Laurel Highlands Trail Hike 36

PA Route 271 to Seward

This segment marks the end of the Laurel Highlands Trail and conclusion of a magnificent journey of some 450 miles from Point Lookout in Maryland. Within a couple of miles spectacular views of the Conemaugh River gorge appear to the north and Johnstown is visible 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. The bridge was said to be the site of many deaths during the Johnstown Flood of 1889, as buildings and debris piled against it. The incline plane was in use until 1930, and the bridge still stands.


Trip Planner

Start: PA Route 271
End: Seward
Miles: 13.3
Points of Interest: Conemaugh Gorge, Seward
Parking: PA Route 271 (0.0 mi.), Seward (13.3 mi.)
Water: PA Route 271, Decker Avenue Shelter, Seward
Restroom or Privy: PA Route 271, Decker Avenue Shelter, Seward
Provisions: Seward. One mile from the terminus of the Laurel Highlands Trail. To reach Seward, turn right on small road at end of the trail, and follow it to PA 56 on the Conemaugh River. Turn left here to Seward.
Camping: Decker Avenue Shelter


Hike Data

Mile Navigation
0 PA Route 271. Mileages in this section are 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 (0.3 miles).
8.7 Picnic area and lookout tower, east of trail.
11.6 Old quarry site.
13.3 Seward, northern terminus of the Laurel Highlands Trail.


Explore the PHT

This famous place is just east of trails end. The Johnstown Flood Museum recounts the events of 1889 which led to the famous Johnstown Flood. Also, there is an incline plane railway here. It was built in 1891 as a way to get people to higher ground during floods.

Conemaugh Gorge
The ill-fated Pennsylvania Canal passed by here headed for Pittsburgh. It was an amazing achievement consisting of 277 miles of canal with 177 locks and 118 miles of railroad, including the 37-mile inclined plane railway. It was completed from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh in 1829 but by 1864 it was gone. Today remnants remain and a group called the Conemaugh Valley Conservancy (CVC) is working to open trails in the Conemaugh Gorge. So far 10.5 miles of the West Penn Trail is open. The trail features four stone arch bridges built in 1907. These can be crossed when the waters of Conemaugh Lake are at normal levels. Contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Tunnelton for details. Eventually these trails and others will be linked to form a Pittsburgh to Harrisburg Greenway along the canal's former route. To find out about the trail's progress visit the conservancy website.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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Mailing Address:

Potomac Heritage NST Office
P. O. Box B

Harpers Ferry, WV 25425


(304) 535-4014

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