Published by Jeremy. Last Updated on February 5, 2021.
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Laurel Summit State Park is an interesting one as it is technically only just six acres in size and can be found within Forbes State Forest surrounding it on all sides.
So while all the highlights you may expect to see when visiting this one are technically in Forbes State Forest, they're often described as being part of Laurel Summit State Park thanks to the trailheads mostly being within Laurel Summit. (The state park maps show this as such as well.)
While this is a somewhat odd naming convention, we're sticking with calling the sights as part of Laurel Summit State Park all the same, and there are several interesting things to see here!
What You Can See at Laurel Summit State Park
One of our favorite highlights of Laurel Summit State Park is an odd natural feature you wouldn't expect to find in southwest Pennsylvania- Spruce Flats Bog! This 28-acre bog is found at 2,720 feet above sea level and was formed as the result of water collecting in a depression in the mountain.
Over time, the bog turned into an environment where trees could grow and became a forest. In the 1900s workers in the lumber industry cut down many of the trees and the area reverted back to a bog to start the process over again.
Now apart from seeing a massive field of soggy peat, you may also be lucky enough to spot many birds, salamanders, and some carnivorous plants as well (although spotting these is easier said than done). When visiting, also look out to the treeline to see the wind effect on the treetops!
We'll be the first to say that a visit to the bog portion of the part will be quick. It is only a short quarter-mile trail from the parking lot to a viewing platform, so to make a larger day out of it you may want to go on a hike or two!
From there, you'll do well to go on a hike to a lookout at either Wolf Rocks or Beam Rocks- two spots with large boulders and incredible vistas overlooking the Laurel Highlands that really round out a visit.
Hiking at Laurel Summit State Park
If you want to visit Laurel Summit State Park solely to see Spruce Flats Bog, you're in luck- this one is easily accessible with a quick, roughly five-minute walk from the parking lot on a relatively flat, gravel pathway.
For those who want a bit more of a hike, you have some options on your hands as you explore nearby.
One of the more popular trails here is the nearly 5-mile loop to Wolf Rocks on two aptly named trails- Wolf Rocks Trail and Wolf Rocks Trail Loop (the entrance to the trail is on the other side of the parking lot from the bog trail and hard to miss).
The naming convention of these trails can be confusing, so it is worth noting that starting from the parking lot your only option is the Wolfs Rocks Trail. About a mile in the trail breaks off into two, with one path still being called the Wolfs Rocks Trail and one being the Wolf Rocks Loop. Both of these connect up to Wolf Rocks at their end but provide an opportunity to turn an out-and-back trail into a loop if you wish to do both.
For the easier hike, we recommend sticking to the Wolf Rocks Trail. We found the Wolf Rocks Loop to have some grade changes and was a bit more rocky- not so much to the point of being difficult, but just a bit more of a challenge than the mostly flat Wolf Rocks Trail. When heading out on the Wolf Rocks Trail, you'll likely see a few trails pop out to lookouts to your right that head to other lookouts with an additional few minutes of hiking.
Before leaving the park, you should also consider driving just a bit further east down Laurel Summit Road to find a small parking area to access the short trail to Beam Rocks- another beautiful rock formation with a lookout that is less than two miles of out-and-back hiking.
While Laurel Summit State Park is technically on the smaller end, it is a great gateway to get out and check out some hikes within Forbes State Forest. Throw in a quick visit to the unique Spruce Flats Bog, and you have the makings of a great couple of hours hiking in the Laurel Highlands!
Laurel Summit State Park is located on Linn Run Road in Somerset, PA.