Riversport School of Paddling

Since 1981 Riversport School of Paddling has been teaching quality canoe and kayak instruction to thousands of beginner to advanced paddlers. They are the only outfitter who’s sole focus is teaching kayaking in the area. Their week long kids summer camps are wildly popular. They also do a parent/child week along with their standard group or private lessons by the day, weekend or week.

Confluence is arguably one of the very best spots in the world to learn to kayak. It’s like visiting Aspen, Colorado in the winter and not skiing.  We’ve got clean, warm, consistent water year round along with the perfectly progressive whitewater for a beginning paddler up to class V. Learn to roll on the warm Yough Lake, then learn to steer your kayak on the slow moving current of the Yough below the dam. Just downstream at Ramcat Rapid, you’ll learn to catch eddies, peel outs and ferries. Next it’s on to another local class II river like the Casselman, Laurel Hill or Cheat Narrows. From there you’ll have your choice of a variety of class III runs in the area like the Loop, Lower Yough, Upper Casselman, Cheat Canyon and other rain fed creeks and streams. For the experienced boater, you’ll most likely spend time on the Lower Yough working on technique to get you ready for the harder class IV-V runs in the area like the Upper Yough.

Riversport is on the bike trail, next to Lucky Dog Cafe (near the Tree and Riverhouse and a short walk from the Stonehouse). They also rent rafts, SUP boards, canoes and recreation kayaks for the Middle Yough float trip. They also have bike rentals and a whitewater retail shop.

If you are interested in a float trip but don’t want to spend the entire day on the river, ask about the Mini float. It’s perfect for families with small children or if you don’t have a lot of time.

Mt. Davis

The Mount Davis overlook tower offers a spectacular 360-degree view. The trails are pretty, especially in spring and fall. You can make this hike shorter or longer, as you wish. Mount Davis, at 3,213 feet, is the highest point in Pennsylvania. It is not a pinnacle but a broad flat plateau, and it’s surrounded by 5,685 acres of state forest land. Although not high by many standards, wind in the area keeps some of the trees stunted and frost can be present any month of the year. The mountain is named after John Nelson Davis (1835–1913), an early settler who was an active community leader, teacher, and ordained minister, among his many occupations. He was also one of the oldest Civil War veterans of his time, and an avid naturalist fascinated with the environment of Mount Davis. The overlook is about 20 min drive from Confluence.

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Ferncliff Peninsula

Ferncliff Natural Area is a 100- acre peninsula in the 20,000 acre plus Ohiopyle State Park. Hemlock, tulip poplar, oak, and black birch are some the tree species, with the oldest about 200 years. The peninsula is created by a meander in the Youghiogheny River which flows north into Pennsylvania from West Virginia and Maryland carrying seeds from that region. The warmer microclimate inside the river gorge allows these plants to survive. It is a good example of a late successional forest in the Allegheny Mountains, and forever protected. Views of the river and the falls can be seen from the relatively easy trail. This is a very popular ecotourism area.

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Ohiopyle State Park

Located on the southern reaches of the Laurel Ridge, Ohiopyle State Park encompasses approximately 20,500 acres of rugged natural beauty and serves as the gateway to the Laurel Highlands. Close to major metropolitan areas and offering vast choices of activities, Ohiopyle State Park attracts millions of visitors annually. Confluence is 5 miles from the park. It’s a 15 minute drive to the Falls.

Passing through the heart of the park, the rushing waters of the Youghiogheny [yawki-gay-nee] River Gorge are the centerpiece for Ohiopyle. The “Yough” [yawk] provides some of the best whitewater boating in the eastern United States, as well as spectacular scenery.

Ohiopyle is the southern gateway into the Laurel Highlands and represents the beautiful natural resources and unique sense of community that visitors can find throughout the region.

More information here

Bear Run Nature Reserve

Bear Run Nature Reserve (BRNR), the largest property owned by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, is located in the Laurel Highlands of southwestern Pennsylvania.

BRNR is managed to protect, conserve and restore land and water for the diversity of the region’s native plants, animals, and their ecosystems. Streams and watersheds, forests, and common and rare native species are the focus of management. BRNR is integral to biodiversity conservation in the Laurel Highlands and the mid-Appalachian region.
Second-growth hardwood and hemlock forests, characteristic of this region, are the primary land cover in the reserve. Four high-gradient clear water streams flow through BRNR land. The reserve protects almost all of the Bear Run and Laurel Run drainages, as well as portions of seven other drainages, including the Youghiogheny River. The Bear Run and upper Lick Run drainages in BRNR are designated Biological Diversity Areas (BDA) due to the presence of species of state and federal concern.

More information here

Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail

The Laurel Highlands Hiking trail is a 70-mile backpacking and hiking trail in Western PA. Part of the Potomac Heritage Trail, it is one of the most celebrated Pennsylvania hiking trails for its varied terrain and wondrous beauty.

The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail runs from Ohiopyle State Park to the Laurel Ridge State Park meeting the 1,000-foot Conemaugh Gorge near Johnstown. It traverses state parks, forests, game lands, preserves and other public and private lands.

On the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, you’ll pass eight overnight areas approximately every 8 to 10 miles. All are equipped with fresh water, Adirondack-style shelters, tent pads and comfort stations. Whether or not you stop along the hiking trail is up to you. But, you’ll never be far from a place to rest, relax, or call it a day.

The Ohiopyle State Park and the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail are open year-round, and visited by over one million people every year. But with almost 20,500 acres of natural beauty and scenic vistas throughout the park, you’ll find it as peaceful as it is beautiful. The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail is blazed approximately every 100 feet with 2-inch and 5-inch yellow blazes. Connector trails lead to and from parking and shelter areas and are marked with blue blazes. Mileage monuments are every mile. Pets are permitted.

More information can be found here

Laurel Caverns

Laurel Caverns is a large natural calcareous sandstone cave located 20 miles west of Confluence.   Most of the passage ceilings in its three mile labyrinth are between ten and twenty feet high (many as high as 50 feet) with an average width of over twelve feet.  This makes it the largest cave in Pennsylvania.  The cave itself is situated beneath a 435 acre privately owned geological preserve.  Because this property is at the top of Chestnut Ridge, all of the water that enters the cave is pristine.

Because of its size, Laurel Caverns is also the largest natural bat hibernaculum in Pennsylvania.  In commitment to its preservation mission, the cave is closed during the primary months of the bat hibernation season, November through April.  The cave is essentially empty of bats from May through October.

Visit the Laurel Caverns Website

Ohiopyle House Cafe

From their website:

The Ohiopyle House Cafe has served many different items over the years but we’ve come to appreciate the importance of locally grown and organic foods. Our farm-to-table menu items debuted on our menu in 2014 and were extremely well receive and super popular. We are now proud to serve many items from local farmers. And when we can’t buy local, we try to buy organic. We serve locally roasted organic off from Old Linn Run Coffee Bean Roastery. We even serve locally brewed and organic beers. And don’t forget to try one of our fruit infused waters or cocktails!

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Stone House Inn and Tavern

From their website:

Get ready for a historic dining experience!
Serving since 1822 gives us a rich a history that not many current dining locations can match. Dine where business entrepreneurs, famous politicians, and thousands of travelers have enjoyed great food and great service perfected over the last 190 years!

Also don’t miss a stop at their butcher shop next door and pick up some quality meats and rubs for grilling at the house. STONE HOUSE BUTCHER & PROVISIONS.

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