By Bob Downing for Columbus Monthly
Ohiopyle State Park
Drive from Columbus: 3.5 hours
Ohiopyle State Park in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands is a camping park, a paddling park, a bicycling park and a hiking park all in one. You can paddle the rapids of the Youghiogheny River or pedal the Great Allegheny Passage, a rail-trail that stretches 150 miles from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Maryland. There are also 80 miles of hiking trails, as well as 226 camping sites.
About 45 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, the 20,500-acre park in Fayette County is best known for the Youghiogheny (pronounced yawki-gay-nee), one of the most popular whitewater runs in the East. The 7-mile paddle from the hamlet of Ohiopyle includes a dozen bouncy and splashy rapids. For those looking for a different kind of ride, swimmers can, at certain water levels, bob through two natural water slides on Meadow Run, a side stream.