#ICE2017 Helping The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail

I have been posting about local hiking since I started this blog and the @Christina_Skis social media handle. A fellow hiker and outdoor enthusiast, @HBFOutdoors, has created a team of other likeminded explorers in the area to create #ICE2017. Meaning Inspire, Connect and Experience the great outdoor recreation that western Pennsylvania has to offer.

I’ve put together a team of PA hikers and true outdoor enthusiasts for adventure and to give back to the outdoor community of Western Pennsylvania. We’ll be exploring various trails, sharing our adventures, volunteering, and inspiring others to connect with the outdoors for awesome experiences. – Brian Ford, HBFOutdoors

You can view the entire #ICE2017 team at hikebyfaith.com. Brian plans to end the season with a backpacking trip along the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail to raise support for the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail Shelters Fund.

The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail has provided 40 Adirondack style shelters to hikers for over 40 years. As a result, it has introduced many to a lifelong passion for backpacking. Some of these shelters are under restoration to working order. However, 2017 may be the last last year for four shelter areas. The Route 56, Grindle Ridge, Route 31, and the Pennsylvania Turnpike are in need.

     Finally, renewed hope comes in the form of a $10,000 grant from REI to restore these remaining shelters. Now, PA Parks & Forests is asking for your support. Still, there is $14,000 remaining in need to restore these remaining shelters. As of June 22, 2017, they have reached 14% of their goal.

How to Help

You can learn more about the shelters fund and donate, at the PA Parks & Forests Foundation.

Shelter images were taken with permission from the LHHT Facebook page.

Pretty Views in You Don’t Have To Hike To Near Ohiopyle

Waterfalls and scenic views in Western PA are plenty, but if you want to get away from the city, many of these destinations require some hiking and even trailblazing to find. Let’s face it; sometimes, you’re just feeling lazy but need some inspiration for your Instagram account, or Grandma is in town and you want to show around. You know a trip to the Laurel Highlands is in store! Plus – add 10 brownie points if the visit is in October because of the spectacular reds, golds and oranges of Pennsylvania’s foliage.

THE SUMMIT OVERLOOK | Route 40 East, Hopwood

Take in the ultimate in scenic viewing without really moving. Drive on up “the mountain” and pull off to the right at the Scenic View signage. Roll down the window, take in the sunset ahead and listen to the semi-trucks behind. 

 

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Other Ways To See It: Find this view again without much effort at Laurel Caverns. Or, if a hike is on your mind, pull off the road sooner at Lick Hollow and hike Pine Knob Trail 2 miles uphill. 

OHIOPYLE FALLS | Ohiopyle State Park
  1. Park 2. Walk 3. See. This PA state park gem is in the bag for “Best Day Ever,” especially if you likes ice cream from nearby Falls Market. Even better, relax with a craft beer from Falls City Pub around the corner.
 

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Other Ways to See It: Use the easy Ferncliff Trails to hike around the peninsula and end up on the other side of the falls. The end of this hike will take you alongside the river and winds through river rocks and the water pools.

Cucumber Falls | Ohiopyle State Park

This is a FAN FAVORITE. I repeat, this is a fan favorite. A beautiful waterfall that is easy to access, but plan this view accordingly: you will encounter major crowds in the summer or icy steps in the winter (falling on your ass is worth it).

 

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Baughman Rock | Ohiopyle State Park

This view is also an Ohiopyle fan favorite but no one will be standing in front of yout spectacular view! Think “Pennsylvania gorge,” but not quite “Grand Canyon” and make note to come back to this spot in autumn, too.

Other Ways To See It: As with most mountain views, hike up. Parking – take a right past Falls Market in Ohiopyle there will be a lot alongside the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail. Baughman trail is marked at the end of the lot. Go straight once you enter the trailhead. Taking a right will take you on another path.

Fallingwater or Kentuck Knob | Mill Run & Chalkhill, PA

Last but certainly not least in this area, these two homes were designed by the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Fallingwater is the most popular, with the gorgeous house built over a waterfall, but Kentuck has views of the Laurel Highlands countryside and a river gorge (which the original owners covered up with trees) that is quite fantastic.

Other scenes nearby

At 3,200 feet, Mount Davis the highest mountain in Pennsylvania, and a lookout tower allows you to climb even higher. Other options allow you to head further southeast past Ohiopyle to Swallow Falls in Maryland or about an hour into West Virginia to Blackwater Falls. Both have scenic vistas and falls you can get to easily, or hike around if you prefer. Want more? Check out the UncoveringPA Blog for more scenic views across the state of Pennsylvania that you don’t have to hike to.

Western PA Hideaway – Lick Hollow

On your way to Ohiopyle, stop here for a quiet hike or picnic under mountaintops before arriving to the summer crowds at the popular state park.

  • Park: Lick Hollow in Forbes State Forest
  • Location: Along Route 40 East, incline headed up to the summit.
  • Trail Type: Out & Back, 4 Miles

Pine Knob Trail & Overlook

As for trails in the area, there are 4. We chose Pine Knob Trail, a 2 mile hike to an all-natural overlook over the Laurel Highlands. The beginning of the trail was covered in ferns and gnats but quickly moved into the traditional rocky style hike that Pennyslvania loves to present. We hiked through one switchback and eventually ended at a fork in the road where we chose to walk left and ended walking onto what looked like a quad or snowmobile trail with a few other entrances to other paths. We easily found the right way to hike (straight through to continue along the path) after backtracking a few feet. Duh. Soon after, we arrived at a rocky ledge with a view that resembles that of the pull-off along the summit and route 40, but of course, the journey and the arrival experience here is much better.

Lick Hollow in Forbes State Forest, Fayette County

“Just 2 miles long, and stretches from the picnic area to the Pine Knob overlook. The trail parallels Lick Run for parts of its length, but it is a rugged trail for the most part. Trail elevation changes roughly 700 feet from the lowest 1,440 feet above sea level at the picnic area, to approximately 2,130 feet at Pine Knob Overlook. However, nothing to worry about as it’s only Pennsylvania. Prepare for a 4 hour roundtrip. Pack plenty of liquids during the summer and warm clothes in the winter.” – Trail Map (View Here)

Hike to another area of Forbes State Forest, Quebec Run Wild Area, start here with Whitetail Trail. A 9.5 mile journey will get you to the top of the mountain into Farmington, PA. Farmington is full of history, and offers tourist sites such as Fort Necessity National Battlefield and Braddock’s Grave. #GeorgeWashingtonWasHere

This area is a great spot if you’re a local looking to get away into the woods minus the Ohiopyle crowds or a visitor that wants a beautiful aerial view of western PA with a nice hike to boot.