Pennsylvania is notorious for its rich history and even richer production of minerals such as quartz, coal, and even dinosaur fossils.
In this article, we will be covering popular places for rock enthusiasts to find flint.
Where To Find Flint In Pennsylvania (A Guide)
The information provided in this article by YesDirt.com is for informational purposes and is subject to change. Laws are updated. Accessibility guidelines and restrictions change. Be sure to confirm the land status and collection rules before you travel to an unfamiliar location or collect any material.
While flint is uncommon in its purest form in Pennsylvania, there is still hope for an experienced rock hunter to encounter the gray cryptocrystalline form of the mineral quartz.
Although scavengers might face challenges in finding flint, its close cousin chert abounds in this state.
The primary difference between the two materials is their coloring.
Chert is a paler grey, but it’s a solid substitute for flint in sparking fires and knapping stone tools.
Limestone and gravel, which frequently contain chips of flint, are also common in the commonwealth.
Here are the top three counties to start your search for flint in the Keystone State.
Lancaster County is nationally acclaimed for its agricultural industry.
Quaint country villages, Amish settlements, and long stretches of farmland give Lancaster County a quiet charm.
Because tourism is a booming industry in Lancaster County, local historical and nature organizations will be happy to point hopeful rock enthusiasts in the right direction.
Located in the south-central region of PA, Lancaster County makes a great day trip for rock hunters from Western PA, Eastern PA, Maryland, New York, and the D.C. area.
According to an article on Our Past Times, arrowheads, which frequently contain flint, are most often found in large fields.
Lancaster County doesn’t suffer a shortage of this type of terrain.
To search for flint arrowheads on a plot of land, simply strike a conversation with the farm owners and, upon their approval, sift away.
Before you begin digging, though, you should clarify the terms of the dig.
Ask what types of tools the owner permits you to use and nail down an appropriate timeframe for the search.
Also, ensure that the landowners will allow you to take your finds offsite.
Some landowners permit visitors to locate artifacts but forbid them from keeping them.
You wouldn’t want to put in all that hard work for nothing, so secure clear permission before you begin digging.
Speaking of timing, you should plan your trip around expected weather conditions.
The ideal time to hunt for these artifacts is after heavy rain, which tends to bring the artifacts to the surface.
For this reason, saving searching for flint in fields from May through October may be best.
Home of Harrisburg, the capital of the Keystone State, Dauphin County blends the culture-rich urban scene with breathtaking natural havens.
While Harrisburg has a decidedly city vibe, the towns surrounding the capital resemble the rural farmland of nearby Lancaster County.
Set forty miles north of Lancaster County, Dauphin is the perfect secondary stop on a rock hunting road trip in southeastern PA.
One of the simplest ways to pinpoint flint hot spots is hitting up the Historic Harrisburg Resource Center for leads.
Because flint is not native to Pennsylvania–it entered the area through trading items that were constructed of flint such as arrowheads–history professionals should have the best idea of where flint and chert may have ended up.
Most often, Pennsylvania products of flint trailed down with their native American owners from outside regions.
Going creek walking may also turn out productive for finding flint.
The Swatara Creek Trail runs through several counties, including Dauphin County.
For creek walking, make sure that you wear appropriate gear such as non-slip shoes and carry a cellphone in case of emergencies.
Be mindful of the water level, which is subject to change quickly.
Artifacts containing flint, such as arrowheads, are again, most visible after heavy rain.
Unfortunately, creeks also typically swell to their highest height after rain.
Therefore, it is vital that you plan your trip according to weather conditions and remain flexible if conditions are not suitable for rock hunting.
Consult Dauphin County’s local rock and mineral organization, Central Pennsylvania Rock and Mineral Club, to ensure that searching for rocks and keeping your finds from these areas is permitted.
Construction sites and gravel stretches next to riverbanks are also great places to locate limestone, which can contain flint.
To extract flint from large hunks of limestone, break the stone apart with a rock chisel or anvil.
If the more traditional sites for finding flint prove fruitless, sifting through gravel or asking construction site owners if you can mine limestone for flint with a rock chisel might be your only hope outside of buying the material online.
Berks County is located a comfortable forty-minute drive from Lancaster County.
This area is rich in farmland and water sources, making it a perfect pitstop for rockhounding near Lancaster and Dauphin counties.
Scoping out flint in freshly plowed fields after a rain–and after gaining permission from farmers–is the easiest method of rockhounding in this area.
Additionally, Berks County sits adjacent to Montgomery County, which offers wide stretches of open land.
Rock hunters can apply a similar approach to unfarmed fields.
Simply keep an eye out for no trespassing signs and locate the owner of the land, if possible, before attempting to score sedimentary minerals.
For rockhounds looking for a woodsy atmosphere, Hopewell Big Woods is partially located in Berks County.
Famed as “the last unbroken forest left in southeastern PA,” this woodland sits close enough to water sources for creek walking in search of flint and chert.
Its rocky terrain may also show promise for rockhounds.
Flint arrowheads are sometimes scattered below rocky ledges, where native American civilizations may have settled and left flint tools behind.
As with all other sites, contact the appropriate parties before digging in this preserved land and taking your treasures home.
Also, keep an eye out for “no trespassing” signs on surrounding private properties. In this region, the line between private property and public land may be subtle.
In conclusion, Pennsylvania’s southeastern side hosts plenty of opportunities for rockhounds in search of flint and similar materials.
As long as you get the owner’s explicit permission beforehand, many farms and creeks are fair game to collect specimens.