We may be hikers, fishermen, and climbers, but sometimes, we moonlight as poets. (In the nature-inspired vein of Thoreau and Whitman!) And, today, friends, we’ve found ourselves a poem that is a state park. (And no, we’re not being metaphorical! The state park we’ve chosen to virtually tour this week is ACTUALLY a poem! In that it ALMOST rhymes! Whoever came up with the name was a poet, and he didn’t even know it!)
(Okay, we know that not all poems rhyme. But just go with it, alright?!)
Alright. So, you’re probably wondering what this poetic state park is. Drumroll, please! (Did you drum? Didn’t hear you. Oh well.) This poem of a park’s name is Ohiopyle State Park, located in none other than Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania.
Besides for being a poem of a park, Ohiopyle literally has more things to do than we’ve maybe ever seen in a state park. It’s almost exhausting to even think about, which is pretty spectacular. So, naturally, you’ll need a tour guide to wade through your options. And it’s lucky that you have one! On your Pocket Ranger® app! When you download the free PA State Parks app! And join the Post Grape-Nuts Fit “What’s Your Mountain?” Challenge! And win lots of cool prizes just for playing a fun game and checking out state parks! And now we’re going to stop up-talking and guide you through the best that Ohiopyle has to offer (in our own humble opinions.)
If you’re in the mood to say a word five times fast, we don’t suggest using this one: Youghiogheny. The Youghiogheny River Gorge is a main attraction for the park, and “provides some of the best whitewater boating in the eastern United States”, according to the park’s website. There are tons of class III and IV rapids – and if that means nothing to you, you should probably avoid tackling them. There are class I and II rapids at the Middle Yough, which makes for great beginner whitewater kayakers or experienced canoeists. It’s also a perfect place for families, because there are exciting rapids at normal river levels. Before you grab your boat and paddles, just know that inexperienced boaters should not attempt this river without qualified guides. For more information about whitewater boating at Ohiopyle, see here.
After hitting the rapids, you might want to stick with an aquatic theme. If that’s the case, stick to the Youghiogheny, because there’s great trout fishing – the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission stocks fingerling trout throughout the entire river within the park. Be sure to check the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Web site for specific regulations!
Seriously, this place is like a waterpark! If you head to Meadow Run, you can sit in the creek bed and ride the water through two natural waterslides.
If you’re thinking it’s time to head towards land, we’re on the same wavelength. Luckily, Ohiopyle has 79 miles of hiking trails! Since the park is nestled in the Laurel Highlands, there is a ton of beautiful scenery. One of these trails happens to be the Jonathan Run Trail, a 1.7 mile, easy hiking course. Along the way, you’ll spot some small waterfalls, including the Jonathan Run Falls. Make sure to head this way, because checking out the Jonathan Run Falls will earn you points on your GeoChallenge!
Can you believe we’re not even close to being done with listing all of the features of Ohiopyle State Park? Because it’s true. But we must forge on!
Ohiopyle is home to part of the Great Allegheny Passage, which is one of America’s best bike trails. There are 27 miles of bike trail in the park, which, interestingly enough, used to be the rail bed for the Western Maryland Railroad. The trail’s great for all ages and abilities, and you can rent bikes at the park. Additionally, it’s a biking-only trail; motorized vehicles and equestrians are not welcome. There are also 25.2 miles of mountain biking trails, including the Sugarloaf Trail System and Jonathan Run Trail.
We can’t even list them; that’s how much more there is!
You can horseback ride on 11.6 miles of trails that are shared-use, so be sure to check for hikers and such. You can rock climb whether you’re a beginner and top-roping or into sport routes. Over 18,000 acres of the park are open to hunting, trapping, and dog training.
In the winter, be sure to cross-country ski, sled, and snowmobile. Accommodation-wise, there’s tons of camping opportunities, including yurts! And of course, you’ll need to eat, so there are picnic areas equipped with picnic tables, grills, restrooms, and charcoal disposal areas. There are some scenic picnic areas, like the Tharp Knob Picnic Area, that’s next to the Tharp Knob Overlook. You’ll have a great view of the Youghiogheny River Gorge and the town of Ohiopyle. Plus, there’s a playground, volleyball court, and large ball field.
Wow. We tried to get the basics in there, so for specifics, please head to http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/findapark/ohiopyle/ or your Pocket Ranger® app! Happy GeoChallenging!