A Weekend in Ohiopyle
August 21, 2019
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Summertime and the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania go hand in hand. While this region is packed with things to do all year round, one of my favorite times is summer and visiting Ohiopyle State Park.
Ohiopyle is a short drive from Pittsburgh and so easy to get to. There are miles and miles of hiking trails, bike trails, and rivers to canoe, raft and kayak on. Fishing and camping abound so if you are an outdoor lover like we are, this is the place to be.
This particular weekend we drove out with a few planned activities and a lot of free time to just relax.
The center of the town of Ohiopyle is pretty much where you will need to be if you want to grab something to eat and drink, to shop a little and to rent bikes, rafts or kayaks. There are several guide companies one on either end of town. You can visit Laurel Highlands River Tours & Outdoor Center on Sherman Street near the Visitors Center. Here you can pretty much book anything, from rafting to zip-lining and is our favorite for bike rentals and white water trips. On the other end of town is Wilderness Voyageurs, where they too have bike tours and rafting trips as well as other activities and a great store to pick up some new threads! Be sure to check out their sale rack on the porch.
You also don’t want to miss the visitor’s center and the State Park Office. Check out the interactive display on the lower level and small gift shop on the upper level as well as an information desk to help you find everything you need for your visit. On the lower level, there is also an overlook of the falls and rapids which makes for a great photo op. There is a walking path along the river where you can step out onto an observation deck right above the falls, or walk along to the park area for a picnic and some time to dip your toes in the cold water of the Youghiogheny (yock-a-gay-nee) River or Yough (yock) for short!
If you are hungry, we highly recommend Falls City Pub, which is located just down the lane from Wilderness Voyageurs. It’s not a huge place, but they have plenty of room to spread out, both inside and out, as well as great music on the weekends, and their food is awesome!! You will not be disappointed.
And if you are looking for a more family-friendly atmosphere there are several places on the main block in town that are all great! The Falls Market Restaurant and Inn is right on the corner in town. Their food is great and they have a menu sure to please even the kiddos as well as delicious ice cream and sundaes! If you forgot to bring something with you or need to pick up a few groceries or necessities for your weekend, this is the place to do it. They really have a little bit of everything here and are super convenient. And our favorite pizza joint is, of course, Paddlers Pizza! But don’t limit yourself to just our picks, though we know you ‘ll love them, there are plenty of other stops in town for BBQ, Burgers, Ice Cream and Sweets.
If you are going through town and turn onto Sugarloaf Road, follow it up the long hill and on your left side, you will see a turn off to a parking lot and lookout. Take a short walk to the lookout (careful the rocks are slippery when wet) also known as Baughman rock and view the deepest gorge in Pennsylvania! And if you have the luck to come back in the fall, the view of the leaves is amazing.
Continue out along Sugarloaf Road for about 15 minutes and you will find your self in the tiny town of Confluence, rightly named as where the Casselman River, Laurel Hill Creek, and the Youghiogheny all meet. There are two must-visit food stops here, Rivers Edge Cafe Bed and Breakfast and Lucky Dog Cafe. Lucky Dog has awesome burgers and pizza that you can enjoy on their deck or in the comfort of their air-conditioned dining room, and they welcome well-behaved dogs as well, so bring your hiking buddy with you for a snack! If you are looking for something a step above pizza and beer, then head down to the Rivers Edge. We have eaten here many times and spent our Anniversary dinner here this year. They have indoor seating if you are so inclined, but we always sit on the porch overlooking the river. It is so peaceful and cozy and their food is excellent. We have had everything from sandwiches to steak and crab cakes and have enjoyed it all. Our first trip together to the area we rented bikes in Ohio Pyle and biked the rail trail to Confluence and had lunch on the porch at Rivers Edge and biked back. A long trip but worth it! While you are out this way you can also visit the Yough lake and spillway recreation area for an afternoon of boating and swimming.
While here this weekend, we were also fortunate enough to visit Christian Klay Winery for an afternoon of wine tasting and live music. They have a cute pavilion at the back of their barn and tasting room where the band set up and you were able to stay out of the sun. You can purchase bottles in the store along with a few snack items, that you can then enjoy outside. It was put together very nicely and we really enjoyed it.
There are many places to stay and camp when in the area. Benner’s Camping & Cabins is wonderful and their Benner’s Barns are great if you are more into the “glamping” scene.
However, this particular weekend, we hit the mother of all Glamping sites. I almost hesitate to even tell you where it was because I want it all to myself. But that sort of defeats the purpose of a travel blog now doesn’t it.
We stayed in Fort Hill at Campbell Farm Glamping Site. All I can say is WOW! Seriously Wow! As soon as I saw the webpage on VRBO I knew this was the perfect place for Brian and me to spend our Anniversary. The site is a large canvas tent on a platform, fully equipped with a front porch, queen size bed, tables, lamps, you name it! There is a separate “kitchen” area, with a cookstove, sink with running water, small fridge and all of the necessities you would need. There is an outhouse to use, but it is super clean as far as outhouses go and really does not smell! A wonderful clawfoot tub is available behind the kitchen and you can soak the evening away watching the sunset, then head over to the fire pit for the true camping experience.
This was truly the most relaxing weekend we have had in a long time. Neither one of us wanted to leave and we actually booked our weekend for next year before the first night even ended. If camping is your thing but the hassle of putting up the tent and carting a car full of supplies and food takes some of the fun out of it, then glamping is the way to go, and this site is perfection.
Before heading out of town at the end of our trip we made one last stop to the beautiful Kentuck Knob designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The grounds leading up to the home are just beautiful. There are a small gift shop and cafe where you can purchase your tickets for a tour of the home and surrounding grounds and grab a bite to eat while waiting for the bus to take you up to the house. The tour groups are small and the tour itself lasts only about 30 minutes. The home is very unique in its styling and the guide was quite informative. If you have the time while in the area, you should stop here for a relaxing few hours and enjoy the beauty.
There is plenty to do when in this area and this just touches on a very small few of them. Be sure to stay tuned for winter in the Laurel Highlands also and our visits to 7 Springs Moutain Resort and Hidden Valley for great skiing and other winter activities.