With miles upon miles of picturesque trails, cross-country and telemark skiers flock to the Laurel Highlands each winter. The region offers trails for every skier, from beginner to advanced. See the natural beauty of the Laurel Highlands on a crisp winter hike at these parks, resorts and lodges.
Discover beautiful scenery and 15 miles of serene trails around the lake at Kooser State Park, marked with blue diamonds off of Route 31 near Hidden Valley. Access to these trails is free, and bathroom facilities can be found near parking.
More than 12 miles of trails for classic and back country cross-country skiing can be found at Laurel Mountain State Park, off of Route 30 at Forbes State Forest near Ligonier. Get out and enjoy an adventure with wonderful scenery, dog-friendly trails and gorgeous views.
Laurel Ridge State Park In Rockwood offers more than 18 miles of trails for everyone, from beginners to advanced cross-country skiers, with concessions and rentals available. Rentals can sell out quickly, so be sure to call ahead. To escape the cold, head to the warming hut with a wood burner, refreshments and bathroom facilities.
Cross-country skiing has been a fixture on Mystic Mountain since the 1970s, and the 1.5-mile trail takes you through some of the most stunning views of the Laurel Highlands. Rental equipment is available. Lessons are available, but on weekends only.
Savage River Lodge offers cross-country skiing and snowshoeing through 14 miles of trails. Plus, you'll stay in style at one of 18 luxury cabins and eight "glamping" (glamorous camping) yurts and recharge with gourmet American cuisine and an award-winning wine list.
Seven Springs Mount Resort is located next to the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail and other trails well-suited for cross-country skiing. Rentals are available in limited quantities.
Sugarloaf is a great resource for beginners, with an area for novice skiers to try their skills before trekking out to the trails. A warming hut and bathrooms can also be found nearby.
Cross-Country Skiing rentals are available at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, Savage River Lodge, Route 31 Bike, Board, and Ski, Laurel Ridge (which sells out fast on busy weekends) and Seven Springs Mountain Resort (limited quantities).
Best for intermediate to advanced skiers, these backcountry, ungroomed trails offer remote terrain and wonderful conditions. Create your own loop through the trails and find thrilling downhills and intense uphill cardio. A telemark skier’s dream, the North Woods will be an exciting challenge and have you dropping knees, not to mention the views you’ll see along the way are gorgeous.
Insider Tips: Park at the “top lot” along Tunnel Road to start with a mild downhill and go right for a long downhill. Cross the bridge and ski the trail clockwise for a challenging downhill to the warming hut or ski counter-clockwise for a mild downhill and long, busting uphill. For a different challenge, park at the “lower lot,” where four-wheel drive is a must, and end your day with a wonderful downhill.
Strap on some snowshoes and take in in the fresh mountain air and incredible views at Seven Springs Mountain Resort or Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, or rent your own and check out the trails at our local and state parks. Snowshow rentals and trails can also be found at Laurel Ridge.
If you already have snowshoeing equipment, the 70-mile Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, which links Ohiopyle State Park with Laurel Ridge State Park, runs north to south along Laurel Mountain, from the Conemaugh Gorge near Johnstown to Ohiopyle. If you plan on tackling the trail over multiple days, overnight Adirondack-style sleeping shelters are found every 8-10 miles along the trail, just be sure to reserve in advance.