When snow starts to cover the trees and trails in state parks and forests, the Laurel Highlands turns into a winter wonderland of fun! Adventurers of all ages and skill levels can find a snowy weather activity enjoy while conquering cabin fever.
While any snowy hill does the trick, there are several areas designated for sledding in Laurel Highlands state parks that will take sledding trips to the next level! several state parks in the Laurel Here are just a few of the places where you can enjoy snow day fun:
- Laurel Hill State Park has a designated area for sledding located in the field loop area of the campground, which is well-lit on weekends until 9 p.m., as conditions permit. The park also provides a large fire ring and wood, which is perfect for warming up between runs.
- Ohiopyle State Park has a hill maintained for sledding in the Sugarloaf Snowmobile and Mountain Bike Area, adjacent to the parking area..
- Keystone State Park permits sledding on slopes in the park. Grab your favorite sled and set off to find the perfect hill!
If you have your own snowmobile, explore miles and miles of trails open for riders in Laurel Highlands’ state parks. Forbes State Forest has more than 115 miles of groomed road calling your name!
With miles upon miles of picturesque trails, cross-country skiing is an extremely popular winter sport in the Laurel Highlands. Skiers of all skill levels, from beginner to advanced, can find a trail to take a crisp winter hike and enjoy the natural beauty of the Laurel Highlands.
- Kooser State Park features beautiful scenery and heavy snowfall at a high elevation, which provides prime condition for cross-country skiing. The easy 1.5 miles marked with blue diamonds is perfect for all skiers, especially beginners. There is also a 20-mile ski touring concession that can be found adjacent to the PA 653 parking area of Laurel Ridge State Park.
- Adjacent to the PA 653 parking lot nearby Laurel Ridge State Park, you can find a cross-country ski touring concession that provides more than 20 miles of trails. The surfaces are groomed and perfect for booth classic and freestyle skiing. Also, certain sections of the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail are suitable for cross-country skiing, but please contact the park for details.
- Forbes State Forest has two designed areas for cross-country skiing, both with blue-blazed trails. The North Woods Trail System contains wider groomed trails while Laurel Mountain Trail System features more narrow and winding paths. In both systems, you'll find a warming hut complete with picnic tables and a wood stove.
- Ohiopyle State Park boasts 34 miles of groomed cross-country trails, including The Sprouls Trails and a section of Kentuck Trail, which were both created for the popular activity. With a decent amount of snow, the Great Allegheny Passage is also good for cross-country skiing.
If you own a pair of snowshoes, head to the trails in Laurel Highlands' local and state parks to enjoy the crisp mountain air and incredible views. If you don't have your own pair, start your adventure at Laurel Ridge State park and rent a pair! The 70-mile Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, which runs north to south along Laurel Mountain and links Ohiopyle State Park with Laurel Ridge State Park, makes for a great snowshoeing trail. If you're in it for the long haul to conquer all 70 miles, overnight Adirondack-style sleeping shelters are found every 8-10 miles along the trail. Reserve your stay in advance.
Trail Tips and Etiquette
- Avoid walking in the ski tracks.
- Dress in layers! Waterproof gloves, breathable pants, an insulated jacket, tall wool socks, a hat and waterproof boots are necessary.
- If you are skiing with pets, keep them on a leash and clean up after them.
- Synthetic, water-wicking clothing is best. Do not wear cotton, it will hold water and make you colder.
- Bring a dry change of clothes and comfy shoes to wear for the rest of your adventurous day in the Laurel Highlands.
- To keep toasty, hand and feet warmers are recommended.
- Pack a snack and water bottle to hydrate and refuel during a break.
- Be sure to bring your trail map along to help you navigate.
- Charge your cell phone before heading out on the trails and be prepared for limited service.
- Yield to faster skiers.
- Leave no trace! Be the best outdoor enthusiast that you can be and leave nothing behind but your tracks in the snow.