Ohiopyle Waterfalls Guide: The Best Cascades in Ohiopyle State Park

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Western Pennsylvania is full of gently rolling hills, and the area is not necessarily known for waterfalls.

A few select spots throughout the western half of the state, however, are full of clusters of beautiful water features. Ohiopyle State Park is home to one of these clusters and showcases many beautiful cascades.

We’ll provide all the details on how to get to each of the best, some details about the formations, and how to combine hiking trails to see multiple within a short distance.

Here are the best Ohiopyle waterfalls!

Table of Contents

Ohiopyle Falls
Cucumber Falls
Natural Waterslides on Meadow Run
The Cascades on Meadow Run
Upper Jonathan Run Falls
“Middle” Jonathan Run Falls
Lower Jonathan Run Falls
Sugar Run Falls
“Lower” Sugar Run Falls
Fechter Run Falls
Bonus: Fallingwater on Bear Run

Ohiopyle Falls

Height: 20 feet
Distance to view: Minimal to a 0.2-0.3 mi
Difficulty: Easy

Ohiopyle Falls is located right in town.

The first waterfall you will likely come upon in Ohiopyle State Park is the namesake, Ohiopyle Falls.

Situated right in the town, with a large parking area right next to the river, this is also the easiest waterfall in the park to access.

Fed by the Youghiogheny River, this is not the tallest cascade in the park, but it is the most powerful. Especially in the spring, the falls roar with fury.

There are multiple platforms both inside and just outside the Visitor’s Center to take in the views and snap some photos.

Alternatively, Ohiopyle Falls can be viewed from the Ferncliff Peninsula by hiking around the perimeter.

The trail can be accessed by crossing the GAP trail bridge and taking the trail on your left just across the bridge, down a small set of stairs.

Just about a few hundred yards down the trail, you’ll come out on the rocky lookouts above the falls.

Continue on, and there is a lookout point where, in our opinion, you’ll get the best views of Ohiopyle Falls.

Cucumber Falls

Height: 30 feet
Distance to view: 25 yards/1.5 miles
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate

A waterfall not to be missed during your visit to Ohiopyle is Cucumber Falls.

Cucumber Falls is another extremely popular waterfall in Ohiopyle, and can also be accessed in a number of different ways.

The shortest and easiest route involves parking at the trailhead on Ohiopyle Road.

This trailhead is actually one of the access points for Meadow Run, but the parking lot is fairly small.

There are better places to park unless you are short on time and just trying to catch a glimpse of Cucumber Falls on the way by.

This close-by access point only requires a short distance of walking, but it includes stairs.

If you’re able, make sure to see the falls from the bottom of the stairs, instead of just looking down from the top. They’re beautiful!

The other way to access Cucumber Falls is by hiking on the Meadow Run trail, which travels along the Youghiogheny River and provides up close and personal views of some of the whitewater.

If you’re looking to park your car and leave it for the day, park near Ohiopyle Falls, and walk along Main Street across the bridge.

After crossing the bridge, you’ll see a drive that leads down a short hill.

At the bottom, you can pick up the Meadow Run Trail for a 0.5-mile hike to Cucumber Falls.

This section of the trail feels adventurous, covering sandy stretches, the rocky banks of the Youghiogheny, and then up through the rocky bank of the gorge.

If walking from the Visitor’s Center parking lot to Cucumber Falls and back, the entire roundtrip distance covers around 1.5 miles.

Natural Waterslides on Meadow Run

Height: —
Distance to view: 25 yards
Difficulty: Easy (a small staircase)

One of the best things to do in Ohiopyle during the summer is explore the Natural Waterslides.

Though not your typical waterfall, the Natural Waterslides are still a water feature not to be missed in Ohiopyle.

In the spring, the water roars through the slides. In the summer, the water levels decrease and create a natural water park.

Though the ride down the waterslides can be quite a rough one, this could be a fun activity, especially for children. Even if you’re not planning on sliding, the path cut through the rocks is unique.

Accessing the Natural Waterslides can be done from the parking area off of Main Street just before crossing the bridge into town.

Alternatively, after visiting Cucumber Falls, continue on the Meadow Run Trail, just a short distance, underneath the bridge to the waterslides.

Since both spots can get very busy in the summer, park in one of the large parking lots near the Visitor’s Center and combine this spot with both Cucumber Falls and the Cascades.

The Cascades on Meadow Run

Height: ~15 feet
Distance to view: 3 mi/1mi
Difficulty: Moderate

A little off the beaten path, the Cascades are a beautiful hiking destination.

The hike to the Cascades along Meadow Run is an extremely enjoyable hike with scenic terrain.

For the best route, we recommend continuing on from the Natural Waterslides along the banks of the run, following the well-marked trail. Though this is the longer of the trails to access these falls, the hike is beautiful.

At various spots along Meadow Run, especially at Flat Rock, you can get down to the edge of the creek and experience the blue-green water.

Following the waterway will lead you on the three-mile hiking option, with a post marking a small path to the falls at the end. It is very obvious and difficult to miss.

Parking at the alternative parking area shown in the map below will take you on the one-mile hike, much of it downhill, to the same post marking the falls.

This hike is shorter, but you’ll miss out on the views along Meadow Run and at Flat Rock.

The three-mile hike is absolutely worth it and was one of our favorite hikes in the park.

Upper Jonathan Run Falls

Height: 8-10 feet
Distance to view: 1.4 miles from the trailhead
Difficulty: Difficult

The Jonathan Run Trail has a lot of star power in its few miles of hiking, as you can find a handful of waterfalls within just a couple of miles.

Along Jonathan Run, the first you will come across is the Upper Falls area.

The Upper Falls has multiple drops and tiers, with the water seeming to weave its way down the riverbed.

You can see glimpses of the falls from the main trail, but to get these views, you must scale down a very steep social trail.

If you feel confident in doing so, the views are worth it.

“Middle” Jonathan Run Falls

Height: 3 feet
Distance to view: 1.5 miles from the trailhead
Difficulty: Difficult

Situated just below Upper Jonathan Run Falls, we nicknamed this spot “Middle Jonathan Run,” though I’m not sure it has an official name.

This small, single drop falls into a beautiful blue-green pool below and seems tucked away and untouched.

We found this while just walking along the banks of the run, actually trying to figure out how to get back up to the trail… We originally thought this was the Lower Jonathan Run Falls.

The area of this small waterfall would be a great, quiet spot to stop for lunch or a snack next to the water.

Even though the drop is not as impressive as the next-door neighbors’, this little one has its own special appeal.

Lower Jonathan Run Falls

Height: 10-12 feet
Distance to view: 1.6 miles from the trailhead
Difficulty: Difficult

Further down the Jonathan Run Trail, you will notice another social trail that looks like it will lead you right over the edge of a cliff. That’s exactly what it feels like heading down to the bottom of these falls, as well.

You’ll also know you’re at the right spot because a small rope has been tied to a tree root to aid those traveling up and down the steep bank.

These falls are a single drop with another beautifully colored pool at the bottom.

Honestly, is there a bad spot to stop and enjoy a few minutes here? We think not.

Sugar Run Falls

Height: 15+ feet, multiple drops
Distance to view: 1.8 miles from Jonathan Run trailhead, 3.3 miles from Ferncliff parking area on GAP Trail
Difficulty: Moderate

Sugar Run Falls is one of my favorite waterfalls in Ohiopyle.

So many smaller drops send the water down over the rocks, and overall make this one of the taller ones in the park, especially of those you are able to view up close.

The numerous drops, though, add an element of visual interest missing from some others.

Sugar Run Falls can be seen from the GAP trail when the leaves are off the trees.

At other times of the year when the leaves are growing in full force, it requires a walk of about 100 yards up the Mitchell Field Trail along Sugar Run.

This is one of the more remote and secluded Ohiopyle waterfalls.

If you’re biking the GAP trail or hiking Jonathan Run, plan to visit this one, as well.

“Lower” Sugar Run Falls

Height: 12 feet
Distance to view: Just below the GAP Trail, opposite Sugar Run Falls
Difficulty: Moderate

I’m going to be upfront with you about this one.

These “falls” may technically be man-made or at least enhanced by the drainage pipe funneling Sugar Run under the GAP Trail.

Hearing the rushing of more water, though, after five other waterfalls, the excitement was flowing.

These falls cascade down, sending Sugar Run toward the Youghiogheny.

This spot isn’t necessarily worth hiking to on its own, but it’s worth stopping for a few minutes while checking out everything else in the area.

Fechter Run Falls

Height: 8 feet bottom drop, with a few smaller drops at the top, around 12 feet total
Distance to view: .2 miles from Jonathan Run Trail on Sugar Run
Difficulty: Moderate-Difficult

Though this one can slow to a trickle during dry periods and low rainfall, if you’re already out on Jonathan Run, it is worth checking out.

Take the Sugar Run Trail up over the hill and across a small wooden plank bridge.

Just past the bridge, you’ll see another social path leading down over the hill.

Around 25 yards down the hill, on the right, you find these smaller Fechter Run Falls.

Being a little more off the beaten path, viewing this Ohiopyle waterfall in solitude is definitely possible, despite the crowds at some of the more popular spots.

We’d recommend maybe saving this one for last if you are heading to Jonathan Run at the end of your day, just in case you are short on time and have to make a quick stop or skip it altogether.

Bonus: Fallingwater on Bear Run

Height: 8 feet
Distance to view: 0.5 miles on a well-maintained gravel path, some stairs
Difficulty: Easy

Fallingwater is one of Frank Lloyd Wright's most famous houses.

Though this one isn’t technically in Ohiopyle State Park, it’s less than 10 minutes from the town.

The residence is so well-known for its unique architecture, but the house is built right over a waterfall on Bear Run. That feature lands it on this list!

Even if you’re not an architecture buff, the design of the house, incorporating it into the rocky hillside and the stream below, is quite impressive.

The viewing area for the house over the falls, located across Bear Run, is where you will see the often photographed views.

Though the fee for the tour is a little on the pricey side, we’d recommend visiting once.

They clearly put a lot of time, effort, and funds back into maintaining both the house and the surrounding grounds.

Wrapping Up: Why should you visit Ohiopyle waterfalls?

The waterfalls in Ohiopyle are some of the most beautiful in the state of Pennsylvania, and the hikes leading to them are fantastic, as well.

Within day-tripping distance from Pittsburgh, the park is very accessible and definitely worth the visit!

After spending a few hours on the river braving the rapids, stretch your legs on the trails and venture to some of these beautiful spots! For more things to do and see in Ohiopyle State Park, we have your complete guide.

Have you visited Ohiopyle State Park? Which is your favorite waterfall in the area?