Check out these Instagram-worthy spots in the Laurel Highlands
From natural wonders to world-class architecture, the Laurel Highlands of Western Pennsylvania has thousands of photo-worthy sights to see.
"It's been said that a picture is worth a thousand words," says Anna Weltz, public relations director for the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau. "In some cases, an amazing Instagram photo can be worth a thousand likes."
The LHVB recently shared a round-up of some of the most popular images that visitors and residents alike share on social media.
They're all definitely worth a few hours or a day of your time — to see for yourself, as well as to share the snaps you take with your family, friends and followers.
The bureau recommends:
Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater
Travelers the world over make the pilgrimage to Wright's iconic architectural masterpiece, perched since 1937 atop Bear Run in Fayette County. If any one place is a must-see for Laurel Highlands residents and visitors alike, Fallingwater is it. Picture-taking is not allowed during interior tours of Fallingwater, but no worries — the exterior is a work of art like no other, and you can get shots of it from a number of dramatic vistas on the grounds.
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Cucumber Falls at Ohiopyle State Park
Cucumber Falls is undoubtedly the most-photographed natural wonder in the Laurel Highlands, according to the LHVB. As the seasons change, so does the waterfall, making it a beautiful backdrop in all seasons: a torrent in spring, a trickle in summer, framed by colorful foliage in fall, ice-covered in winter. There's an overlook at the top and a rustic stairway leading down to base of the falls, with plenty of photo-op spots along the way.
Beam Rocks in Forbes State Forest
The rocky outcropping rises 90 feet above the Laurel Highlands trail near the 40-mile post, but it's also just a level, 1/4-mile hike from a parking area along Laurel Summit Road. Beam Rocks offers views to the east of the Laurel Ridge into Somerset County. A favorite with local rock climbers, this out-of-the-way spot can get crowded. Watch out for photo-bombers in climbing gear.
Get your action photos during a white-water rafting excursion over Class 3-to-5 rapids. Mellower float trips also are available on calmer sections of the Yough. If you don't like the wet-hair look in your photos, there are plenty of scenic spots you can access from the banks, including an observation platform in the village of Ohiopyle.
Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail
Running 70 miles from Ohiopyle State Park to the 1,000-foot Conemaugh Gorge near Johnstown, the trail traverses state parks, forests, game lands, preserves and other public and private lands. From dense forests to rocky inclines and wide-open fields, the varied terrain makes the trail one of the most celebrated in Pennsylvania. You'll get amazing photos of rugged shelters, flora and fauna (just watch out for the bears).
Steelers Training Camp at Saint Vincent College
Every summer, the Pittsburgh Steelers call Chuck Noll Field at Saint Vincent College home for a few weeks while they practice for the upcoming season. A shot with your favorite player from the sidelines is sure to impress. There also are scheduled meet-and-greets during which the Steelers pose with fans and sign autographs too. The campus provides other beautiful photo settings, including the majestic Saint Vincent Basilica, the old gristmill and the distant, blue-tinged Chestnut Ridge to the east.
Great Allegheny Passage High Bridge in Ohiopyle
Take a few paces from the middle of beautiful, downtown Ohiopyle and stop in the middle of the 663-foot-long High Bridge in Ohiopyle for a photo of the fast-flowing Youghiogheny River and its surrounding mountainous landscape. Serving from 1912 to 1975 as a railroad bridge, it was repurposed as a pedestrian and bicycle crossing in 1999, carrying the Great Allegheny Passage on its southeastern route from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Md.
The LHVB website provides an interactive map of 10 covered bridges in a triangular area from the Lower Humbert bridge near Confluence, Fayette County, eastward to the New Baltimore bridge near Berlin, Somerset County, and northward to the Shaffer bridge near Johnstown, Cambria County. Each has features or a setting that makes it unique. Map out a road trip and get photos at each one — that should up your Instagram audience.
And much more
This list is by no means comprehensive, though. Across the road and a longer hike from Beam Rocks is Wolf Rocks, overlooking the Linn Run gorge. For history buffs, there's Fort Ligonier, Fort Necessity and the Flight 93 Memorial. For more Frank Lloyd Wright, visit Kentuck Knob or Polymath Park. For sporting types, there are ski slopes and golf courses. For a quiet outdoor ramble, try the Winnie Palmer or Powdermill nature reserves or a state or local park. Get a photo of a great dinner at a local eatery.
Did we miss anything? No doubt. Get out there and find it for yourself.
And when you find your little slice of heaven, don't forget to share it.
"We encourage visitors to show off their photography skills with fellow adventurers by using #laurelhighlands," Weltz says. "Or submit your photo to the LHVB's 2018 Photo Contest for a chance to win up to $500 and maybe even see your photo on a billboard, the 2019 Destination Guide or on LaurelHighlands.org."
Deadline for submissions is August 31.
For details, call 800-333-5661, visit laurelhighlands.org or find the LHVB on Facebook or Twitter.
Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5750, email@example.com or via Twitter @shirley_trib.