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