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.
A graceful 30 foot drop that looks simply magnificent in all seasons and at all water levels.
So where exactly is Cucumber Falls and what do you need to know before you visit?
How to Find Cucumber Falls
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
As I stated in the opening paragraph – Cucumber Falls looks magnificent in any season at any level of water flow.
After a drenching rain the falls can cover nearly the entire amphitheatre of rock as the water plunges 30 feet to the pool below.
In late summer / early fall when the area is usually at its driest, Cucumber Falls more closely resembles a silver needle piercing the air.
Not every autumn is dry in the Laurel Highlands – sometimes you get lucky and the water levels are high when the foliage is changing.
When conditions are perfect in the winter, a thin layer of hoar frost turns Cucumber Falls into something out of a “Frozen” fairytale.
Standing behind the falls gives you another visual and auditory perspective.
The runoff after a heavy rain turns Cucumber Run into something resembling the river in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.
Winter is, by far, my favorite season to visit Cucumber Falls.
Seeing the waterfalls grind to a frozen halt is a sight you won’t soon forget!
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.