Something for everyone
The jewel of the Pennsylvania state park system, Ohiopyle State Park’s 20,633 acres serve as the gateway to the Laurel Highlands. Centered around the Youghiogheny River and its class II, III, and IV rapids, Ohiopyle State Park offers some of the best whitewater paddling in the eastern United States. Its forests feature 79 miles of hiking trails, including a portion of the 73-mile Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail. The spectacular 100-acre Ferncliff Peninsula, a National Natural Landmark, houses a high level of biodiversity, especially plants, trees, and wildflowers. Steeply-dropping tributaries to the Youghiogheny River form many waterfalls. The lovely 30-foot bridal veil Cucumber Falls offers a cool respite for hikers just a mile from the GAP, and Jonathan Run Falls and Sugar Run Falls are perfect destinations along short hikes. Dozens of waterfalls are visible along the GAP each spring as melting snow rushes to the river below. Natural water slides along Meadow Run offer great fun and are perfect for cooling off.
Camping is available at the Kentuck Knob Campground, near one of the park’s high spots, originally built for hikers and car campers long before the GAP was envisioned. It is about a quarter-mile off the Great Allegheny Passage via a footpath, and slightly uphill.
The Monongahela people made early settlements along the fast-moving Youghiogheny River, and the park’s name was derived by European explorers from a combination of Native American words meaning “white, frothy water.” During the French and Indian War, the young George Washington traveled through the area while seeking a suitable water route through the Allegheny Mountains, and was stymied by Ohiopyle Falls. In the late 18th and early 19th century, farmers, hunters, and trappers made permanent white settlements. In 1811, the National Road passed near Ohiopyle, making the area more accessible to settlers, and both logging and coal mining took hold. The advance of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and Western Maryland Railroad brought additional residents, lumber mills, and by the 1880’s, tourists seeking fresher air. Recognizing the natural beauty of the area, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy purchased much of the property and sold it to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1964 for public use. Ohiopyle State Park was dedicated in 1971.
The park is open every day of the year, sunrise to sunset, and every season offers beautiful outdoor adventures, including hiking, biking, fishing, camping, snowshoeing, leaf-peeping, fossil-hunting, and water-wading. Day use areas close at dusk. The park office and visitor center are open 8:00 am to 6:00 pm, seven days a week, from mid-April through October, with abbreviated hours during the winter, and closed on state holidays. Overnight areas and other areas are open specific seasons and hours. Contact the park office for facility seasons and hours.