Falling for Water Falls: Ohiopyle State Park (PA)

The waters of the Youghiogheny River are the center of the Ohiopyle State Park, in the Laurel Highlands area of Pennsylvania. The Ohiopyle Falls are gorgeous, and I knew from a previous visit that I wanted my sons to see Cucumber Falls, which feed into the Yough itself.

I decided to drag the kids and husband there because of the Ohiopyle Falls, right near the park headquarters and in the cute little town of Ohiopyle. I knew there were some trails that we could do — shortish ones of maybe a coupla miles. I figured I’d get some trail guides from the Park’s headquarters and we’d be on our way. I also didn’t have a GPS address for Cucumber Falls — in the park — but figured the park rangers could steer us in the right direction.

Oops. No headquarters building that I could see, although one was being constructed, and the depiction of what it’ll be looked lovely, but not very helpful at that moment. Update September 2018: The park visitors center has been built and is open!

Well, at least the Ohiopyle Falls themselves were right there. Had we come more prepared, we could have gone wading into the river itself — lots of folks were splashing around, and the area was cordoned off for safety, so you wouldn’t get too near and possibly swept into the falls and rapids themselves. It looked fun, I thought wistfully. Neither of my sons were game to go in. We ate our picnic lunch in the shade, enjoyed the falls for a few moments. Then headed across the street to check out the cafes — must get coffee afterall!

In Ohiopyle there are several cafes that look cute. You also can arrange for white water rafting trips and rent bicycles or kayaks. Had I done my research ahead of time, we could have been enjoying a trip down the river. Oh well. It’s on my list — we’ll be back! But, if you go there, do stop by the Ohiopyle Old Mill General Store, an old gristmill, and try out some of their hand-dipped ice cream. My youngest tried the sweet and salty pretzel flavor — which was rated “freakin’ awesome!”

Since you’re there — you must go see Cucumber Falls. I love that waterfalls! Ask for directions from the Old Mill General Store staff, or staff from one of the other cafes. It’s right around the corner from there, and easy to find when you have the directions — something like “right out of the lot, over the bridge, first left, and you’re there” kind of thing. It’s not a strenuous hike — you go down some steps and there it is, a ribbon of water splashing over the side of a cliff. You can climb behind the waterfalls itself, as a semi-cave has been carved out. And wear clothes you don’t mind getting muddy or wet, because you can splash around in the water a bit too.

 As a side note — Cucumber Falls is about 5 minutes away from Fallingwater — Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece; Ohiopyle Falls is about 15 minutes away, so the two visits can be combined.

Getting there: Ohiophyle State Park, Main Street, Ohiopyle, PA 15470; free admission to the state park.

Dogs: Bring ’em!! Dogs were having a blast walking in the park and playing in the water!

Hours: Dawn to dusk, presumably. Use good sense!

Website: http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/findapark/ohiopyle/

White water rafting: Laurel Highlands River Tours 800-4raftin laurelhighlands.com; Wilderness Voyageurs 800-272-4141 wilderness-voyageurs.com; White Water Adventures 800-WWA-RAFT www.wwaraft.com

Looking for other fun daytrip destinations in the Laurel Highlands? Check out the articles below:

Updated July 2023.