Pack your sweaters and grab some friends! You’re about to take a vivid, three-day trek through the beautiful Laurel Highlands. When Happy Travelers stop by this autumn, they’ll find themselves surrounded by color on an exploration of history, architecture and covered bridges. Oh, and don’t forget your camera — this leaf peeping trip is sure to make your Instagram followers jealous.
Nearly 200 of the estimated 1,600 covered bridges across the world are right here in PA. Though it’s a fraction of what used to dot the landscape at peak usage, PA’s 67 counties are home to at least one covered bridge
Your leaf-peeping journey begins with a stop at three of Somerset County’s 10 covered bridges. Start at the two-span Barronvale Bridge in Rockwood —the longest covered bridge in the county — to cross Laurel Hill Creek; then travel just over five miles to see King’s Bridge, which was built in 1906 and rebuilt in 2008; and finally, take a leisurely 20-minute drive down state Route 3007, and take in the stunning colors surrounding Lower Humbert Bridge, a king post truss bridge built in 1891. These picturesque relics of a bygone era are just the beginning of cheery PA autumn landscapes and historic sites that you’ll see during your trip.
River’s Edge Café
If you’re feeling peckish after spending time in the bracing fall air, sustenance is only a few minutes away. Travel just over six miles to enjoy the casual elegance of the River’s Edge Café on the banks of the Youghiogheny River. Dine on the wrap-around porch overlooking the river, or inside the old world 1890s farmhouse.
Nemacolin Woodlands Resort
After you’ve enjoyed a relaxing lunch, weave your way just 15 miles to US-40 to Nemacolin Woodlands Resort — the stunning place where you’ll rest your head during this getaway. You won’t want to do much sleeping at the resort, though, with so much ziplining, golfing, and adventure to be had!
After a good night’s rest, you’ll travel north for just over an hour to the historic borough of Ligonier, which once played a key role in the French and Indian War. Travel back in time the second full weekend in October when the town pays tribute to its past during Fort Ligonier Days, which features reenactments, a parade, and food.
On your way back to Nemacolin, take a detour to Fallingwater® — you won’t regret it! Designed by renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the natural setting of the Laurel Highlands was the inspiration for the house, which is cantilevered over a waterfall. While you’re in town, catch another Wright masterpiece, Kentuck Knob, which is just six miles from Fallingwater®. The view from Kentuck Knob overlooking the Youghiogheny River Gorge is one of the most panoramic and scenic in all of the Laurel Highlands. It’s a perfect canvas for the vibrant fall colors — and #PAHappySnaps worthy! So, pull out your camera and frame that perfect shot.
Ohiopyle House Café
Have you worked up an appetite yet? If so, drive just a short distance to the quaint Ohiopyle House Café, where you will discover a farm-to-table menu that features locally grown and organic foods. Try the locally roasted organic coffee too from Old Linn Run Coffee Bean Roastery for an extra boost of caffeine.
Now that you are thoroughly exhausted from a full day’s adventure, travel back to Nemacolin Woodland Resorts to rest your head.
Ohiopyle State Park | Great Allegheny Passage
The last day of your Laurel Highlands excursion is all about outdoor adventure, so make sure your hiking shoes are laced tight and your water bottle’s full. Ohiopyle State Park attracts millions of visitors every year — and you’ll see why. From your cozy lodgings, travel a little over seven miles on route 381, and from there, you have several paths you can take depending on your plans. For bikers, you’ll want to ride the Great Allegheny Passage from Confluence to Ohiopyle. This 11-mile ride has the perfect fall canopy of crimsons and burnt oranges. If hiking is more your speed, take Baughman Trail to the Baughman Rocks Overlook. This steep, rocky 3.4-mile trail is a challenging hike, but well worth the effort to see the dramatic panoramic vista of the Youghiogheny River Gorge.
Christian W. Klay Winery
Need a little break after your refreshing jaunt? At 2,300 feet, Christian W. Klay Winery has the highest elevation of any vineyard east of the Rockies. While known for its fun special events, a highlight for any devoted leaf-peeper is to hop on the winery’s hay wagon and head to the top of the vineyard to see the amazing view.
Don’t forget to stop for sustenance on your way back home! Voted #1 for their burger in Ohiopyle — along with their fresh cut fries — Falls Market has a little something for everyone. For more than 100 years, Falls Market and Inn has been providing delicious homemade soups, fresh-pressed burgers, and hand-dipped ice cream cones. Plus, they’re open year-round, so you can grab a delicious meal no matter what the season!