Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania, is a truly unique destination tucked into the southwest corner of the state. The park welcomes visitors from all over the world who are looking for outdoor adventures and the depth of beauty that nature offers. Ohiopyle State Park covers over 25,000 acres of mountainous and rugged land that shines the spotlight on the natural wonders that this Pennsylvania State Park holds dear. Ohiopyle is the southern gateway into the Laurel Highlands and represents the beautiful natural resources and marvelous outdoor excursions.
Getting to Ohiopyle State Park will take you through some of the most scenic roadways in Pennsylvania; plan to drive with care and enjoy the stunning scenery. The Morgantown Municipal Airport is the closest airport with daily flights to Pittsburgh and Washington D.C., which makes Ohiopyle State Park the perfect eastern getaway.
The quote “The mountains are calling and I must go,” by John Muir is a saying that resonates in my heart on a daily basis. Honestly, I can’t get my last visit to Ohiopyle, PA, out of my mind, and I am always looking for a pocket of time to carve out an escape to this outdoor playground. If you are dreaming of an epic outdoor adventure, Ohiopyle State Park should be on the top of your list of places to go.
1. Bike the Great Allegheny Passage
Spectacular views await you as you explore the paved trail of the Great Allegheny Passage through the heart of Ohiopyle. Rent a bike from one of the local outfitters, or bring your own from home. You can bike to a city destination, backcountry campsite, or take an out and back trip. Don’t miss the Ohiopyle Low and High Bridges on the Gap Trail for a long view down the Youghiogheny River which is breathtaking.
Pro Tip: You will find plenty of places to stop and rest along the trail, and if you take an entire day trip, you can stop in one of the small towns for a light lunch before continuing your cycling journey.
2. Best Hikes in Ohiopyle State Park
Ohiopyle is known to have fantastic hiking trails, and outdoor enthusiasts will find trails that are easy to moderate and even some for those who want a rigorous adventure.
Easy: Youghiogheny River Trail to Jonathan Run Falls is a 3.7-mile out and back trail rated good for all skill levels.
Moderate: Great Gorge Trail is a 4.9-mile out and back trail that features a stunning waterfall. March through October is the best time to venture out. Leashed dogs are welcome on this trail.
Difficult: Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, bird watching, and backpacking throughout the year. Leashed dogs are allowed on this trail.
3. Find a Perfect Way to Stay at Ohiopyle State Park
One day here is not enough; you will want to stay and relax a few days before heading home. So, book a stay within the state park; here are a few of the ways offered. I am an avid camper, and we enjoy taking our Heartland Sundance 294BH with the grandkids to camp in the campground. If you don’t have an RV, don’t worry; plenty of tent sites are also available. Kentuck Campground has about 200 campsites and is open from April to mid-December.
Stay in some rustic cottages within the park; these cute wooden structures have electric bunk beds, a small table, and chairs, and can sleep five.
Looking for a more unique way to stay? Check out the yurts. These round, canvased, wood-walled tents have attached wooden decks and sleep five. The yurts have a small kitchen and provide all the natural fun you could want around a fire ring cooking s’mores.
Pro Tip: Make sure to plan for the weather and bring the appropriate gear.
4. Ride Down The Natural Water Slides
I don’t care how old you are, Ohioplye’s natural water slides will bring out the kid in you! Head to the two natural water slides in Meadow Run, where you can sit down on the smooth rock creek bed and take the wild ride down. An ADA viewing deck is easily accessible from the parking lot, where you can take a minute to watch all the fun from above if getting wet isn’t your thing. Parking is available adjacent to SR 381 bridge crossing Meadow Run. Follow the signs to Meadow Run Trail or follow the path at the back of the parking lot.
Pro Tip: Caution must be used at all times as natural hazards exist.
5. Go Chasing Waterfalls
Everyone loves waterfalls, and I am not an exception. I need a bumper sticker that says, “I brake for waterfalls.” Ohiopyle State Park has some of my personal favorites — let me share my top three with you.
Ohiopyle Falls, the park’s namesake falls, is the easiest to access, and there is a parking lot adjacent to great viewing areas. Viewing of Ohiopyle Falls is ADA accessible from the sidewalk and viewing platforms.
Cucumber Falls: known as the most impressive and photogenic falls in the park, Cucumber Falls showers visitors with a stunning cascade. Come after a rainfall to see it in all its stunning glory. You will find a parking lot with ample parking at the trailhead, where you will find steps that take you to the falls. Remember, what goes down the steps must come back up when returning to your car.
Jonathan Run Falls: it is one of the most popular waterfall hikes in Ohiopyle State Park. Why? Because you get to enjoy the Upper and Lower falls of Johnathan Run. These two falls require a hike and will take you some time to explore, but it is well worth the effort.
Pro Tip: Wear proper footwear when coming to see the waterfalls at Ohiopyle — this means no flip-flops. Sturdy hiking boots are highly recommended.
6. Explore the Laurel Highlands Visitor Center
The Laurel Highlands visitor center is fantastic, and it is located right on the Youghiogheny River. You’ll want to take your time walking through the center to learn all about flora and fauna, waterways, and geological features.
- January 1 to April 15 — Open Monday to Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., closed on Sundays.
- April 16 to October 31 — Open 7 days a week, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- November 1 to December 31 — Open Monday to Saturday, 8 a.m to 4 p.m., closed on Sundays.
- Closed on all state holidays.
Pro Tip: Always check in advance to confirm the visitor center hours.
7. Enjoy A Picnic
With so many outdoor activities at your fingertips, a picnic is just the thing to slow down and enjoy the park. Grab some takeout from a local restaurant or pack something from a local grocery store. No matter how you enjoy your snack in the woods, you will find solace. String a hammock from the trees for an afternoon siesta before heading off for your next adventure.
Pro Tip: Picnic areas in the park offer picnic tables, grills, restrooms, and places to dispose of charcoal after grilling.
8. Take On The Youghiogheny On A White Water Rafting Trip
Prepare to be amazed on your white water rafting trip down the Youghiogheny River. The famous Lower Yough begins after the Ohiopyle Falls and flows 7 miles downstream to the Bruner Run Take-out.
Fun Fact: this is the busiest section of whitewater east of the Mississippi River. Book a white water rafting trip with one of the professional guides that will take you safely out on this one-of-a-kind adventure. Prepare to encounter class III and IV rapids on the Youghiogheny and tuck your feet into the raft as you propel downstream for the ride of your life.
Pro Tip: We rented bikes from Wilderness Voyagers and plan on returning to take a trip out on the Youghiogheny with this operator.
9. Winter Fun In Ohiopyle State Park
There is something to do no matter what time of the year you make it to Ohiopyle. Don’t just think of this as a summer destination.
Sledding Hill: You can find this outdoor activity at the Sugarloaf Snowmobile and Mountain Bike Area, where there is a parking lot. If sledding down a hill isn’t one of your top winter picks, try
snowmobiling. The Sugarloaf Trail System and Pressley Ridge Trail are open to snowmobiles and offer 15.9 miles of trail to kick up the snow. With a deep snowpack, there are plenty of opportunities for XC skiing. Strap on your skis for 33.9 miles of trail for this winter adventure. Check the winter report website before going to make sure the conditions are suitable for the activity you want to enjoy.
Pro Tip: Be sure to dress appropriately for the weather and follow all trail signs and markings to have a safe and enjoyable experience.
Pennsylvania offers a number of state parks for your travel enjoyment: