One of our outdoorsy patrons had heard that there were some good trails in the mountainous area of southwestern Pennsylvania, but they couldn’t remember exactly where. We checked The Firefly Atlas of North America, The Rough Guide to the USA, and the internet to find the answer.
The Alleghenies and the Appalachians are the two main mountain ranges running through southern Pennsylvania. Our patron may have been thinking of the Laurel Highlands a scenic portion of the Alleghenies known for its whitewater rafting, biking and hiking trails, and fishing. It encompasses several state parks, including Laurel Ridge, Laurel Hill, Laurel Summit, Laurel Mountains, and Ohiopyle. The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, a 70-mile-long segment of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail, is popular. It’s marked with yellow blazes every hundred feet and has shelter areas every six to twelve miles.
If our patron is looking for something else, Robert Isenberg put together a list of twenty nearby biking and hiking trails for Pittsburgh Magazine. The relatively quiet Panhandle Trail is twenty-nine miles long, stretching from Carnegie, Pennsylvania, to the West Virginia border. The Great Allegheny Passage runs 150 miles from Pittsburgh to Maryland. It’s covered with asphalt and crushed limestone and built mainly on old rail beds, making it a good level trail for bicycling.
For more information, John Young’s book Hiking Pennsylvania is available through CLEVNET. If our patron would like to look at trails closer to home, we have a book here on the Midwest Rail-Trails, which covers Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin. We also have Diane Stresing’s Cleveland edition of 60 Hikes within 60 Miles.