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Laurel Ridge State Park is a Pennsylvania state park that passes through Cambriamarker, Fayettemarker, Somersetmarker, and Westmorelandmarker counties, Pennsylvaniamarker in the United States. The park is home to the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail that runs through the park from the Youghiogheny River at Ohiopylemarker to the Conemaugh Gorge near Johnstownmarker. The park was approved by the governor on July 10, 1967, and construction started on the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail on July 7, 1970.

Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail

Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail is long, begins at Ohiopyle State Parkmarker and ends at Conemaugh Gorge near Johnstownmarker. The trail goes through state forests, state parks, state game lands, and some privately owned lands. Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail is open year round. The trail is marked with yellow blazes. Connector trails are marked with blue blazes. These trails connect the main trail with parking and shelter areas. The trail is marked with large wooden signs at every major highway crossing. Six parking lots at the highway crossings provide starting points; some have access to drinking water.

Shelter areas

There are eight overnight shelter areas on the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail. These shelter areas are located about every to along the trail. The shelter areas each have five Adirondack style shelters. There are two outhouses at the rest stops and a water supply. There is room for up to 30 tents at each stop. Firewood is provided. Hikers using the shelters are required to make reservations for use of the shelters with the park staff before setting out on their hike. A fee is charged to users of the shelters.

Course

The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail mileage starts from the southern trailhead in Ohiopyle State Park. The trail runs east through the park and parallel to the Youghiogheny River within Stewart Townshipmarker in Fayette County for the first . Just past mile 6 the trail comes to the first overnight shelter area (with potable water), where it turns northeast. At 7 miles (11 km) the trail leaves the park and Fayette County, and enters Lower Turkeyfoot Townshipmarker in Somerset County and Pennsylvania State Game Lands No. 111. Just before 15 miles (24 km), the trail enters Laurel Ridge State Park for the first time, where it continues northeast. Just past 17 miles (27 km) the trail turns north, and crosses back into Fayette County (now Springfield Townshipmarker), where the second overnight shelter with potable water is found.

The trail runs generally northeast and passes the Laurel Ridge State Park office near , enters Saltlick Townshipmarker, Fayette County at about , then leaves the park and enters Forbes State Forestmarker just before . Shortly after this the trail returns to Somerset County (Middlecreek Townshipmarker) and passes the third overnight shelter area with potable water. Between and the trail follows the border between Laurel Ridge State Park and Forber State Forest, then leaves public land for private property. It crosses the borough of Seven Springsmarker and runs just west of Seven Springs Mountain Resortmarker and Laurel Hill State Parkmarker. Just before the trail crosses into Donegal Townshipmarker in Westmoreland County, and shortly after enters the state forest and then Laurel Ridge State Park again. At about , the trail crosses back into Somerset County (Jefferson Townshipmarker), and just past passes the fourth overnight shelter area, with potable water. It runs west of Kooser State Parkmarker and continues for several miles just east of the county line, crossing the Pennsylvania Turnpike (Interstate 70/76) before . This stretch of trail runs through the state forest and three separate small tracts of Laurel Ridge State Park.

At , the trail crosses from the state forest into Laurel Ridge State Park and Lincoln Townshipmarker in Somerset County, then crosses briefly into Cook Townshipmarker in Westmoreland Countymarker. It crosses back into Somerset County and comes to the fifth overnight shelter with potable water, then reaches Laurel Summit State Parkmarker at . Continuing through the state forest, the trail crosses into Jenner Townshipmarker in Somerset County just past , and back into Laurel Ridge State Park at , passing east of Linn Runmarker and Laurel Mountain state parks along this section. The trail crosses U.S. Route 30 just before and reaches the sixth overnight shelter with potable water just after. It continues through the state park to , then enters State Game Lands No. 42, then crosses into Ligonier Townshipmarker in Westmoreland County. The trail leaves the Game Lands at , travels through Laurel Ridge State Park for , crosses back into the Game Lands, and into Jenner Township in Somerset County again. Just before the trail again passes through the state park where it enters Conemaugh Townshipmarker in Somerset County, then enters private land at about . The trail enters another tract of the state park before , where it crosses Pennsylvania Route 271 and the seventh overnight shelter with potable water is located. Just after this the trail enters State Game Lands No. 42, then at crosses into Upper Yoder Townshipmarker in Cambria County.
A shelter along the trail.
The trail continues through State Game Lands No. 42 and crosses back into Westmoreland County (Fairfield Townshipmarker) just before . At about the trail enters St. Clair Townshipmarker in Westmoreland County, and between here and it crosses twice into Lower Yoder Townshipmarker in Cambria County. It finally leaves the State Game Lands and enters Laurel Ridge State park for the final time before , crossing back into Cambria County (Lower Yoder Township) shortly after that. The seventh and final overnight shelter with potable water is past and the trail continues northeast until just before , where it turns north and then crosses into Westmoreland County (St. Clair Township). The trail now runs parallel to the Conemaugh River with several vistas of the river valley, and finally ends at .

Other recreation

The park is open to hunting, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.

Hunting is permitted on almost all of Laurel Ridge State Park. The most common game species are Ruffed Grouse, turkey and White-tailed deer. The hunting of Groundhogs is prohibited. Hunters are expected to follow the rules and regulations of the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

There are of trails open to cross-country skiing during the winter months at Laurel Ridge State Park and over of trails open to snow mobiles.

Nearby state parks

View across the Conemaugh Gorge from the Laurel Ridge Trail.
The following state parks are within of Laurel Ridge State Park:

References

  1. Note: shows Laurel Ridge State Park
  2. Note: shows Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail
  3. Note: shows small tracts of Laurel Ridge State Park not shown on the DCNR trail map
  4. Note: shows Laurel Ridge State Park
  5. Note: shows Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail
  6. Note: shows Laurel Ridge State Park

External links




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