Nov 9, 2020 at 5:29 pm #3683100
Thinking this could be my next little thruhike.. possibly early spring 2021. Anyone complete this trail? I know there are lean to shelters every 8-10 miles apart, but I am wondering if need to “stealth” camp, LNT.. off the trail not near the shelters is acceptable. Thanks..Nov 9, 2020 at 8:09 pm #3683155MJ HBPL Member
It’s really not practical and certainly not legal to camp away from the designated sites. The trail goes by lots of private property and often is on state game lands (which allows the trail to pass but does not allow camping). You don’t need to sleep in the shelters as you can reserve tent sites near the shelters, but you need to reserve the spot (even if you are at the edge of the site hanging a hammock or something). Unfortunately, the reservation system is not easy to understand, but there are rangers and they do check and being respectful of neighbors is important for the trail.
Obviously, things happen and I don’t think the rangers will give you too much trouble if you didn’t make it as far as you thought and had to stop at the prior shelter (assuming you weren’t taking somebody else’s spot), but just stopping along the trail is going to be a problem.Nov 10, 2020 at 8:40 am #3683228
I did the first 20 miles in 2015 and finished it, with a group of BPLers in 2019. As you look at planning, here’s the map that I really liked: Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail
In the boxes showing the map of each shelter area it shows you how far it is to the next shelter area. You can use that in your planning, although I think the mileage is to where the side trail to the shelter area leaves the main LHHT and does NOT include the mileage to the actual shelter area (which can be more than a mile off the main trail).
As MJH mentioned, staying in a non-shelter area should be avoided. It’s one of the things that kept me away from hiking the LHHT for a long time. We had the ranger check our permit/reservation at two of the four shelters where we stayed and he specifically asked where we’d be the next night. I don’t think you’d get into trouble if you had a reservation at one shelter but decided to hike another 7-8 miles to the next one to stay there, as long as you didn’t take a site away from someone with a valid reservation at that shelter area.
In our group of 6 we had 3 solo tents and 3 hammocks, but I booked a shelter at each of our planned campsites anyway. It was really nice to have a solid roof overhead the one night it was pouring during dinner. The shelter areas all have privies and a water pump, but you may need to pump 80-100 times to get water flowing. I’d suggest trying to get water before you get to the shelter to avoid the hassle of the pump, but it’s not too bad if there are two of you.
One of the really nice things about this trail is that much of it (probably 60 out of the 70 miles) is up on the ridge so you don’t have the painful ups and downs you usually experience on a long trail in PA (i.e. Loyalsock Trail). We hiked it north (east) from Ohiopyle so most of our ascent was in that first part of the trip.
I just found my “Guide to the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail” book if you’d like me to send it to you. I didn’t really use it, but it contains some nice facts and history. We had four cars and did some crazy shuttling while we were hiking so that the guy from Long Island and the other from Westchester NY had their cars waiting at the end of the trail when we came out and they could get on their way. Ideally, you’ll leave your car at the parking area along Rte. 56 at mile 70 and find someone to shuttle you to Ohiopyle to begin your hike. There are no direct routes in this part of the state.
Let me know if you have any questions or if there’s anything I can do to help.Nov 10, 2020 at 10:14 am #3683242
Thanks. All info is what i assumed. I do have that Guide to hiking Laurel Highlands trail book already, thanks. I also have the shuttle information for when we are set to do this, if we decide on this before the Cranberry Lake 50.
Thanks guys for the info..Nov 10, 2020 at 10:45 am #3683252
@Dirtbag – Have you considered doing parts of the Mid State Trail in PA? It’s 327 miles so you could pick your mileage and find trailheads that match that. It’s also one of the hikes available on Guthook Guides if that’s something that interests you.
I’ve been section-hiking it with a couple of buddies (one weekend a year at most) and have done everything from Penn Roosevelt State Park (mile 125) heading north to Arnot Road (mile 277 north of Antrim). There were two 5 (or so) mile road walks that we skipped because we were section hiking but other than that we were in the woods. It’s definitely wild, remote, and, like the Black Forest Trail, you’re likely to see more wildlife than people. It does go near, or directly through, a number of PA State Parks so it’s easy to meet people for resupply or a night in a civilized campground (picnic table, flush toilets, and hot showers). We’ve used the state park campgrounds as “bonus” car-camping nights by spending Thursday night there before hitting the trail nearby early Friday morning.Nov 10, 2020 at 4:39 pm #3683316
Its possible.. but i would rather do it as a complete thru hike, lol. I have this thing with doing section hikes of “shorter” thru hikes. .. if that makes any sense.Nov 11, 2020 at 7:10 am #3683392
Seems hassle for Laurel Highlands. Maybe I will do the Quehanna trail (72 mile loop) instead..Nov 11, 2020 at 7:56 am #3683394
I enjoyed the Laurel Highlands trail – I had driven under it on the PA Turnpike numerous times and always wanted to cross that bridge. I do agree though about the hassle factor – you’re stuck doing either the mileage to the next shelter area (which varies from 5.5 miles to 12.3) or skipping a shelter area (or two) and ending up with a big mileage day, all of which has to be determined and reserved in advance. We did the last 50 miles this way:
- Day 1 – 14 miles
- Day 2 – 14 miles
- Day 3 – 10 miles
- Day 4 – 8 miles (with a lot of car shuttling and breakfast in a diner)
- Day 5 – 5 miles
Day 3 was the challenge: We had to choose between 10 or 18 miles because of the shelter locations. I did the logistic planning and, knowing that I’m not an 18-mile day kind of hiker, picked the 10 miles. It worked for us.
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