Appalachian Trail Shelter – George W. Outerbridge
The George W. Outerbridge Appalachian Trail shelter was built by the Allentown Hiking Club in 1964, and located approximately 2.2 miles from Palmerton, Pennsylvania. This rustic AT shelter sits at 100 ft. elevation and overlooks the valley and city below. The shelter is clean and well maintained, but proximity to several towns makes this a spot for non-hikers to congregate and engage in activities that might not facilitate the wilderness experience you desire.
The shelter has a few upsides but one major negative. A downside of George W. Outerbridge is the lack of a privy. If it is thru hiker season, or a busy holiday weekend, it can turn the area into what one hiker called “a mine field”.
This Appalachian Trail shelter is easily spotted located directly off the trail to right for north bound hikers and left for south bound hikers. It is a three sided traditional AT lean to shelter with an open face. One perk of this shelter, is the view of city lights in the evening. There is a chair in front of the shelter facing the lights that makes for a great place to sit and reflect on the days hiking adventure.
Due to the crowds, proximity to town, and lack of a privy I would not choose this AT shelter. However, the next shelter north is 16.7 miles, and skipping to Leroy W. Smith Shelter from Bake Oven Knob Shelter adds an extra 6.8 miles.
The “Palmerton Jail” has closed and the trail rumor is Palmerton has become less friendly to hikers in recent years. If this is true, there might be a good reason for residents to feel this way, but it is a shame to sever the relationship the town has with Appalachian Trail hikers over the thoughtless actions of a few bad apples.
While it might not be the shelter with the most serenity, or the best place to take the family for an overnighter, it does provide a place for thru hikers to stay close to Palmerton without needing to pay for lodging. A thru hike is expensive, and a shelter close to an easily accessible resupply can provide a convenient way to resupply without paying for lodging or hiking several miles off trail.
The shelter sleeps 6 people and has a fire pit located in the front. Shelves for cooking and organizing gear are located on the sides and front. I also like the picnic table located a few feet away from the shelter. It keeps the conversational noise to a minimum in the shelter.
George W. Outerbridge Water Source
There is a spring located 100 yards north. If you take the trail to Palmerton the spring is located directly on the right side of the path. There has been some concern mentioned on hiking and backpacking forums regarding the safety of water in the area. Concern is centered on zinc contamination resulting from mines in the area. It is important to note Palmerton was a superfund site and designated as such because of massive industrial pollution. Purification of all water in the area is highly recommended.
George W. Outerbridge Shelter GPS Coordinates
Next AT Shelter North Leroy Smith Shelter – 16.7 miles
Next AT Shelter South Bake Oven Knob – 6.8 miles