At Ohiopyle State Park during the late spring, summer and fall, expect crowds.
The park is large, and it offers numerous outdoor recreation opportunities, but the most popular sites become very crowded. These popular sites are quite spectacular, so visit early in the morning or late in the day.
Want to get away from the crowds, though? We have just the hike for you!
Head up Holland Hill Road to the Jonathan Run Trail, one of the best Ohiopyle hiking trails.
With multiple waterfalls, this hike certainly will not disappoint.
Cover the distance in a couple of hours, or combine with other area trails for a full day of adventuring.
Here are route options for hiking the Jonathan Run Trail.
How to get to the Jonathan Run Trailhead
From the town of Ohiopyle, getting to the parking area and trailhead for this hike is quite easy but requires driving about 3.5 miles.
It should take you less than 10 minutes to arrive.
Heading out of town across the bridge, take a right onto Ohiopyle Road.
You will continue up the hill, past a parking lot for access to Cucumber Falls.
After about 1.5 miles, you will come to a crossroads.
Taking a right will lead to the Kentuck Campground.
A left turn would take you to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Kentuck Knob in 0.5 miles.
You should continue straight on Holland Hill Road.
After about 1.5 miles, you will see a dirt drive on the right.
This is the parking lot for the Jonathan Run Trail.
There is room here for around 10 cars and is where your hiking adventure will begin.
Hiking the Jonathan Run Trail
After parking in the horseshoe shaped parking area, the trail will lead you down toward Jonathan Run, and much of the trail weaves through the forest along the run.
You will continue on this path for over a mile.
You’ll notice the Sugar Run Trail to the left around 1.25 miles into the hike. We’ll get back to that later.
Continue across the footbridge and follow the well-marked and easy to follow path.
Head just past the Kentuck trail on the right, around 1.4 miles into the hike.
You’ll notice a small “social” single track trail leading over the edge of the hill just past the Kentuck Trail.
The hill is very steep, so just remember that you must return the way you came. Going down is much easier than coming back up!
This trail leads to the first waterfall, Upper Jonathan Run Falls. Multiple tiers and rock layers create an interesting falls pattern on this one.
After spending some time appreciating and photographing these falls, it’s time to move on! There is plenty more to see.
You can continue along Jonathan Run in the ravine, maybe 20-30 yards, and you’ll find this beautiful little pool fed by a single drop.
It’s only 3-4 feet tall, but the pool can be a beautiful aqua color.
It’s also a little more off the beaten path, so it would be a great place to stop for a snack or a picnic lunch by the run. Just remember, you pack it in, and you pack it out!
This small falls is unnamed, so we’ve just designated it “Middle” Jonathan Run Falls, instead of “that little one in between, you know?” This isn’t the lower falls. Those are coming later.
After getting your fill of this spot, head back up the side of the ravine, returning to the Jonathan Run Trail to continue on the hike.
Just a few minutes further on the main trail, and you will see another small single track “social” path, again leading over the edge.
This one is much steeper, and you may notice some ropes anchored to the hillside. This both confirms that you are in the right spot, and can give some reassurance about returning to the Jonathan Run Trail.
At the bottom of the hill… which some may describe as a cliff… is where Lower Jonathan Run Falls can be found.
If you don’t feel confident heading down to see this one from the base, check it out from some of the rocky outcroppings.
If you’re up for a challenge, adventure to the bottom.
You’ll be treated to the taller Lower Jonathan Run Falls.
While the view from the bottom is stunning, only seeing it from the top as well will allow you to appreciate the smaller drops above before the final drama.
Although this is the final waterfall actually on the Jonathan Run Trail, there is still more to see!
Connector Trails to Extend Your Hike
About a tenth of a mile or so further, you’ll find the end of the trail, at the intersection of the GAP Trail.
Take a left on the GAP Trail, peaking at views of the Youghiogheny River down the hill and to your right.
Keep an eye out, because after less than 0.2 miles on the GAP Trail you’ll want to take the Mitchell Field Trail to the left.
From the GAP trail, you are able to see Sugar Run Falls, but continuing up the single track trail less than one hundred yards will lead to the base of the falls.
Trickling over the hillside, Sugar Run Falls is beautiful and worth adding as a stop on this hike.
Here is where decision making and planning comes in!
To extend into other more remote areas of the park, continue up the steep hill on the Mitchell Hill Trail.
This trail is a loop that will eventually lead to the Sugar Run Trail.
Remember, I said we’d get back to this later? For the short connector, take the left at the loop.
Head right for the longer loop that will lead past the parking lot to the Sugar Run Trail, which leads back to the Jonathan Run Trail over 1.6 miles.
Not so fast! About 400 yards from the Jonathan Run Trail, just before a wooden foot bridge, a small beaten path to the left leads a short distance down the hillside where you will find Fechter Run Falls on the right.
The smallest of the bunch, there is a good chance of solitude at this one. That means plenty of time to snap an unobstructed photo, too!
Returning to the Jonathan Run Trail over a few hundred yards, you’ll then be able to finish the last mile of the hike at the original trailhead. This route probably covers over 5 miles.
The shorter version, covering around 4 miles, would involve turning around and retracing your steps from Sugar Run Falls, back along the GAP and Jonathan Run trails.
Coming across the Sugar Run Trail, just a few hundred yards, a skip across the wooden footbridge, and a turn will have you at Fechter Falls.
Then, you can return to the parking lot from here, completing one of the best Ohiopyle hiking trails.
Special Notes About the Jonathan Run Trail
- The trail can be quite muddy after rainfall and snowmelt. Plan appropriate footwear!
- This trail could be considered easy-moderate until trying to reach any of the falls on Jonathan Run. The side paths to the falls should be considered difficult.
- This is an out and back trail. Remember, you will have to retrace any steps that you take, so don’t go down anything you don’t think you can make it back up.
Other Spots to Visit in Ohiopyle State Park
Ohiopyle is full of beautiful landscapes. Any of the other Ohiopyle waterfalls are worth stopping to see.
Cucumber Falls would be an easy stop on the way back to town, as you’ll drive right past the parking area on the left.
It’s also hard to miss Ohiopyle Falls in town.
If you hiked Jonathan Run on a summer morning, stop at the Natural Waterslides on Meadow Run just before arriving back in town to cool off!
A weekend is not enough to enjoy all of the exciting things to do in Ohiopyle.
For other great hiking trails and waterfalls, check out McConnells Mill State Park. Just a couple hours of driving and you will find another beautiful spot to explore in Pennsylvania.
Wrapping Up: Hiking the Jonathan Run Trail
While there are other taller and more powerful waterfalls in the park, the Jonathan Run Trail features the most within a small area.
With crowds flocking to the area for rafting and boating adventures on the Youghiogheny River, it is sometimes difficult to get away from them. This trail would be a good start.
Also a great hike in the fall, being surrounded by beautiful foliage adds to the beauty.