Ohiopyle Falls - A short hike off the Passage.

There are dozens of interesting attractions just off the Great Allegheny Passage. One of the most popular is Ohiopyle Falls.

The Falls is actually a collection of ledges which culminate in the main falls which is 20' high. All of the small, and the big drop, are over a massive layer of Pottsville Sandstone. This highly erosion resistant course, gray rock is the geologic hallmark of the Laurel Highlands. All of the waterfalls from Ohiopyle Falls and the instantly recognizable Bear Run Falls which is associated with Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater to the lesser well know Sugar Run and Cole Run Falls plunge over the Pottsville Sandstone.

Because of the folded nature of the rock layers in this region the same sandstone forms the outcrop ledges of the region's natural vista's. Baughman Rocks just a few miles from Ohiopyle Falls, but over a thousand feet higher is made of the same hard gray sandstone.

There are several places to view Ohiopyle Falls which can easily be reached from the Passage. You can lock your bike to the racks outside the restored Western Maryland Railway Station in Ohiopyle and walk to any of them.

The easiest vantage point is from decks on the same side of the Youghiogheny River as the town. From the Train Station walk down to Rt 381 and cross to the other side into the Park. Follow the paths downstream a couple hundred feet to the viewing platforms. On this same side of the river there is a second overlook just downstream.

For the more adventurous, cross the Low Bridge just north of the Train Station. On the other side of the river there are stairs on the left side of the Passage. Go to the bottom of the stairs and you are on Ferncliff Trail. This trail follows along the rocky edge of the Youghiogheny River to high rocks across the river from the viewing decks. Look for a trail through the rhododendron thicket which leads just a few hundred to a large sandstone outcrop below the falls.

Finally, for a different view, and the one from which the accompanying photograph was taken, look for a set of ledges just to the left of the downstream vista trail that can be used to access the rocky area below the falls. You're on you own here since there are no established trails. And be careful, the rocks are slippery.

The whole side trip can easily be done is less than an hour and is worth taking and getting off the bike for a different experience.


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