Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail Info Page

The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail is a 70-mile continuous footpath stretching atop the Laurel stickerRidge. It winds from Ohiopyle, PA to Rt. 56, near Johnstown, PA. The trail affords some great views of the twisting Youghiogheny River from high above Ohiopyle State Park, to the beautiful Conemaugh Gorge, near Johnstown, PA. It is open year-round.

The purpose of this page is to provide some basic information to help you plan your hike. Although I make an effort to update this site as often as I can, please keep in mind that trail conditions can change rapidly. cover If you have recent information that you believe should be added to this page please contact me. And as always, you can contact the Laurel Hill Park Office with any questions about the trail.

The info below will help you plan your hike.  Among other things, you will find help in these important categories:

NEW! My wife and I are now offering lodging at our house in Somerset, PA.  Somerset is located near the halfway point of the trail.  Come stay with us!  We have three rooms available.  Deluxe room with private bathRoom with shared bath, or Twin Beds with shared bath.

Also … check out my LHHT book: Romancing the Trail. Or order your LHHT Window Sticker (pictured above). Please feel free to leave comments or trail info at the bottom of this page!

Park Contact Information

The Park Office is now located in Laurel Hill State Park. Before an overnight stay, you must contact the Park Office (814-445-8673) to reserve a shelter or campsite, or make an online reservation. No reservation is needed for a day hike.

When entering the LHHT at any of the Trail Heads hikers are requested to complete information cards that are available at these entry and exit points of the trail. These cards are to be deposited in the drop-off boxes, also at the Trail Head. They help the State keep track of the number of hikers on the Trail. Here is the Park Office mailing address and phone: Laurel Hill State Park, 1454 Laurel Hill Park Road, Somerset, PA 15501; 814-445-7725 The Park’s web site can be found here.

To make arrangements to use the locked, extended stay parking lot in Ohiopyle, either stop by the new visitors center in Ohiopyle, or call 724-329-8591.

Fees

Overnight fee for a PA resident is $4/person per night for a Shelter, and $3/person for a tent site.

Non-PA residents will pay $5/person per night for a Shelter, and $4 for a tent site per night. Park Rangers will occasionally visit the Shelter areas to check on reservations.

In addition to the overnight charge, a $4 transaction fee is now being charged by the State for every reservation made.

Reservations can be made on the Park’s web site, with payment by credit card. You CANNOT make online reservations for a shelter or campsite on the day of your arrival.  That can only be done by phone.  Phone reservations can be made by calling Laurel Hill State Park (814.445.7725).

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Water

As of July 11, 2014, water is again available at all shelter areas – though it is non-potable.  There are only three locations along the trail where treated, potable water can be obtained:  at Mile 26, (just south of Seven Springs); the old Laurel Ridge Park Office (along RT 653); and the 653 trailhead parking lot. All other water along the Trail must be filtered, treated, or boiled.   pump

At Grindle Ridge and Turnpike shelter areas, the water is notoriously brown with iron. Click here to find directions to a spring near the Turnpike shelters where better water can be drawn.

While hiking during wet seasons, you will find bodies of water and cross many streams. Not being familiar with their sources, I would not recommend drinking from these supplies without a method of treatment. The following table represents the water situation as of October 2015.

Shelter Area Water Notes
Ohiopyle (Bidwell)

The pump handle is in place, but water must be treated or filtered. It takes about 13 pumps.  There is a small stream that runs by the Shelter Area that can also be treated or filtered.

RT 653

The pump handle is in place, but the water must be treated or filtered. Potable water is available from a spigot at the maintenance garage located behind the old Park Office along RT 653.

Potable water is also available in the Parking Lot.

Grindle Ridge

The pump at the shelter is working.  Potable water is also available in the RT 653 parking lot  and at the maintenance shed along Rt 653.

RT 31

There is NO water available in the parking lot. However, the pump handle is in place at the Shelter area.  It must be filtered or treated.

Turnpike

The pump handle is in place but the water must be treated or filtered. There is a spring running through the site that offers better water.

RT 30

There is NO water in the parking lot. The pump handle in the Shelter area is in place, but the water must be filtered or treated.

RT 271

The pump and stream are only reliable in the springtime. Therefore, it is highly recommended that water be drawn from the pump in the parking lot before walking back to the shelters.

RT 56 (Decker Ave)

The shelter area has a working pump again. There is also a seasonal stream running through the site where water can be filtered or treated.

Seward Parking Lot

No water available.

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Shelter Information

Each Shelter area has five, open-face, lean-to structures, spread out in an area large enough to provide a reasonable degree of privacy. The Park lists occupancy as 5, butshelter that is crowded. Three or four is about maximum for comfort.

Each shelter has a fireplace that does a decent job of taking the chill out. Although you can cook from the fireplace, I prefer a camp stove. The chimneys don’t exhaust well, and it’s not unusual to have a smoke-filled sleeping area. Firewood is provided by the State Park, but you have to carry it to your shelter. (During winter months remember to check the privy as dry firewood is often stacked there.) During cold weather, tarps can be hung around the shelter opening to help contain heat.

In addition to the lean-to’s, about 30 tent spaces are available for more primitive camping at each shelter area. Some tent sites have fire rings and grills for cooking. There are plenty of places to hang your hammock. Each shelter area has a men’s and women’s privy, adequately stocked with toilet paper. The firewood is usually found close to the privy. Garbage can be left in the refuse containers.

The following table gives an idea of the location of the shelters. The mile markers begin with 0 at Ohiopyle, the southernmost point of the trail, and ends at 70 near Johnstown.  In Seward there are a few small gas stations and stores. Seward is approximately 1.5 miles from the mile 70 parking area. That is also the closest location for a pay phone.

Mile Post

Shelter Name

Notes

0

Trail begins – no shelter

Ohiopyle is a busy town with restaurants, stores and pay phones.

6.3

Ohiopyle (Bidwell) Shelters

Shelter #1 is closest to the firewood.

18.5

Rt. 653 Shelters

Timbering is taking place during the day nearby.

24.0

Grindle Ridge Shelters

Shelter #1 is closest to firewood.

32.5

Rt. 31 Shelters

A nearby tipple runs in the summer and can be heard at night.

38.2

Turnpike Shelters

Shelter #1 seems closest to the firewood.

46.5

Rt. 30 Shelters

Shelter #1 is closest to the firewood. Shelters 4 & 5 are the most secluded.

56.9

Rt. 271 Shelters

Shelter area located about one mile off Trail.

64.9

(Decker Ave) Rt. 56 Shelters

70.0

Trail ends – no shelter or water

 

Shelter MapClick here to be directed to a page outlining a map of each shelter area.
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Parking parkingParking is available at various points along the trail. The following table provides an idea where they are located. If you can provide any helpful information about these lots, I will update the table.

Mile Post Location Notes
0 Ohiopyle Gated parking is available on Fercliff Peninsula.  Contact Ohiopyle State Park for details (724-329-8591).
11 Maple Summit Road Overnight parking is permitted. Trail runs very close to lot.
18.8 RT 653 Parking lot is off of RT 653
30.6 RT 31 Parking located just off RT 31
45.8 RT 30 Parking located off of RT 30
56.9 RT 271 Parking is along RT 271, and about 1 mile from Shelters
70.0 Northern terminus of trail Trail ends in lot.

Shuttle Service

The most frequently-asked question I receive is: how can I get shuttled to the end of the trail?  Wilderness Voyageurs is an outfitter in Ohiopyle that is known to offer shuttle services. I make no guarantees regarding their prices or availability to shuttle. Please contact them directly: 1-800-272-4141.

If you are lodging at our house through Airbnb, we will do our best to help you with a shuttle for a nominal fee.

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Trail Detail

The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail is well marked with 2″ x 5″ yellow blazes that appear about every 100′. The trail is well-worn, and generally easily visible (when there is no snow). Side trails are marked with blue blazes. milepostEach mile is marked by a small, concrete pillar denoting the mileage. This makes it very easy to figure out where you are in relationship to the next road or shelter.

Maps are available at the Park Office. They show parking areas, mileages, and scenic viewpoints. I believe that they will mail a map to you upon request.

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Gear Checklist

Click here for a printable copy of a sample Backpacking Checklist.

Nearby Accommodations

My wife and I now offer overnight lodging at our house in Somerset, PA.  Click here for more details.

Downloadable Map

This link provides a downloadable .pdf copy of the LHHT. The link is used with permission of the site owner, Mike Franusich. Click here.

Click here to be directed to my LHHT Caltopo Map Page.

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Lat/Long of Various Points

Location Lat/Long
Ohiopyle Shelter 39.861611, 79.419222 
Maple Summit Road Parking 39.891847, -79.376052
Twin Lakes 39.907817, -79.359419
RT 653 Shelter Area 39.954528, -79.361222
RT 653 Parking Area 39.954806, -79.368528
Grindle Ridge Shelter 39.996475, -79.315522
RT 31 Parking Area 40.059944, -79.273389
RT 31 Shelter 40.072300  -79.260100 
Turnpike Shelter 40.107000, -79.185583
RT 30 Shelter 40.18064305555556,-79.11814555555554
RT 30 Parking Lot 40.173953, -79.122053
RT 271 Parking Lot 40.281472, -79.049667
RT 271 Shelter Area 40.2775, -79.042972
RT 56 Shelter Area
RT 56 Parking Area 40.408611, 79.00425

 


Laurel Highlands Ultra Race

Every year a grueling foot race is held on the LHHT. Rick Freeman, director of the race, maintains this site, which provides more information.

Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail Photos

Check this web site out for some spectacular photos of the LHHT! Hats off to Richard Sabol and Tim Segina for these great shots.

Planning a Thru-Hike

I have done both south-to-north, and north-to-south hikes. Both can be enjoyable. However, I think that I prefer hiking SOBO since it ends in a busy town with restaurants. A NOBO hike ends in a quiet parking lot. This chart represents a NOBO 6-day, 5-night hike:

Day 1 6.5 miles to Ohiopyle Shelters

Day 2

12 miles to RT 653 Shelters

Day 3 14 miles to RT 31 Shelters
Day 4 14 miles to RT 30 Shelters
Day 5 10 miles to RT 271 Shelters
Day 6 14 miles to Seward Parking Lot

This chart represents a SOBO 5-day, 4-night hike:

Day 1 14 miles to RT 271 Shelters
Day 2 10 miles to RT 30 Shelters
Day 3 14 miles to RT 31 Shelters
Day 4 14 miles to RT 653 Shelters
Day 5 18 miles into Ohiopyle

PiggyBackPack A recent addition to my backpacking gear is the PiggyBackPack. This piece of gear Piggyis a backpack designed to carry a person. I purchased it to carry my wife along on hikes before her knee surgery. The pack is sturdy, and gets the job done. The link above will take you to the seller’s website.

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