Twice As Far As Expected (Upper jonathan run Falls) - Pennsylvania / by sam taylor

Good Friday Morning!

It’s becoming ever more challenging to find a hike we haven’t done within an hour of Morgantown, but that’s exactly what today’s story is about. I make the joke that the only thing wrong with Ohiopyle State Park, in Pennsylvania, is that it isn’t in West Virginia. Joking aside, it is a lovely gem of a park, and within an hour of Morgantown - featuring whitewater rafting, biking, rock climbing, and hiking.

Somehow, even with visiting Ohiopyle several times, I had never made the trip to the Jonathan Run falls - surprising since the trail description says it is a 1.7mi one way hike. Excited for a moderate hike to waterfall, we set sail with a bit of water and a couple protein bars on an unseasonably nice winter day. Reaching the end of the Jonathan Run Trail, we realized we were in for more of an adventure than we expected - the trail was closed, due to flooding last season washing out the bridges. Regrouping, and realizing that it was after boating season, we headed for the Bruner Run take out parking lot, with a plan to walk the Allegheny Passage Trail back to the bottom of Jonathan Run.

Setting sail, it seemed that this would be a longer hike than we initially planned - but weather and daylight seemed to be on our side, and full of confidence, we were sure we had 3mph pace in us on the flat Allegheny Passage Trail. It was a lovely day, even with the leaves off, and we enjoyed a nice day with the trail mostly to ourselves. Reaching the bottom of Jonathan Run, we started up the bottom of the trail, below where the bridges had washed out. We found the lower Jonathan Run Falls, and had a rare moment for us - we bailed. The descent to the creek was extremely steep, and rains the night before had made the leaves and mud on the bank extremely slippery. We started down - realized that a slip was likely and high consequence and turned back. Feeling a bit defeated, we headed on up and heard the upper falls before we saw them Dropping down to the falls, the view made up for getting shut down on the lower, and we enjoyed a break and some water and did a bit of shooting. Another ephemeral falls on Fechter Run was running, but was very cluttered and woody (also probably from the floods).

Then we turned back, and realized that we had underpacked for the length of hike we were doing. Finally returning to the jeep, my GPS said 7.5mi total - a far cry from the food, water, and shoes that we had prepared for a 3.4mi roundtrip hike.

But its a price we were willing to pay for a new adventure within an hour of home.

Hope folks have a great weekend, and find some adventure of their own!