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Backpack Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail
09/01/2019 Region: Pennsylvania/New Jersey Activity Type: Backpacking Place: Ohiopyle to Rt. 30 Near Ligonier, PA
I will be backpacking the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail in Western PA in mid-September 2019 NOBO from Ohiopyle PA to near Ligonier PA, then SOBO back to Ohiopyle. Going shelter-to-shelter at a moderate pace. Longest day 12.2 miles, shortest day 5.5 miles. There are shelters along the mostly ridgetop trail that we can reserve for our exclusive use, with tent and/or hammock camping adjacent. Each shelter accommodates up to four campers, and features a fireplace. Overflow would be able to camp in tents or hammocks nearby.
Precise dates have not been established yet but can be somewhat determined by participants who register. I'm thinking roughly September 10-24 but that can be flexible by a couple days. Everyone will need to supply their own gear, food, first aid, etc.
I've done this trail multiple times and can answer specific questions. The LHHT is a moderately difficult trail with some real easy and some more difficult short stretches. Google "Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail" for links to many trail descriptions and YouTube videos, including trail highlights. I plan to hike only the southern 46.2 miles each way (total trail is 70 miles each way). There are five shelter "campuses" within the 46.2 miles.
Each shelter campus features five shelter structures, campsites, water, pit toilets, shelter fireplaces and some fire rings, and pre-cut firewood. There are trailheads with parking near each campus, so participants do not need to hike the whole trail but can join and depart the hike according to their wants needs. Advance registration (and nominal fees) for each night camping must be paid in advance (state park). You can join for one, up to five nights, of camping, but each person will need to commit to specific dates of their choosing. Camping fees are nominal, per night, and I'll need non-refundable payment in full to submit with the reservation with contact info for each person. Pricing is viewable at https://www.dcnr.pa.gov/StateParks/StateParkPrices/Camping/Pages/default.aspx
Once I know what, if any, interest in this activity there is I would want to confer with those who inquire, schedule precise dates and make and pay for the required reservations. So as not to get shut out, the sooner the better -- let's say August 1 to make commitments and reservations. These shelter campuses provide the only legal overnight camping on the LHHT.