 183, was the Hertlein Cabin of the Blue Mountain Eagle Climbing Club.
At the January 1935 club meeting, President John Leibig "spoke about getting a shelter for the Trail," and appointed a committee to "work towards building it." Committee Chair Walter Benning presented information on two possible locations under consideration: the present day New Tripoli Campsite and the site where the Allentown Shelter now sits.
The site above the Wannamaker Road was ultimately selected because it was on the section that the club maintained. Permission to use the shelter site was obtained from the landowner, Mr. Stoudt, a mill owner of New Ringgold on the north side of the mountain. The Blose estate owned the spring, and permission to use and improve the area around the spring was obtained.
With permissions in hand, the real work began on March 10. A party of 12 cleared the underbrush at the shelter site, cleaned the spring, and cut a trail from the shelter to the spring. The shelter was intentionally sited "an eight minutes distance" from the spring to prevent contamination from careless shelter users.
On ten Sundays during April, May, and June, club members trekked to the site and felled 75 trees that were stacked to become the walls of the three-sided Adirondack style lean-to. Mr. Stoudt graciously used his team to haul in the roofing material (the tar paper rolls weighed 90 pounds!), and after two more work days, the shelter was under cover.
In a report published in the October 1, 1935, AHC Trail-O-Gram, Benning noted that "during the cooler weather the southern approach was used, but when it became warmer it was easier, although somewhat longer, to climb the mountain from the north. To our lady hiking companions shall praise be given here, for the beautiful job they did of clearing the trail from the shelter to the spring, while the men were busy cutting down trees." His report also shows that during the 12 construction trips, 29 club members contributed 949 hours of labor. (With a 1935 club membership of 62, almost half of AHC members participated in this club project.)
After taking a summer break, the walls were chinked with cement, which club members carried up the mountain in loads weighing up to 50 pounds. Since the spring went dry (it still does!), members also hauled all the water from the foot of the mountain.
By the time of his January 1, 1936, report, Benning could declare the shelter complete. After the construction of a fireplace at the open front of the shelter, a spring dedication was planned.
The construction of this shelter stood the test of time. In 1969, four wire bunks replaced the dirt floor where hikers slept, and in 1973, a work crew built a wooden floor. But time took its toll, and in early spring of 1997, after protecting hikers for nearly 62 years, the structure was torn down to make way for the current Allentown Shelter.
In 1937, after considering the possibility of assuming responsibility for the AT between Lehigh and Little Gaps, AHC decided to concentrate its efforts on its section around the new shelter. (If the club had assumed this new section, today we could be maintaining the famous "moon walk"). However, in future years, AHC would respond affirmatively when asked to assume other AT duties.
On December 2, 1941, its tenth anniversary, the club was an organization fulfilling its mission and looking forward to its second decade. Little did members know that, in five days, national events would imperil the club's existence.
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War And Revival: 1941-1961
An Allentown Hiking Club History
by Barbara L. Wiemann

Merritt Zimmerman was one of the 12 hikers on AHC's first hike when the club re-organized in 1954. He served the club as President (2 years), Vice-President (1 year) and Treasurer (9 years). He was honored by the club for leading a series of hikes on the AT in PA and served as KTA VicePresident for 9 years. An honoray member since 1975, Merritt currently lives in South Carolina.
On Dec. 2, 1941, when the Allentown Hiking Club celebrated its 10th anniversary, the club was a flourishing organization, with a full hike schedule, a well maintained section of the Appalachian Trail, and a recently constructed shelter. But World War II would change that. Men (and some women) went off to war and women took jobs outside the home and planted victory gardens. Time and energy for leisure activities were at a premium; gas and rubber were rationed, and transportation for hikes was difficult to obtain.
The last wartime schedule in the club archives, for May 1943, lists two afternoon hikes, both led by women and requiring no driving. Participants walked to South Mountain and along the Lehigh Parkway. Sometime after this date, the Allentown Hiking Club suspended activities for the "duration."
The hiatus lasted longer than anticipated. For reasons that are not explained in any club records, the club was not officially reorganized until January 1954. However, club members apparently did get together and hike informally, since there is a 1946 picture in the archives, taken at Hickory Run State.
In January 1954, the Allentown papers carried news articles announcing an Allentown Hiking Club reorganization meeting to be held February 4 at City Hall; anyone age 17 or older was invited to join. Twelve hikers attended the initial February 14 hike; at least one of those hikers, Merritt Zimmerman, is still a club member 52 years later. The reorganized club quickly re-established past practices and activities. In March, a quarterly schedule was assembled and newly elected club president Dale Beach offered a slide program. A social committee was established and in June, when the club held a picnic, records show that 34 people had paid the $1.00 per year dues, one third of the way toward the goal of 100 members that had been set at the February meeting. Club emblems (patches) were designed.
Members also quickly focused on the club's Appalachian Trail responsibilities. On March 28, the club hiked to the Allentown Shelter, then almost 20 years old. The trail and shelter seems to have survived the hiatus rather well; most likely, individual members had undertaken the responsibility of performing maintenance during the previous decade. Paint for blazing became a regular club expense. Shelter repairs were made in 1957, and in 1961 bunks were built by Explorer Post 107 and installed, so backpackers no longer had to sleep on the dirt floor. [The 1969 date given in the previous installment was a typographical error.]
Publicity in the Allentown papers and hike announcements on WKAP promoted club activities. By 1958, increasing club membership supported double hikes (two hikes, one longer, one shorter, on the same day). Weekend trips became a schedule staple. Destinations included the Catskills, Clarks Valley on the Appalachian Trail, and the Jersey shore. A hike with the Blue Mountain Club to Hidden Lake (Sunfish Pond) in November 1954 was followed by many other joint outings.
On November 12, 1956, AHC hosted 140 hikers from six other clubs (Alpine Club of Williamsport, Batona of Philadelphia, Blue Mountain Eagle Climbing of Berks County, Reading Hiking Club, Susquehanna Trailers of Wilkes-Barre, and the Wilmington Trail Club) in a 12-mile trek through seven parks in the city. Highlights of the day were the annual Chrysanthemum Show and the trout at Lil-Le-Hi Trout Nursery. This successful venture was followed in March, 1957, with a "Hiker Reunion‚" attended by 100 hikers from Batona, BMECC, Reading, Susquehanna Trailers, Susquehanna AT, and Lancaster Hiking Clubs. This was a far more rugged 12-mile hike, as the route included the Appalachian Trail, Pulpit Rock, and the Pinnacle.
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The Fourth Decade, 1961-1970
An Allentown Hiking Club Histor
by Barbara L. Wiemann
The Allentown Hiking Club's fourth decade was a period of steady growth, characterized with high participation in hikes and social activities.
AHC Organizational Developments
Membership, which had held steady at about 50-60 members for some time, doubled during the decade, standing at 129 members in December 1970. Despite no dues increases (dues were $1.00 per year), club finances also improved. In March 1963, AHC had $91.00 in its treasury; in December 1970 treasurer Merritt Zimmerman could report a balance of $307.23.
Longer morning hikes and afternoon shorter hikes were well attended. Leaders often had 20 or more hikers. The Happy Hiker reported one example of AHC hiker dedication. On November 10, 1968, hikers awoke to a premature snowstorm that deposited up to a foot of snow on the Appalachian Trail. Despite this, six hardy hikers completed the hike to the shelter, enjoying the fall foliage covered with snow.
Frequent joint day hikes with other hiking clubs and weekend hiking events, including multi-club events, were scheduled year round. An especially popular destination was the Mokoma Inn in LaPorte, Sullivan County.
Social activities and slide nights drew 40-60 people to the West End Youth Center on Greenleaf Street. In 1968, the club entered the Allentown Halloween Parade with a float and 22 marchers dressed as hikers; they took home a $35.00 prize.
The Happy Hiker, the club newsletter begun by Helen Haldeman, was filled with club and trail news, trip reports, member news, and anecdotes to keep everyone well informed.
Appalachian Trail
During this decade, the club agreed to expand its Appalachian Trail responsibilities, adding the five-mile Bake Oven Rd. to Rt. 309 section to the five miles from Rt. 309 to Tri County Corner that the club had maintained since 1931. (The Blue Mountain Eagle Climbing Club retained responsibility for the New Tripoli Shelter.)
AHC members also took their Appalachian Trail Conference duties seriously. The club designated representatives to each ATC meetings (Delaware Water Gap in 1961, Vermont in 1964, North Carolina in 1967, and Shippensburg in 1970).
In 1967, AHC and its members wrote letters to legislators in support of House Bill 4865, designed to protect the Appalachian Trail from development. This trail wide effort culminated with the passage of the National Trails Act in 1968.
Likewise, in 1967 the club supported effort to save Sunfish Pond on the AT near Delaware Water Gap. Club members Dixon Miler and Merritt Zimmerman joined Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas on his hike to Sunfish Pond to publicize the campaign, which was ultimately successful in 1970.
On January 26, 1970, the club held a special meeting, attended by 60 members, at the Old Court House on Hamilton St. The attraction was guest speaker Col Lester Holmes of ATC, who showed a film and spoke about the AT and conservation.
Keystone Trails Association
Members were also enthusiastic attendees at every KTA meeting. In 1967, club member Merritt Zimmerman was elected KTA Vice President, a position he held for nine years.
To earn the Hiking Awards that KTA offered, Zimmerman began a series of hikes to cover the Appalachian Trail in the state. Five members completed this series; the club followed this with a series of hikes covering the AT in New Jersey. To recognize his effort in organizing these hikes, Zimmerman was presented with a watch.
In 1969, KTA announced plans for the new 400-mile long Tuscarora Big Blue Trail. In the fall, Zimmerman led club members on a weekend trip to help clear and mark the new trail in the vicinity of Col. Denning State Park. The club assumed responsibility for another section in 1970 and spent two weekends clearing a second section of the new trail.
As the club completed its fourth decade in 1970, Edward Garvey was completing an Appalachian Trail thru hike. His book Appalachian Hiker, would spark an explosion of interest in the AT, hiking and backpacking, and have a profound effect on the Allentown Hiking Club in its fifth decade.
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The Fifth Decade, 1971-1980
An Allentown Hiking Club History
by Barbara L. Wiemann
In 1971, Ed Garvey published Appalachian Hiker: Adventure of a Lifetime, an account of his Appalachian Trail thru-hike, spurring interest in the AT and thru hiking. New innovative, lightweight outdoor gear began to appear in stores, making it easier for people to get out on the trail. The Allentown Hiking Club was a beneficiary of this enthusiasm for hiking. In December 1970, the club had 129 members. By December 1975, membership climbed to 333, and in December, 1978, AHC boasted 591 members.
Hiking Activities
This decade was the decade of the series hike. In the fall of 1971, Earl Raub began a series of Appalachian Trail hikes covering the Susquehanna to Delaware Rivers. The following year Raub offered an AT series from the Delaware to the Hudson River.
Raub, who led more AHC hikes during this decade than any other member, again led hikes covering the entire AT in Pennsylvania in 1974 and 1976. In between, Dick Snyder led a New Jersey/New York AT series in 1975. Raub repeated the NJ/NY series again in 1977. Several club members co-led the Pennsylvania AT series once more in 1978. The enthusiasm for series hikes spread to other longer trails. In 1972, and again in 1975 and 1978, club members had the opportunity to hike the entire Horse Shoe Trail.
As a result of these hikes, quite a few club members earned Keystone Trails Association hiking awards. Raub also organized two "all in one day" hikes. On May 2, 1976, club members divided into teams to hike the entire Horse Shoe Trail, and on April 4, 1977, the club covered every foot of the Appalachian Trail in the Commonwealth. After each hike, Raub compiled trail condition reports that were submitted to the maintaining clubs. To celebrate the U.S. bicentennial in 1976, Dick Leach volunteered to organize historic hikes. This series culminated in a chartered bus trip to Philadelphia and Valley Forge, where club members hiked through the city’s historic district and park.
Appalachian Trail
Harold Croxton was appointed Trail Chair in 1974. In an effort to curb litter and inappropriate shelter usage, he initiated a schedule of weekend shelter caretakers, whose presence deterred misuse. A half-mile trail relocation between Jacksonville Road and PA 309 was completed in May, 1976. The increase in overnight shelter usage had an impact on the Allentown Shelter, which was equipped with four wire bunks and had a dirt floor. In October, 1973, Dick Snyder organized a shelter work trip to replace the deteriorating back wall of the shelter and tear out the bunks and install a wooden floor that would double the sleeping capacity of the shelter. In July, 1975, club members rebuilt the fireplace, packing in 80-pound bags of concrete two miles.
The Allentown Shelter spring dried up each summer, presenting problems for backpackers. In April, 1978, Croxton reported that a never fail spring had been located and a yellow trail would be blazed to it.
In 1978, the Philadelphia Trail Club was planning to abandon the Outerbridge Shelter on the west side of Lehigh Gap. AHC voted to assume maintenance of the shelter, and Nick Rosato volunteered to chair the rehabilitation effort, which included work trips to install a floor, replace the roof, rebuild the fire ring, and clean up the shelter area.
The New Tripoli Shelter, maintained by the Blue Mountain Eagle Climbing Club, was torn down in August, 1979, and AHC agreed to assume responsibility for maintaining a campsite at that location.
In October, 1977, Raub organized a weekend work trip to remove the debris from an airplane crash near Little Gap. More than 1400 pounds of metal was salvaged and sold for $301.85. The club added $100 and sent the proceeds to the Appalachian Trail Conference. In addition, to support the ATC move from Washington, DC to Harpers Ferry in 1976, club members raised more than $320 to contribute to the purchase of the new headquarters building.
In July, 1974, Earl Raub became AHC's first AT 2000 Miler. One month later, Bob Reinhard also earned End-to-End status. They were followed by Croxton (1976) and Barbara Wiemann (1977). In 1977 Reinhard became the first AHC member elected to the ATC Board of Managers.
As the decade drew to as a close in 1979, the National Park Service acquired its first tracts of land in the AHC trail section (four parcels near the Jacksonsville-Snyders Rd.) to protect the AT corridor.
AHC Organizational Developments
In 1975 the club obtained permission to meet at the Pioneer Community Center and built a storage cabinet. With an available meeting room and an increasing membership, the club began holding monthly meetings the next year and Gene Scharle organized a club library.
The Allentown Recreation Bureau presented the Senator John Van Zant Memorial Award to the club in 1976 in recognition of AHC's outstanding recreation program (in 1976 the club offered 140 activities). AHC offered its first club T-shirt in 1978. Finally, the club made an important financial decision late in the decade, doubling the club dues from one dollar to two dollars for 1979.
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The 1980s, Part 1
An Allentown Hiking Club History
by Barbara L. Wiemann
After the explosive growth in membership and weekly club activities during the 1970s, the 1980s were a decade in which the club maintained a full and varied schedule of activities and also looked in new directions as a steward of the Appalachian Trail.
Meetings and Paperwork
The club expanded its Appalachian Trail efforts, moving beyond the clipping, blazing, litter pickup, and shelter maintenance tasks of previous decades. In January 1981, two Appalachian Trail Conference employees came to Allentown to help the club plan management guidelines for the AHC section of trail. When ATC held its first Mid-Atlantic regional meeting in 1985, Sam Carlson, Harold Croxton, and Ginny Musser represented AHC. 1985 was also the year that ATC held its first Presidents Meetings in Harpers Ferry (for presidents of the AT maintaining clubs) and President Carlson attended.
The National Park Service purchased its first tracts of land in the AHC section of trail in 1979. As a result, in January, 1982 the club scheduled its first boundary hike to monitor and inspect these lands. Under the guidance of Harold Croxton, who also served as KTA's statewide AT Monitor Coordinator, the club began submitting the annual reports required by NPS.
Financial Support
AHC continued its support of the Appalachian Trail Conference. In 1983 the club donated $400 to fund ATC’s expanding programs and increased personnel costs and began to support efforts to protect Appalachian Trail lands along the Blue Mountain, donating $100 to the Wildlands Trust Fund. The next year AHC upped its financial support to WTF; the club gave $250 and individual club members kicked in another $250. This money was matched by the Trust for Appalachian Trail Land, doubling the club's contribution. In 1985, AHC joined three other AT maintaining clubs to raise $1500 to help the Lehigh Valley Conservancy purchase the Loch property to protect the view shed from Baer Rocks. When the effort came up $205 short, AHC members voted to make up the shortfall from the club treasury.
Maintaining and Protecting the Trail
On behalf of AHC, Earl Raub organized 35 hikers who conducted the Susquehanna-Delaware River portion of Operation Walkthrough on the Appalachian Trail in May 1980. The purpose was to have hikers cover the entire Trail from Maine to Georgia at one time and submit reports detailing needed trail maintenance work to ATC and the maintaining clubs.
The Spring Maintenance Hike on the first Sunday in May was an annual schedule staple. In 1987, an after work picnic at Leaser Lake was added.
To encourage responsible trail use and educate hikers, Trails Chair, Harold Croxton, organized a schedule of weekend shelter caretakers. In 1989, a picnic table was added to the Allentown Shelter to offer a level alternative location to encourage backpackers not to cook inside the shelter. A gate and boulders were placed west of Ft. Franklin Road to block vehicle access to the AT in 1988. The gate east of PA 309 was installed the next year.
Earl Raub organized three more club airplane wreck clean ups along the AT during the decade – at Bake Oven Knob, Wolf Rocks, and near PA 325. Funds realized from the sale of the scrap metal ($314.85) was donated to ATC and AHC garnered publicity in local newspapers and in the Appalachian Trailway News.
After a major vandalism incident at the Outerbridge Shelter resulted in three large holes in the shelter roof, 23 members devoted a weekend to repairing a significant portion of the roof (1984). In 1988, the club totally replaced the roof, installing a metal roof.
Keystone Trails Association
AHC members were actively involved in KTA. Ginny Musser was elected KTA President in 1986 and served four years. In 1987 Merritt Zimmerman, who had served KTA in several capacities, including nine years as an officer, was awarded KTA highest honor, the Citation Award.
When KTA hosted the ATC biennial meeting at East Stroudsburg in 1989, AHC volunteered to staff the Information Desk during the week. To help prepare members to answer attendee questions, AHC conducted a pre-Conference 7-mile club hike around town to familiarize members with the town and its facilities. The Club also handled Housing for the Conference.
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The 1980s, Part 2
An Allentown Hiking Club History
by Barbara L. Wiemann
Part 1 of this history of the 1980s covered the Appalachian Trail related activities of the club. This part will concentrate on the club's non-AT events.
With the development of new hiking trails and the opening of rail-trails in the Commonwealth, the club schedule included hikes to a broader variety of destinations, such as the Conestoga, Pinchot, Old Loggers Path, Nor-Bath, and Lehigh Canal trails. A group of dedicated backpackers offered monthly overnight trips. Several popular events, such as the December Christmas City trek, Assateaque backpacks, and outings to Dixon Miller's fire tower, became annual events.
Recaps of hikes in the Happy Hiker indicate that leaders could often count on a large group of 20 or more participants for day hikes. One Lehigh Gap Appalachian Trail outing drew 50 hikers.
To cultivate and encourage new leaders for these many activities, the club held a new leader training workshop in 1981. In 1984, a yearly recap showed that the club conducted 59 hikes and 11 backpack trips.
In addition to the monthly Wednesday business meetings, the club held monthly Saturday night slide nights at the Pioneer Center. Other social events included hayrides, picnics, and an annual banquet. The 1981 banquet celebrated AHC's 50th anniversary. The 1983 event, which featured Cindy Ross' Appalachian Trail slide show, drew 98 attendees. In 1984, President Sam Carlson began the custom of writing a presidential message for the first page of the Happy Hiker, and in 1986, the newsletter printed its first picture. To satisfy the needs of a diverse membership, the newsletter featured columns for beginners (new hikers), backpackers, and a first aid column.
In 1986, as a public service, club members painted the interior of the Pioneer Center (owned by the City of Allentown and used as a meeting location by various groups, including AHC). So many volunteers showed up that the work was completed by noon. That same year, AHC members volunteered to answer the phones during a WLTV pledge drive.
From its inception, women were elected to serve as club vice-president, secretary and treasurer. However, it was not until the 1980s that AHC elected its first female president - Carol Rigler in 1980 and 1981. To the great sorrow of the club, Carol died of cancer less than 13 months after here second term ended.
Two other women followed Carol during this decade: Jean Jones in 1983 and Ginny Musser in 1986 and 1987. Bill Sandt, Sam Carlson, and Mike Wuerstle complete the list of presidents during the 1980s.
It was in this decade (1989) that Maryann Wagner was first elected treasurer. Her 19 years of service (and counting) in this position is the longest tenure of any individual in club history. Coupled with her five years as secretary (1979-1984), Maryann has compiled an impressive record of dedication to the Allentown Hiking Club.
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The 1990s, Part 1: Appalachian Trail
An Allentown Hiking Club History
by Barbara L. Wiemann
During the 1990s, as stewards of the Appalachian Trail, the Allentown Hiking Club improved and protected the Appalachian Trail experience for hikers by constructing trail relocations, installing a gate to prevent vehicular access to the trail, and constructing a privy and new shelter.
Gates and Relocations
Illegal vehicular traffic used the AT footpath east of PA 309 to access the ATT service road and drive to the power line near the New Tripoli campsite. As a result, that section of the AT was deeply rutted and extremely muddy and large quantities of trash accumulated at the campsite. In 1990, Frank Bertalan led the effort to install a locked gate between the AT and the service road, blocking this route to vehicles.
To finish the job, Bertalan and Ed Ritter directed a crew of 39 AHC volunteers who relocated the AT away from the muddy, rutted woods road and built a new access trail to the New Tripoli campsite. The old campsite side trail had descended straight down the ridge using the power line; the new trail, located in the woods east of the power line, switchbacks down to the campsite. The crew also re-piped the spring at the campsite.
In October 1993, Mike and Bev Wuerstle and Bertalan laid out a blue blazed trail skirting the restaurant parking lot at PA 309. This was planned as a "fall back" location for the AT in case any future owner of the restaurant did not want the trail on his or her property. (This section of trail crossing the parking lot was the only piece of AT that AHC maintained that was not within the National Park Service protected corridor). In 1996 this new trail became the official AT route and club members constructed 15 steps to connect the trail to PA 309; the old route to the restaurant became the side trail.
In July 1994, in response to a request from an adjacent landowner, three-quarters of a mile of AT footpath east of Jacksonville-Snyders Road was moved south, away from the NPS boundary closer to the center of the corridor. Under the leadership of Bertalan, Ritter, and Harold Croxton, the trail was built from "scratch to finish" in 4 hours. And that included blacking out the old blazes and closing the trail.
Privy and New Allentown Shelter
After completing these projects, the club turned its attention to the Allentown Shelter area. Years of increasingly heavy usage at the site pointed to the need for a privy, and the 60-year old Allentown Shelter was showing its age, requiring more repairs and hours to maintain. The August 1995 club meeting was devoted to a discussion of the future of the shelter and the need for a privy. Key points were the costs (of maintaining vs. building), demands that expected future usage would place on the structure and area, and the aesthetics of any projects.
Since sanitation was a major concern, the club moved forward immediately with plans for a clevis multrum privy. Permits from Lynn Township and the Game Commission were secured, as well a $1000 grant from LL Bean through the ATC Grants to Clubs program. Under the direction of Paul Shellenberger, club volunteers prefabricated the privy off site, dismantled it, and then reassembled it in June 1996. Twelve club volunteers contributed about 500 hours to the effort. Total cost was just over $1400.00.
With the new privy in place, club leadership turned full attention to replacing the Allentown Shelter. To fund this more expensive construction project, the club again applied for an LL Bean Grant through ATC (receiving $2800). Other major contributors were Pete Nestor, owner of Nestor Sporting Goods ($2000), and club member Earl Raul ($1000). These contribution covered the cost of the materials.
After securing this funding and the needed permits and approvals, work began in the winter of 1997. Mike Benyo led the March 9 work trip that dismantled the old shelter and prepared the site for the new structure. Ed Ritter directed the crew that cut the logs and pre-built the new milled log shelter at Resurrection Cemetery in Wescoesville. Every piece was numbered and driven to the shelter site. On the weekend of April 19-20, 34 club volunteers assembled the 8-foot by 14-foot shelter and secured the dark green metal roof. Finishing touches, such as the front steps, were added in May. In all, over 1000 hours of labor were contributed. On National Trails Day (June 7), AHC formally dedicated the shelter, concluding a very active decade of volunteer effort on behalf of the Appalachian Trail.
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The 1990s, Part 2: Non-AT Activities
An Allentown Hiking Club History
by Barbara L. Wiemann
The Allentown Hiking Club was heavily involved with Appalachian Trail projects during the 1990s and devoted much time, efforts, and funds to those activities. The club also, of course, offered members a schedule of hikes, programs, and social activities designed to suit its membership. This chapter will highlight some of those non-AT maintenance events.
Club Organization
It was in January 1991 that AHC ended its nomadic postal existence. The club rented a mailbox for the first time, giving the club the permanent address (PO Box 1542) that we still have. Prior to this decision, the club address changed with each set of officers, sometimes delaying materials that went to outdated addresses.
In 1993 the Club was forced to raise dues to $5 per year. Up to that year, the Allentown Recreation Bureau had printed and mailed the club schedule as part of its mission to provide a diverse recreation program to city residents. Without this expense, the club had managed on dues of $2 per year. As a transition, the Bureau agreed to provide three schedules in 1993 and then two schedules in succeeding years.
The club meeting location at the Pioneer Center in downtown Allentown, with its lack of parking, was limiting attendance at monthly meetings. In 1996, after a search for a new site, the club relocated its meetings to the Lehigh County Senior Center, at 1633 Elm Street in Allentown. The new location featured a lighted parking lot, large meeting room, kitchen, a pubic address system, and storage space for the club library and archives. Use of the space was free as long as the club accepted Center members on hikes and activities (not a problem since club membership has never been required to participate in club activities).
As club activities expanded, AHC added a committee structure. In 1996 the club began a New Member Committee and developed its first membership brochure. In 1997, a Hospitality Committee to organize refreshments at each meeting, and an Entertainment Committee to schedule programs for monthly meetings were organized. The Publicity Committee was established in 1998. Keeping up with the times, in 1998 the club joined the Internet age with an AHC web site.
Events and Activities
Continuing his tradition of "series" hikes, Earl Raub began another string of hikes on the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania in 1991. By completing all of the hikes, members could earn their Keystone Trails Association AT Hiker Award.
In 1991 the club revived the lapsed tradition of holding a holiday social event. The December meeting (the club’s annual meeting which includes the election of officers) was expanded to include a potluck meal.
The club's National Trails Day event in 1993, a hike from Bake Oven Road to PA 309 along the Appalachian Trail, drew over 100 people, including Congressman Paul McHale and his son. This turnout was astonishing since the day was gray and foggy, with rain after lunch.
Also in 1993, Earl Raub and Harold Croxton became the first AHC members to earn the Silver Award, given by the National Parks Service, to recognize volunteers who have compiled 25 years of service to the Appalachian Trail.
AHC members voted in 1998 to purchase two steps (for $100 each) to support the Keystone Trails Association's effort to purchase and preserve the 1000 Steps on the Link Trail.
To close out this busy decade, in 1999 AHC opened a new chapter in its volunteer work. Sherry Petrilak and Tom Gettings of the Wildlands Conservancy attended an AHC meeting to request club assistance in maintaining the 160-mile D & L Trail in the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor. The club agreed to join the Trail Tenders program and participate in four trail-work days each year.
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Contact Us
Please direct your inquiry to the appropriate person:
Karen Gradel
Paula Uhrin
General Information
Hal Wright
Website Matters
Hal Wright
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ATC and PGC Contact Information
Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Harper's Ferry WV: 304-535-6171

Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Mid-Atlantic Regional Office, Boiling Springs: 717-258-5771

Pennsylvania Game Commission, Headquarters: 717-787-4250

Pennsylvania Game Commission, Law Enforcement: 717-783-8164, 717-787-5740

Pennsylvania Game Commission, Southeast Regional Office, Reading: 877-877-9470 or 610-926-3136
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AHC Library Holdings
The AHC Library will have a database of all the books in stock, organized in categories by subject matter, available to members for check-out. We will always have copies of the listing available at the library table from now on so that people can use it as a resource.
Partial List of Library Holdings


~200 Miles on the AT

~Appalachian Hiker II

~Appalachian Trail Conference Member Handbook

~Appalachian Trail yearbook 48 to 98

~AT A Journey of Discovery

~AT Backpacker Trail Proven Advice for Hikers of Any Length

~AT Calling Me Back to the Hills

~AT National Geographic Society

~AT Wilderness on the Doorstep

~ATN Magazine Trail News Several

~Backpacker Magazine Guide to the AT

~Blind Courage

~Exploring the AT Hikes in MidAtlantic States

~Geology of AT in PA

~Guides to Log Lean-To Construction

~Hiking the AT Vol I,II Rodale Press

~Katahdin to Springer Mountain

~Long Distance Hiking Lessons from the AT

~Me and the Boy, Journey of Discovery, Father and Son on the AT

~Mountain Adventure Exploring the AT

~New Appalachian Trail Appalachian Hiker III

~Season on the AT, An American Odyssey

~The Appalachian Tale, Adventures of the Poetry Man

~Through Hikers Handbook 1994: Guide for End-to-End Hikes of the AY with Town Maps

~Trail Design Construction And Maintenance

~Walk in the Woods

~Walking the AT

~Woman's Journey


~ At Guide in Pa & ToPo Maps

~ At Guide New York to New Jersey Book & ToPo Maps

~ At Guide Tennessee-North Carolina & ToPo Maps

~ At Guide to New Hampshire-Vermont & Maps

~ Black Forest Trail Topo and Guide

~ Bucktail Path Guide and Map

~ Chuck Keiper Trail

~ Conostoga Trail Guide

~ Delaware Water Gap Kittatinny Trails South #15, #16

~ Donut Hole Trail

~ Elk State Forest Hiking Trails

~ Golden Eagle Hiking Trail Brochure

~ Green Lane Park Trails Montgomery City Park

~ Hickory Run State Park Hiking Trails 15 Page Brochure

~ Horse Shoe Trail Guide and Map

~ John P. Saylor and Lost Turkey Trails multiple info.

~ Kelly's run Pinnacle Trail PP&L Brochure

~ Lehigh Parkway Trail Brochure

~ Loyalsock Trail topo and Guide

~ Mason-Dixon Trail Overview Brochure and Update

~ Mid-State Trail Brochure

~ Minnewaska State Park Hiking Map & Info brochure

~ Old Loggers Path Topo Math

~ Pinchot Trail System: Topo Maps

~ Promised Land Trail System Big Map

~ Quehanna Trail Topo Map

~ Schuykill Trail Phila-toValley Forge Bikeway Brochure

~ Stoneyridge: A crag Climbers Guide

~ Susquehannock TrailGuide and Maps

~ Thunderswamp trail System Topo Map

~ Trails of Green Lane Park

~ Tuscarora and Link trails Guide

~ Tuscarora Trail North & South Trail Guide Books

~ West Rim Trail

~ West Rim Trail Guide & Topo
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Hike Leader Requirements
Allentown Hiking Club hike leaders must:
  1. Be a member of the Allentown Hiking Club.
  2. Participate in at least three club activities, such as attend meetings, hikes, picnics or maintenance projects. One of these must be to act as a co-leader on a hike. (Find a hike that interests you and contact the leader. Let him / her know that you are interested in leading a hike at some point in the future and would like to co-lead on their hike.)
  3. Be familiar with destination & area. This is especially important if there is a car shuttle.
  4. Be over 21 years of age
  5. Be experienced in type of trip. Novice should not be leading backpack, canoeing, or hike in difficult terrain with little or no experience in these areas.
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