Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail
Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail: Ohiopyle to Seward
The Keystone State is laced with long-distance hiking trails that travel deep woods, stream valleys and high mountain ridges. The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail is thought by many people to be the finest. It is the only pure backpacking footpath followed by the Potomac Heritage Trail. The effort to establish the trail was spearheaded in the 1960s by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. Following Laurel Ridge through state game lands, forest and other parkland, the group cooperated with state trail planners to create scenic woodland routes offering rare solitude.
Once you've climbed the ridge out of Ohioypyle, the terrain is moderate enough for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. For the hardiest of hikers, there are winter backpacking/skiing trips along Laurel Highlands Trail.
Most hikers experience the Laurel Highlands a few hours at a time. With several road crossings, there plenty of opportunities to hike a few miles out and back, or stash a second car at the next crossing.
A Hiker's Guide to the Laurel Highlands Trail, published by the Sierra Club, provides natural history and interpretation of the entire 70-mile path. The book is recommended for planning an extended hike on the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail as a section of the PHT. Not only is it useful for logistical planning, but it also offers rich interpretation of the nature features and wildlife along this scenic trail.
There are eight camps along the trail extending from Ohiopyle to the thousand-foot Conemaugh Gorge in Seward. Each camp has shelters, tent pads, water and privies. Advance registration is required. Along the way, whether backpacking or day hiking, there are hemlock groves, mountain streams, hardwood forests and the sounds of wildlife.
Did You Know?
Water temperatures in the Potomac can drop to freezing and ice will form along the banks. However, the water is moving too quickly through the Great Falls to completely freeze over.