Laurel Hill (Pennsylvania)


Laurel Hill (Pennsylvania)

Infobox Mountain
Name = Laurel Hill
Photo = Laurel Ridge Mountain.jpg
Caption = Laurel Hill from Ligonier, Pennsylvania
Elevation = 2,994 feet (749 m)
Location = Pennsylvania, USA
Range = Allegheny Mountains
Prominence =
Topographic
USGS Ohiopyle, Mill Run, Kingwood, Seven Springs, Bakersville, Ligonier, Boswell, Rachelwood, Vintondale, Johnstown, New Florence (PA) Quadrangle
First ascent = unknown
Easiest route = drive up and hike

Laurel Hill, also known as Laurel Ridge, is a 70 mile long moutain located in Pennsylvania's Allegheny Mountains. This mountain is flanked by Negro Mountain to its east and Chestnut Ridge to its west. The mountain is home to six State Parks; Laurel Ridge State Park, Laurel Mountain State Park, Linn Run State Park, Kooser State Park, Laurel Hill State Park, and the Ohiopyle State Park. The mountain also holds the 70 mile long Laurel Highlands Hiking trail that runs along its length.

Two State Forests are also located on this mountain ridge that comprise over 22,000 acres, they are the Gallitzin State Forest and the Forbes State Forest. State Game Lands 42 and 111 are also located on the mountain which also comprise a little over 22,000 acres.

Laurel Hill has an average elevation of convert|2700|ft|m|abbr=on along its length, while there are individual "knobs" that do rise above convert|2900|ft|m|abbr=on . The highest point is above the Seven Springs Ski Resort at convert|2994|ft|m|abbr=on. Laurel Hill is flanked on it's north end by the Conemaugh Gorge and on it's south end by the Youghiogheny Gorge, both water gaps being approximately convert|1700|ft|m|abbr=on in depth.

The towns of Johnstown and Latrobe are located on its northern end, while Confluence and Farmington are located towards its southern end. Two major roadways cross the Laurel Hill, the Pennsylvania Turnpike and U.S. Route 30 crosses further north. A numer of smaller State roads crosses at other points on the mountain.

Geology

Laurel Hill is made up of Sedimentary rocks, these rocks form on the surface of the earth by consolidation of deposits of loose materials called sediment which has been produced by the breakdown of existing rocks. These rocks may be further subdivided into the following categories; Conglomerate, Sandstone, Siltstones, and Shale. It is these rocks that form the massive ridge that we see today.

Along the length of this ridge there are several prominent knobs that rise from the ridgeline, they are as follows south to north; Sugarloaf Knob convert|2667|ft|m|abbr=on, Painter Rock Hill convert|2920|ft|m|abbr=on, Birch Rock Hill convert|2934|ft|m|abbr=on, Highpoint convert|2994|ft|m|abbr=on, Bald Knob convert|2930|ft|m|abbr=on, Ulery Hill convert|2820|ft|m|abbr=on , Pea Vine Hill convert|2900|ft|m|abbr=on, Pikes Peak convert|2840|ft|m|abbr=on and Sugar Camp Hill convert|2908|ft|m|abbr=on.

Climate

The Laurel Hill region shares the humid continental climate of the Middle Atlantic Region of the United States. The mountain ridge itself however has an influence on the local weather patterns, known as orography. This influence on local patterns can cause air temperatures to be several degrees cooler than the surrounding towns and valleys. A difference of 5-10 degrees cooler can be noted depending on weather variables.

The mountain ridge is oriented at right angles to approaching weather systems, forcing the prevailing westerly airflows upward. As rising air cools, moisture in the air mass condenses, once reaching the saturation point, precipitation results. Laurel Hill may also act as a barrier to systems and slow the movement of storms having an impact on the local area, forming a "micro-climate". Although this mountain is not high enough to create its own weather, its structure is enough to gently nudge weather from hot to warm, cool to cold and from rain to snow.

Wildlife

Laurel Hill has a diversity of habitats and with that comes a variety of birds and mammals. The Raven and Wild Turkey are frequently seen on this mountain. The Hermit Thrush, Canada Warbler, Brown Creeper, and Winter Wren all nest near the bog at Spruce Flats. During the summer months, Black-Throated and Blue Warblers, Solitary and Red-Eyed Vireos are seen. Raptors on the mountain include the Broad Winged, Red Tailed and Red Shouldered Hawks, along with Barred Owls.

Commonly seen mammals on the mountain include; White-tailed deer, chipmunks, Red and Gray squirrels. More elusive animals include the Woodchuck, Raccoon, and Opossum. Black Bear have also been seen on this mountain but are shy and reclusive and not likely to be come across.

Snakes also make their home on Laurel Hill including the Timber Rattler and Copperhead snakes. Caution should be exercised during the summer months when hiking around rocks and scree areas.

References

Sierra Club, Pennsylvania Chapter,(1991) "A Hiker's Guide to the Laurel Highlands Trail", Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

Beck, Michael, George Cannelos, John Clark, William Curry and Charles Loehr (1975) The Laurel Hill Study. Laurel Highlands Conservation and Development Project; Furnace Run, Laughlintown, Pennsylvania.

Dutcher, Russell R., John C. Ferm, Norman K. Flint and E.G. Williams (1959) Field Trip #2: The Pennsylvanian of Western Pennsylvania. In: Guidebook for Field Trips Pittsburgh Meeting, 1959. Geological Society of America, Boulder, Colorado.

Alan R. Geyer (1979) "Outstanding Geologic Features of Pennsylvania", Geological Survey of Pennsylvania

Charles H. Shultz (1999) "The Geology of Pennsylvania", Geological Survey of Pennsylvania ISBN 0-8182-0227-0

Jere Martin (1997) "Pennsylvania Almanac" published by: Stackpole Books ISBN 0-8117-2880-3


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