Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail is a 70 mile trail located near Normalville, PA that offers the chance to see wildlife and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and cross country skiing and is accessible year-round.
cross country skiing
Directions from Rockwood, PA: Take SR 653 west approximately 8 - 10 miles to reach Laurel Ridge State Park. The trail actually covers five counties beginning in Ohiopyle State Park. There are access points all along the trail.
I hiked 28 miles of this trail from State Game Lands 111 to the parking area at Route 31. A map would tell you that this route would entail 21 miles, but the GPS don't lie. I hiked with my friend Chris and the first night we stayed at the Route 653 shelters. The second night was spent at Grindle Ridge shelter area. We began our hike on Friday, April 29 and finished on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
I would rate the overall experience as a FIVE STAR, but there were some disappointments along the way. My first bitch would have to be with the firewood situation at the shelters. When a place is promoted as having firewood available, one would expect firewood to be available. I based my assumption on my experiences at the shelters at Oil Creek State Park where there is ALWAYS firewood AND it is relatively dry. Not so on this hike. The firewood at both shelter sites was wet and had just been thrown in a heap. It had not been stacked to allow drying or given any protection from the elements. When I called at Laurel Hill State Park after the hike to voice my opinion on this, I was told, "Well..... it is the off season. We were busy we other stuff." I'm sorry, but if you have a time frame that is considered "off season", perhaps that information should be conveyed in your promotional material. Personally, I wouldn't consider late April/early May to be "off season" either.
Also, the shelter we had at the Grindle Ridge location had a major issue with the fireplace. It seemed upon inspection that the mortar joints in the chimney were deteriorated to the point that the stones in the fireplace were crushing the firebox. That, coupled with a breeze, was making for a situation where more smoke was being emitted into the shelter than what was going up the chimney. However, from my understanding from being on the trail's Facebook page, that issue was addressed over the summer. Be advised that the Grindle Ridge shelter area is 3/4 of a mile back a connector trail and their use will add 1.5 miles to your overall hike.
Other than the fact that I was fighting bronchitis and damn near died on a few climbs, the hike was beautiful. There is a vista at about Mile 21 that is a must see. It was pretty foggy/hazy when we were there but they say that on a clear day, you can see the skyline of the city of Pittsburgh, which is about 35 miles away.
I tried to get some good photos, but between huffing and puffing from being sick and the fact that it was so early in the spring, my pictures are somewhat drab in my opinion. I will post some of them to the gallery a little later.
I have done about 50 miles of the the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail and can't wait to go back in the fall. It's very beautiful but can get tough at times. I averaged about 12 miles a day. Shelters are nice. I used a tent as well. Keep your food in a tree. Mice were everywhere. Be sure to navigate correctly. The signage is not hiker friendly at times and you may go in the wrong direction easily if your not careful.
I just completed the 70 mile journey this past week and I must say it was amazing. One of the things that I really appreciated was having dry firewood inside the shelters when I got to camp for the day, so when staying at the shelters try to remember the fire etiquette rule they have in place, it surely made a difference for me and I'm sure it will for the next hiker as well! Enjoy
The first hike I ever did was in this trail, it's what got me into hiking all together. I even found a random geocache box under a rock on accident.
We completed our journey in October , 2015 we utilized wilderness voyagers to transport us to Seward pa and hike to Ohio Pyle. We hiked the trail in six days five nights. Used a tent on couple night and stayed in shelters the other nights it rained suggest to reserve shelters in advance ditch the tent and save the weight for food. Firewood is provided and in shelter. when you reserve I suggest youreturn the favor for the next group and stock the wood.
The view while hiking is great. However with great views come a lot of elevation change. When backpacking they said there would be drinkable water at our camp areas, however there was none. We had to hike several miles (mostly uphill) without water.
Great backpacking adventure. Trails are well maintained. Beautiful vistas close to Ohiopyle. Must stay at designated camping areas. Tent sites are very primitive so you might as well reserve one of the shelters.
This trail is my favorite close to my hometown. The option of renting an adirondack style shelter (my favorite) or a tent space for $4 per person/per night just can't be beat...firewood provided. The trail has various terrain with quite a few strenuous ascends/descends that make this trail great. The views are awesome and water for most of the trail length (check the website for more info). You can do this trail in sections which makes it an awesome weekend getaway! My favorite section is from mile 1 to the first shelter area at mile 6.3 where a beautiful stream awaits you...Come enjoy this fantastic trail in the Laurel Highlands of PA!!!!!