In late July, Mount Davis will host the Mt. Davis Challenge, a 40- and 56-mile bike race to the top of Pennsylvania’s highest peak. The course starts in Confluence and from there, cyclists ride to the 3,213-foot peak before descending on the mountain’s eastern side. If you’re not a cyclist, though, you’re probably wondering how you can reach the peak without a bike. Fortunately, that’s where we come in. We’ve collected the best trails to hike to the top of Mount Davis.
Nestled among the Allegheny Mountains in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, Mount Davis stands as the 33rd-highest peak in the U.S. But it wasn’t always. Before the U.S. Geological Survey established the record in 1921, the state’s highest peak was believed to be Blue Knob, which stands 3,146 feet tall.
Today, the Mount Davis summit can be accessed by car and several hiking trails. For many, what makes it especially awesome is atop the peak is the Mount Davis Observation Tower, which has stood there since it was ceremoniously named the highest peak in Pennsylvania. The tower adds an extra 50 feet, so you can see above the trees and get you a 360-degree view of the surrounding Forbes State Forest.
For this list, we looked at the routes posted on websites like AllTrails and the Forbes State Forest. Overall, we found 10 trails listed, but there was only one trail considered moderately challenging, the Mount Davis Pennsylvania Highpoint Trail. The rest are much shorter.
Mount Davis Pennsylvania Highpoint Trail
According to AllTrails, the Mount Davis Pennsylvania Highpoint Trail is a 5.7-mile loop with 820 feet of elevation. It’s described as a popular trail for birding and hiking. As you make your way along the trail, you’ll find the forest dotted with large boulders and stunning elevated and river views. And it takes about 2.5 hours to complete the trail.
In recent reviews, people called it an “awesome day hike,” “fun,” a “fantastic trail,” and a “beautiful green tunnel,” but they also said it can get very muddy and host swarms of mosquitos. They also sent mixed messages about signage. Some say it’s good while others say it’s bad. Still, the Mount Davis Pennsylvania Highpoint Trail garners overall positive reviews.
- Distance: 5.7 miles
- Elevation: 820 feet
- Time: 2.5 hours
- Dogs allowed with leash
- The High Point Trail is a 0.8 mile trail that connects the Mount Davis Picnic Area and the High Point.
- The Mount Davis Trail is a 0.1 mile trail that connects Shelter Rock Road with the High Point.
- The Shelter Rock Trail is a 1 mile trail that start at the southeast portion of the observation loop and exits onto Shelter Rock Road.
- The Tub Mill Run Trail is a rocky 2.8-mile trail connecting the High Point Trail with South Wolf Rock Road.
- The Timberslide Trail is a 0.5 mile trail that connects Tub Mill Trail with Shelter Run Road.
- The Laurel Run Trail is a 1.9 trail that runs from Christner Road to South Wolf Rock Road.
- The Wolf Rock Trail is 0.8 miles trail that connects Laurel Run Trail and South Rock Road.
- The Shelter Rock Road runs 1.6 mile and serves as a hiking trail and acts as the eastern boundary of the Natural Area. It’s closed to vehicular traffic.
- The Livengood Trail runs 1.1 miles between Laurel Run Trail and South Wolf Rock Road.
Open All Year, No Fees
Also, according to those sites, the park allows hiking, cross-country skiing, and horseback riding on most or all trails. Plus, the park and trails are open year-round, but they might be overgrown in the summer and blanketed with snow in the winter. Lastly, the park does not require permits or fees to access the trails either.