Things to do in Ohiopyle State Park: The Ultimate Adventure Guide

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As one of the most popular and most visited State Parks in Pennsylvania, Ohiopyle State Park is an outdoor lover’s dream. There are endless opportunities for fun things to do in Ohiopyle, suited for just about anyone at any age. Around 20,500 acres are just waiting to be explored.

Ohiopyle is one of our favorite PA state parks. There is a variety of things to do from camping to rafting to hiking, and there are some other great places to explore nearby, too. It’s a park we find ourselves returning to visit every year.

Full disclosure: On one of our trips to the park, we ended up walking/hiking 16 miles in one day seeing everything that we could. While we might have gotten a little ambitious for some, Ohiopyle is a great place to explore, even for a weekend.

So where are the best spots to visit? You’ve come to the right place!

Best Things to Do & See In Ohiopyle

Get outside and enjoy the surroundings no matter the season. The milder months, however, have a greater range of activities, but bring with them the crowds. Ohiopyle has beautiful waterfalls and scenic overlooks, as well as some historical significance and learning opportunities.

Here is our list of all the best things to do in Ohiopyle.

Stop in at the Park Visitor Center

One of the first things that you may notice when driving into the town of Ohiopyle is the Visitor Center. This is the home base for all of the park activities,

The Center has a great museum on the basement level, where you can learn about some of the history of the area before exploring.

Maps and guides can also be found here.

Also, if you are looking for any souvenirs from your trip to the area, this would be a good place to begin shopping, as there is a small gift shop in the center.

You could spend nearly an hour exploring inside the Visitor Center.

Ohiopyle Falls

Rushing waters of Ohiopyle Falls, the easiest waterfall to visit in the park, cascade through rocky terrain under a clear blue sky at Ohiopyle State Park.

The most easily accessed and most powerful waterfall in the park is Ohiopyle Falls on the Youghiogheny River.

Viewing platforms have been built both outside and in the visitor center, so there are plenty of places to enjoy the views.

A short walk from the parking lot on paved sidewalks leads to spectacular views of the raging falls.

Plan to spend 10-15 minutes viewing and snapping photos of the falls, as well as reading a few of the informational signs posted around the walkways.

Please note that the view of Ohiopyle Falls above is actually from the opposite side of the river, after hiking out the Ferncliff Peninsula.

Hike the Ferncliff Peninsula

A shadow-dappled trail meanders through the bare trees of the Ferncliff Peninsula in Ohiopyle State Park, inviting adventurers to explore the woodlands as one of the best things to do in the park.

From the main parking area in town, we took the GAP trail across the Youghiogheny River and headed left down the stairs to begin the Ferncliff Trail loop.

You will hike 0.3 miles and end up at an excellent viewing point for Ohiopyle Falls (see the photo above!). Many hikers turn around at the falls and do not continue the hike around the peninsula, as we didn’t encounter anyone else on this Trail until nearing the return point to the GAP trail.

On the rest of the Ferncliff Trail, you will find sneak peeks of the rapids through the foliage. The forest here has a very untouched feel, despite historically being the site of a popular hotel resort for vacationers from the city many years ago.

The trail is narrow with steep drop-offs to the side just past the falls. Otherwise, the trail is considered easy in difficulty.

You’ll cover around 1.7 miles in total hiking the entire way around the Ferncliff Peninsula.

Cucumber Falls

The secluded Cucumber Falls cascades into a clear, serene pool surrounded by rugged rock formations and trees at Ohiopyle State Park, showcasing the park's natural beauty and the serene activities available to visitors.

Cucumber Falls is probably the second most popular waterfall in Ohiopyle State Park and for good reason. The 30-foot-tall single-drop waterfall can be accessed from multiple points, making for an extremely short 5-minute hike or turning into an all-day adventure.

We hiked from the parking lot adjacent to the visitors center, across the Route 381/Main Street bridge, and turned right down something resembling a paved driveway to find the Meadow Run Trail.

The hike along this portion of the Meadow Run Trail was 100% worth the hassle of finding it. You’ll be lead you to spots where you can dip your toes in the Youghiogheny and other spots that cross the rocky walls of the gorge for a lot of trail variation. You’ll also pass a short sandy section along the river– talk about variety!

Alternatively, park in the small lot off of Ohiopyle Road, where you’ll find a short path following a staircase down to the falls.

We’d recommend the Meadow Run Trail section, as the scenery was worth the exercise unless you’re short on time.

Natural Waterslides

Water rushes over the smooth, worn rocks of Meadow Run Natural Waterslides in Ohiopyle State Park, offering a unique and fun activity for visitors of all ages to enjoy during the summer months.

After checking out Cucumber Falls, you can backtrack the way you came on the Meadow Run Trail, continue underneath the bridge, across the roadway, any you’ll find the natural waterslides.

Alternatively, you can walk across route 381/Main Street and turn left to cross the road. You’ll find the parking area for the natural waterslides here.

A wooden staircase leads down to the rocky platforms surrounding the natural waterslides. This isn’t really a hike, but the waterslides are still worth exploring.

In the Spring and after heavy rain falls, the water flows quite powerfully. The photo above was taken during one of our March visits to the park, and the water is ripping.

In the summer, this is a popular area for locals and visitors to adventure down the slides and swim in the pools.

I’ve heard that the ride down the slides is quite rough, so take caution when partaking in this activity. You might want to wear some water shoes, board shorts, and a rash guard shirt for this activity.

Don’t skip a visit to this area. Even when the water is too cold for swimming, the area is much less busy but no less beautiful. I think the springtime is my favorite for enjoying the natural waterslide area.

Meadow Run Trail to The Cascades

Gentle cascades flow over the layered rocks of Meadow Run in Ohiopyle State Park, a little more off the beaten path spot and one of the many picturesque sites to visit in the park.

From the natural waterslide area, continue hiking on the Meadow Run Trail.

You will need to navigate the rocky creek banks for a short distance until the trail turns up the side of the hill.

Make a quick stop at Flat Rock to get views up and down Meadow Run. You might share the views with fishermen and women along the run, depending on the time of year.

Then, continue to the Cascades.

It is possible to walk out on some of the rocks to get better views of the falls, as well as a couple of viewing areas a bit further downstream. This is probably my favorite hike in Ohiopyle because of the proximity to the beautiful Meadow Run along the way.

In total, the hike covers nearly 3 miles roundtrip.

This is a beautiful and less visited area of Ohiopyle State Park, but one that you shouldn’t miss!

Whitewater Rafting

During the summer months, Ohiopyle is an extremely popular destination for whitewater rafting trips on the Youghiogheny River.

Multiple companies and outfitters offer guided whitewater rafting trip options on both the Middle Yough and Lower Yough.

The Middle Yough section offers a leisurely float appropriate for families and includes class I-II rapids. Beware during periods of lower water flow, you will get stuck on rocks and boulders. Your group may have to get out of the raft and walk in the river to get it moving again.

The Lower Yough Rafting Trips are for those more adventurous rafters and can include class III-IV rapids. We’d recommend taking the Lower Yough Trip if your group is up for an adventure and meets age requirements.


If choosing to take your own raft or kayak down the river, registration with the park is required.

An Upper Yough trip, located closer to Morgantown, WV, includes some class V rapids for those with whitewater experience really seeking a thrill.

Typical rafting trips and tours last around 4 hours, depending on the flow of the river. Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly river trip or a thrilling adventure, plan to spend a day on the river in Ohiopyle.

Bike the GAP Trail

Wooden GAP Trail bridge with distinctive arches casting long shadows over the Youghiogheny River in Ohiopyle State Park, a scenic bike way offering visitors picturesque views.

The Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) Trail, is a 150-mile bike trail that will take you from Point State Park in Pittsburgh, PA to Cumberland, MD. Continuing on from Cumberland on the C&O Canal Towpath, you can reach Washington DC for a 333-mile bicycle adventure.

The Youghiogheny River portion of the GAP trail provides excellent views of the river, and short pitstops at some of the side trails can provide a lot of bang for your buck.

Different views can be seen depending on your location on the GAP Trail.

One of the best routes to bike begins at Ferncliff Natural Parking Area or alternatively starting in town and biking across the GAP Bridge, heading along the trail to the town of Connellsville. After the 17-mile ride, take a break from your bike to explore the town before heading back to Ohiopyle.

A portion of the original section of the GAP from Connellsville to Confluence can be found in Ohiopyle State Park.

For those traveling without their bikes, several outfitters in town offer rentals.

Wander Through the Town

The historic General Store in Ohiopyle, advertising hand-dipped ice cream and white water rafting, flanked by quaint local shops, offers a charming stop for visitors to shop and indulge in local treats.

Walking down the streets in the town of Ohiopyle feels like taking a trip back in time. The quaint shops lining the street feel like they have been unchanged for decades.

You’ll find outdoor outfitters, inns, and even a seasonal putt-putt course in town. If you don’t pack a picnic lunch, stop at one of the delicious restaurants for lunch or grab something to go for a stop on your next hike.

Vibrant mural under a bridge in Ohiopyle, featuring colorful representations of the area's flora and fauna, and a 'Welcome to Ohiopyle' sign, depicting the lively community spirit and artistic flair of the town.

Grab an ice cream cone from the General Store or something to satisfy your sweet tooth from Ohiopyle Candy Co.

Even catch a glimpse of a beautifully painted mural representing the town below the GAP bridge.

Jonathan Run Trail

Lower Jonathan Run Falls is a cascading multilevel waterfall, and just one waterfall you will see on the Jonathan Run Trail.

Although the Jonathan Run Trailhead is one of the few locations that is not easily walkable from the main parking area in town, don’t let that stop you from visiting. The Jonathan Run Falls are beautiful, and this is one of our favorite spots to visit in the park!

The Jonathan Run Trail covers nearly 4 miles out and back for an easy to moderate hike, accessed from the small parking area and trailhead on Holland Hill Road.

For those looking for more adventure, follow the small single-track paths down the ravine to get better views of the waterfalls along the creek. Remember, though, that if you walk down, you must hike back up!

There are multiple waterfalls to see from this trail or its side chutes, so there is a lot of bang for your buck here. Plan to spend at least a couple of hours hiking Jonathan Run and taking in all the waterfall views.

Begin Your Hike on the Laural Highlands Trail

The Laurel Highlands hiking trail is a 70-mile backpacking endeavor, and the southern end begins in Ohiopyle. The trail leads through the hills and valleys of the Laurel Highlands and ends in Johnstown, PA. 

Portions of the trail can also be used for day use as there are 6 trailheads along the route. Some of the terrain can be challenging with elevation changes. This isn’t just a flat stroll in the park!

Spectacular viewpoints of Ohiopyle, as well as other State Parks and points of interest, can be seen along the yellow-blazed trail.

Overnight shelters are dotted every 6-12 miles along the trail, offering a haven from the sometimes unpredictable weather, but must be reserved in advance. An overnight camping fee needs to be paid at the time of reservation. There are 8 shelter areas in total along the Laurel Highlands Trail.

Wilderness Voyageurs does offer a shuttle for those wanting to do a thru-hike without the means to get from point A to point B.

Zipline at Ohiopyle Zipline Adventure Park

Located right in the town of Ohiopyle on Sherman Street, zipline adventures are offered by the Laurel Highlands River Tours & Outdoor Center.

Tours of different skill levels can be booked, but there are age, height, and weight restrictions for these activities. Children as young as 4 years old can enjoy the thrills.

Tickets are good for one hour of adventure through the trees.

If this location is closed or booked, check out the WVU Outdoor Education Center, just a 45-minute drive away in West Virginia. Tours here include 4 zip lines among other features and typically last 2.5-3.5 hours.

For the Adventurers – Rock Climbing

Like a few of the other State Parks in Pennsylvania, there are plenty of opportunities for rock climbing in Ohiopyle.

Two popular areas are Meadow Run and Bruner Run. Some other areas include scenic waterfalls.

You will find access trails to the rock climbing areas marked in blue.

Different from some other State Parks, you can take a guided trip where professionals will show you the ropes if you are a beginner rock climber.

Baughman Rock Overlook

Expansive view from a high vantage point at Baughman Rock Overlook in Ohiopyle State Park, showcasing the bare trees of late winter or early spring against the backdrop of rolling hills under a soft blue sky

There is a hike leading to this overlook, where you will head 3.4 miles nearly straight uphill from the town, but it is mostly through wooded areas without many views. Your time could be spent better elsewhere if you are limited to a short visit.

Instead, drive up the hill on SR 26116 from town about 2.5 miles, and you will find a small parking lot on the left. From the parking lot, you’ll only have to walk about 50 yards to the overlook.

Although much more impressive during fall foliage peaks, the overlook does give you a great perspective of the magnitude of the gorge.

A quick 15-minute stop allows enough time for some photos and appreciating the landscape.

End the Day Catching a Sunset from Fire Tower Road

Breathtaking sunset view from a high vantage point off of Firetower Road in Ohiopyle State Park, with the sun dipping below the horizon and silhouetted trees against a vibrant sky, offering a peaceful end to a day full of exploration.

Though the trees have grown up a little more recently, somewhat obstructing the view at the first pull-off, Firetower Road is a great spot to view a beautiful sunset over the gorge.

The road looks like a small dirt path, and we missed the turn driving by the first time. Head past the Baughman Rock Overlook, as well as the Sugarloaf Snowmobile and Mountain Bike area.

You’ll drive about 3 miles past Baughman Rock, and Fire Tower Road will be on the left. You won’t have to drive far from the main road, about 100 yards, to find the first pull-off parking area.

Hang out in the small clearing and watch the sky light up. Check the sunset time and plan your arrival time accordingly.

Pro Tip: The temperature at the top of the gorge can be quite different due to the wind. Come prepared with a windbreaker or a couple of extra layers… maybe even a hat and gloves, depending on the time of year you visit!

Other Things to do near Ohiopyle

The town and Ohiopyle State Park are not the only things to explore in the area.

With just a short drive, some less than 15 minutes, these other adventures are worth your visit.

Visit a Frank Lloyd Wright House

Fallingwater, the iconic house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, elegantly perched above a waterfall amidst the lush forests, an architectural marvel blending with the natural surroundings.

Frank Lloyd Wright was a popular architect living in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, designing over 1,000 structures over his 70-year career.

He believed in incorporating natural landscapes into his designs rather than disturbing them. One of his most popular and well-known designs is located just 10 minutes up the road on PA-381North/Mill Road.

The house is known as Fallingwater and was designed for the family of Edgar Kaufman. Kaufman, a wealthy department store owner from Pittsburgh, wanted this to be his family’s summer vacation home.

The house has won many awards and is now a National Historic Landmark. The house and surrounding land were donated to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy in 1963 and are now open for tours daily.

Entrance to the visitor's center at Fallingwater, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, nestled above a waterfall surrounded by trees, a stunning example of architecture blending with the natural landscape, located in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania.

Reserve your tour in advance, as it can get quite busy during the summer months. You might miss out if you don’t get tickets ahead of time.

We’d recommend planning a visit during the “off-season.” When we visited first thing on a Saturday morning in March, we were the only two people on the grounds, aside from the workers. We were able to ask questions and chat with those staffing the grounds to learn more about the history.

Kentuck Knob is another Frank Lloyd Wright house, less than 10 minutes from Ohiopyle in another direction. While it doesn’t have the same drama as a waterfall-like Fallingwater, the

This house, originally built for the Hagan family, owners of Hagan Ice Cream, offers only guided tours. You can’t just show up and wander around the grounds. Combination tours of both houses are also an option.

Wharton Iron Furnace

The remains of the old Wharton Iron Furnace, a relic of industrial history set against a backdrop of bare trees and a clear sky, located in a grassy clearing with informational signs that educate visitors on the area's past.

One of only two remaining restored iron furnaces in all of Fayette County, the Wharton Iron Furnace in Farmington is an odd sight nestled in the State Game Lands.

Restored in the 1960s, the furnace added scale and size to the iron industry that was once booming in the area. A few educational signs are posted around the furnace and provide photos and information about what it was like to work there.

The furnace is about 20 minutes from the town of Ohiopyle. You can plan a quick stop here while visiting some of these other sites.

Pro Tip: If navigating using Google Maps, “Wharton Iron Furnace” takes you to the wrong location. The furnace is actually located on Shephard Road at the intersection of SR 2003, about 2 miles from where the map takes you.

The map below shows the correct location you should navigate to.

Fort Necessity National Battlefield

The historic Fort Necessity in southwest Pennsylvania, with its recreated structure against a backdrop of leafless trees, an important site commemorating the early events of the French and Indian War.

The Fort Necessity National Battlefield, also located in Farmington, is an important site in the history of the US. This site marks where the French & Indian War began.

As we learned on a very informative and well-designed tour through the Visitor’s Center, this site was also important in George Washington’s story as a battle he lost. He later came back and purchased the land as a reminder after he lost the battle.

This full-scale recreation of Fort Necessity can be found at its original location behind the Visitor’s Center. A short walk on a paved path takes you to the small fort.

Hiking trails weaving through the woods behind the Fort will also give you an idea of what it was like to travel through the area during the period of the French & Indian War.

Trail markers for the Historic Braddock Road and the National Road in Pennsylvania, set against a backdrop of a leaf-strewn forest floor and bare trees, guiding hikers through historically significant routes.

The site also includes the Mount Washington Tavern and Jumonville Glen, which are open seasonally during the summer, as well as the Braddock’s Grave monument.

The area is worth planning at least a couple of hours to explore, and more time if you plan to do some hiking on the trails.

The main Fort Necessity Visitor Center at the Battlefield is only about a 15-minute drive from Ohiopyle.

Nemacolin Woodlands

Head out of Fort Necessity, turn right, and continue for 5 minutes west on the National Pike.

You will see a resort perched up on the hillside that looks more like an English Castle than something belonging in western Pennsylvania.

The Nemacolin Woodlands Resort spans 2,000 acres, and opportunities for activity are endless. Everything from golfing at Shepherd’s Rock, a Pete Dye course, to luxury spa and wine tasting activities, wildlife viewing, and even off-roading adventures in a Jeep can be found at the resort.

Really, it’s even just a marvel to drive past on the National Pike, especially at night when it’s lit up, and admire the magnitude and beauty of the resort.

Laurel Caverns

30 minutes to the southwest of Ohiopyle, you will find Laurel Caverns, Pennsylvania’s largest known cave system.

There are 4 miles of caves you can explore, through both guided and self-guided tours. These tours typically last about one hour.

More rigorous tours are offered at certain times by reservation and take between 2-3 hours.

There are also opportunities for rappelling and a scenic lookout at the Caverns.

Where is Ohiopyle State Park Located?

Ohiopyle State Park and the town of Ohiopyle itself are located in the Laurel Highlands region of southwestern Pennsylvania.

About 70 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, Ohiopyle is also close to both the Maryland and West Virginia borders.

The area is rich with both history and outdoor recreation opportunities.

Where are the Best Places to Stay Near Ohiopyle?

If you’re looking for complete and utter luxury, book a stay at the Nemacolin Resort. Just a room here will cost quite a few pretty pennies. I suspect, however, that this is not an option for many. On one of our visits, we found a great Airbnb condo at the back of the resort property for a much more reasonable price.

One of the best ways to experience Ohiopyle is by camping at the Kentuck Campground. Affordable and close to town, there is a walking access trail leading you down to the GAP trail, and most of the park can be accessed from there.

A few small lodges and B&B-type accommodations are scattered throughout the small town, as well as a few Airbnb options, though not quite as affordable. The Falls Market even has a few rooms for rent in the heart of the action.

Where are the Best Places to Eat Near Ohiopyle?

  • Falls Market Restaurant & Inn: A wide variety menu includes sandwiches, burgers, and salads
  • Falls City Restaurant & Pub: A great place for things like wings & beer across the bridge
  • Ohiopyle Bakery & Sandwich Shoppe: Stop for lunch or grab sandwiches to go for a picnic lunch
  • Paddlers Pizza: Self-explanatory. Family-owned serving pizza, stromboli, and pasta
  • Braddock Inn Restaurant: Nearby in Farmington, right beside Braddock’s Grave. Chicken & waffles and country fried steak were both delicious
  • Rockwell’s, Aqueous, or The Tavern: on Nemacolin property, more upscale dining

Can You Swim at Ohiopyle?

There aren’t really any official swimming areas right in the town of Ohiopyle, especially in the Youghiogheny River. However, there is the natural waterpark, the Natural Waterslides, where you can cool off from the summer heat.

There are spots in the Youghiogheny River, but more in some of the small side creeks, runs and streams to cool off, too.

None of these are marked on any Park maps and are all swim at your own risk.

Remember, this is a whitewater destination, so don’t take the currents lightly. Dangerous situations can happen quickly and without warning.

Can you bring your dog to explore Ohiopyle along with you?

The short answer: YES! The hiking trails at Ohiopyle State Park are dog-friendly and welcoming.

Some of the businesses in town even had water bowls set outside for thirsty pups to take advantage of, especially in the hot summer heat.

During the times we have visited, we saw just as many people exploring with their dog pals as without.

Just please keep them leashed in public areas and clean up after them.

Wrapping Up: Best Things to do in Ohiopyle

Ohiopyle State Park is an outdoor adventurer’s dream with opportunities to hike, bike, boat, and explore at every turn.

Though the area can get quite busy in the summer, that should not deter you from planning a visit. The early and late seasons will still offer many of the same adventures without the crowds.

Looking for other opportunities for more waterfalls, whitewater, and adventure in Pennsylvania? Head north to McConnell’s Mill State Park near Portersville, PA.