Tiny Ohiopyle has made its reputation as the whitewater benchmark of the east, smack-dab in the middle of famous rapids on the Youghiogheny River that once stymied George Washington’s dream of a navigable route through the Allegheny Plateau. For decades, paddlers have come from all over the country to challenge themselves on its fast water.
Within Ohiopyle’s densely-packed business and residential district are four family-owned outfitters which offer extensive excursion services for rafting, biking, or hiking, as well as a handful of restaurants, ice cream stops, guesthouses, and local shops.
Surrounding the town is beautiful Ohiopyle State Park, with 20,633 acres of hiking, mountain biking, rock-hopping, and vista-collecting. The first miles of the Great Allegheny Passage were completed within the park, and today, 26.75 miles of the GAP meander in its boundaries. Its lovely visitor and education center contains exhibits on local flora and fauna, a gift shop, and cantilevered views of Ohiopyle Falls
The Ohiopyle Low and High Bridges carry the GAP high above the Youghiogheny River. The GAP also crosses lovely Ferncliff Peninsula, a National Natural Landmark with short hikes and great views. The 70-mile Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail meets the GAP here, and Cucumber Falls, perhaps the most famous of the park’s many water features, offers hikers a cool mist on a hot summer day.
Short drives take travelers to Pennsylvania’s popular playground, Seven Springs Mountain Resort. Close by are architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s Kentuck Knob, a National Historic Landmark, and his masterful Fallingwater, which is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bear Run Reserve, with 20 miles of hiking trails, provides habitat for a diversity of forest-dwelling wildlife, including black bear, bobcat, and scores of bird species.
Local Events and Activities
The Beer & Gear Festival is a favorite summer outdoor event for hiking, biking, and paddling enthusiasts. Athletes challenge themselves with the Ohiopyle Falls & Trails Trilogy each fall. Annually, the Music in the Mountains Festival celebrates local artisans and musicians.
Parking and Trail Access
The primary parking lot serving the Great Allegheny Passage is adjacent to the former train station — which holds a railroad-themed escape room! — off Sheridan Street. It holds about 40 vehicles and can become congested on summer weekends and during leaf-peeping season. As an alternative, you can also park at the Ferncliff Peninsula lot on the other side of PA-381. It also provides direct access to the GAP.