Laurel Highlands Trail-South

Description: The Laurel Highlands Trail is a 70 mile trail stretching from Seward to the north to Ohiopyle in the south. It passes through State Forests, Parks and Game Lands as well as private property. If you wish to backpack all or portions of the trail preregistration is required. Call the park office at 724-455-3744. No fee is required to do a day hike. Iíve been told by several hikers that the nicest but also the most challenging part of the trail is the southern section so that is where I placed my initial focus. Described here is a strenuous 11.5 mile hike with 1800 feet of elevation gain. The hike starts on Maple Summit Road and ends at Ohiopyle, next to the Youghiogheny River.

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  Trail Notes: Take the blue blazed spur trail next to the kiosk. Turn left onto the yellow blazed Laurel Highland Trail, crossing the road. The trail passes through hemlocks and rock cities before crossing pretty Little Glade Run. In 1.9 miles from the start cross a gas well road. The trail climbs gradually for a mile to a west/north facing vista with Mill Run Reservoir in the distance. The trail then swings south and arrives at another view point in another 1.0 mile before descending to and crossing another gas well road. The trail climbs slightly before making a rapid descent for 0.9 miles to the Ohiopyle shelters on the left. Look for window sized views along the way, especially during leaf off periods. The trail continues to descend for 0.5 miles where it crosses Lick Run and a road. Another climb ensues, reaching another vista in 1.9 miles. From here you can see the river below. The trail repeats itself as it once again descends, this time to pretty Rock Spring Run. Take a break here because although the next climb is shorter than the previous ones it is much steeper. The climb out of the hollow is aided by some switchbacks but I think they just serve a psychological purpose. Shortly after crossing a road the climb ends for the most part and joins an old grade for the remainder of the hike. Reach side by side vistas in 0.8 miles from the last road crossing. This is, by far, the best view of the hike. From here the trail descends and crosses Sheepskin Run before arriving at a parking lot spur (for backpackers) in 1.7 miles. Continue straight for 0.4 miles, descending on an eroded set of natural steps to follow the last grade to your cars.

Critique This Outing



Name:   Brian S.
Date(s): 04/25-26/16
Hike Name:  Laurel Highlands Trail-South
Ranking): 4

Outing Critique:   I went out on a solo overnight hike on the LHHT and planned to make it from mile 0 to mile 11.5 and turn around and camp at the Ohiopyle (mile 6.5) shelters. It was warm for late April, with high temps near 80. The leaves were just starting to come in so the sun was very hot too!

I got on the trail  later than I had hoped and had to turn around early (mile 8) to make it to camp in time. I set up my hammock and had a nice evening around the fire in the shelter. The shelter came in handy the next morning as a brief heavy rain came through while I was cooking breakfast.

There were a number of spectacular views and overall a beautiful place to hike! The elevation change was surprising for PA, don't underestimate the uphill section between miles 5 and 8. The trail is well-worn, but I didn't see that many people out there. Trains do run through the main gorge, so the occasional rumbling is heard even at the Ohiopyle shelters. The trail is rocky in many places and in fairly good shape with some springs running down through it making a little mud. However, all of the streams and runs are bridged, which is really nice to have.

Specific to when I was out there, there were a couple larger downed trees that could be stepped over rather easily. There were a number of vines that were in the trail space at the but nothing unavoidable. All bridges were in good condition and all the shelters seemed to be in good condition too. I did not check the pump water at the shelters, as it needs filtered anyway, the cool creek water seemed like a great choice as it was closer to my shelter.


Name: Jeremy K                                                                                                                         Hike: Laurel Highlands Trail-South
Date: 24 February 2013                                                                                                              Rating: 4.3

Critique: Our average score . . . this is an awesome hike. We started in just the cold, but by the time we reached the cabins it started snowing, making the rest of our 11+ mile journey really nice. There's nothing more beautiful in the wintertime than virgin snow on a ridge. This group was of mainly intermediate hikers, and some of the "final words" to describe the hike (when we reached our cars long past sunset):

scenic peaceful steep relaxing snow icicles unpredictable diverse nice bridges hilly narrow climbing a great day

The one critique is that it was not so well maintained, but it's relatively understandable during the wintertime. However, there are a good number of hazard trees all along the trail, and many branches coming into the trail zone.


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