Ohiopyle State Park has no shortage of waterways and outdoor trails for visitors to enjoy at any given time. There’s a little bit of everything in the nearly 20,000-acre park -- something that several local groups are trying to promote in an upcoming weekend-long event.
The first of its kind, the Ohiopyle Falls & Trails Trilogy will highlight “the variety of recreational activities the river valley provides by giving river and trail lovers alike a weekend of paddling over the Ohiopyle Falls, trail running and mountain biking,” according to officials with the Mountain Watershed Association (MWA).
The MWA, Ohiopyle Biking Club, Wilderness Voyageurs, Inhale Exhale Run LLC and Ohiopyle State Park are all co-hosting the inaugural event that’s slated for October 12 and 13.
Eric Harder, Youghiogheny Riverkeeper, also noted that local businesses have been supportive of the upcoming event, several of them even making donations and assisting with design elements.
“There have been several other running, biking and paddling events, but never all in the same weekend,” said Harder. “MWA has really been trying to increase awareness of the amazing outdoor recreation opportunities that surround us in the Laurel Highlands.”
“We feel the more time people connect with the natural world, the more they will act like stewards to our surroundings,” Harder added.
The two-day event kicks off at 8 a.m. Saturday with what they call the “Mountain Biking Club Poker Run.” In a three-hour window, riders will descend 1500+ feet to Ohiopyle using whichever trail they prefer -- but they have to stop at five checkpoints along the way.
At each checkpoint, riders will draw a single playing card from a deck of cards -- giving them a total of five cards to form their poker hand by the time they make it to the final checkpoint. The rider with the best hand will win a portion of the entry fees.
And though the path chosen is at the discretion of the rider, it should be between 8 and 15 miles, if the routes are followed correctly.
At 9 a.m. that same morning, the Ohiopyle Falls “Day Pass” kicks off, with users encouraged to put-in right above the falls on their first lap, according to MWA officials. Take-out will be at the Lower Yough Loop Take-out upon the final lap.
The actual race, which begins at noon, will have racers starting at the Middle Take-Out and finish at the bottom of the Ohiopyle Falls.
Saturday’s events will wrap up in the evening with a concert near Wilderness Voyageurs, band to be announced later.
Events pick back up the following day with the 10k, half marathon and full marathon all beginning at 8 a.m. in Ohiopyle.
“All three trail races are on single-track, technical, hilly, rock terrain for 95 percent of the courses,” MWA officials noted. A mandatory meeting at 7:45 a.m. on race-day will get runners ready for the races ahead.
The top three men and women in each race will be awarded, with all finishers will receive a finisher medal and an Ohiopyle Falls & Trails Trilogy T-shirt.
All three races have detailed directions and course information available on the Ohiopyle Falls & Trails Trilogy Facebook page. The trio of races do have cut-off times of 10 hours.
Registration is currently open. Participants must be at least 13 years old by Oct. 12, and fees are associated with all entries.
The weekend also happens to be the same for the annual Buckwheat Festival in Ohiopyle.
“We feel it’s going to be a great weekend to head to the Mountains to experience the outdoor events, the Buckwheat Festival, and to take in the beauty that Ohiopyle State Park has to offer,” Harder said.