Ohiopyle State Park: Wikis


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Ohiopyle State Park
Pennsylvania State Park
Natural Monument (IUCN III)
Jonathan's Run Falls
Country United States
State Pennsylvania
County Fayette
Townships Dunbar, Henry Clay, Stewart
Location [1]
 - coordinates 39°50′30″N 79°26′03″W / 39.84167°N 79.43417°W / 39.84167; -79.43417Coordinates: 39°50′30″N 79°26′03″W / 39.84167°N 79.43417°W / 39.84167; -79.43417
 - elevation 2,259 ft (689 m) [1]
Area 19,052 acres (7,710 ha)
Founded 1965
Managed by Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Nearest city Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Locator Red.svg
Location of Ohiopyle State Park in Pennsylvania
Location of Ohiopyle State Park in Pennsylvania
Website : Ohiopyle State Park

Ohiopyle State Park is a Pennsylvania state park on 19,052 acres (7,710 ha) in Dunbar, Henry Clay and Stewart Townships, Fayette County, Pennsylvania in the United States. The focal point of the park is the more than 14 miles (23 km) of the Youghiogheny River Gorge that passes through the park. The river provides some of the best whitewater boating in the Eastern United States. Ohiopyle State Park is bisected by Pennsylvania Route 381 south of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The park opened to the public in 1965, but was not officially dedicated until 1971.

Ohiopyle State Park was chosen by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and its Bureau of Parks as one of "Twenty Must-See Pennsylvania State Parks".[2]


Natural history



Ohiopyle State Park features several waterfalls.

  • Ohiopyle Falls is a 20-foot (6.1 m) waterfall that spans the Youghiogheny River and is surrounded by the Falls Day Use Area located at the center of the park.[3]
  • Cucumber Falls is a 30-foot (9.1 m) bridal veil waterfall on Cucumber Run, a small creek which flows into the Youghiogheny River. It can be reached from Meadow Run Trail.[3]
  • Cascades is a woodland waterfall that is near the park office and is very popular with anglers.[3]
  • Jonathan Run Falls is a series of rhododendron lined waterfalls on Jonathan Run that can be seen by hiking on Jonathan Run Trail.[3]
  • Meadow Run Waterslides have unique geologic formations for exploration. There are ripples and potholes that have been carved into the stone by years and years of powerful currents and spinning rocks. Visitors to the park are permitted to ride these natural waterslides.[3]

Ferncliff Peninsula National Natural Landmark

Cucumber Falls

Ferncliff Peninsula is a 100-acre (40 ha) peninsula in the Youghiogheny River inside the park. Due to the warmer microclimate inside the gorge, seeds carried by the river from the south survive. It was declared a National Natural Landmark in November 1973 and was named a State Park Natural Area in 1992.[4] [3]


Native Americans

Ohiopyle Falls on the Youghiogheny River

The first known group of people to inhabit the Ohiopyle area were the Monongahela, a clan of the Mound Builders. These Native Americans disappeared from the scene just as European colonists began to arrive in North America. As the east coast was being settled, Native Americans who had lived closer to the Atlantic Ocean were exterminated or forced to flee to the west. Various tribe inhabited the Ohiopyle area at this time, but ultimately removed after the French and Indian War. One of the few remnants of American Indian culture in the area is the name. "Ohiopyle" (Ohio-pile) is thought to have been derived from the American Indian word ohiopehhla which means white frothy water.[5]

French and Indian War

The colonial powers of New France and the British Thirteen Colonies fought for control of the trading routes in the Ohio River Valley in what was then the northwestern frontier of America. The French were the first to explore the upper reaches of the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys. They built several forts in what is now western Pennsylvania, including Fort Duquesne, now in Pittsburgh. Fort Duquesne was built on the remains of Fort Prince George which the French had seized from the British. George Washington was sent by the colonial governor of Virginia to retake the all-important fort at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers. He was on two expeditions that passed through the Ohiopyle area. Washington tried to use the Youghiogheny River to reach Fort Duquesne quickly, but was forced to abandon the river passage by the waterfalls in the Ohiopyle area. Still, Washington pressed on to the Pittsburgh area. His troops encountered and routed a small party of French soldiers in the Battle of Jumonville Glen. One of these soldiers escaped to Fort Duquesne, and Washington was forced to quicky build a fort to prepare for the oncoming French attack. This was Fort Necessity, just southwest of Ohiopyle State Park. Washington's colonial forces were overwhelmed by the French and their Indian allies. The Battle of the Great Meadows at Fort Necessity and the earlier Battle of Jumonville Glen are considered the opening shots of the French and Indian War which would spread to the Old World and become the Seven Years' War. The loss at Fort Necessity marked George Washington's only military surrender. The British ultimately won the French and Indian war and the French were forced to leave western Pennsylvania.[5]

Pennsylvania or Virginia?

King George III declared that the area be an Indian Territory and that all European settlers were to leave. The settlers refused to leave and King George "bought" the land from the Iroquois in 1768. The land was claimed by both Pennsylvania and Virginia. The dispute of the territory lasted through the American Revolution and was not resolved until 1784.[5]

Whiskey Rebellion

The Whiskey Rebellion was a major test for the new government of the United States after the Revolution. The citizens of western Pennsylvania, mostly near Washington, PA, were not pleased with the excise tax on liquor and distilled drinks. This tax had been proposed by Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, passed by Congress, and signed into law by President Washington in 1791. The tensions of the whiskey tax intensified over the next three years and in 1794 there was a state of insurrection in the area. 13,000 militiamen under the direct command of George Washington were sent to put it down, and passed through the Ohiopyle area. The rebels "could never be found," according to Thomas Jefferson, but the militia rounded up 20 prisoners, clearly demonstrating Federalist authority in the national government. The men were imprisoned, where one died and two were convicted of treason and sentenced to death by hanging. But Washington pardoned them on the grounds that one was a "simpleton," and the other, "insane." The military suppression of the Whiskey Rebellion set a precedent that US citizens who wished to change the law had to do so peacefully through constitutional means; otherwise, the government would meet any threats to disturb the peace with force.[5]

Lumbering and tourism

The earliest European settlers to the Ohiopyle area were farmers, trappers and hunters. The population of the area expanded after the building of the National Road in 1811 that passed near Ohiopyle. This road made the area more accessible and connected it the eastern markets. Lumbering became the dominant industry. Smaller industries in the area included cooperages, tanneries, salt mining and coal mining.[5]

The construction of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the Western Maryland Railroad greatly accelerated the progress of the lumbering operations in Ohiopyle. Both railroads had stations in the borough. Several narrow gauge railroads were built up into the surrounding mountains. These smaller railways were able to efficiently transport to lumber to the sawmills and rail stations of Ohiopyle.[5]

The railroads alo brought tourists to Ohiopyle. The round trip ride from Pittsburgh to Ohiopyle was one dollar. Tourists flocked to the area to see the waterfalls and stay at the resorts that quickly sprouted up along the Youghiogheny River. The resorts had boardwalks, dancing pavilions, bowling alleys, fountains, tennis courts, and hiking trails. The rise of the automobile caused the end of the resorts at Ohiopyle. The buildings were torn down and the forests were allowed to regrow. The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy purchased the land and then sold it to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It was the first and largest park acquired under the Project 70 Land Acquisition and Borrowing Act with the governor approving the acquisition on August 8, 1964. Ohiopyle State Park was opened to the public in 1965 and was formally dedicated on May 28, 1971.[5][6]


A visitor rides a natural waterslide at Meadow Run

Ohiopyle State Park is a popular destination for rafting, kayaking, and canoeing, but it also has over 100 miles (160 km) of trails that are open to hiking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, mountain bikes and snowmobiles. The trails pass by several of the park's waterfalls and ascend the mountains to scenic overlooks.

A group of visitors prepare to run the Lower Yough just below Ohiopyle Falls

Whitewater paddling

The Youghiogheny River is the busiest section of whitewater east of the Mississippi River. The Lower Yough, a 7-mile (11 km) run, begins at Ohiopyle Falls and ends at the Bruner Run take-out. The Middle Yough begins at the Ramcat put-in near Confluence and ends just above the falls in Ohiopyle. One weekend per year or so, there is a race and festival devoted to the falls, and the state park permits paddlers to run the falls. Only rubber rafts, closed-topped canoes and kayaks are permitted in the river. All visitors must wear life jackets certified by the United States Coast Guard. The Lower Yough River is rated Class III to Class IV on the International Scale of River Difficulty, depending on water conditions; the easier Middle Yough is rated II, and Ohiopyle Falls is rated IV. All watercraft in the Lower Yough must display a state permit that can be purchased at the main park office. Boating must be in accordance with the Safety Code of American Whitewater. Inexperienced visitors are encouraged to hire one of the several private outfitters that offer guided trips down the rapids.[3]

Long-distance hiking, biking and equestrian trails

Ohiopyle Trestle, part of the Great Allegheny Passage

Ohiopyle State Park is connected end-to-end by the Youghiogheny River Trail South section of the Great Allegheny Passage, part of a 318 mile system (512 km) of off-road long-distance trails for hiking and biking between Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.

This rail-trail parallels the rapids from Ramcat to the Bruner Run take-out on either end of the park, and crosses over the "Loop" near the falls at Ohiopyle on a high trestle.[7] The trail system connects to a wide network of rustic hiking and equestrian trails, including the Appalachian Trail in Maryland. A network of hiking trails exist within the park itself. The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, part of the larger Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail, has its southern terminus at Ohiopyle State Park.[3]

Hunting and fishing

Hunting is permitted on 18,000 acres (7,300 ha) of Ohiopyle State Park. Hunters are expected to follow the rules and regulations of the Pennsylvania Game Commission. The common game species are Ruffed Grouse, Eastern Gray Squirrel, Wild Turkey, American Black Bear, White-tailed deer and Eastern Cottontail rabbits. Hunting of Groundhogs is prohibited. Loaded firearms are not permitted within 50 feet (15 m) of the river. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission assures that anglers will have plenty of chances to catch fish by stocking trout in the waters of Youghiogheny River. All fishermen are expected to follow the rules and regulations of the fish commission.[3]

Camping and picnicking

Visitors can stay overnight at Ohiopyle State Park's Kentuck Campground, or rent a cottage. The campground has 226 campsites with 27 of them being walk-in, tent only sites. All campsites have a picnic table and fire ring, modern restrooms with hot showers and flush toilets, and four playgrounds. The rustic cottages have electricity, but lack running water. Each cottage can sleep five people in single or double bunks.[3]

There are two picnic areas at Ohiopyle State Park. Both have tables, grills, restrooms, and pavilions. Cucumber Run Picnic Area is near Cucumber Run. Tharp Knob Picnic Area is near the Tharp Knob Overlook. It has a large ballfield, volleyball court, playground and two pavilions.[3]

Nearby state parks

A kayaker paddles down Ohiopyle Falls during the annual festival

The following state parks are within 30 miles (48 km) of Ohiopyle State Park:[8][9]


  1. ^ a b "Ohiopyle State Park". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. August 2, 1979. http://geonames.usgs.gov/pls/gnispublic/f?p=gnispq:3:::NO::P3_FID:1182881. Retrieved 2008-06-18.  
  2. ^ "Twenty Must-See Pennsylvania State Parks". Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/twenty/20parks.aspx. Retrieved 2007-08-08.   Note: Despite the title, there are twenty-one parks in the list, with Colton Point and Leonard Harrison State Parks treated as one.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Ohiopyle State Park". Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/parks/ohiopyle.aspx. Retrieved 2007-01-27.  
  4. ^ "National Natural Landmark summary". National Park Service. February 5, 2004. http://www.nature.nps.gov/nnl/Registry/USA_Map/States/Pennsylvania/NNL/FP/index.cfm. Retrieved 2009-05-09.  
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Michael D. McCumber. "Ohiopyle State Park Park Guide". FayWest.com. http://www.fay-west.com/ohiopyle/guide/history.php. Retrieved 2007-01-27.  
  6. ^ Forrey, William C. (1984). History of Pennsylvania's State Parks. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Bureau of State Parks, Office of Resources Management, Department of Environmental Resources, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. pp. 43–44, 60.   (No ISBN)
  7. ^ The Great Allegheny Passage - Youghiogheny River Section. Bike Washington. Retrieved 2009-12-04.
  8. ^ Michels, Chris (1997). "Latitude/Longitude Distance Calculation". Northern Arizona University. http://www2.nau.edu/~cvm/latlongdist.html. Retrieved 2008-04-23.  
  9. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Bureau of Planning and Research, Geographic Information Division. "2007 General Highway Map Fayette County Pennsylvania" [map], 1:65,000. Retrieved on 2006-07-27. Note: shows Ohiopyle State Park

External links


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