Ohiopyle State Park located in the Laurel Mountains is great place to enjoy the outdoors with biking and hiking trails, waterfalls and more. A highlight of the park is the Youghiogheny River that offers kayaking and whitewater rafting experiences for all levels of bravery. The bold adventurers can tackle the class III and IV whitewater of the Lower Yough. For those of us that are daring but not quite fearless, the Middle Yough, with class I and II whitewater, offers an experience that balances thrill with relaxation.
|Middle Yough with class I and II whitewater thrills and relaxes|
In my younger days, I clung to a bouncing raft filled with my friends during a guided tour of the Lower Yough's fast moving whitewater. I am not quite as fearless now but still seek a river expedition. Laurel Highlands River Tours and Wilderness Voyageurs both offer a variety of ways to venture down the Middle Yough. Last fall I tried the “Pedal/Paddle”-a bike ride along the river and then a paddle down the Middle Yough in an single ducky (like an inflatable kayak.) There are also guided trips, 6 person rafts, and double duckys.Laurel Highlands River Tours and Wilderness Voyageurs make fun so easy. You leave your car in town. You can opt for a 20 min bus ride, take the “Pedal Paddle” where they fit you with a top notch bike, or bike on your own, up river to Ramcat Put -in. At Ramcat, guides provide brief instructions and then you’re on your own excursion. (There are guided middle river runs but since the rapids are smaller and slower, most opt to go it alone.)
|The 9 mile peddle up is shaded by a canopy of trees|
If you decide to “pedal up” it’s a relaxing 9 mile peddle up the Great Allegheny Passage Trail. It takes about 2 hours. You hardly notice the trail’s slight elevation as you enjoy the river to your left and the forest on your right. Much of this ride is shaded by a canopy of trees akin to a tunnel of leaves. There are rock formations, remnants of stone walls, a waterfall, and even plaques for those history buffs that enjoying reading about the trail’s railroad history.
I chose the bus ride this year which eliminates the cost of a bike rental. Everyone masked up and there was a buzz of excited chatter on the bus.
|You perk up to attention when you hear the roar of the churning water|
I like being the "captain of my ship" so an individual ducky is for me. Entering the river, I perked up to attention when I heard the slight roar of the distant churning of water signing an approaching rapid. The guides instructions, “keep paddling, stay right of the rocks and have fun” is all you really need. At first, my turbo paddling was a byproduct of my desire to get through it but I quickly gained a little more confidence with each rapid. I was “yahooing it” all the way through the last 1/3.
|You are surrounded by an emerald green outline of trees|