If you haven’t visited Pennsylvania’s hiking trails, then you’re missing out on epic excursions. Hiking is the most popular outdoor activity in the state. Covered by mountains and forests, Pennsylvania’s trails offer short loop and multi-day hikes.
Tackle the challenging Appalachian Trail, or if you’re just looking for a day hike, there are hundreds of short trails with amazing views. Either way, dust off your hiking boots and discover three top trails in Pennsylvania.
Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail
Image via Flickr by MiguelVieira
Ranked one of the best hiking trails in the nation, Laurel Highlands Trail is a 70-mile trail that meanders along the Laurel Ridge from the Ohiopyle State Park to Conemaugh Gorge near Johnstown. Beginners enjoy hiking the easier walking areas, while the seasoned hikers tackle the steep and rugged terrain. In the early spring, you can see frogs and toads. From fall to spring, you’ll see the red-back or spotted salamander. The fall and spring months also bring more migratory birds.
The trail is just 60 miles from Pittsburgh, so it’s easy to base yourself in the area. Use Hotel Planner to find convenient Pittsburgh hotels, and get a great night’s sleep before and after your hike.
Avid hikers say you need to take five or six months off to walk the Appalachian Trail. It’s no secret that the trail is difficult, and not everyone can conquer the 2,189-mile-long trail. The trail passes through 14 states, but here’s what to expect in Pennsylvania. The path is 229 miles long, with some easy and some difficult parts. Hikers commonly refer to certain sections as the place where boots go to die because of the wear and tear, so make sure you’re wearing quality hiking boots.
Some of the trails are long and flat with rocky ridges. Expect steep descents to rivers in the northern two-thirds of the state, as the northern part is built along heaping boulders and rocks. However, the southern part of Pennsylvania is the easiest part of the entire Appalachian Trail. No matter which part you tackle, be careful hiking during the hottest time of the year. The exposed rocks are extremely hot along the low-elevation ridges. Make sure you pack a hat to protect you from the sun.
West Rim-Turkey Path
Image via Flickr by Nicholas_T
Pine Creek Gorge is also known as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, and the West Rim Trail follows along the western edge of Pine Creek Gorge. This trail is mostly level, but you’ll climb 950 feet past Llyod Run to the top of the Allegheny Plateau. The good news is that this is your only hurdle as you hike through strands of mixed hardwoods like white ash and hemlock. Later, you can venture 1,000 feet down onto the Turkey Path Trail. Rated difficult, Turkey Path descends 1 mile to the bottom of Pine Creek Gorge.
Take considerable caution when hiking anyone of the trails during rifle hunting season. Wear bright colors like orange to ensure you’re visible.
You must add hiking in Pennsylvania to your vacation wish list. No matter which of these trails you choose, you won’t be disappointed.