A man climbs up a rock in Ohiopyle

Ohiopyle Climbing - School House Crag

Photo: GO Laurel Highlands

Ohiopyle Climbing - School House Crag

Bring your bike or your hiking shoes. This sport crag is a haul from the closest parking area.

Ohiopyle is one of three state parks with approved climbing areas in Pennsylvania. There are over 100 routes spread through a few areas of the park. School House Crag is steep, over 90 feet tall, and has a few intimidating-looking roofs. There are only about a dozen sport routes here, but they range from 5.6 to 5.12a. 

All the routes are nicely bolted and have anchors up top for lowering. There are plenty of anchors and no R or X ratings, making this a great spot to work on lead skills. The rock is Homewood sandstone that is much more solid than it appears from the ground. 

The easiest way to access this climb is by bike. Start from the visitors center and ride the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) downriver alongside the Youghiogheny for a little over 4 miles. The crag will be visible and obvious on the left. Look for a footpath from the bike trail to the base of the cliff. It’s also possible to hike in from the Old Mitchell Place parking area using Mitchell and Kentuck trails, then turn left on the GAP and walk about 15 more minutes to the School House Crag. Access on this route is all downhill, making for a rough hike back to the car after a long day at the crags—a leisurely bike ride sounds much more appealing. 

Speaking of long days, the Yough is just a few steps away from the bottom of School House Crag, offering a more-than-pleasant means of cooling off after getting pumped on the wall. 

Feeling fit? Turn a trip to the crag into an outdoor triathlon: Load up your bike, ride the 80 miles on the GAP to Ohiopyle, and camp that night. Wake up, climb all day, camp again. Wake up and ride downriver back to town. Complete this challenge, and years of bragging rights are yours to claim. 

A man climbs up a rock in Ohiopyle Photo: GO Laurel Highlands

Recommended Climbs

Flying Dutchman (5.5) is a 70-foot climb with a half-dozen bolts, and ring shuts to lower from. There are big holds for most of the route, making this an excellent first lead climb. For a greater challenge, check out Arachnophobia (5.10+) with big, juggy holds to pull up and over the roof. Pay attention to your protection here; some bolts can be hard to clip for shorter climbers. 

Getting There

Blast down the Turnpike to Exit 91 at Donegal. From there, it is all two-lane country roads into Ohiopyle.

Where To Eat

Head home through Connellsville and make a stop at Kickstand Kitchen. Located half a block off the GAP, this cute sandwich shop is closed Sundays but open the rest of the week until 8 p.m. Order off the extensive menu or create your own. For bigger hungers, there are seasonal plates, including an interesting mashup of local favorites pierogi and bruschetta.

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.