What to do in Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania

What to do in Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania

Photo courtesy of Alex Byers/GO Laurel Highlands.

By Kalena Thomhave

July 3, 2024

With its winding waterfalls and lush forests, Ohiopyle is the best small town for a vacation in the northeastern U.S. Here’s what to do there.

This spring, USA Today published its list of the best small towns, chosen by readers, to visit throughout the United States. There were actually four Pennsylvania towns on the list of the ten best small towns to visit in the Northeast — and one of those four took the top spot.

Beating Gettysburg, Sewickley, and Wellsboro — and all the other small towns in the region — the best small town to visit across the northeastern U.S. is tiny Ohiopyle in Southwestern Pa., roughly an hour from Pittsburgh.

There are just about 36 permanent residents in the Fayette County town, though the Ohiopyle population swells during the warmer months when Pennsylvanians, northeasterners, and people from around the country flock to visit the town’s jewel, Ohiopyle State Park. The state park serves as the entrance to the wider Laurel Highlands, a region encompassing the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains. Whether seeking adventure on the Youghiogheny River or serenity beside a waterfall, Ohiopyle is a destination for outdoor enthusiasts and people who love nature.

We’ve put together a guide to enjoying the best of Ohiopyle. We’ve focused on what to do during the summer months, but you should know that you can visit beautiful Ohiopyle all year round!

Take to the Yough

The Youghiogheny River, or the Yough (pronounced “yawk”) for short, is the centerpiece of Ohiopyle and its namesake state park. The rushing river, which eventually flows into the Monongahela River near Pittsburgh, is the source of the waterfalls throughout the park as well as a watery playground for rafters, kayakers, canoes, and trout fishers.

While the river is known for some of the best whitewater rafting in the Eastern U.S., the Youghiogheny appeals to serious adventurers as well as families because the different sections of the river vary by difficulty. The Lower Yough, with its class III and IV rapids, is a more difficult section for whitewater rafting groups and advanced kayakers. The Upper Yough is for adrenaline junkies only, with rapids reaching class V. Meanwhile, the Middle Yough is milder, with class I and II rapids, and is perfect for families seeking a calmer but still exciting journey.

Equipment rentals are available in town, or you can book guided trips down any section of the river. Guided tours are operated by Laurel Highlands River Tours, Ohiopyle Trading Post & River Tours, White Water Adventurers, and Wilderness Voyageurs.

What to do in Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania

Photo courtesy of Alex Byers/GO Laurel Highlands.

Hike a Wide Range of Trails

For an accessible outdoor activity, there’s nothing quite like hiking — you just need proper footwear and to choose a hike that suits you. And in Ohiopyle State Park, there are 79 miles of hiking trails that vary based on difficulty and length. You could, for example, start the Laurel Highlands Trail, a difficult 70-mile backpacking trail that runs 6.3 miles within the park. The Ferncliff Trail is a difficult-level, 1.7-mile loop that passes the magnificent Ohiopyle Falls. Another trail, the Cucumber Falls Trail, is rated difficult but is just 0.4 miles long; it leads to a scenic view of Cucumber Falls. 

For an easier hike, you could start with the Great Gorge Trail, an easy 1.3-mile hike following the path of an old tramway. In addition, the Great Allegheny Passage is made with crushed limestone, so both wheelchairs and strollers could try this easier trail. The GAP runs for 27 miles within the state park (but you don’t need to complete the entire trail!) All in all, there are more than 30 trails in the park, so you’re sure to find one that’s best for you.

What to do in Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania

Photo courtesy of Alex Byers/GO Laurel Highlands.

Bike the Great Allegheny Passage

The 27 miles of the Great Allegheny Passage within the park make up the Youghiogheny River Trail. While the trail can be hiked, you’ll find many cyclists enjoying the views of the river from the largely flat, crushed limestone trail. Plus, you don’t even need to bring a bike to experience Ohiopyle on two wheels, as plenty of rental shops in town rent bikes for visitors. You can even combine biking the GAP with paddling the Yough! For instance, with outfitter Wilderness Voyageurs’s “pedal and paddle” offering, you’ll rent a bike to ride 9 miles of the GAP trail, and then trade your pedals for a paddle to raft your way back to the heart of Ohiopyle on the mild Middle Yough. 

What to do in Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania

Photo courtesy of Alex Byers/GO Laurel Highlands.

Fuel Up with Local Food

Perhaps you want to spend your trip to Ohiopyle in a tent or cabin, cooking your meals over a fire or on a tiny Coleman stove. While that image sounds wonderful, you have other options as well — we’ll share more about them just in case.

Ohiopyle’s small business area is home to a handful of restaurants. There are the pies at Paddlers Pizza, comfort food and beer at Falls City Pub, and classic American eats at Falls Market Restaurant and General Store. Plus, if you’re hankering for a cup of coffee you don’t need to brew yourself, you can stop by Ohiopyle Coffee Company, which roasts its own coffee (under the name Ohiopyle Coffee Roasters) that’s popular around the region.

Where to Stay

You can stay within Ohiopyle State Park at the campground, or in cabins or yurts.

Kentuck Campground, within the park, has roughly 200 campsites with fire rings and picnic tables. You can bring an RV or a tent to stay at one of these affordable — and beautiful — sites. If you’d rather sleep within structured walls, you can also rent cabins and yurts in the park or book rooms at nearby hotels and bed and breakfasts. The park’s camping cottages are no-frills cabins with bunk beds — you’ll still need to use the campground bathrooms, though. Yurts are similar in that they provide bunk beds and no bathrooms, but you would have a cooking stove, microwave, and fridge. 

Hotels and bed and breakfasts are usually located outside Ohiopyle, but as long as you are within a short drive of the town, you’ll still be able to experience all that Ohiopyle has to offer.

This article first appeared on Good Info News Wire and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.What to do in Ohiopyle, PennsylvaniaWhat to do in Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania


Related Stories
Share This