Laurel Highland Hiking Trail: Rt. 653 to Grindle Ridge

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Laurel Ridge State Park

Laurel Highland Hiking Trail: Rt. 653 to Grindle Ridge is a 6.7 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Rockwood, Pennsylvania that offers scenic views and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and running and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length6.7 miElevation gain554 ftRoute typeOut & back
Dogs on leashHikingRunningViews
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Getting There

Fairly level trek along ridge w/ several overlooks and rock mazes. (5 miles) The yellow-blazed Laurel Highland Hiking Trail covers 70 miles from Ohiopyle State Park north to Seward. This review covers the 5.2 mile section between PA Route 653 and the Grindle Ridge Shelter Area. The two most interesting features of this section of the trail are the rocky overlooks of Middle Fork and a Rock Maze. The broken geology is damage done during the last Ice Age when this section of Pennsylvania was tundra and subjected to freeze-thaw cycles that 12,000 year later make the trail rocky and tough on the feet. The trail designers take some delight in the terrain by running the trail through these huge cracks in the stone rather than taking the easier route around them.When the trail is hot, these rocky corridors can be significantly cooler although they also harbor colonies of mosquitos. The cross trail's marked with orange disks are for cross-country skiing. The consession at the 653 parking area is open during the weekends during the winter.

Laurel Ridge State Park Office 724-455-3744

From the Donegal exit of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, follow Rt 31 East to Jones Mill. Turn South on Rt. 381/711 at Sarnelli's Market and then left at the T-intersection at Normalville. It will just be a short distance to another left onto Rt. 653. The parking area on PA Route 653 is just East of the crest of the ridge. (N39 57.276 W79 22.096) In the winter on weekends the ski consession has restrooms and supplies. During the rest of the year you'l have to travel half a mile south along the trail to the Shelter Area for a rest room. The Northern end of this section at the Grindle Ridge Shelter Area does not have any road access. If you want to get there, you have to hike in or be a park ranger. The Grindle Ridge shelters are the furthest of any from the trail itself, adding a third of a mile to the trip. Camping is free but shelters must be reserved and cost $6/person/night. Money can be sent to the trail office or left in a box at the trailhead.

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Reviews (134)
Photos (150)
Activities (137)
Completed (211)
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Mason Wheeler
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HikingGreat!
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Douglas Cisco
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Hiking

Nice afternoon hike. We went Northbound for 4 miles and came back and had lunch at a overlook. The overlook is about around 2.7 miles. Didn’t make it to the rock maze (next time) Fairly level and great trail conditions.

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Kathleen Giesey
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Rosalie Terry
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Hiking
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Joe Skrobacz
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Hiking

Perfect day to be out blazing trail through the snow. AWSOME trail.

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Joe Skrobacz
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HikingGreat!

All alone on trail today. Nice amount of snow on ground still. Trail was amazing. Can’t wait to thru hike it this summer.

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Diana Shoff
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Hiking
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Alex Fidler
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Hiking

Nice, pretty easy trail with an overlook half way through. Definitely enjoyed and the dogs as well. Did not think this trail was particularly challenging due to rocks or tree roots & none of the others I hiked with did either. Would recommend.

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Sam Romano
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Hiking
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Peggy Nicholson
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Hiking

pretty boring trail really. expected more. but not much scenery change except for the view 2.5 miles in. rocky but pretty easy hike. probably wouldnt do again except in the fall for a foliage view

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KIM BRADNAM
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Brianne Cassidy
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BackpackingGreat!Rocky

There are a couple stream/water crossings on this route. The one closest to the campground looked the cleanest but we used LifeStraws for them. There were a couple rocky lookouts. The rock garden maze was the best.

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Kristin Lukac
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HikingRocky

It’s a fun trail with very little elevation, easy other than the rocky terrain with some exposed branches. The cemetery is less that 0.5 miles in after you cross the road and the view is roughly 2.5 miles in. The best part of the trail is the rock maze, which you will hit if you stay on the trail about 4.0 miles before turning back.

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jim boyce
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bill steen
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Melanie Ice
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Greg Wurst
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Hiking

just my hike back from Grindle Ridge to my car at 653. Previous hike already uploaded

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Greg Wurst
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Hiking

Beautiful trail which I'd rank easy with a very few spot being moderate difficulty mainly due to the rock and root trip hazards

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Katerina A
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matt c
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Hiking

juice wasn't worth the squeeze. this trail is 80% gnarley rocks and roots. you will spend the whole time looking at your feet. there are two decent scenic outcroppings about 3 miles into the hike, but nothing before or past that. this route ends rather arbitrarily. there are surely better trails to spend time on in this area.

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Sam McWilliams
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HikingGreat!
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Scott Benson
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Ashley Taylor
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Ashley Taylor
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Wes Baer
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Kristin Funya
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Bret Bemis
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Hiking

Stunning trail system. Easy and well maintained. The large rocks that you walk through are definitely further than what is specified on the map. I’m sure it’s worth a visit yet I just decided to stick to the route that was given.

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Heather Bamper
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Hiking

It was awesome. I was out for hours from parking lot to the 2 overlooks and back. Great day trip!

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Zack A
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HikingBugsRocky

Well marked with blazes. Nice and cool on a hot, humid day due to tree canopy shading the trail. Mostly flat with some change in elevation and rocky at parts. Walking to rock maze and back (about 8 miles total from parking lot) will take around 4 hours. Overlook provides a nice view and is closer to the parking lot than the rock maze.

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