Make Ohiopyle Your Vacation Basecamp
The little state park town of Ohiopyle is truly Southwestern Pennsylvania’s basecamp for exploration. Surrounded by a vast web of more than 100,000 contiguous acres of public land, the region offers abundant activities to transform your family vacation. You may have visited for a day or two, but there is still so much unexplored territory to experience, this year plan a week in the Ohiopyle region.
Ohiopyle is more than thrilling whitewater and beautiful views. Did you know that there are several national park sites right in our backyard?
This guide will help you plan a vacation that is sure to be a winner with everyone. Adventure, entertainment, and culture all right here in the Laurel Highlands.
Make memories around the campfire
First of all every basecamp needs just that: a camp. Tall Oaks Campground is the perfect setting to come back to after an eventful day exploring the region. Just under 10 miles from the heart of Ohiopyle, mature oak trees shade spacious sites that offer privacy and serenity. With over 150 acres, the campground itself is a destination worth exploring.
Take advantage of special extended stay pricing at Tall Oaks. A 5-day camping pass only costs $50, potentially saving your family hundreds of dollars. Book your stay at Tall Oaks Campground.
Transport back in time with national history
The Laurel Highlands region is steeped in deep history. Before the area became the vacation capital we know it as today, historical events that shaped the nation took place in these hills. From the roots of the French & Indian War, through the Whiskey Rebellion and the construction of the first National Road, to the events of 9/11 contributions of this area influence Americans every day of their lives.
Three National Park Service sites in the area memorialize significant events and people in the history of the United States: Fort Necessity National Battlefield, Flight 93 National Memorial, and Friendship Hill National Historic Site.
15 minutes from Ohiopyle, Fort Necessity marks the location of the battle that started the French and Indian war in 1754. The battlefield was also the location of George Washington’s only surrender. Learn about the history through exhibitions in the amazing state of the art visitors center.
The Flight 93 National Memorial honors the 40 passengers and crew aboard one of the four planes hijacked during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Through the brave acts of these individuals, the attack on the U.S. Capital was prevented. Experience the memorial landscape through hiking trails, ranger programs, the Tower of Voices, and the memorial plaza. The memorial is just over an hour from basecamp, making it a great day trip option.
Friendship Hill National Historic Site About 45 minutes from Ohiopyle, was the homestead of Albert Gallatin. Gallatin was one of America’s forgotten founding fathers. During his time as Secretary of the Treasury, Gallatin reduced the national debt, purchased the Louisiana Territory, and funded the Lewis & Clark exploration. This site offers you a peek into a “lavish” estate located in the western wilds of the early 1800’s.
Fun fact: The boats for the Lewis & Clark Expedition were built along the banks of the Youghiogheny. — Today there are no remnants of this boat yard near Mckeesport, PA.
Visit the renowned and unique architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright
Well known architect Frank Lloyd Wright found inspiration in the landscape of the Laurel Highlands. Four of his homes can be found in the area, including Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob. Visiting these homes offers a unique perspective into the region.
Completed in 1937, Fallingwater sits along Bear Run just 7 minutes up the road from Ohiopyle. The home is built on top of an active waterfall that flows beneath the house. Other details of the building showcases its seamless integration with the surrounding landscape. In 2019, the house was designated as a World Heritage Site. Visitors can experience Fallingwater though guided tours and grounds passes.
Just 6 minutes in the opposite direction, Kentuck Knob offers another opportunity to experience how the landscape impacted Wright’s designs. The mountain house blends with the scenery, becoming part of the hillside it sits on. Tours at Kentuck Knob are offered throughout summer.
If you arrive to the area via bike, Wilderness Voyageurs offers shuttles from Ohiopyle to Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob. Call to book a shuttle reservation.
Walk the miles and miles of trails
Visitors can create an extended trip just based on hiking around Ohiopyle. The state park has a network of 70+ miles of trails that highlight the diverse ecology of the area. Here are just a few of our favorites:
- Ferncliff Trail / 2 miles / Easy
- Meadow Run Trail / 2.9 miles / Moderate
- McCune Trail / 3.7 miles / Moderate
- Jonathan Run Trail / 1.7 miles / Moderate
- Cucumber Falls / 0.2 miles / Easy
The 70-mile point to point Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail weaves through the landscape starting down the street from the Wilderness Voyageurs Outfitter Store to the Conemaugh Gorge near Johnstown. Spend a day exploring a few miles of the trail, or opt for a multi-day backpacking trip made easy due to the shelters that are every 6 miles on the trail. If you need a lift to one of the trailheads, we’ve got you covered with our Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail shuttle service.
Climb towering rock walls
There are several climbing areas sprinkled throughout Ohiopyle State Park. The area is quickly becoming known as a cragging destination. If you and your family are new to climbing, Wilderness Voyageurs offers climbing instruction, which includes all of the equipment you need. We are happy to guide you to the best sport climbing crags that the region offers.
Catch the trout trifecta
The Youghiogheny River and its tributaries boast more than 75 miles of trout waters within a 30 minute drive of Ohiopyle. During your weeklong vacation in the area, you can make it your goal to try to catch all three of the target trout species: brown, brook, and rainbow. We can help you on your quest with fly fishing wade and drift trips as well as expert fly fishing instruction.
Experience the thrills of the Youghiogheny
Of course, you can’t talk about Ohiopyle without talking about whitewater rafting on the Youghiogheny River. With a few different river sections and trip formats to choose from, paddling can provide entertainment for several days.
Easy Going River Trips: First, start off your whitewater experience with a gentle river trip down the Middle Yough. With just some ripples and splashy water, this is the perfect trip to get introduced to river paddling. Opt for a guided Middle Yough trip or rent rafts, duckies, SUPs, shredders and sit-on-top kayaks for a day on the river. You can even combine biking and rafting with a Pedal & Paddle trip on the Middle Yough.
Rafting Adventure Trips: Step it up into Class 2 and 3+ whitewater with a guided Lower Yough rafting trip for your second day on the river. These trips offer the quintessential whitewater experience for all skill levels.
High Adventure Rafting Trips: If the first two days of river trips didn’t give you an adrenaline fix, taking a trip on the Upper Yough sure will. Featuring Class 4 and 5 rapids, this section of the river only runs three times a week: Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Make sure to plan your week accordingly if you are interested in a guided Upper Yough rafting trip!
Enjoy a relaxing day lake side at Deep Creek
If fast moving water isn’t your thing, maybe a quiet day on the lake is more your speed. Maryland’s Deep Creek Lake is within an hour from Ohiopyle and offers several activities to fill a day of your vacation. Spend the day in the water swimming, paddling or boating, or explore the surrounding area for more hiking, sightseeing, and biking.
Pedal to your heart’s desire
From rail trails to singletrack, biking opportunities in the region are plentiful. There is a little bit of everything for any type of cyclist.
The Great Allegheny Passage is a rail trail that stretches from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Maryland. The 2% maximum grade of a rail-trail makes for super friendly riding and the ability to squeeze many miles in or just take it easy and dangle your feet in the river. Bring your own bikes, or we make it easy with rental bikes for the day to access the trail in Ohiopyle. Also, you have the option to take on a larger section and take advantage of our GAP bike shuttles.
If mountain biking is your style, there are more than 30 miles of mountain biking trails within the state park. Set atop Ohiopyle’s highest point, the Sugarloaf Mountain Bike Area features everything from flowy singletrack to technical rock features. For the most up to date information on open trails check out the Ohiopyle Biking Club. If you want to keep getting rowdy on your bike, there is a multitude of other mountain bike trail systems in the region: Laurel Ridge, Quebec Run, and Coopers Rock.
If you are into road riding or gravel biking, be prepared to have your mind blown. Check out our Ohiopyle biking resource page for some route ideas. Also feel free to stop in into our bike shop and chat up the shop rats for other route ideas. If you use Ride with GPS, search for Wilderness Voyageurs and Ohiopyle and you will find updated routes.
Spend a day at Seven Spring’s Adventure Park
Another area attraction is Seven Springs Mountain Resort. A ski resort in the winter, the mountain becomes a family adventure park during the summer. Spend a whole day soaring on the ziplines, cruising down the alpine slide, climbing towers, and exploring the Laurel Highlands on horseback. Seven Springs offers all-day adventure passes that give you access to the majority of their summer activities.
Hike to the top of the highest heights of the region
After spending a few days exploring the Laurel Highlands, you can take it up a notch by planning a short roadtrip to the highest points in Pennsylvania and Maryland.
Located within the nearly 6,000 acre Forbes State Forest about 40 minutes outside of Ohiopyle, Mount Davis is the highest point in the entire state of Pennsylvania. The mountain tops out at 3,214 feet in elevation. Check out the views from the top on the Mount Davis Highpoint Trail.
Another hour to the south sits Maryland’s Hoye-Crest, a 3,360 foot summit along Backbone Mountain. To see the best views, hike along the Maryland High Point Trail in the Monongahela National Forest along the West Virginia-Maryland state line.
If you are feeling even more adventures, you can head over to West Virginia and experience Spruce Knob. At 4,863 feet above sea level, the highest point in West Virginia is easily accessible by car with a half-mile loop trail, Whispering Spruce Trail, that circles the knob and offers panoramic views.