Laurel Ridge State Park
The 13,625-acre Laurel Ridge State Park stretches along Laurel Mountain from the picturesque Youghiogheny River at Ohiopyle, to the Conemaugh Gorge near Johnstown. This large park spans Cambria, Fayette, Somerset and Westmoreland counties. The main feature of the park is the 70-mile Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, which provides the setting for a semi-wilderness backpacking and day hiking experience.
One of the most exciting reasons to visit the park is for its scenery. Spring wildflowers dot the forest floor in early April followed by a vibrant green forest as leaf-out begins in late April. Mountain laurel blooms in June and rhododendron blooms in late June and early July. Come to the park in mid-October and witness fall color in all its glory. Winter is spectacular when the park is covered in a deep blanket of snow and the occasional great horned owl calls through the moon-lit forest.
Picnicking: A picnic pavilion in the southern part of the park is available for rent. If unreserved the pavilion is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Make online reservations or call toll-free 888-PA-PARKS (888-727-2757).
Make a reservation.
Hunting and Firearms: Almost all of Laurel Ridge State Park is open to hunting, trapping and the training of dogs from the fall archery season until March 31 of the following year. Common game species are deer, turkey, bear and grouse.
Hunting woodchucks, also known as groundhogs, is prohibited. Dog training is only permitted from the day following Labor Day through March 31 in designated hunting areas. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pennsylvania Game Commission rules and regulations apply. Contact the park office for ADA accessible hunting information.
Use extreme caution with firearms at all times. Other visitors use the park during hunting seasons. Firearms and archery equipment used for hunting may be uncased and ready for use only in authorized hunting areas during hunting seasons. In areas not open to hunting or during non-hunting seasons, firearms and archery equipment shall be kept in the owner's car, trailer or leased campsite. The only exception is that law enforcement officers and individuals with a valid Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms may carry said firearm concealed on their person while they are within the park.
Complete information on hunting rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Game Commission Web site.
Hiking: 70 miles of trails
The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail is open year-round and is blazed approximately every 100 feet with 2-inch and 5-inch yellow blazes. Connector trails lead to and from parking and shelter areas and are marked with blue blazes. Mileage monuments are every mile. Pets are permitted.
Explore the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail.
Backpacking: The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail is a backpacking trail that permits overnight trips to one or more shelter areas. The eight shelter areas are located approximately every 6 to 12 miles along the trail. Each area contains five Adirondack-type shelters with fireplaces, two non-flush toilets, a water supply and spaces for 30 tents.
Explore the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail.
Make a reservation.
Explore the Winter Report for the current snow and ice depths.
Cross-country Skiing: A cross-country ski touring concession adjacent to the PA 653 parking lot provides over 20 miles of trails. The concession grooms surfaces for classic and freestyle skiing. Trail fee required. Current conditions: 724-455-7303
The Pennsylvania Cross-country Skier’s Association offers free ski lessons and a youth ski team. Their Webcam shows the latest snow conditions. www.paccsa.org
Certain sections of the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail are suitable for cross-country skiing. Please check with the park to see which sections are suitable for skiing.
Snowmobiling: The 120-mile Laurel Highlands Snowmobile Trail System traverses state park and forest lands. Conditions permitting, the trail is open after the end of antlerless deer season in December. Forbes State Forest: 724-238-1200 Trail conditions: 877-766-6253
Snowmobiles are prohibited on the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail.
Access for People with Disabilities
If you need an accommodation to participate in park activities due to a disability, please contact the park you plan to visit.
The wilderness nature of the park lends itself to harboring a diversity of wildlife. In early spring, look for toads and frogs crossing the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail on their way to vernal pools to mate and lay their eggs. From spring to fall you can spot the occasional red-backed or spotted salamanders finding the cool undersides of rocks and leaf litter to their liking. The box turtle, easily camouflaged with its yellow mottled shell, hides and looks for food on the forest floor during the summer months.
The diverse habitats of Laurel Ridge attract a variety of bird life. Year-round forest residents include the black-capped chickadee, tufted titmouse, pileated woodpecker, ruffed grouse, turkey and great horned owl. Turkey vultures often circle above the park in search of a meal and the flute-like call of the wood thrush is a welcome addition to any summer voyage into the woods. The spring and fall months bring a variety of migratory birds through the area, including warblers and hawks.
The best way to see wildlife is to sit quietly and remain still. For the best results, use binoculars and keep a safe distance between yourself and wildlife. Please do not attempt to handle any wild animal. If an animal does not run away from approaching people, it might be sick or injured. If you observe any unusual behavior by wildlife, please contact a park employee immediately.
A Word on Pennsylvania Black Bears
Laurel Ridge State Park has excellent habitat for black bears. Bears roam freely throughout the park and normally avoid people, but bears can become slightly aggressive when people get between them and food. Never approach a bear and be especially wary of mother bears with cubs.
Aromatic scents from your food can attract a curious and hungry bear from a great distance. Usually, bears use their claws to tear apart rotting logs to find food, but those claws also work well at opening food containers. Store all food items inside your vehicle. If you are backpacking in the park, store food a good distance away from your overnight campsite. Suspend food between two trees, ten feet in the air and three feet from either tree.
If you come in contract with a black bear, try chasing it away by making loud noises like yelling, honking a car horn or banging a pot. Notify a park employee if you have difficulties with bears.
Discover Fall - Scenic Driving Tour
Welcome to the beautiful Laurel Highlands, filled with scenic byways, picturesque overlooks, and unique, quaint communities. This area spans a four county region including Westmoreland, Fayette, Cambria and Somerset counties. Beginning in October the ridges and valleys come to life with color, with the peak near mid October. The Discover Fall tour provides two distinct driving routes through the Laurel Highlands linking state forest and state park lands, small town community events and programs with scenic drives of fall color.
Northern Loop: This approximately 125-mile loop is the quintessential “leaf peeper” road trip. The tour closely follows the ridge offering views at every turn. Highlights include a stop at the third deepest gorge in Pennsylvania, a ride on the world’s steepest vehicular incline, a walk to a bog and a pleasant drive through and past five state parks and a state forest. Allow a minimum of four hours to complete the tour. Laurel Hill, Laurel Mountain, Laurel Ridge, Laurel Summit and Linn Run state parks.
Southern Loop: This approximately 70- mile loop offers meandering drives through the valleys between the ridges of the highlands. Highlights include stops within three state parks and views of the deepest gorge in Pennsylvania from both on top of the ridge and from the Youghiogheny River. Allow a minimum of 2½ hours to complete the tour. Laurel Hill, Laurel Ridge and Ohiopyle state parks.
Laurel Ridge State Park was created July 10, 1967. Construction on the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail began July 7, 1970.
Keep in Touch
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Like to spend time in the outdoors, meet friendly people and help make Pennsylvania State Parks great? Volunteering at a park might be for you.
Becoming a Conservation Volunteer is easy.
Scouts and organized groups can earn free camping by completing service projects.
Join a Friends Group
The Friends of Laurel Hill State Park Complex is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving, protecting and enhancing the Laurel Hill State Park Complex. It as an affiliate chapter of the Pennsylvania Parks and Forestry Foundation, and is a qualified 501(c)(3) organization, which means that your contribution is tax deductible. Any money that you donate to the Friends will benefit the Laurel Hill State Park Complex directly. The Friends coordinate a wide variety of volunteer activities that benefit the parks. www.friendsoflhsp.org
Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation
Believing that each generation is responsible for leaving behind a better legacy of good conservation, the Pennsylvania Parks & Forests Foundation (PPFF) was created in 1999 to give supporters and users of Pennsylvania's parks and forests a positive way to contribute to the conservation of our publicly-owned properties. The Pennsylvania Parks & Forests Foundation welcomes the support of individuals and businesses who share a commitment to conserving, protecting, and enhancing the natural, scenic, and recreational areas of this commonwealth. www.paparksandforests.org
Make a Donation
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Thank you for your support!
We love when young people ask us how to get involved!
DiscoverE has programs for young people ages 4 to 17, provided by Pennsylvania State Park educators. By combining recreation and education, we hope to motivate children to learn more and return often, leading to a lifetime of outdoor enjoyment and conservation leadership.
In Watershed Education, teachers and students assess water quality of a local stream on a quarterly basis and develop strategies to solve local water quality problems.
ECO Camp - Exploring Careers Outdoors - is a week-long residential camp for a cross-section of high school youth from across Pennsylvania, sponsored by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). Participate in action-packed, hands on activities and recreational adventures in Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests that expose youth to conservation, recreation and careers in natural resources. Learn how people make a living working in the outdoors.
Explore education for more information on these and other programs.
Explore the Calendar of Events to find a program near you.
Do you take conservation personally? iConservePA is a Web site managed by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources whose vision is to inspire citizens to value their natural resources, engage in conservation practices and experience the outdoors. Take conservation personally.
Come Work with Us
Pennsylvania State Parks and the Department of Conservation and Natrual Resources offer a wide range of civil service and non-civil service jobs, from foresters, to rangers, to engineers, to educators, to botanists and so much more. Learn what is currently available.
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Laurel Ridge State Park
Information on nearby attractions is available from the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau. www.laurelhighlands.org
Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail
The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail is a segment of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail. An enterprise of many partners, the evolving trail network celebrates the heritage of the Potomac and upper Ohio river basins and offers opportunities for hiking, bicycling, boating, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing. National Park Service Passport Stamps for the trail are available at the Laurel Hill and Kosser park offices and at the visitor center in Ohiopyle. www.nps.gov/pohe/
Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape Initiative
Beautiful natural resources and tight-knit communities characterize the Laurel Highlands. Laurel Ridge State Park is part of the a partnership of landowners, community members and nonprofit organizations that work to protect natural resources and bring community revitalization to the Laurel Highlands.
Maps and Downloadables
Below are many of the maps and publications for this park. You can read them or download them and might need special software (all free) to view the publications.
You must have the free Adobe Reader to view the maps and brochures that are in pdf format (.pdf).
Alternate versions of the text of the brochures are in rich text and text formats. Click on the files to view them. To download (.rtf) files:
Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail North Map (.pdf) (2,429 kb, 5/13)
Interactive GIS Map
The interactive map uses Geographic Information Systems to create a map that does not need to be downloaded and features driving directions, searchable park amenities and customizable maps. Please note that the background maps are maintained by a variety of public sources.
Laurel Ridge State Park is in Cambria, Fayette, Westmoreland, and Somerset counties, Pennsylvania.
Driving Directions: The Interactive GIS Map has turn-by-turn driving directions to the park office from the Park information Window.
Laurel Ridge State Park