Pretty Views in You Don’t Have To Hike To Near Ohiopyle

Waterfalls and scenic views in Western PA are plenty, but if you want to get away from the city, many of these destinations require some hiking and even trailblazing to find. Let’s face it; sometimes, you’re just feeling lazy but need some inspiration for your Instagram account, or Grandma is in town and you want to show around. You know a trip to the Laurel Highlands is in store! Plus – add 10 brownie points if the visit is in October because of the spectacular reds, golds and oranges of Pennsylvania’s foliage.

THE SUMMIT OVERLOOK | Route 40 East, Hopwood

Take in the ultimate in scenic viewing without really moving. Drive on up “the mountain” and pull off to the right at the Scenic View signage. Roll down the window, take in the sunset ahead and listen to the semi-trucks behind. 

 

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Other Ways To See It: Find this view again without much effort at Laurel Caverns. Or, if a hike is on your mind, pull off the road sooner at Lick Hollow and hike Pine Knob Trail 2 miles uphill. 

OHIOPYLE FALLS | Ohiopyle State Park
  1. Park 2. Walk 3. See. This PA state park gem is in the bag for “Best Day Ever,” especially if you likes ice cream from nearby Falls Market. Even better, relax with a craft beer from Falls City Pub around the corner.
 

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Other Ways to See It: Use the easy Ferncliff Trails to hike around the peninsula and end up on the other side of the falls. The end of this hike will take you alongside the river and winds through river rocks and the water pools.

Cucumber Falls | Ohiopyle State Park

This is a FAN FAVORITE. I repeat, this is a fan favorite. A beautiful waterfall that is easy to access, but plan this view accordingly: you will encounter major crowds in the summer or icy steps in the winter (falling on your ass is worth it).

 

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Baughman Rock | Ohiopyle State Park

This view is also an Ohiopyle fan favorite but no one will be standing in front of yout spectacular view! Think “Pennsylvania gorge,” but not quite “Grand Canyon” and make note to come back to this spot in autumn, too.

Other Ways To See It: As with most mountain views, hike up. Parking – take a right past Falls Market in Ohiopyle there will be a lot alongside the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail. Baughman trail is marked at the end of the lot. Go straight once you enter the trailhead. Taking a right will take you on another path.

Fallingwater or Kentuck Knob | Mill Run & Chalkhill, PA

Last but certainly not least in this area, these two homes were designed by the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Fallingwater is the most popular, with the gorgeous house built over a waterfall, but Kentuck has views of the Laurel Highlands countryside and a river gorge (which the original owners covered up with trees) that is quite fantastic.

Other scenes nearby

At 3,200 feet, Mount Davis the highest mountain in Pennsylvania, and a lookout tower allows you to climb even higher. Other options allow you to head further southeast past Ohiopyle to Swallow Falls in Maryland or about an hour into West Virginia to Blackwater Falls. Both have scenic vistas and falls you can get to easily, or hike around if you prefer. Want more? Check out the UncoveringPA Blog for more scenic views across the state of Pennsylvania that you don’t have to hike to.

Late Trip to Blackwater Falls, WV

I decided to cut out of lazy Sunday and take the drive to to Blackwater Falls State Park, in West Virginia. I had always seen the signs on my way to Timberline/Canaan Valley to ski, but never took the right turn during the winter. Here in the Laurel Highlands, the leaves are still pretty great, but with the higher elevation of the Allegheny Mountains around Canaan Valley… we missed it by a week.

waterfall, hike, canaan valley, west virginia, blackwater falls

According to the State Park’s site, the “black” water is caused by fallen hemlock and red spruce needles creating tannic acid. It was a dark scene all around, from the bare trees to the black water, but of course, every waterfall is gorgeous when you are right there. This is also the most photographed sites in the entire state.

There are two more falls in the state park, so of course we had a mapped out plan, but who follows those? We missed Pendelton Falls, but we did walk the trail from the Pendleton Overlook, which lead about 1.5 miles to another view point and gave us just a tiny section of still-leafed trees so we could pretend to be there in time for some gorgeous foliage. All the same, the gorge was pretty, again, as they all are, when you’re there. Note to Self: Nothing ruins standing on a cliff that falls into a gorge like a cell phone ringing – the silence button was created for that reason. Hikes. So, I have made it to the PA Grand Canyon this summer, shall we consider the gorge created by the Blackwater River the Grand Canyon of West Virginia? Also, from the Pendleton Overlook, you can see the upper and lower sections of Elakana Falls, pictured below. There is a perk to bare trees!

Even thought it was a rainy day and the leaves had run their course here, the hiking was good and there are plenty of overlooks, viewpoints and other waterfalls to get your fill of the entire day. Plus, the park rests between the small towns of Thomas and Davis, where you will get your mountain-town fill of breweries and burritos.

australianshepherd, hike, hiking with dogs, state park, blackwater falls

36 Hours in the Woods: Ricketts Glen

I took 36 hours to do whatever I wanted this past weekend. No schedules, no meetings and some rough plans; it was liberating, to say the least. I haven’t taken that time for myself in a long time, and got to see some of the most beautiful places in the Pennsylvania woods because of it.

Our first stop landed us in Jersey Shore, PA in hopes of finding an overlook to see Pine Creek Gorge, or – the PA Grand Canyon. This was on the way to Ricketts Glen with no out-of-the-way driving time. The south end of the gorge is situated right along this town, and after a few miles of envying the river-tubers, we realized we were taking a long road through the gorge and there was no overlook in the southern area. So, after a quick stop for lunch pointing and picking from signage (no Urbanspoon or Yelp reviews were used), we picked up and drove an hour north to one of the more popular overlook destinations – Leonard Harrison State Park. It was so beautiful – I can’t even imagine this place in the fall.

Gorge, Park, Mountain
Pine Creek Gorge (PA Grand Canyon) – Leonard Harrison State Park Overlook

After this short, out-of-the-way visit (worth it), we set off to Ricketts Glen State Park, tacking another hour onto our detour. It took us 6 hours to get there, but it was, quite simply, awesome. Settling in as car-campers, the trunk of the Kia was full. We were by no means minimalists, and I don’t think I ever will be.

Up at 6 am the next morning, we started the hike an hour later and took the easy Bear Walk Trail from Beach Lot 2 to Lake Rose Trailhead Parking, starting the Falls Trail over a mile into our hike with the 37-foot Mowhawk waterfall. We didn’t know what to expect, but the entire thing glorious, and one of the more frightening trails I’ve taken at this point (it really wasn’t that bad). The waterfalls came like waves once you saw the first one; you would walk out of earshot of the one behind you and begin to hear the rush of the next – and then you’d see a cliff in front of you. It was your next challenge to concentrate on climbing down and not be so excited that you’re shrieking like a girl in the middle of the woods… there was a reason we set out early enough that people wouldn’t be on the trail for our first few views, haha!

The trip as a whole was nothing short of amazing. I can’t wait to go on the next 36 or 48 hour trip with no time limits. The Mid-Atlantc is my oyster.