I’m always on the lookout for amazing scenic overlooks in PA, and I especially enjoy finding ones that are both easy to reach and offer something unique. The Overlook Tower in Laurel Hill State Park checks all of these boxes.
The Overlook Tower is located on a parcel of land in the southeastern corner of this Somerset County park. Acquired by the park in 2016, a short trail here leads to the Overlook Tower, which provides sweeping views in nearly every direction.
The Overlook Tower itself, which is perched atop a spot known as Penn Scenic View, is a two-level circular building that offers fantastic views from the upper viewing area. The tower offers over 180-degrees of unobstructed views, and great views in every direction.
From the top of the tower, you can see the incredible forested hillsides of the Laurel Highlands, and you can even spot the popular Seven Springs Resort off in the distance.
Getting to the Overlook Tower in Laurel Hill State Park
The first thing to know about the Overlook Tower is that while it’s part of Laurel Hill State Park and the land that it is on is connected to the rest of the park, at the time of publication in October 2021, there is only one way to reach the overlook.
That route is via a third of a mile trail that goes to the vista from a parking lot off of Lyons Road. This parking lot can be found at the following coordinates: 39.977391, -79.236115.
This dirt parking area is large enough for 6-8 vehicles and is located at the end of a short dirt road.
When I visited, this dirt road had a few potholes in it but was relatively easy to access in a standard car. In the winter when there is snow and ice on the ground, you might have to find somewhere to park along the paved Lyons Road and walk a bit further to the vista.
From the parking area, follow the dirt road beyond the gate to start the hike towards the overlook.
The first half of the trail passes through a beautiful woodland and has a slight downhill grade to it. After a few hundred yards, the forest opens up.
At this point, notice the wooden sign pointing you to the right. If you look past this sign, you’ll be able to see the Overlook Tower sitting atop the hillside about 150 yards away.
Turn right to follow the old dirt road uphill through a field for the short walk to the tower.
Even before you go up to the top of the tower, you’ll undoubtedly notice the incredible views from this spot.
There is a picnic table adjacent to the tower if you want to have a picnic or a short rest. Please make sure to properly dispose of any trash that you bring with you for a picnic.
The actual viewing area is on the second floor of the tower, and a wooden staircase leads up the backside of the building. From peering in the dirty windows, the first floor consists of solely a stone cooking fireplace, so there isn’t much to see in the lower part and it is typically locked.
The viewing area is totally open, though people who, like myself, are taller might have to duck down to get the best views as the roof of the Observation Tower comes down a bit too close to the floor.
That being said, seating is available around the entire viewing area, so simply take a seat and enjoy the impressive view from here.
Hopefully, in the future, some signage will be added to this spot, even if it’s on the ground below the tower, that can showcase what you are seeing in the view.
Once you’ve had your fill of this amazing view, simply head back down the tower, and hike the short third of a mile walk back to your vehicle.
Overall, the Observation Tower at Laurel Hill State Park is a really neat spot to visit.
While it might not be worth going far out of your way to check out, there are enough other spots to visit in the park, such as the Hemlock Trail Natural Area and Jones Mill Run Dam, as well as other nearby spots like Cole Run Falls, Barronvale Covered Bridge, and Kooser State Park, that make this overlook a great spot to add to your itinerary the next time you’re exploring the region.
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