Great Allegheny Passage (Ohiopyle)
Sleep up, because the idea is to get out on the trails early. Exit the Turnpike in Donegal and fuel up at one of the many fresh produce stands. Then head to Ohiopyle, a not-so-sleepy little town where you can rent a great suspension bike, then get a taste of the Great Allegheny Passage. Park you car in the main lot, and from the trailhead, pedal in either direction — 1) North takes you across two bridges over theÂ Youghiogheny River. That’s where you turn around at Bruner Run for a 12-mile round trip, about an hour and a half in length. 2) Or you can go South all the way to Confluence and back for 22-miles of uncrowded, peaceful trails, about two and a half hours in length. This 150-mile collection of hiking and biking trails eventually connects Pittsburgh to Cumberland, MD. Not that you’ll go that far today, but it does something for the soul knowing how big the Great Allegheney Passage is.
Ferncliff Peninsula (Ohiopyle)
If hiking is more your style, then head off to Ferncliff Peninsula for a two hour hike you won’t forget. Get a good walking stick, some trail mix, and explore this National Natural Landmark, rich with rare and unusual plants. These plants wouldn’t normally grow in PA, but the microclimate in the river gorge allows the plants to thrive. Keep going, and stop to smell the flowers — there’s nothing like pausing before a bubbling stream in a field of wildflowers. But go to the Ohiopyle State Park Visitor’s Center first, and snag a free hiking guide. Make friends with the ranger and ask if there’s anything special going on for the day. And remember to pack a camera for a few snaps of the Meadow Run Waterslides where the water’s carved amazing boulders and cliffs. They’re cool enough to get geologists from all over the world out here. As the day turns to dusk and you find your way back to the car, you start feeling all those muscles in your legs you didn’t know you had. Time for a good meal and a cozy room.
Firefly Grill (Ohiopyle)
Fresh, good sandwiches and a bunch of backyard tables let you soak in the Ohiopyle while you nosh. They serve up cool wraps like the Summer Hummer (loaded with red pepper hummus and yumminess) and Thai Chicken with spicy peanut sauce. Don’t forget the fresh squeezed lemonade.
The Cottages at Fayette Springs (Chalk Hill)
These charming log cottages are chock full of the rustic beauty you’re looking for and are the perfect retreat for those tuckered out legs.