One of the great things about living in Pittsburgh is the wide accessibility of fantastic hiking trails. Last weekend I was lucky to experience one of the local classics, the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail. The LHHT is 70 miles, extending from its origin in Ohiopyle to the terminus just north of Johnstown.
After a small climb in the beginning, the trail follows a ridge, travels through a number of state parks, and takes hikers through a lush forest. We saw a large variety of plants, trees, and wildlife, including two black bear cubs. I’m pretty sure we were on the trail between the cubs and their mother, so we grabbed the dog and hiked out of that area quickly!
These little eft newts were all along the trail. My friend, Rachael, carefully moved each and every one of them to safety on the side of the trail.
Covering the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail
One of the really nice things about this backpack trip is that there are shelters intermittently spaced all along the trail which means you don’t have to carry a tent. You can view the locations of the shelters and reserve them online here: http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/lhht/
A shelter is plenty roomy for two hikers and a dog!
Rachael, her dog, Petty, and I covered the trail in three days, which may be a bit fast for most people, but if you break the hike up into a four- to five-day trip, you can do the trip at a very comfortable pace.
As a side note about hiking with your dog, Petty is a dog who runs and hikes long distances daily. In addition to being well conditioned, she is always kept current on her rabies and leptospirosis vaccines and was double covered for ticks by having a fresh dose of Frontline Plus and by wearing a Preventic collar. She had the additional benefit of traveling with two capable veterinarians, and we carried medication for giardia in case she became sick from drinking from the mountain streams. Petty is also trained to stay at the heels of her owner always and is never allowed to chase or otherwise antagonize the wildlife.