Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail Nov 1, 2018

McKee80

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While I was doing trip reports, I thought I would crank out a small one for a one nighter a couple weeks ago. Keeping up with the southwestern theme here (albiet southwestern Pennsylvania). I grew up here and have spent most of my life in this area. Maybe that is why I wasn't too impressed when I started backpacking last year. But I'm growing to appreciate the mossy rocks, rushing streams, and colors of my native homeland. I met a guy from out west (US, that is) on a trip to Glacier. He went on and on about the lushness of the greens and the abundance of water everywhere. He'd seen bigger mountains. I was the exact opposite, I appreciated the above treeline views. But it got me to thinking I shouldn't be so quick to dismiss what my area has to offer.

The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail is roughly 70 miles long. It basically climbs to the top of a ridge and follows it through the range, then drops down at the end. I had been on it a couple of times to shake out some gear stuff. Lots of rocky trail, rock outcroppings, trees, and the occasional stream. When the weather got unexpectedly good a couple weeks ago, I decided to sneak out for a night. I ended up doing the first section of the LHHT, starting in Ohiopyle, a cool little town along the Youghiogheny river mostly known for its rafting outfitters. It also has a cool natural waterslide section:



And some waterfalls (taken a couple weeks before with my youngest):



There isn't any dispersed camping along the trail, so you have to make reservations at one of the shelter areas. My plan was to take my tarp and try tarp camping, to lighten the load a little. I chickened out on it when I went to Glacier. Anyway, it was about 6.5 miles to the first shelter, about 1250 feet up and 1000 feet down. After the first couple miles, there is an outcrop with an overlook of sorts:



The red leaves seemed to be mostly on the ground, but there was a whole lot of gold:





A fair amount of ups and downs later, I got to the shelters, which can be up to a mile off the main trail. Here is a picture of me with all my friends at the creek near the shelters:



One of the cool things about the shelters (there are 5 per area) is that they all have fireplaces (playing around with the camera here):



Some people bring tarps in the winter to wrap the shelter. The state always has a big woodpile stocked at each shelter area. Might have to give that a try this winter.

Oh, and I got comfortable in there and bailed on the tarp camping thing. I pulled a tick off myself, it was getting cold, blah blah. I should have learned by now, but the only way that is getting done is if I go somewhere and don't have any other options.

Anyway, happy fall from PA. I'll vicariously enjoy all the trips everyone is able to do in better climates!

Sean
 

LarryBoy

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The water and the colors. Awesome! Just because it's close to home doesn't mean it's not cool, and your TR proves it. Love it.
 

McKee80

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Just because it's close to home doesn't mean it's not cool

Thanks! I agree, but there is something about flying across the country with just a backpack that you don't get when you can be in your own bed in 2 hours. I just need to adjust my mindset.
 

LarryBoy

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Thanks! I agree, but there is something about flying across the country with just a backpack that you don't get when you can be in your own bed in 2 hours. I just need to adjust my mindset.
Or.... just break down and move out here :)
 
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