Waterfalls and scenic views in Western PA are plenty, but if you want to get away from the city, many of these destinations require some hiking or even trailblazing to find. And sometimes, you’re just feeling lazy but need some inspiration for your Instagram account. Or your grandma is in town and you want to show her all the cool places you’ve been. A trip to the Laurel Highlands is in store! And add 10 brownie points if the visits is in October because of the spectacular reds, golds and oranges of Pennsylvania’s foliage.
THE SUMMIT OVERLOOK | Route 40 East, Hopwood
The ultimate in scenic viewing without moving – drive on up the mountain and merge right onto the pull-off. Roll down the window, take in the sunsets ahead and listen to the semis behind.
Other Ways To See It: Find this view again without much effort at Laurel Caverns or if a hike is on your mind, pull off the road sooner at Lick Hollow and hike Pine Knob Trail 2 miles uphill.
OHIOPYLE FALLS | Ohiopyle State Park
Park, walk, see. This one is in the bag for Best Day Ever with Grandma, especially if she likes ice cream from nearby Falls Market, or even better, a craft beer from Falls City Pub around the corner.
Other Ways to See It: Hike around the peninsula with the Ferncliff Trails and end up on the other side of the falls, where the trail winds through river rocks and the water pools.
Cucumber Falls | Ohiopyle State Park
This is a FAN FAVORITE. I repeat, this is a fan favorite. There is also a steep set of wooden steps that freeze over in the winter (but falling on your ass is worth it). Easy access, but plan this view accordingly – major tourist crowds in the summer or icey steps of pain in the winter.
Baughman Rock | Ohiopyle State Park
Also an Ohiopyle fan favorite but no one will be standing in front of that spectacular view! Think “Pennsylvania canyon,” but not quite “Grand” and come back to this spot in autumn, too.
Other Ways To See It: As with most mountain views, park at the bottom and hike up. Parking – take a right past Falls Market in Ohiopyle and the lot is on your left.
Fallingwater or Kentuck Knob | Mill Run & Chalkhill, PA
Last but not least in this area, these two homes were designed by the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Fallingwater is the most popular, with the house built over a waterfall, but Kentuck has views of the countryside and the River Gorge (which the first owners covered up with trees. Yay, nature!) that are quite fantastic.
Other scenes nearby
At 3,200 feet, Mount Davis the highest mountain in Pennsylvania, and a lookout tower allows you to climb even higher. Or, head further southeast past Ohiopyle to Swallow Falls, Maryland or about an hour into West Virginia to Blackwater Falls. Both have scenic vistas and falls you can get to easily, or hike around if you prefer. Want more? Check out the UncoveringPA Blog for more scenic views across the state of Pennsylvania that you don’t have to hike to.