It is a 17-mile stretch of trail that goes from Babcock Park just outside of Windber to the top of Blue Knob state Park.
It is well marked and not a real hard hike. Well, that is until you get out around Route 869 and the Burnt House Picnic Area. This section of trail to Blue Knob will have you huffing and puffing as you climb some really steep terrain, only to plunge down the other side and then back up another steep climb, and then back down. And you not done yet. Now it is an almost non-stop climb to where the old Blue Knob Fire Towers use to be. But let me break the trail down into some interesting sections that you can enjoy on day hikes.
Starting on Route 56, you hike into the trail off a nice parking area. There is a sign in spot to let Rangers know you are using the trail, and how far you plan to hike. This section takes you across some pretty mellow hiking. The first part is rather rocky though, so make sure you have some good supporting shoes on. This is a nice section to do a day hike cause it isn't hard hiking with very little climbing involved.
Another neat section of the trail that is really popular is what is known by many as the "Four Mile Climb." This section of trail crosses Route 869 just as you're getting to the Burnt House Picnic Area.
It also is a very popular place for locals and families to have big picnics since there are lots of table and pavilions availble for you to use. The "Four Mile Climb" goes up on the same side of the road as the picnic area.
From here, the trail starts a gradual uphill climb. Following a gentle babbling creek, this is a very beautiful section of trail. It is a seven-tenths of a mile hike up to a nice bridge. From there, you make a sharp turn and keep heading up.
Again, none of this section of trail is steep, though it does provide some nice views along the way. One of the reasons this section of trail is popular with hikers and bikers is it follows old Dinky Trails up the mountain, criss-crossing back and forth. At the top, you walk out into Kings Fields. The total hike to the top is a tad over four miles. It isn't that hard of a hike or bike, and is well worth the trip.
Another neat section of the trail is the part over by the "Lost Children of the Alleghenies" monument. Keep driving past Burnt House Picnic area and watch for the sign on the left side of the road. You drive back a long narrow road, until you see a big parking area.
Park here and get ready for a nice hike. Cross the small creek and hike up to the monument. Take a few minutes to check it out. It has some neat history to it. From there, the trail follows another small creek.
The trail here can be a bit tricky with slippery rocks and places you can end up with wet feet if you are not careful. The trail will then take a sharp left turn and start uphill. The climb isn't steep but it is a bit long. Once at the top, hang on. You are about to start a very steep descent down the other side.
Once you get to the bottom, you are treated to a fun river crossing. There are two wires strung across the water. You stand on one, and hold onto the other one and work your way across to the other side. From here, you used to be able to follow the Fisherman's Path and do another crossing on another set of wires. But these were removed, so if you keep hiking down river, you're going to have to get your feet wet, or find a log across the creek to work your way across. Either this, or hike back up that steep hill you just hiked down. I usually opt for getting my feet wet.
If you're up for a real challange, start back at the parking area for the Lost Children and hike down the road following the red marks on the trees. Keep an eye open for a double set of marks that tell you it's time to turn.
Now, you better have on your hiking boots for this one. It is a long, long climb nearly straight up the side of the hill. If you make it to the top, you will find yourself in the Blue Knob State Park Campground. But this section of trail isn't for the weak hiker. It is going to test you big time. And just so you know, there is still plenty more uphill ahead of you if your up to it.
Another neat section of the Lost Turkey Trail is the part that crosses the paved road where you decide if you're heading up to the ski resort or down into the State Park.
This section is best hiked by driving up towards Blue Knob Ski Resort. You will see a paved road with a gate on it on the left part way up. Park there, and hike up the road to where the Fire Tower use to be.
This is the beginning of the Lost Turkey Trail. What makes this section of trail neat to hike is the long set of stone steps that were built by CC Crews a long time ago. They make hiking down through a huge rock garden something you can do, but remember, you're going to have to hike back up, and this section of trail is again rather steep.
Just remember that while you're hiking down it or you will huffing and puffing as you hike back up to the top.
So there you have it. A nice break down of the Lost Turkey Trail. A 17-mile long trail that can be broken down into several shorter day hikes. Some of them easy, some of the down right rough and intimidating and only for those looking to test themselves.