Ohiopyle State Park
124 Main St, Ohiopyle, PA 15470
A huge state park with camping and waterfalls!
Ohiopyle State Park is one of the crown jewels of the Laurel Highlands region of western Pennsylvania. Ask anyone where you should go for great hiking and picturesque views, and they will surely direct you to this popular spot.
The centerpiece of the park is the Youghiogheny River, a huge river full of rocks, waterfalls, and history (George Washington even tried to navigate the river on a handmade log raft!) We recommend starting at the visitor center. Here, you can pick up a map and explore some kid-friendly exhibits that highlight the natural and cultural history of the area. You’ll also have the opportunity to view Ohiopyle Falls. The visitor center also has a bathroom and water fountain.
From there, you can walk to two of the park's most popular spots: The Natural Waterslides and Cucumber Falls. To get to both, turn right out of the visitor center and walk towards the road. You’ll follow the sidewalk and eventually come upon a set of yellow footprints and a set of white footprints. Keep following them, across the bridge, until you get to the marked trailheads. (You can also drive to a separate parking lot for the natural waterslides that are across the bridge, but the walk from the visitor’s center isn’t that far and the waterslides parking lot can often be full.)
The Natural Waterslides are an extremely popular spot where the water has carved natural channels into the slippery rock, creating a set of natural waterslides. Depending on the water level, this can either be a rip-roaring ride or somewhat tamer. Either way, if you want to take advantage, be sure to bring a bathing suit and possibly a small inner tube to ride on. This is a very popular spot and it’s best to arrive early if you want to avoid the crowd. No hiking is required- the area is just off the parking lot or a short (.25 mile) walk from the visitor’s center.
If you aren’t in the mood to get wet, we recommend heading to see the park’s most popular waterfall: Cucumber Falls. If you’re not up for a hike, you can drive to a small parking area at the Cucumber Falls trailhead, off Ohiopyle Road. This will put you at the top of the falls and afford you a great view with less than a quarter-mile of walking.
However, if you’ve got the energy, we highly recommend taking the Great Gorge Trail from route 381 to the falls. (Directly across from the natural water slides, you’ll see what looks like a small access road. It goes downhill and is blocked from traffic. Walk down this road and you’ll be at a trailhead.) Follow the trail to the left and you’ll have the opportunity to hike approximately 1.5 miles along the Youghiogheny River.
This hike affords views that are quintessential to the area including roaring rapids, pine-covered hills, and impressive rock formations. The hike is somewhat strenuous but is great fun for kids that like to scramble over rocks. After viewing the falls, hike the 1.5 miles back to where you started! (A word to the wise- the river is great fun to play in and many people stop to do just that. Bring some extra clothes or a bathing suit if you plan on letting the kiddos take a dip!)
If you’re hungry after all that hiking, the borough of Ohiopyle is a bustling town that has restaurants, pubs, and general stores. (Once you see the town, you’ll undoubtedly want to spend some time there!) You can also rent bikes or book a whitewater rafting trip if you want even more adventure!