Many state parks country-wide are open or accessible only during certain seasons. Winters can make navigating almost impossible, while summers are so hot that a visit isn’t enjoyable. However, resting in southwestern Pennsylvania is a park you can visit any season to enjoy family fun. Let’s learn how to plan your perfect visit to Laurel Hill State Park!
Where Is Laurel Hill State Park?
The park is west of the city of Somerset, north of New Centerville, east of Seven Springs, and south of Interstate 76. You can find Laurel Hill State Park is in the southwestern part of Pennsylvania.
It’s easily accessible from Pittsburgh, about a 90-minute drive southeast. This state park is also less than an hour from the borders of West Virginia and Maryland. You can reach Morgantown, West Virginia, in about 90 minutes.
About Laurel Hill State Park
Over 4,000 acres of state park and state forest lands lie within Laurel Hill State Park, and the 63-acre Laurel Hill Lake is also a focal point of the park. It’s open daily year-round from sunrise to sunset.
Keep in mind, the park office, beach, and overnight areas are only available during specific seasons and hours. Popular activities include paddling, hiking, picnicking, fishing, hunting, mountain biking, snowmobiling, and wildlife watching.
Things to Do for a Perfect Visit to Laurel Hill State Park
There are many activities at this state park. Whether you want to relax on Laurel Hill Lake or enjoy burning calories on a biking trail, there’s something for everyone here. The park is an excellent location for an hour of exploration or a whole day of family fun.
Explore the Hemlock Natural Area at the Center of the Hemlock Trail
The Hemlock Trail Natural Area contains massive eastern hemlocks 200-300 years old. Some measure up to 3.5 feet in diameter. The upper loop includes black cherry, yellow birch, beech, maples, and oaks.
The trail has twenty boxes for birds, so catching sight of a tree swallow or eastern bluebird is highly likely. You might also see red-tailed hawks or screech owls depending on the season and time of day you visit.
Cast a Line at the Old Mill Picnic Area
Warm water and cold water fish thrive in Laurel Hill Lake. Anglers can try their hand at catching bass, trout, catfish, suckerfish, bluegill, perch, crappie, and sunfish. Laurel Hill Creek and Jones Mill Run are excellent trout streams for anglers who would instead focus on trout.
A handicap-accessible bridge over Laurel Hill Creek is a prime location for casting a line. You can also go ice fishing in the winter season. You need a fishing license for anyone over age 16, and permits are not available at the park.
Bike or Hike the Copper Kettle Trail to the Beach Area
This 1.25-mile out-and-back trail in Laurel Hill State Park has an easy rating and is open to hiking and biking. There are restrooms, potable water, and picnic tables along the trail.
The trail consists of crushed stone and meanders along the western shoreline of Laurel Hill Lake. After fishing at the Old Mill Picnic Area, you can follow the Copper Kettle Trail to the beach area. This trail is ADA accessible.
Eat Lunch by Laurel Hill Lake
At the beach area at the end of the Copper Kettle Trail, there are picnic tables to enjoy lunch. There’s also access to playground equipment, horseshoe pits, and a sand volleyball court.
Plan on spending a few hours at Laurel Hill State Park, so pack a few sandwiches, chips, and fruit and enjoy the beautiful scenery at the lake. Between playing, fishing, hiking, biking, and swimming, you’ll be ready for a savory lunch!
Rent Boats and Enjoy the Water
Authorities only allow electric motors on Laurel Hill Lake. There are 30 mooring sites and two boat launches if you want to bring your vessel. However, if you don’t have a boat, you can still enjoy the water by renting a boat at the beach.
From Memorial Day through Labor Day, visitors can rent rowboats, paddle boats, canoes, kayaks, hydro bikes, and stand-up paddleboards.
Go Snowmobiling Into Forbes State Forest
When the weather turns cold in southwestern Pennsylvania, snowmobiling is one of the most fun activities at Laurel Hill State Park. The 10-mile trail system connects with a more than 120-mile trail system in Forbes State Forest. The forest is almost 59,000 acres. In late December, after deer season, snowmobilers can hit the trails for hours of winter fun.
Traveler’s Tip: If you have the need for speed, use these tips on how to Take a Below Ground ATV Tour at Mines and Meadows.
Can You Camp at Laurel Hill State Park?
There are 262 campsites at the state park. Only 149 have electric hook-ups, and some sites have full hook-ups. There is also access to flush toilets, showers, dump stations, and potable water on-site. Even though the park is open year-round, the campground is only open from mid-April to the third Sunday in October.
Enjoy a Perfect Day in Any Season at Laurel Hill State Park
The beauty of this state park extends through all seasons. View the budding wildflowers in spring or watch the colorful leaves fall in the Hemlock Trail Natural Area. Hit the trails on a snowmobile in winter, or bring your hiking stick in summer.
Activities are available for all ages and abilities, so the next time you visit southwestern Pennsylvania, pack a lunch and drive to Laurel Hill State Park.
What activity do you think your family will enjoy most? Tell us in the comments.
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