The long-distance Lost Turkey Trail was built by the Youth Conservation Corps in 1976 and playfully named in tribute of the original trailblazers. This challenging trail provides a quiet passageway through the forest west of the Allegheny Front, before plunging down off the Front and then climbing steeply up to the second-highest point in Pennsylvania. The trail winds through parts of Somerset, Cambria, and Bedford Counties, cutting through Gallitzin State Forest, state game lands, and Blue Knob State Park. Backpack camping along the trail is permitted only in the state forest, creating a challenge in mapping out backpacking routes. Fee campgrounds are available at the state park, but these are near the trail’s northeastern terminus, near the ski area. The southwestern terminus of Lost Turkey Trail is at a parking lot on PA 56, across the road from Babcock Picnic Area, about 10 miles southeast of Johnstown.
From its southwestern terminus, Lost Turkey Trail leads for about 14 miles through easy to moderately challenging terrain along Pot Ridge. It then meets Little Break Hollow in the crest of the Allegheny Front, and the hiking becomes very challenging for the remainder of the route. The trail descends to Burnt House Picnic Area, crosses PA 869, and follows the edge of Forks Ridge above an impressive canyon. It then descends to beautiful Bobs Creek, climbs steeply up and down Hogback Ridge, and at mile 24 reaches a monument to two pioneer children who got lost in the area and died mysteriously in 1856, after which it begins a challenging climb to the top of Blue Knob.
Lost Turkey Trail was constructed on existing trails with the addition of some new connectors. It is marked with 2-by-6-inch red blazes. In the state forest section, part of the trail shares a pathway with an existing snowmobile trail, and in this area the red blazes share space with orange diamond-shaped blazes. Another part of the trail passes through private land; permission has been secured, but the landowners have requested the prohibition of fires, motorized vehicles, and littering. This creates another challenge for the planning of backpacking trips. Day hikes on Lost Turkey Trail are certainly possible, but the limited access points usually necessitate car shuttling.
An excellent map produced by Gallitzin State Forest prominently features Lost Turkey Trail and the nearby John P. Saylor Memorial Trail (see separate entry below). To obtain this map, and for further information, contact:
Gallitzin State Forest
P.O. Box 506
Ebensburg, PA 15931
►DCNR Gallitzin State Forest Information
►DCNR Lost Turkey Trail Information