John P. Saylor Trail

John P. Saylor Trail

John P. Saylor Trail
Length 17 mi (27 km)
Location Gallitzin State Forest, Pennsylvania, United States
Trailheads Babcock Picnic Area,
Windber, Pennsylvania
Use Hiking
Highest point 2,580 ft (790 m)
Lowest point 2,180 ft (660 m)
Hiking details
Trail difficulty Easy
Season Year round
Hazards Severe weather
Poison ivy

The John P. Saylor Trail is a predominantly flat double-loop trail located on the edge of the Allegheny Plateau, southeast of the town of Windber in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. This trail is named after Congressman John P. Saylor, who represented Pennsylvania from 1949 to 1973. He was a conservationist with a deep concern for the environment. While in Congress, Saylor sponsored the National Scenic Trails Act and supported national wilderness preservation.

The northern loop of the John P. Saylor Trail is approximately 12 miles (19 km) in length and the southern loop is about 5 miles (8.0 km) long. The entire trail is a little over 17 miles (27 km) long and can be hiked in a single day, but more typically done in two days. There is a shelter erected on the southern loop that permits camping for an overnight backpack trip.

In the spring the trail is very wet with many springs and streams leading to marshy areas. On parts of the trail there is well preserved evidence of the former railroad grades. The trail crosses Clear Shade Creek by a narrow suspension bridge into the Clear Shade Wild Area, where the southern Middle Ridge Loop is located.


As with most long distance trails in Pennsylvania, the John P. Saylor Trail is blazed with orange. Side and connecting trails, such as the Bog and Boulder Trail or the Fisherman's Path, are blazed yellow. Cross-country skiing trails are blazed blue.


The entry point for the trail is in Gallitzin State Forest, at the Babcock Picnic Area on Pennsylvania Route 56. During winter months the picnic area is closed and trail head parking can be found along Route 56 a short distance from the entrance to the picnic area. Located within the picnic area is a signboard indicating the start of the trail. From here the hiker can go either left or right on the John P. Saylor Trail, traveling in either a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction, and eventually return to this spot if the entire loop is completed. An optional parking area is located at the northern end of Shade Road, just off route PA56. Shade Road is closed from the middle of December until mid-March but this parking area is located adjacent to the gated road and accessible year round.

Points of interest

There are no vistas on this trail but there are various points of interest to be observed. These include the scenic but heavily vandalized Wolf Rocks, bog viewing from an elevated platform on the Bog and Boulder Trail, remnants of a splash dam from the logging era, large meadows formed by beaver activity, the swinging suspension bridge over Clear Shade Creek, and the Adirondack shelter.

External links

  • Pennsylvania DCNR website about the John P. Saylor Trail
  • Description of several hikes on the John P. Saylor Trail
  • John P. Saylor Trail Guidebook and Map
  • Virtual Hike on the John P. Saylor Trail