Western Pennsylvania’s diverse nature provides an unending array of options for the backpacking community. Countless trails run alongside the many regions of our three major river systems that sweep along the wooded hillsides and rocky outcrops common to the area. Here are the best summer backpacking trips in Pittsburgh.
Ohiopyle State Park
Ohiopyle, PA 15470
Spread across more than 20,000 acres, Ohiopyle State Park is an ideal locale for a number of recreational activities. It offers variety in bike trails, picnic spots, trophy trout fishing and some of the most beautiful places around to spend a day or two backpacking. The state park also offers over 18,000 acres open to hunting, trapping and training dogs. Common game to be found in the park is deer, turkey, grouse, rabbit and squirrel. Click here to see the top 10 activities to do at Ohiopyle State Park.
Forbes State Forest
Forbes Forest District 4
1291 Route 30, P.O. Box 519
Laughlintown, PA 15655
Mount Davis, at an elevation of 3,212 feet, boasts the highest point in Pennsylvania. This peak of the Negro Mountain is located in Somerset County and surrounded by more than 5,000 acres of Forbes State Forest. Adventure seekers, mountaineers and backpackers alike come from miles around to experience glorious vistas and challenging terrain. For 30 contiguous miles, the elevation never drops below 3,000 feet and trail options can accommodate everyone from beginners to seasoned veterans. Camping here is open to backpackers in some undeveloped areas, as well as the six designated motorized campsites. Camp fires are allowed but under specific regulations. Check out the camp brochure for a better understanding of limitations.
McConnells Mill State Park
2697 McConnell’s Mill Road
The Slippery Rock Gorge Trail is ripe with geologic wonders that include natural bridges, caverns and even some abandoned coal mines that date back to the turn of the 20th century. As part of the North Country National Scenic Trail system, it is one part of a much larger trail system that stretches all the way from North Dakota to New York. The ominously named Hell’s Hollow trail is a favorite amongst backpackers and hikers.
Related: Best Camping Around Pittsburgh
Rachel Carson Trail Conservancy
P.O. Box 472
Wexford, PA 15090
The Rachel Carson Trail extends more than 38 miles from Harrison Hills County Park to North Park Beaver Shelter and represents a true challenge for backpackers and hikers alike. Test your mettle this summer at the 18th Annual Rachel Carson Challenge scheduled to take place on the first full day of summer, June 21, 2014. The Rachel Carson Challenge is limited to 600 participants ages 12 and up. There is also a half challenge, 17 miles in length, and a family-friendly seven-mile option to accommodate a wider range of backpackers and hikers.
Green River Trail
Green County Fairgrounds
107 Fairgrounds Road
Waynesburg, PA 15370
The Green River Trail culls much of its popularity and appeal from the natural and historic beauty as it winds along the banks of the Monongahela River. It begins near the Greene Cove Yacht Club in Millsboro and ends at Crucible Road in the town of Crucible. The relatively short trail, 5.2 miles in length, is moderately challenging and many backpackers opt to park a “shuttle” vehicle at Crucible Road. But, for the more serious backpackers, a round trip that effectively doubles the distance traveled is preferred.
Related: Top Hiking Spots
Marcel Tourdot is a freelance writer from Pittsburgh. His work can be found at Examiner.com.