Linn Run State Park and Forbes State Forest
The humid days of summer have passed and fall is almost here. When I think of the inevitable chill to the air that is coming, hiking in the Laurel Highlands comes to mind.
Linn Run State Park is located in the heart of the Laurel Highlands. This mountain playground is the perfect canvas for those who crave the cooler air!
Linn Run is one of six state parks that lie within Forbes State Forest. Modest at 612-acres, Linn Run is often overshadowed by the 58,000+ acres of Forbes State Forest.
Today it is difficult to imagine what the land must have looked like at the turn of the 20th century. Linn Run State Park was the first major public purchase of denuded forest within the Ohio River Basin. It was purchased from the Byers and Allen Lumber Company in 1909, for a mere $42,662. At the time, this purchase was quite preposterous. The entire area was clear-cut and devoid of timber and wildlife. Three-fifths of the forest was burned in wildfires caused by railroads erected to haul away lumber.
Grove Run and Rock Run merge to form Linn Run, a shallow rocky stream widely known for being an excellent source of trout.
Linn Run has over 6 miles of hiking trails. Mountain bikes are not permitted on any of these trails. Most of the trails at Linn Run connect to Forbes State Forest, which is more friendly to mountain bikers.
We enjoyed a challenging hike on the Grove Run Trail, a 4-mile loop that originates in Linn Run. Although the majority of this hike takes place in Forbes State Forest, the trail concludes in Linn Run. This scenic trail will take hikers through a lush forest of mixed hardwood and evergreens, past tumbling waterfalls, and across a variety of trail surfaces.
As you follow the course of an old logging road, your feet will experience a wide array of emotions. They will hurt on the rocky stretches and delight in the sections of soft moss-covered carpet.
You will tread carefully over wet rocks and through mud. Portions of this trail are very wet throughout the year. I imagine that it could be quite treacherous in spring, after the snow has melted and rainfall is heavier.
This hike is no small endeavor. While the trail starts out at a moderate degree of difficulty, it abruptly changes as you begin your ascent up the mountain. We measured a 1,000 ft+ elevation change during our hike. In the latter part of the hike, you will cling narrowly to the slope of the mountain as you make your descent.
Even in the heat of summer, you may want to wear long pants on this hike to avoid the greenbrier and nettle that dominate the forest.
Grove Run Falls is a series of small but picturesque waterfalls. It is most impressive in periods of heavy, wet weather.
There are many unnamed waterfalls in Forbes State Forest.
I couldn’t pass up the chance to promote our blog on the trail register!
We wrapped up our visit hiking the Adams Falls Trail, a very rocky 1-mile loop. Adams Falls is nearly synonymous with Linn Run.
Signage and safety fencing show that you should stay on the trail. The trail will take you across a wooden footbridge above the waterfall. If you continue on the trail, there is a vantage point from which you see the waterfall; however, the view is obstructed by rhododendrons. There is a path to the right of the footbridge that gives a good viewing angle, although it’s questionable if it was intended to be taken as it skirts the safety fencing.
Although the main attraction of this trail is visible almost immediately, this is a trail worth finishing. We have never seen so many mushrooms in one place! In addition to the unusual mushrooms, other specimens of fungi are commonplace.
Traces of the Pittsburgh, Westmoreland and Somerset Railroad are found within the park. Its main line ran from Rector to Somerset.
If you decide to visit this park, you may want to take along a jug. We observed a few carloads stopping to take advantage of the natural spring water.
Regardless of which trail you choose to hike, the scenery is sure to charm.
Visitors will travel on the Laurel Highlands Scenic Byway as they enter and exit the park. This 68-mile stretch of road offers a supreme vantage point from which to enjoy the rambling hills and countryside of southwestern Pennsylvania.