Yoder Falls – You can’t get there from here
(Scroll down if you can’t wait to see the photos)
Second on our list of the best scenic views in the Southern Highlands is Yoder Falls in Conemaugh Township, Somerset County. It’s hard to believe that my aunts and uncles scrambled up and down these ravine walls 85 years ago and Grandma would have had a ‘conniption’ if she had known.
In 1915 Peter Carpenter, owner of the Capital Hotel at Main & Walnut and chairman of the city’s Park and Playground Board, donated a piece of his Conemaugh Township property, including Yoder Falls, to the city. The land was promptly renamed Carpenter’s Park. The park was developed with a picnic area and, I believe, a dance pavilion, and was easily accessed on the trolley lines from both Windber and Johnstown. The park eventually fell into disrepair, I’m thinking after the 1936 flood, when the Johnstown Traction Company chose not to rebuild the Windber trolley line, but the falls remains.
The character of Yoder Falls changes with the weather from day to day and season to season, but always offers stunning views. And it’s not just the falls. Views include vistas from Carpenter’s Park Road, the Stonycreek River valley and the McNally Bridge, the highest bridge in Cambria and Somerset Counties.
Access to the falls is difficult and potentially treacherous. From the pull-off on Carpenter’s Park Road a broad steep path goes almost straight down the hill to the Stonycreek. Year-round the path is carpeted with fallen leaves, the leaves concealing tree roots and loose stones. Take care. Once at the bottom, take in the views of the McNally Bridge and the (usually) idyllic Stonycreek River.
Once at the bottom, turn left and walk a few yards until you get to the creek flowing through the remains of a trolley bridge. Now the work begins. You have to scramble up the creek bed through brush and brambles and truck sized boulders halfway back up the hill. Not easy for a fat, old, lazy smoker like me, but well worth the effort.
Now, getting out is half the fun. I hate going back the way I came, especially if it entails clumbering back down to the bottom only to hump it all the way back up the path. From the falls, I’ve climbed both sides of the ravine and it’s somewhat ‘easier’ going up to the path via the steep bank on your left rather than climbing the rock wall on the right and finding your way through the trackless woods.
But I’ve saved you all the hard work. Just check out the photos below and you can decide for yourself if you want to make the trek.
This is the second in a series on the Best Scenic Views of Pennsylvania's Southern Highlands, inspired by the excellent article from Marcus Schneck published at PennLive.com.If you're interested in travelling farther afield than the Great Allegheny Mountain youshould check out Mr. Schneck's excellent article Pennsylvania's Best Views.
Prints of select images in the gallery below are now available in the Laurelight Gift Shop. A portion of the sales of all Yoder Falls photos will go to support the Stonycreek Quemahoning Initiative, Inc., a not-for-profit corporation whose mission is to develop and present the assets of the Stonycreek River heritage corridor.
All Laurelight images are custom printed by a professional lab on quality photographic paper, mounted on 2mm styrene board and protected from fingerprints, water and UV damage with a durable laminate coating. Prints come ready for framing, and the protective laminate makes framing glass and overmats optional. Standard shipping within the continental United States is FREE.