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Published: December 24th 2011
Ohiopyle Falls in the fall
I started today in Ohiopyle
Ohiopyle is a corruption of an Indian name that means "place of white foamy water".
The description is apt, because the park is located around a gorge of the Youghiogheny River.
The gorge is filled with rapids.
They are one of the most popular white-water runs
on the East Coast.
So popular, in fact, that all rafters, not just commercial trips, need to get permits in advance.
I had my fill of rating on the Gauley, so I didn't come here to raft.
I came here to hike and see more waterfalls.
The day started in downtown Ohiopyle to get breakfast.
Everything in the small town seems to revolve around rafting or hunting.
Downtown basically consists of the Falls Market
general store and a street of rafting outfitters, one after the other.
The general store sells rafting T-shits, among many other things.
It has a cafe at the back that has good inexpensive meals.
Ohiopyle State Park
The first waterfall is the centerpiece of the park, Ohiopyle Falls
It is located on the Youghiogheny River right in the
center of town.
The town was founded around a grist mill that used the waterfall for power.
The mill is long gone at this point.
The waterfall itself is a ten foot drop straight over a ledge.
It is unusually full for a waterfall in fall, because water is released into the river from a dam upstream.
These same releases are part of what make the raft run so popular.
A short hike brought me to the second waterfall, although calling it one is a stretch.
Its official name is the Cucumber Slides.
It consists of a long groove in rock worn by the Meadow Run over the decades.
The main groove is surrounded by potholes.
In early summer, when the water is high and warm, the groove becomes a natural waterslide.
Many people come up here to slide down the brook.
After the Slides, I hiked up the stream trail to the Cascades.
The trail was covered in foliage.
Parts of it involved scrambling over steep banks.
The cascades themselves are a series of glacial potholes that the
Foliage Reflected in Meadow Creek
Foliage reflected in a pool of Meadow Creek, at the bottom of the Cucumber Slides
brook flows through.
In high water, this area becomes the best fishing hole in the park.
In low water, it looks like a miniature version of the Slides, and is barely worth the trip aside from the hike itself.
My last waterfall was Cucumber Falls.
It is the highest waterfall in the park.
There is a road that goes near the falls, but I decided to hike there along the Youghiogheny from Meadow Run.
The trail went by two of the rapids
Eventually, it entered a side ravine, which ended at the waterfall.
This waterfall is a bridal-veil fall, in that it falls down as a number of streams.
It also shoots away from the rock face into a bowl, although not as dramatically as Hills Creek Falls.
The ravine has a number of small trees, which add to the beauty although they partially obscure the view.
The trail climbs near the waterfall, giving many different viewing angles.
After this, I had to hustle back to the car in order to make it on time for my next stop.
Upper Cucumber Slides
Top portion of the slide, in far too little water to slide
Everyone on earth knows that Frank Lloyd Wright designed Fallingwater
, which is located near Ohiopyle State Park.
What many fewer people know is that he also designed Kentuck Knob
, which is located only 15 minutes away.
He designed it in 1958, which makes it one of the last houses he finished.
Kentuck Knob is popular enough that getting a tour requires reservations made days in advance.
This is still better than the weeks to months in advance that it takes to see Fallingwater.
The road to the house climbs steeply out of the valley.
It then crosses fields with dramatic views of the surrounding countryside.
There was still peak foliage in this area, so this made it hard to watch the curving road!
Eventually, the road leveled out and reached the entrance to the house.
Kentuck Knob is built into the side of the hill with the same name.
It was built for the Hagan family, who owned a local dairy business.
Hagan brand ice cream (which is now made by someone else) is sold in the on-site cafe.
The house is
Cucumber Falls in low water
here because the Hagans visited Fallingwater often and really admired the design.
Eventually, the owners of Fallingwater introduced them to Frank Lloyd Wright
The house is now owned by Lord Columbo, a British real estate developer.
He opens the house to tours when he is not using it himself.
The style of the house is Usonian
, which is a word Frank Lloyd Wright made up.
The common features of these houses are that they are all on one level, have no attic, garage or other storage spaces (Frank hated clutter, apparently) and they use native materials.
They were intended to be relatively inexpensive.
The mere fact the houses are by Frank Lloyd Wright has made the last part almost impossible currently.
The house itself is made of native rock and cherry wood.
Cherry wood was chosen because it does not rot.
The house is designed on a hexagon pattern.
They are repeated throughout the house, from the shape of the kitchen to the skylights in the roof.
The living room takes up almost a third of the house.
It is designed so it
Outside of Kentuck Knob
View of the outside of Kentuck Knob, a Usonian house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright
is lit by natural sunlight most of the day.
The kitchen in the middle of the house has a dramatic skylight.
It has appliances that fold into the walls when not in use.
The bedrooms are at the back, in the part that is partially within the hill.
Looking out the windows standing up, all one sees is dirt.
Couch down to simulate lying in bed, and you see the landscape, as the architect intended.
Driving in Western Pennsylvania
After Kentuck Knob, I drove to Pittsburgh.
This involved a long stretch of mountain driving, with dramatic views and foliage to spare.
At one point, the road went down a steep hill between fields, giving a view that showed mountains stretching to the horizon.
Pittsburgh roads are hard to navigate
They have the hilliness of San Francisco combined with the confusing layout of most eastern cities.
There are also several tunnels and bridges over dry land, just in case things get too easy.
The city has created ‘beltways
', circular paths of streets marked on maps, to try and makes things easier.
I still got thoroughly lost.
View from Kentuck Knob Overlook
Just a small portion of the view from the overlook, a short hike from the Kentuck Knob house. The gap in the ridge to the right is Ohiopyle
Eventually, I found what I needed, the Inn on Negley
This is a Bed and Breakfast located in an authentically restored Victorian building.
Some people find this too chintzy for their taste, but as a history lover, I appreciated it.
The public rooms in particular felt like being in a time warp.
One uncommon feature was a gift shop selling stuff that is found in the inn.
Personally, I thought it diminished from the overall atmosphere, but it was easy to ignore.
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