Cucumber Falls – The Ultimate Visitors Guide

Everything You Need to Know about Cucumber Falls at Ohiopyle State Park.

An autumn view of Cucumber Falls at Ohiopyle State Park.
An autumn view of Cucumber Falls at Ohiopyle State Park.

Cucumber Falls at Ohiopyle State Park is the most photogenic, and probably the most photographed, waterfall in western Pennsylvania.

A fact not lost on the folks at travellemming.com when they recently voted the Laurel Highlands one of the 30 best emerging travel destinations in the world.

Along with nearby Fallingwater and the Jonathan Run Trail (western PA’s best waterfall hike), Cucumber Falls is every nature photographer and waterfall lover’s dream.

A graceful 30 foot drop that looks simply magnificent in all seasons and at all water levels.

A young explorer checking out Cucumber Falls.
A young explorer checking out Cucumber Falls.

So where exactly is Cucumber Falls and what do you need to know before you visit?

How to Find Cucumber Falls

A map showing the location of the Cucumber Falls parking lot at Ohiopyle State Park.
A map showing the location of the Cucumber Falls parking lot at Ohiopyle State Park.

Cucumber Falls is located along Cucumber Run (a tributary of the Youghiogheny River), just outside of the town of Ohiopyle in Fayette County, PA.

A large parking lot along Ohiopyle Road is located just a few dozen yards from the top of the falls.

The parking lot at Cucumber Falls.
The parking lot at Cucumber Falls.

While it looks empty here (owing to the early hour I usually visit this one), the Cucumber Falls parking lot fills up fast, especially on weekends.

Cucumber Falls sign at Ohiopyle State Park
Cucumber Falls sign at Ohiopyle State Park.

A staircase leading to an upper observation area, and then on down to the base of the falls, is located just a few steps from the the gravel parking lot.

Keister Park sign at Cucumber Falls.
Keister Park sign at Cucumber Falls.

On the back of the large Cucumber Falls sign is a smaller sign indicating that Cucumber Falls was once part of Keister Park, a privately owned parcel of land.

The history of Keister Park as it relates to Cucumber Falls and Ohiopyle State Park.
The history of Keister Park as it relates to Cucumber Falls and Ohiopyle State Park.

As you can read at the nearby Visitors Center in town, Ohiopyle State Park came into existence as a result of sizeable land donations by the Keister and Kaufmann families.

That land includes Cucumber Falls and 589 acres around it.

Viewing Cucumber Falls from Above

Cucumber Falls surrounded by snow and ice.
Cucumber Falls surrounded by snow and ice.

Despite being referred to as a “roadside waterfalls” in many publications, it should be noted that Cucumber Falls is not wheelchair accessible. A handful of stair steps separates the parking lot from the upper observation area.

From this upper observation are you catch your first glimpse of the falls.

Frozen Cucumber Falls as viewed from the upper observation area.
Frozen Cucumber Falls as viewed from the upper observation area.

In the winter, when the falls sometimes freeze solid, you can be sure that the remaining steps down to the falls are equally icy.

So either come prepared with microspike on your boots, or don’t go beyond this point! Doing so puts you at risk of serious injury.

Stairs leading to the bottom of Cucumber Falls.
Stairs leading to the bottom of Cucumber Falls.

Leading from the upper observation area down to Cucumber Run is a second set of stairs.

And if you are physically able, this is really the spot you want to view Cucumber Falls from.

Viewing Cucumber Falls from Below

High flow and muddy water at Cucumber Falls.
High flow and muddy water at Cucumber Falls.

As I stated in the opening paragraph – Cucumber Falls looks magnificent in any season at any level of water flow.

High flow at Cucumber Falls.
High flow at Cucumber Falls.

After a drenching rain the falls can cover nearly the entire amphitheatre of rock as the water plunges 30 feet to the pool below.

Low flow at Cucumber Falls.
Low flow at Cucumber Falls.

In late summer / early fall when the area is usually at its driest, Cucumber Falls more closely resembles a silver needle piercing the air.

Vibrant fall foliage at Cucumber Falls.
Vibrant fall foliage at Cucumber Falls.

Not every autumn is dry in the Laurel Highlands – sometimes you get lucky and the water levels are high when the foliage is changing.

Hoar frost surrounding Cucumber Falls.
Hoar frost surrounding Cucumber Falls.

When conditions are perfect in the winter, a thin layer of hoar frost turns Cucumber Falls into something out of a “Frozen” fairytale.

Rusty Glessner behind Cucumber Falls.
The author behind Cucumber Falls.

Standing behind the falls gives you another visual and auditory perspective.

A side view of Cucumber Falls after heavy rain.
A side view of Cucumber Falls after heavy rain.

The runoff after a heavy rain turns Cucumber Run into something resembling the river in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

Cucumber Falls surrounded by a fresh blanket of snow.
Cucumber Falls surrounded by a fresh blanket of snow.

Winter is, by far, my favorite season to visit Cucumber Falls.

Cucumber Falls frozen solid after a prolonged coldspell.
Cucumber Falls frozen solid after a prolonged coldspell.

Seeing the waterfalls grind to a frozen halt is a sight you won’t soon forget!

Final Thoughts

Cucumber Falls on a summer morning.
Cucumber Falls on a summer morning.

If you could visit only one waterfall in western Pennsylvania, THIS is the one I would recommend.

Thousands upon thousands of people do just that, all year, every year.

And have done so for more than 100 years.

But if you’re STILL not convinced you need to see Cucumber Falls, check out this compilation of video clips I put together from some of my favorite trips there in recent years.

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