“Explore the varied terrain and woodlands of the North Woods Trail System and the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail.”
— Joe Triebsch
Birding · Fall Colors
This hike makes use of the four primary trails in the North Woods Trail System and two sections of the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail
(LHHT). For the most part, the hike is a loop with a short out-and-back on a portion of the LHHT. While the hike is generally through forested areas, there are a few places that open to more distant views.
Need to Know
The North Woods trails (blue blazing) can be used for hiking, running, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, mountain biking and some horseback riding. The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail
is a designated hiking, backpacking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing trail. Mountain biking and other types of travel are prohibited.
The North Woods warming hut is open year-round, but overnight use is prohibited. There are two rustic outhouses behind the warming hut. Wood is provided for the wood stove.
The hike begins in the parking area along Tunnel Road, which is off of PA-31. After crossing Tunnel Road, it shortly intersects with a trail that parallels Tunnel Road. Take this trail to the left, and begin a short steep climb along the tree line. About 0.2 miles, the trail intersects with the Loop Trail
and an open field. In the field, a sign for the North Woods Trail directs the hiker to the left and a short climb to where the trail crosses Tunnel Road.
After crossing the road to the North Woods Trail entrance and approximately 0.25 miles into the North Woods Trail (NWT), the hike intersects the LHHT (yellow blazes). Continue on the NWT until it meets the LHHT for the second time. At this intersection, turn left onto the LHHT and follow this trail to the intersection with the Mountain View Trail. It's near this intersection that you'll find the North Woods warming hut.
The hike turns left onto Mountain View Trail Loop
and begins a long, gradual ascent to the high point of the hike. Along the way, you'll cross Tunnel Road twice. After the second crossing, the hike begins to descend for about 1.5 miles. As you near the bottom of the valley, the LHHT again is intersected and the hike turns left on to it.
The hike now follows the LHHT to the Mile 35 trail marker (the turn-around point). Backtracking, the hike comes to Shafer Run Road (gravel road), and the hike turns left onto the road. A pleasant 0.4 mile descent on the road brings the hike to a right turn onto the Shafer Run access road (see gate). The hike follows this non-maintained road past an intersection with Mountain View Trail and bears to the left crossing Shafer Run. The access road brings the hike to the aforementioned warming hut.
The hike now follows Shafer Run Trail Loop
which begins opposite the clearing from the warming hut. On Shafer Run Loop Trail
, begin a gradual ascent (note, do not take the immediate right turn on the trail). Shafer Run Loop Trail
has one long switchback as it ascends and descends to an intersection with the Loop Trail
after crossing a small bridge. Turn left onto the Loop Trail
and follow for 0.3 miles to an intersection with a sign pointing to the Tunnel Road parking area. Follow this part of the Loop Trail
back to Tunnel Road and the starting point of the hike.