Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail
The 70-mile hiking trail stretches along Laurel Mountain from the picturesque Youghiogheny River At Ohiopyle, Pa. to the Conemaugh Gorge near Johnstown, Pa. The trail features overnight trail shelters that must be reserved in advance. Seasoned backpackers challenge themselves on the steep, rugged areas of the trails. Casual hikers enjoy areas that are reasonably level and pleasant for walking.
This major 70-mile hiking and backpacking trail from Ohiopyle State Park to near Johnstown is the main feature of Laurel Ridge State Park. The trail traverses state parks, state forests, state game lands, other public lands and private lands. The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail is a major segment of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail, a network of trails between the mouth of the Potomac River and the Allegheny Highlands. www.nps.gov/pohe
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 trailheads and shelter areas and are marked with blue blazes. Mileage monuments are every mile. Yellow bands around trees mark the trail at every major road crossing.
A Hiker’s Guide to the Laurel Highlands Trail is available from the Sierra Club Allegheny Group. www.alleghenysc.org The guide describes the trail and aids in planning outings. Included in the guide are detailed topographic maps plus information on geology, climate, plants and wildlife.
The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail is popular with trail runners due to the diverse terrain and unmatched beauty. Run a portion of the trail for a workout, or run the whole trail in one day. Some of the most challenging trail runs in the eastern United States are the Laurel Highlands Ultra races, which are held the second Saturday in June. www.laurelultra.com
Six trailheads provide 30-car parking lots, overnight parking and trash receptacles.
Voluntary day use registration mailboxes are located in each of the trailheads for day hikers to fill out information cards for vital park attendance data and for use in an emergency. For overnight use of the trail see the LHHT Regulations section.
Shuttling services for hikers on the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail are available from Wilderness Voyageurs in Ohiopyle. 800-272-4141 http://wilderness-voyageurs.com
Shelter Area Layout
There are eight overnight shelter areas, one area every 6 to 12 miles along the trail. Each area contains five Adirondack shelters with fireplaces, two vault toilets and space for 30 tents.
Summary of Parking Lots and Trail Shelters
Make a reservation. Instructions for making a backpacking reservation (pdf) (1,870 kb, 9/16)
Every hiker’s pace varies but a suggested pace of 1.5 miles per hour is average.
In general, Laurel Ridge is cooler and receives more precipitation than the surrounding valleys.
Know the climate and weather conditions on the trail.
Dress appropriately and layer clothing. Bring extra clothing, rain gear, water, insect repellent, sunglasses, sunscreen, and poison ivy block.
Supervise children in you care. This is particularly important when hiking.
Leave a copy of your plans with friends or relatives. Include contact phone numbers and other important information.
Wear fluorescent orange when hiking during hunting seasons.
Familiarize yourself with the natural hazards of the trail.
Bring emergency equipment like a first aid kit, whistle, compass, matches and a blanket. Please be aware that you may be hours away from medical attention.
Don’t forget the camera.