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
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
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.
Route 653 to Route 31
Start: Route 653.
End: Route 31.
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.
Camping: Grindle Ridge Shelter.
Route 31 to Route 30
Start: Route 31.
End: Route 30.
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.
Camping: Route 31 Shelter; Turnpike Shelter.
Route 30 to Route 271
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.
Camping: Route 30 Shelter; Route 271 Shelter.
Route 271 to Seward
Start: Route 271.
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.
Laurel Ridge State Park- (LHHT overnight permits)
Ohiopyle State Park
Conemaugh Valley Conservancy
Keystone Trails Association
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