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Mid-Atlantic trip in late July: Laurel Highlands?
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Jeff Riegner
(jethro) - F

Locale: The Mid-Atlantic flatlands
Mid-Atlantic trip in late July: Laurel Highlands? on 07/08/2009 08:13:51 MDT Print View

It looks like I may have time off for a trip of up to 5 nights, from July 26 to 31, so I'm looking for ideas. Because my time is limited, I'd like to stay within a few hours of home (the Philly suburbs) to minimize travel time. Avoiding crazy rocks is key as well, as I'm rehabbing a sprained ankle. That means the Pennsylvania AT is out.

My first thought is the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail. It's a 70-mile linear hike about 4 hours from home. That should suit my hiking pace well. For those who are familiar with this trail, a few questions: Are the shelters sufficient that I can travel without a tarp or other shelter? (That and the summer weather could result in a truly lightweight experience.) What type of shuttle arrangements are available? If I find I'm hiking faster than anticipated, can I shift my permit from one shelter to another?

Any other trip suggestions within a similar distance? That would include most of Pennsylvania (except NW), Catskills, Maryland, the northern half of Virginia, and maybe even Dolly Sods.

Thanks for your help!

Joe Geib
(joegeib) - F

Locale: Delaware & Lehigh Valleys
Re: Mid-Atlantic trip in late July: Laurel Highlands? on 07/09/2009 04:44:35 MDT Print View

I think that some of your questions should be directed to DCNR, like the permit shifting.

DCNR handles all the reservations. So, its great that you'll have a reserved shelter, but I'm not sure if you can bump a permit ahead if you're making good time. All the shelters are guaranteed, so you shouldn't have to carry much more than a bug/mouse shelter (I even heard to bring some mouse traps). I believe that the water sources - though reliable - are possibly contaminated or sketchy.

Ohiopyle Trading Post might be able to give you the shuttle service.

Trail info
Online Maps
Trip Report

Chris Shive here on BPL just did a nice trip through the Sods, and saw the TR - it was great. What about the West Rim Trail or Loggers Path?

Joe Geib
(joegeib) - F

Locale: Delaware & Lehigh Valleys
Re: Re: Mid-Atlantic trip in late July: Laurel Highlands? on 07/09/2009 04:45:25 MDT Print View

Oh, I have not done this trail yet, but have done a lot of the research.

Devin Montgomery
(dsmontgomery) - MLife

Locale: one snowball away from big trouble
Re: Mid-Atlantic trip in late July: Laurel Highlands? on 07/09/2009 06:33:16 MDT Print View

Having done both Dolly Sods and the Laurel Highlands Trail recently, hopefully I can give some insight.

LHT is a great hike, but I would plan on either being flexible with your distance or planning on the shelters, but not both. I've camped at a different camp than I was registered for without a problem, but it becomes an availability issue with the shelters. If you want to leave a tent at home (the shelters are adequate for this) then you'd probably want to stick to your reserved area so you're sure to have one. The other thing I'll say is that while the trail is easy for the middle 50 miles of its length, the first and last ten are rocky and can get steep as you rise onto the ridge.

Dolly Sods and the adjacent Roaring Plains are spectacular, but you really have to try to squeeze more than about 40 miles out of them combined. After that, you just end up taking pretty circuitous routes.

Jeff Riegner
(jethro) - F

Locale: The Mid-Atlantic flatlands
Laurel Highlands on 07/25/2009 21:59:09 MDT Print View

Thanks, all! I've decided on the LHHT, 5 nights, north to south. It sounds like I'll see someone at each shelter site, but none will be full; hopefully that will allow some flexibility if I need it. Devin, I've got a tarp just in case I change my schedule and run into a full campsite.