Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail End-to-End

The 70-mile Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail (LHHT) is one of few remote backpacking footpaths in the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail network. It follows Laurel Ridge through state game lands, forest and other parkland. Along the way, there are hemlock groves, mountain streams, hardwood forests and the sounds of wildlife.

Once on the ridge above Ohiopyle, the terrain is moderate enough for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. For the hardiest of hikers, there are winter backpacking/skiing trips along the LHHT. Best of all are the eight camping areas spaced along the ridge between Ohiopyle and the 1000-foot Conemaugh Gorge near Seward. Each area has shelters, a fire ring and wood, water and privies, and advance registration is required. The following, divided into five hikes, describes travel south to north, but direction is a matter of personal preference.

Ohiopyle to Route 653
Leaving the banks of the Youghiogheny River, the yellow-blazes of the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail climb nine miles in stages from 1,200 feet to almost 2,800 feet. The second half of the section is gentle with the elevation hovering near 2,400 feet. The trail is well built, but rocky in places—a sturdy hiking shoe is a good choice here.

Start: Ohiopyle.

End: Route 653.

Miles:19.0

Points of Interest: Ohiopyle; Laurel Highlands Trail park office.

Parking: Ohiopyle (0.0 mi.); Maple Summit Road. (11.4 mi.); Laurel Ridge State
Park office (overnight permits) (19.0 mi.).

Water: Ohiopyle; Ohiopyle Shelter; Route 653 Shelter.

Restroom or privy: Ohiopyle; Ohiopyle Shelter; Route 653 Shelter.

Provisions: Ohiopyle.

Camping: Ohiopyle Shelter; Route 653 Shelter. All shelters and campsites on the LHHT must be reserved in advance. A fee is required.

Hike Data:
0.0 Ohiopyle. The depot houses restrooms and a visitor center. The store, B&Bs, hotel and outfitters are all within a few blocks.
0.2 Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail. Turn onto the yellow-blazed path. The trail is marked with mileposts. Except for the few miles at either end, the grades are gentle. It is open only to hikers.
6.5 Ohiopyle Shelter.
11.4 Maple Summit Road.
18.7 Route 653 Shelter.
19.0 Route 653.

 

Route 653 to Route 31
This section is a pleasant ridge top walk with expansive views. Early on the trail passes through house-size boulders before climbing gently to 2,994 feet, the highest point on the Potomac Heritage Trail. This is the most open section of Laurel Ridge. The trail crosses several ski slopes and open areas of the Seven Springs Ski Resort. The remnants of a tree farm provide a different look as the trail eases down to Route 31.

Start: Route 653.

End: Route 31.

Miles: 12.0

Points of Interest: Laurel Run Overlook; Seven Springs area.

Parking: Route 653 (0.0 mi.); Route 31 (12.0 mi.).

Water: Grindle Ridge Shelter.

Restroom or Privy: Grindle Ridge Shelter.

Provisions: None.

Camping: Grindle Ridge Shelter.

Hike Data:
0.0 Route 653.
2.5 Laurel Run overlook.
5.4 Grindle Ridge Shelters.
7.5 Seven Springs. The Laurel Highlands Trail cuts right through a ski resort here. The open ski slopes offer wide open views.
8.0 Highest point on PHT, 2,994 feet.
12.0 Route 31.

 

Route 31 to Route 30
The scenery on this hike offers one delight after another. Probably the most scenic built structure is the metal bridge that carries the PHT over the PennsylvaniaTurnpike.

Start: Route 31.

End: Route 30.

Miles: 15.0

Points of Interest: Pennsylvania Turnpike Bridge; Beam Rocks.

Parking: Route 31 (0.0 mi.); Route 30 (15.0 mi.).

Water: Route 31 lot; Route 31 Shelter; Turnpike Shelter; Route 30 parking lot.

Restroom or Privy: Route 31 Shelter; Turnpike Shelter.

Provisions: None.

Camping: Route 31 Shelter; Turnpike Shelter.

Hike Data:
0.0 Route 31.
1.7 Route 31 Shelter.
6.0 Pennsylvania Turnpike Bridge. This massive iron bridge shows how serious the state was about getting this trail built.
7.4 Turnpike Shelter.
10.2 Beam Rocks.
15.0 Route 30.

 

Route 30 to Route 271
The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail follows a gentle path high above the isolated valley of Mill Creek. The views here to the northwest of the trail are especially nice during the winter months. Close to Route 271, the trail passes through a series of rock formations worthy of exploration. Note that the Route 271 shelter is about 0.7 miles off the trail near the parking area.

Start: Route 30.

End: Route 271.

Miles: 11.7 (The section is only 11.0 miles excluding a visit to the shelter or parking lot).

Points of Interest: Card Machine Run; Mill Creek Valley; rock formations.

Parking: Route 30 (0.0 mi.); Route 271 (11.7 mi.).

Water: Route 30; Route 30 Shelter; Route 271 Shelter; Route 271.

Restroom or Privy: Route 30 Shelter; Route 271 Shelter.

Provisions: None.

Camping: Route 30 Shelter; Route 271 Shelter.

Hike Data:
0.0 Route 30.
0.7 Route 30 Shelter.
2.2 Card Machine Run. There is a wonderful bog and spring here.
4.7 Mill Creek Valley.
10.2 Rock formations.
11.0 Route 271 crossing of Laurel Highlands Trail.
11.6 Route 271 Shelter (via side trail).
11.7 Route 271 parking lot (via side trail).

 

Route 271 to Seward
There are spectacular views of the Conemaugh River Gorge to the north. Johnstown is to the east. The going is easy throughout, and culminates in a five-mile descent to Seward. The trail passes an old stone quarry and the remains of an incline plane. Both were used to gather materials for the construction of a railroad bridge in Johnstown.

Start: Route 271.

End: Seward.

Miles: 13.3

Points of Interest: Conemaugh Gorge; Seward.

Parking: Route 271 (0.0 mi.); Seward. Pa.(13.3 mi.).

Water: Route 271; Decker Avenue Shelter; Seward.

Restroom or Privy: Route 271; Decker Avenue Shelter; Seward.

Provisions: Seward, one mile from the terminus of the LHHT. To reach Seward, turn right on the road at end of the trail, and follow it to Route 56 on the Conemaugh River. Turn left to Seward.

Camping: Decker Avenue Shelter.

Hike Data:
0.0 Route 271. Mileages in this section are counted from the trail crossing. If you walk from the parking area add 0.7 miles to all distances.
1.9 Cross Peak 2669.
8.0 Side trail to Decker Shelter (0.3miles).
8.7 Picnic area and lookout tower, east of trail.
11.6 Old quarry site.
13.3 Seward, northern terminus of the LHHT.

Resources

Laurel Ridge State Park- (LHHT overnight permits)
(724) 455-3744
www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks

Ohiopyle State Park
(724) 329-8591
www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks

Conemaugh Valley Conservancy
(814) 536-6615
www.conemaughvalleyconservancy.org.

Keystone Trails Association
www.kta-hike.org

The Hiking 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 LHHT.

Last updated: July 20, 2017

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Potomac Heritage NST Office
P. O. Box B

Harpers Ferry, WV 25425

Phone:

(304) 535-4014

Contact Us