There's always been something so exhilarating about standing on a high natural point, especially when it's the highest of an entire state. You have the option to camp primitively near the highest point of our favorite state - Pennsylvania. This is a great overnight or weekend trip!

This is a GREAT location for beginning backpackers with minimal backpacking rules, short trails and cell service. Although all trails (with a few exceptions found in this brochure -labeled as "Areas Closed to Camping") in the Forbes State forest allow primitive backpack camping (primitive backpack campers are those who camp at undeveloped sites, according to the PA DCNR), I'll be specifically describing camping along the Wolf Rock Trail as it is the simplest and closest to Mount Davis - the highest point of Pennsylvania. You're welcome to primitive camp in any portion of the State Forest as long as you're following the simple rules listed in the link above.

Getting to the Wolf Rocks Trailhead

I was concerned this was going to be difficult to find knowing that State Forests tend to be very primitive with minimal signage. Thankfully, the Wolf Rock Trailhead is directly across from Shelter Rock Road (this is a service road only) and is clearly labeled. My traveling companion and I were able to find the trailhead for the first time at night.

I would recommend getting directions to Mount Davis first and departing from there. You can explore the area, climb the observation tower for an amazing view and plan a trip to catch the sunrise from the tower. It's about a ten minute drive from the observation tower parking lot to the trailhead.

When departing the parking lot, you'll turn left onto South Wolf Rock Road - the road will quickly turn into a gravel road. About a half a mile in, you'll reach a Y in the road, stay left to continue on S. Wolf Rock Road. From there, you'll travel about 1.25 miles to the trailhead (total drive from the parking lot is about 2 miles). There is a small gravel parking area just before the trailhead on the right-hand side. You'll see a gate for Shelter Rock Road directly across the street.

Hike Wolf Rocks Trail

Now the rest of the hike is completely up to you! Take a map and be sure to explore around a bit to find a good, flat spot - it shouldn't take long. Your hike will begin with a very damp stretch of trail that will only last a few hundred feet. After that the trail is fairly flat and well marked. The site pictured is a very short hike in; I believe it took us 5 minutes from the car. You can always go deeper by following your map to a connecting trail (Laurel Run) and can even make a small loop out of it via the trails and S. Wolf Rock Road! 

Setup Camp

Once you find a flat spot, pitch your tent, collect some fallen firewood and get a small fire going (fires are allowed only if fire danger isn't HIGH) and enjoy the solitude of the highest point of Pennsylvania.

Cellular Service

The reason this area became one of my favorite adventure spots is because I wanted to stay somewhere close to Pittsburgh off the beaten path enough that I will go to sleep and wake up without having to worry about other people, but ironically enough needed cell service for work. I remembered that the last time I visited Mt. Davis I had cell service, so hoped to find a campsite also. I checked my phone a handful of times along Wolf Rocks trail and actually maintained service through most of Laurel Run Trail with both an AT&T and Verizon phone. 

Pack List

  • Tent (or hammock)
  • Sleeping bag & pad
  • Small backpack
  • Camera & tripod (for night photography)
  • Camping Permit (if camping longer than one night)
  • Ten Essentials (compliments of REI):
    • Navigation (map and compass)
    • Sun protection (sunglasses and sunscreen)
    • Sun protection (sunglasses and sunscreen)
    • Insulation (extra clothing)
    • Illumination (headlamp/flashlight)
    • First-aid supplies
    • Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candles)
    • Repair kit and tools
    • Nutrition (extra food)Hydration (extra water)Emergency shelter
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RT Distance 1.5 Miles
Elevation Gain 50 Feet
Activities Camping, Photography, Snowshoeing, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Picnic Area
Scenic
Wildflowers

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