Visiting Cucumber Falls in the Winter

An Extraordinary PA Bucket List Experience!

A side view of Cucumber Falls, surrounded by a blanket of snow. Ohiopyle State Park, Fayette County, PA
A side view of Cucumber Falls, surrounded by a blanket of snow. Ohiopyle State Park, Fayette County, PA

Visiting Cucumber Falls in the Winter

Cucumber Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in western Pennsylvania. And in the winter it is even more extraordinary than in any other season.

So extraordinary, in fact, that I put it at the top of my “10 Amazing Winter Scenes at Ohiopyle State Park” article.

But don’t take my word for it. Check out the photos of Cucumber Falls below.

How to Find Cucumber Falls at Ohiopyle State Park

How to find Cucumber Falls at Ohiopyle State Park
A map showing the location of Cucumber Falls at Ohiopyle State Park.

The parking area for Cucumber Falls is located along Ohiopyle Road (see map above) just a minute or two from the town of Ohiopyle itself.

In the summer months the parking lot can fill up quickly, but in the winter it’s usually easy to find a spot and the park staff keep it plowed out.

Cucumber Falls sign at Ohiopyle Falls State Park, Fayette County Pennsylvania
Cucumber Falls sign at Ohiopyle Falls State Park, Fayette County Pennsylvania

Walking downhill on a gravel (you’ll have to take my word for it) path towards the falls, you’ll encounter the sign above. Just to the right of the sign is a staircase. At the bottom of the first set of stairs (maybe 4-5 steps) you’ll have your first look at the falls (see photo below).

The view from above Cucumber Falls on a winter day. Ohiopyle State Park, Fayette County, PA
The view from above Cucumber Falls on a winter day. Ohiopyle State Park, Fayette County, PA

Viewing Cucumber Falls

For some people – the view from the top is enough. And certainly on the day I shot this photo, it was a spectacular view. So even if you have mobility issues or trouble with stairs, you’ll have a chance to see something special.

But if you want to get a closer view or explore more angles, you’ll need to descend another flight of stairs. In the winter they can be quite icy, and I always recommend wearing some form of microspikes over your boots. Personally I use Kahtoola microspikes, but there are several other brands as well that will get the job done

A self-portrait at Cucumber Falls on a snowy winter day. Ohiopyle State Park, Fayette County, PA
A self-portrait at Cucumber Falls on a snowy winter day. Ohiopyle State Park, Fayette County, PA

Your reward for descending the second flight of stairs will be views like the one above.

Ice and snow at Cucumber Falls, Ohiopyle State Park in Fayette County, PA
Ice and snow at Cucumber Falls, Ohiopyle State Park in Fayette County, PA

At times there will be some excellent ice formations behind the falls (see photo above).

And at other times the entirety of Cucumber Falls will BE an ice formation (see photo below).

Cucumber Falls at Ohiopyle State Park is completely frozen in this winter scene.
Cucumber Falls at Ohiopyle State Park is completely frozen in this winter scene.

No two days at Cucumber Falls are ever the same, which is why I keep going back.

A stream-level view of Cucumber Falls on a winter day. Ohiopyle State Park, Fayette County PA.
A stream-level view of Cucumber Falls on a winter day. Ohiopyle State Park, Fayette County PA.

If you want to, you can descend the final set of stairs down to stream level on Cucumber Run.

The staircase leading down to Cucumber Run below Cucumber Falls. Ohiopyle State Park, Fayette County PA.
The staircase leading down to Cucumber Run below Cucumber Falls. Ohiopyle State Park, Fayette County PA.

Once you reach the bottom, you’ll have a partially-obstructed view of the falls like in the photo below.

A downstream view of Cucumber Falls after a fresh snowfall, Ohiopyle State Park, Fayette County, PA.
A downstream view of Cucumber Falls after a fresh snowfall, Ohiopyle State Park, Fayette County, PA.

On a winter day this is usually where I turn around and head back up the stairs.

Sign acknowledging the Keister family for donating the land and falls that became part of Ohiopyle State Park.
Sign acknowledging the Keister family for donating the land and falls that became part of Ohiopyle State Park.

As you reach the top of the stairs and pass the Cucumber Falls sign, you’ll notice this smaller sign on the back of it. A brief history lesson is needed to understand the significance of the smaller sign.

History of Keister Park and Ohiopyle State Park

In 1961 Mrs. Albert S.F. Keister gifted Cucumber Falls and 589 acres of surrounding land to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. In addition, Pittsburgh businessman and department store mogul Edgar Kauffman donated the 100 acre Ferncliff Peninsula to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy in 1962. These two parcels were the beginnings of Ohiopyle State Park in 1965.

The snow-covered bridge over Cucumber Run, just above Cucumber Falls. Ohiopyle State Park, Fayette County, PA.
The snow-covered bridge over Cucumber Run, just above Cucumber Falls. Ohiopyle State Park, Fayette County, PA.

More to See at Cucumber Falls

Heading back towards the parking lot you’ll see a pedestrian bridge over Cucumber Run.

Looking out over the top of Cucumber Falls on a winter day. Ohiopyle State Park, Fayette County, PA

From the center of the bridge you have a nice view out over the top of Cucumber Falls (see photo above).

Turning around, you can look upstream on Cucumber Run towards the Ohiopyle Road bridge over the stream (see photo below).

Looking up Cucumber Run, above Cucumber Falls, on a snowy winter day. Ohiopyle State Park, Fayette County PA.
Looking up Cucumber Run, above Cucumber Falls, on a snowy winter day. Ohiopyle State Park, Fayette County PA.

Retrace your steps back over the bridge and up the gravel path to the parking area.

My Final Thoughts on Visiting Cucumber Falls in the Winter

Cucumber Falls is a mesmerizing waterfall any time of year. But with the addition of snow and ice to the equation, the falls become even more stupendous.

While most people are hibernating and planning their next spring/summer adventures, you’ll be having an unforgettable experience by visiting Cucumber Falls in the midst of winter.

So do yourself a HUGE favor – put a winter visit to Cucumber Falls on your PA Bucket List!

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Love your new website!
    I lived in Fayette County for 20 years. (until 1972)
    I’ve been to Cucumber Falls many times.
    It is, of course, beautiful any time of year.

    • Thanks for checking out the site Patricia! You’re right of course – it is beautiful any time of year. I think winter just kicks it up a notch. Thanks again for checking out the site and look for more Fayette County posts in the near future.

  2. Very nice write up on a fantastic waterfall. I think this is a great website you are putting together. You are a fantastic photographer and were one of the big influences leading me to try to learn to take better pictures of waterfalls.

    • Thanks Chad – glad you enjoying the new site! I’m constantly trying to get better as well – it a journey, not a destination. Never stop learning!

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