Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Laurel Highlands Trail
Display Avatars Sort By:
joseph Otoole
Laurel Highlands Trail on 03/14/2011 00:27:48 MDT Print View

Hey guys and gals,

I am thinking about doing the Laural Highlands Trail in SW PA within the next couple weeks, and I am curious about something: what are the concerns for bears? I cant find anything online about people using bear canisters, but. just wanted to double check and just ask before I just go without. I know there are bears in this area, just dont know much more than that.

appreciate it.



Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Laurel Highlands Trail on 03/14/2011 07:45:30 MDT Print View

Have you made reservations? I could be wrong (always a concern.....) but I think you HAVE to stay in the provided shelters on the Laurel Highlands Trail, and they must be reserved ahead of time. You should check that out before taking off.

As far as bears, there are certainly bears in most backpacking areas in PA. I never use a canister, I just hang my food. I've never had any problems.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Hanging should be fine on 03/14/2011 08:38:06 MDT Print View

I haven't done that trail but I've never heard even a recommendation to use canisters in PA.

joseph Otoole
reply on 03/14/2011 09:48:49 MDT Print View

ok, I'll check on reservations.

and good to know on the bear issues.

Joe Geib
(joegeib) - F

Locale: Delaware & Lehigh Valleys
Other things to worry about on 03/14/2011 20:49:21 MDT Print View

Never done it, but did way too much homework on it. Do some research and ask the rangers about water quality issues.

joseph Otoole
rangers on 03/14/2011 21:01:15 MDT Print View

I talked to a ranger today who said bears are not an issue, and that mice and possum are the worst thing. didn't mention anything serious in the course of the conversation.

and I know some of the faucets have been capped off because of bacteria or something, I guess I just assumed I would pick some up and filter and treat as I come across it. I know the streams should all be doing pretty good right now,and the trail is never far from small ponds and lakes and rivers, so I wasn't so worried about water. should I be?

Matthew Marasco
(BabyMatty) - F

Locale: Western/Central PA, Adirondacks
re: on 03/15/2011 10:51:21 MDT Print View

Haven't hiked that trail, but I have hiked quite a bit in western and central PA. I've never used a bear can, just hung my food. Mice are at every campsite though, and they are not timid. Hang your food at night and you should have no problems.

Steven Hanlon
(asciibaron) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
water on 03/15/2011 16:55:36 MDT Print View

the trail is at the top of a ridge and water can be a PITA since the pumps are closed. are you planning on doing the entire length or just a section?

joseph Otoole
reply on 03/15/2011 20:40:08 MDT Print View

I'm planning on doing the whole thing.
Definitely planning on hanging food.
As per below, I'm just going to frontier pro/aquamira drop the water.

found on some website: UPDATE: Due to bacteria problems, many of the hand pumps at various shelters had been removed. However, as of 20 Dec 2010, several hand pumps have been restored. The water available from these hand pumps has been deemed NON potable. Therefore, you MUST filter or boil it before consumption.

Hand pumps have been restored at these shelters: Ohiopyle Shelter, Rt 653, Gringle Ridge, Turnpike Shelter, Rt 30 Parking Area, Rt 30 Shelter, Rt 271 Parking area, and Rt 271 Shelter.

Treated water sources are available at Rt 653 Parking area, the Park Office on Rt 653, and near mile marker 26 at Seven Springs.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: reply on 03/15/2011 20:41:31 MDT Print View

So, is it true you have to reserve the shelters ahead of time and must stay in them?

joseph Otoole
reply on 03/15/2011 22:43:33 MDT Print View

the ranger said I could reserve over the phone or the internet, so reservation seems to be the way you have to go. they have a running list of where people are and when they are, as well as names. I think that helps with the rangers going on checks. pretty easy for them. I had him look up how many people were hiking now and he said only a couple sites were reserved. the most people on the trail were at ohiopyple shelter on saturday night. otherwise it should be pretty empty. I'm not expecting to see too many people. one reason I'm excited about it.

Russell Klopfer

Locale: Pittsburgh
tent camping on 03/16/2011 19:43:53 MDT Print View

Surprisingly, I've never hiked this trail, but I am under the impression that you don't have to reserve and pay if you stay in a tent instead of a shelter. Any idea if that's true?

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: tent camping on 03/16/2011 20:07:40 MDT Print View

From one info site: "The Laurel Ridge State Park Office is located just off the Trail on Rt. 653. Before an overnight stay, you must contact the Park Office to reserve a shelter or campsite."

And from the PA DCNR site:

Facility Time Frame Resident Price Non-resident Price
Campsite Per Night Per Person $4.00 $5.00

Shelter Area Max. Per Night Per Group $20.00 $25.00

Edited by idester on 03/16/2011 20:12:47 MDT.

Russell Klopfer

Locale: Pittsburgh
Re: Re: tent camping on 03/16/2011 20:22:26 MDT Print View

Well, that settles that. Thanks!

Ben R
(snowfiend131) - MLife

Locale: Western PA
Laurel Highlands on 03/16/2011 20:36:59 MDT Print View

I haven't done the entire Laurel Highlands trail, but have done 3 sections of it.

All the shelter areas I have seen are along side creeks - water shouldn't be an issue. Also, where I have seen warnings on the water wells about contamination, the pumps still work - you could always use the well, but treat the water you get from it. The wells take a lot of pumping and effort to use - it is easier to just treat water from the stream, even if the well was not contaminated.

You may not see a lot of water between some shelter areas, however.

There is little bear activity in that area. There may be a few, but I have never seen a sign of one, or heard of anyone seeing one. Even if you did manage to find a bear, it wouldn't be a crafty bear stealing properly hung food bags like in Yosemite or the Adirondacks. Just hang your food in a tree.

There are typically 6 shelters and an abundance of tent sites at each shelter area. You need to reserve and pay for both shelters and tent sites. It can be done on PA's state park website (I think tent sites are cheaper). There is split firewood available for use, free, at each shelter area. The fireplaces in the shelters keep the shelter quite warm. I imagine you will have most shelter areas to yourself this time of year, especially during the week.

You can tent camp only in designated shelter areas (not in other areas along the trail). However, the shelter areas are large. Its easy to find a tent site 50 yards or more from the shelters, bathroom, wood pile, etc. if you want some solitude from the few people you see all week.

Edited by snowfiend131 on 03/16/2011 20:41:01 MDT.

Christopher Taggart

Locale: Western PA
Bridge obstacle on 03/17/2011 00:46:28 MDT Print View

I've hiked the first 50 miles of the LHT and it is beautiful. I hiked it in 2001 and the bridge over the turnpike was still up and open. I think that has changed, however. I believe the footbridge has been condemned and closed. From what I've read, they re routed a portion of the trail to accommodate hikers and it is an extra 8 miles. I would certainly call and find out before leaving. Here's the thing though...i remember reading somewhere about a tunnel near the bridge that runs under the turnpike. If you can find it then you can cross there. Sure beats a detour or a deadly game of frogger. I wouldnt ask the ranger about the tunnel. I'm not 100% sure but I think I read about the shortcut on Lemme know what you find out. I wanted to do this trail again this summer.

Sorry for the grammer, phone posting.

Edited by PennDude on 03/17/2011 13:52:31 MDT.

Christopher Taggart

Locale: Western PA
Shortcut. on 03/17/2011 15:34:32 MDT Print View

Found the shortcut. Here's a link.

joseph Otoole
reply on 03/18/2011 09:17:22 MDT Print View

I actually came across that link in my searches! but thanks!

I think I will avoid the 8 miles and take the tunnel instead.