Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail In Pennsylvania

Here is everything you need to know about the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Pennsylvania
  • Length: 70 miles.
  • Type: Hiking
  • Surface: Dirt
  • Managed By: Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR)
  • Permit Required?: Yes.
  • Website:

The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, located in southwestern Pennsylvania, holds a rich historical significance that dates back centuries. The trail stretches for approximately 70 miles, traversing through the picturesque Laurel Ridge, a prominent feature of the Allegheny Mountains. The region has been inhabited by Native American tribes for thousands of years, with evidence of their presence found along the trail.

During the 18th century, European settlers began to explore and settle in the area. The trail itself follows the path of the historic Forbes Road, a military road constructed by British General John Forbes during the French and Indian War in 1758. This road was crucial for the British forces to access Fort Duquesne (present-day Pittsburgh) and ultimately secure control over the Ohio River Valley.

In the 19th century, the region witnessed the rise of the lumber industry. The vast forests of the Laurel Highlands provided an abundant supply of timber, which was harvested and transported along the trail. The remnants of old logging camps and sawmills can still be found along the trail, serving as a reminder of this important era in the region’s history.

In the early 20th century, the Laurel Highlands became a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The trail was officially established in 1971 by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, with the aim of preserving the natural beauty of the area and providing a recreational resource for hikers. Today, the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail continues to attract visitors from near and far, offering a unique opportunity to explore the region’s rich historical past while enjoying its stunning natural landscapes.

While On The Trail

Access Points

Info not available.

Transportation Available

1. Uber – On-demand ridesharing service.
2. Lyft – Ride-hailing service connecting passengers with drivers.
3. Yellow Cab – Traditional taxi service available for transportation needs.
4. Greyhound – Intercity bus service offering transportation to various destinations.
5. Amtrak – National passenger railroad service providing train travel options.
6. Enterprise Rent-A-Car – Car rental service for convenient transportation.
7. Budget Car Rental – Affordable car rental service for short-term transportation needs.
8. Hertz – Car rental company offering a wide range of vehicle options.
9. Avis Car Rental – Car rental service with a diverse fleet of vehicles.
10. Zipcar – Car-sharing service allowing members to rent vehicles by the hour or day.


The amenities available at the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail include:

1. Restrooms: There are restroom facilities available at various points along the trail, including at trailheads and designated camping areas.

2. Parking: There are parking lots available at the trailheads, allowing hikers to park their vehicles securely while they explore the trail.

3. Camping Sites: The trail offers designated camping areas where hikers can set up their tents and spend the night. These sites usually have fire rings, picnic tables, and access to water sources.

4. Picnic Areas: There are several picnic areas along the trail, providing hikers with a place to rest, have a meal, and enjoy the scenic surroundings.

5. Water Sources: The trail has access to water sources, such as streams or springs, where hikers can refill their water bottles or filter water for drinking.

6. Shelters: Along the trail, there are also shelters available for hikers to take refuge in case of inclement weather or for overnight stays. These shelters usually have sleeping platforms and fireplaces.

7. Trail Markers: The trail is well-marked with blazes and signs, making it easy for hikers to navigate and stay on the designated path.

8. Information Boards: At various points along the trail, there are information boards providing hikers with details about the trail, its history, and any important updates or warnings.

9. Scenic Overlooks: The trail offers several scenic overlooks, providing hikers with breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes, including mountains, valleys, and forests.

10. Wildlife Viewing: The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail is known for its diverse wildlife. Hikers may have the opportunity to spot various animals, including deer, birds, and occasionally even black bears.

Please note that amenities may vary depending on the specific section of the trail and the facilities available at each trailhead. It is always recommended to check with the official website or local authorities for the most up-to-date information on amenities along the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail.

Nearby Services

1. Seven Springs Mountain Resort – A popular lodging option with various amenities and outdoor activities.
2. Hidden Valley Resort – A family-friendly resort offering lodging, dining, and recreational activities.
3. Nemacolin Woodlands Resort – A luxury resort with multiple lodging options, dining, and a wide range of activities.
4. Ohiopyle State Park – Offers camping, cabins, and other lodging options near the trailhead, as well as food services and emergency services.
5. Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau – Provides information on lodging, dining, and emergency services in the area.
6. Ligonier – A nearby town with various lodging options, restaurants, and emergency services.
7. Connellsville – Offers lodging, dining, and emergency services for hikers in need.
8. Uniontown – Provides lodging, food services, and emergency services for hikers along the trail.
9. Somerset – A town with lodging options, restaurants, and emergency services for hikers in the area.
10. Johnstown – Offers lodging, dining, and emergency services for hikers exploring the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail.

Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail Difficulty Notes

The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, located in southwestern Pennsylvania, offers a moderate to challenging level of difficulty for hikers. Spanning over 70 miles, the trail traverses through diverse terrains, including steep ascents and descents, rocky sections, and dense forests. Hikers will encounter various obstacles such as stream crossings, fallen trees, and uneven terrain, which require careful navigation and physical endurance. The trail’s length and elevation changes make it a challenging endeavor, especially for beginners or those not accustomed to long-distance hiking. However, the trail’s stunning vistas, tranquil streams, and abundant wildlife make the effort worthwhile for those seeking a rewarding and adventurous hiking experience.

Features And Attractions

1. Ohiopyle State Park: This scenic park is home to the famous Ohiopyle Falls, a stunning waterfall on the Youghiogheny River. It also offers beautiful hiking trails, including a section of the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail.

2. Laurel Ridge State Park: This park is located along the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. It is known for its diverse plant and animal life, making it a great spot for nature enthusiasts.

3. Beam Rocks: Located near the northern terminus of the trail, Beam Rocks offers panoramic views of the Laurel Highlands. It is a popular spot for hikers to take a break and enjoy the stunning scenery.

4. Quebec Run Wild Area: This natural landmark is known for its rugged beauty and pristine wilderness. It features several hiking trails that wind through dense forests, along streams, and past picturesque waterfalls.

5. Laurel Summit State Park: Situated at the highest point along the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, this park offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. It is a great spot for picnicking and enjoying the scenic beauty of the area.

6. Laurel Mountain State Park: This park is home to the Laurel Mountain Ski Resort and offers beautiful hiking trails that traverse through lush forests and meadows. It also provides stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

7. Laurel Caverns: Located near the trail, Laurel Caverns is a popular tourist attraction that offers guided tours of its extensive underground cave system. It is a unique natural landmark that showcases the geological wonders of the region.

8. Linn Run State Park: This park features picturesque waterfalls, including Adams Falls and Flat Rock Falls, which are accessible via hiking trails. It also offers scenic picnic areas and camping facilities.

9. Forbes State Forest: Stretching along the Laurel Highlands, Forbes State Forest is a vast wilderness area that offers numerous hiking trails, scenic overlooks, and opportunities for wildlife spotting.

10. Mount Davis: Located near the southern terminus of the trail, Mount Davis is the highest point in Pennsylvania. Hikers can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding countryside from the observation tower at the summit.

Usage Guidelines

1. Pets are allowed on the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail but must be kept on a leash at all times.
2. Camping is only permitted at designated campsites along the trail.
3. Campfires are only allowed in designated fire rings at the campsites.
4. Leave no trace: Pack out all trash and waste, and do not disturb or damage the natural environment.
5. Hunting and fishing are not permitted along the trail.
6. Bicycles and motorized vehicles are not allowed on the trail.
7. The trail is open year-round, but certain sections may have seasonal restrictions or closures due to weather conditions or maintenance work. Check with the park authorities for any current restrictions.
8. Permits or reservations may be required for camping at certain campsites. Check with the park authorities for more information.
9. Respect other hikers and trail users by yielding the right of way and keeping noise levels to a minimum.
10. Stay on the marked trail and do not venture off into restricted areas or private property.
11. It is recommended to carry a map, compass, and other necessary equipment for navigation and safety.
12. Be aware of and follow any additional rules or guidelines posted by the park authorities.

Seasonal Information

The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, located in southwestern Pennsylvania, offers breathtaking views and a diverse range of natural beauty throughout the year. The best times to visit the trail largely depend on personal preferences and the activities you wish to engage in. Spring and fall are particularly popular seasons due to the mild temperatures and vibrant foliage. During spring, the trail comes alive with blooming wildflowers and the sounds of birds chirping. Fall, on the other hand, treats visitors to a stunning display of colorful leaves, creating a picturesque backdrop for hiking.

Summer is another great time to explore the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, especially for those who enjoy warmer weather and longer daylight hours. The dense foliage provides ample shade, making it a pleasant experience even on hotter days. Summer also offers opportunities for swimming in the various lakes and streams along the trail, providing a refreshing break during your hike.

Winter, although less popular, can be a magical time to visit the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail. The trail is transformed into a winter wonderland, with snow-covered trees and frozen waterfalls creating a serene and peaceful atmosphere. However, it is important to note that winter hiking requires proper preparation and equipment due to potentially icy and slippery conditions.

In terms of seasonal closures, it is essential to check the official website or contact the park authorities for the most up-to-date information. While the trail is generally accessible year-round, certain sections or facilities may be closed temporarily for maintenance or due to weather conditions. It is always recommended to plan your visit in advance and be aware of any closures or restrictions that may affect your hiking experience.

Overall, the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail offers something unique and beautiful in every season. Whether you prefer the vibrant colors of spring and fall, the warmth of summer, or the tranquility of winter, this trail promises an unforgettable experience for nature enthusiasts and hikers alike.


1. Wheelchair Accessible Parking: Designated parking spaces close to trailheads for easy access.
2. Accessible Restrooms: Restrooms equipped with accessible features such as grab bars and wider doorways.
3. Paved Pathways: Portions of the trail are paved, providing a smooth surface for wheelchair users.
4. Boardwalks: Elevated boardwalks allow wheelchair users to navigate over wet or uneven terrain.
5. Accessible Picnic Areas: Picnic areas with accessible tables and grills for wheelchair users to enjoy.
6. Accessible Campsites: Campsites with accessible features such as level ground and wider pathways.
7. Accessible Trail Sections: Certain sections of the trail are designed to be wheelchair accessible, providing a more inclusive hiking experience.
8. Accessible Trailhead Facilities: Trailhead facilities equipped with accessible features like ramps and handrails.
9. Accessible Informational Signage: Signage along the trail with accessible formats such as braille or large print.
10. Accessible Water Sources: Accessible water sources along the trail for wheelchair users to stay hydrated.

Safety Information

1. Plan and prepare: Research the trail, check weather conditions, and pack essential gear before embarking on the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail.
2. Inform others: Share your hiking plans with a trusted person, including your expected route and return time.
3. Stay on the trail: Stick to the marked path to avoid getting lost or encountering hazardous areas.
4. Carry a map and compass: Always have a detailed map and a compass to navigate the trail effectively.
5. Pack enough water: Ensure you have an adequate supply of water to stay hydrated throughout your hike.
6. Wear appropriate footwear: Choose sturdy, comfortable hiking boots to protect your feet and ankles on the rugged terrain.
7. Dress in layers: Wear clothing suitable for the weather conditions, and bring extra layers for unexpected changes.
8. Protect against ticks: Apply insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants to prevent tick bites.
9. Be cautious of wildlife: Respect the natural habitat and keep a safe distance from any wildlife you encounter.
10. Avoid hiking alone: Whenever possible, hike with a companion for safety and support.
11. Be aware of hunting seasons: During hunting seasons, wear bright colors and make noise to alert hunters of your presence.
12. Practice Leave No Trace principles: Minimize your impact on the environment by packing out all trash and leaving nature undisturbed.
13. Be prepared for emergencies: Carry a first aid kit and know basic first aid procedures in case of injuries.
14. Check for trail updates: Stay informed about any trail closures, maintenance, or safety advisories before starting your hike.
15. Trust your instincts: If you feel unsafe or encounter dangerous conditions, use your judgment to make the best decision for your safety.

Conservation Notes

The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, located in southwestern Pennsylvania, is a significant natural resource that requires conservation efforts to ensure its long-term sustainability. As of now, the conservation status of the trail can be considered relatively stable, thanks to the dedicated efforts of various organizations and individuals involved in its management and protection.

One of the key aspects of conservation for the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail is the preservation of its diverse ecosystems. The trail traverses through a range of habitats, including deciduous forests, wetlands, and rocky outcrops, which support a wide array of plant and animal species. Conservation efforts focus on maintaining the integrity of these ecosystems by minimizing human impact, preventing habitat fragmentation, and controlling invasive species that could threaten the native biodiversity.

Another important aspect of conservation is the management of recreational activities along the trail. The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail attracts a significant number of visitors each year, who engage in activities such as hiking, camping, and wildlife observation. To ensure the sustainability of these recreational activities, conservation measures include the establishment of designated campsites, trail maintenance to prevent erosion, and education programs to promote responsible visitor behavior. These efforts aim to strike a balance between allowing public access to the trail while minimizing negative impacts on the natural environment.

Overall, the conservation status of the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail is currently being actively managed and protected. Ongoing efforts to preserve the trail’s ecosystems and manage recreational activities contribute to its long-term sustainability, ensuring that future generations can continue to enjoy and appreciate the natural beauty of this remarkable hiking trail.

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