The Laurel Highlands is home to natural elements that will "wow" even the most seasoned travelers. And just like the seven wonders of the world, the seven wonders of the Laurel Highlands are must-sees during your next visit to the region. From the highest point in Pennsylvania to the river that intimidated a young George Washington, these unique marvels can only be found in southwestern Pennsylvania.
Ohiopyle Falls, one of many waterfalls in Ohiopyle State Park, features a 20-foot drop of powerful rushing water that spans the entire width of the Youghiogheny River. Visitors can easily access the falls by parking on the main road in town or in the Laurel Highlands Falls Area Visitor Center parking lot. On your way to the observation deck, read some of the interpretive signage about the history of whitewater and the falls, including the story of George Washington’s run-in with the powerful river. Ohiopyle Falls can also be viewed from the opposite side of the river by taking a short hike on the Ferncliff Trail.
Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater is nestled in the Laurel Highlands. Perhaps the architect's most famed home, Fallingwater was commissioned by the prominent Kaufmann family of Pittsburgh. The family loved the waterfall on Bear Run, so Wright made it a part of their vacation estate. Dramatically cantilevered over the waterfall, the house exemplifies Wright's concept of organic architecture: the harmonious union of art and nature. Fallingwater is the only major Wright-designed house to open to the public with its original furnishings, artwork and setting intact. Check something off of your bucket list and schedule a tour during your next visit to the Laurel Highlands!
Hemlock Grove in Laurel Hill State Park
Laurel Hill State Park is the perfect destination for winter sports, family fun, hiking, wildlife and bird watching and camping during any time of year. Seventy-five years ago, the Civilian Conservation Corps revived the landscape after heavy timbering and the only untouched area is the Hemlock Trail Natural Area. The hemlocks are at least 200 years old and measure up to three-and-a-half feet in diameter. Take a peaceful trek on the 1.6-mile Hemlock Trail loop, which leads you along the banks of the Laurel Hill Creek and through the grove of stately towering trees.
Spruce Flats Bog in Laurel Summit State Park
Make a stop at Spruce Flats Bog, a unique vantage point and home to beautiful plant life, including carnivorous plants, that is unique to our area.
Home to unique plants not usually found in this region, Spruce Flats Bog is shrouded in geological mystery, most likely created by glacial activity in the last Ice Age. The less than a half a mile stroll from the parking area at Laurel Summit ends at a deck overlooking the 28 acres of swampy and moss covered land. This region is a great place for bird watching.
Mount Davis in Forbes State Forest
The highest point in Pennsylvania is located in the Laurel Highlands! Mount Davis, located in Forbes State Forest in Somerset County, is situated 3,213 feet above sea level on the crest of a 30-mile ridge line. Adventurers will find a large parking lot off of Mount Davis Road and can walk about 100 yards to the peak, making it easily accessible by car. The expansive view from the summit is absolutely breathtaking, but feel free to climb to the top of the nearby observation tower for a better view of the rolling hillsides and picturesque mountains.
Laurel Caverns is a natural calcareous sandstone cave with more than four miles of passages, making it the largest cave in the state by volume and area! While your typical cave features stalactites, Laurel Caverns boasts sandstone walls sculptured by wind and water currents millions of years ago. Today, visitors can explore the cave on a traditional one-hour tour, go spelunking, pan for gemstones and play miniature golf in Kavernputt, the world's largest simulated cave.
Pennsylania's state flower, mountain laurel, is abundant in the Laurel Highlands! The beautiful shrub keeps its foliage year-round, but keep an eye out in May and June for umbrella-like flowers that range in color from white to pink, with unique purple markings. Want to see the spring flowers yourself? Lucky for you, they can be found in many Laurel Highlands state parks and forests and on Fallingwater's property!
Narrowing down the list of wondrous places in the Laurel Highlands to just seven was a daunting task. Be sure to tell us your favorite natural wonders in the region.