Few places in the Potomac Heritage Trail corridor offer so many outdoor recreational opportunities as this segment of the Great Allegheny Passage—actually there are few places like this anywhere. This trip involves an easy 10.5-mile bike ride or walk from Ohiopyle, the focal point of a State Park by the same name, to the little town of Confluence, where one finds many eateries and options for lodging. Seasoned cross-country skiers can make this a day trip, though skiers of all abilities can enjoy a couple miles along the Youghiogheny River. This is a hugely popular spot, so if you’re looking for solitude, plan summer visits for weekdays–the wildflowers of spring and the colors of autumn, though, might be the best time of year.
Trailhead. The trip begins in Ohiopyle, a major hub for recreation within Ohiopyle State Park, the southern gateway to the Laurel Highlands and the southern trailhead for the 70-mile Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail. The central feature of the 20,500 acre park is the Youghiogheny (“yaw-ki-gay-nee”) River Gorge: The “Yough” (“Yawk”) provides some of the best whitewater boating in the eastern United States, as well as spectacular scenery. (See below for directions, or visit the park’s website.)
0.0 Ohiopyle. There is a restroom in the visitor center located in the depot. Other restrooms are near the falls. A general store, a B&B, hotel and outfitters are all within a few blocks.
8.7 Ramcat. Ramcat provides a boat launch and restrooms. There is a small snack bar here.
10.5 Confluence. The town has restaurants, B&Bs, food and a pharmacy. Trail services include a campground, bike shop and paddling school. To access them turn left on the pedestrian bridge to cross the Youghiogheny River. All attractions are within a few blocks. Originally called Turkeyfoot for the shape formed by the streams that join here. The campground, bike shop, padding school and one restaurant are along the trail. There are restaurants, a hardware store, banks with ATMs and more. All attractions are within a few blocks. There are also multiple B & Bs and several guest houses either right in town or within a few miles.
For a complete listing of the many visitor services in Confluence and nearby attractions, www.visitconfluence.info.
Directions to Ohiopyle State Park
From the East. From the PA Turnpike, take Exit 110, Somerset. Take PA 281 south 25 miles to Confluence. Continue three miles uphill and at the church, turn right onto Sugarloaf Road, SR 2012. Continue nine miles to Ohiopyle.
From the South (DC, MD, VA). Take I-270 north to Frederick, then I-70 west to Hancock, then Rt. 40 and I-68 through Cumberland. Take Exit 14 (Keysers Ridge) to Rt. 40 west to Farmington, PA. Turn right onto PA 381 north for eight miles to Ohiopyle.
It is most famous for whitewater rafting, but there is also a network of short trails. It’s a memorable spot for fishing, too. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are the best ways to experience solitude in the woods in winter.
Ohiopyle State Park
P.O. Box 105
Ohiopyle, PA 15470-0105
For paddling and bike tours
Great Allegheny Passage