Among the activities I want to throw myself into during my upcoming trip to Ohio and Western Pennsylvania is water sliding. Before you assume I want to visit an amusement park, I should explain that nature is the greatest amusement, and there are at least two places in PA with natural water slides. Instead of a plastic half-pipe, the stream through thousands of years of water flow has polished the stone to the point one can slide on it.
The better known of the two I’ve visited is Meadow Run in Ohiopyle State Park. Ohiopyle is a water wonderland, and one of the most visited parks in the state system. Among the attractions is Meadow Run and its slides, which are located just off the main road through town, past the visitor center, Great Allegheny Passage, and falls. There’s a parking area and observation platform at the edge of the run, but its more fun to slide than to watch others do so. I know, having done both.
During my August 2010 trip to Ohiopyle I went down the slides twice. I remembered all the guidelines the park suggests you observe: don’t go in during high water, be careful of the rocks, etc. I also remembered advice I’d read online, that the stone isn’t perfectly smooth and so it will abrade fabric. Fortunately for both myself and the general public at Ohiopyle I’d left the Speedo at home, and wore a traditional set of trunks.
As for the slide itself, it was fun. My size and weight meant I needed Meadow Run to pile enough water behind me to push me through, like a massive cork from a pressurized bottle. I got out before the final set of slides, which had a deeper drop. However, getting out wasn’t an easy task. I managed to stand up without incident the first time, but on the second I slipped and landed harder than I liked. Witness the bruise two days later. Still, it was a good time, and I know better how to get traction – bare feet slide, but sneakers will give you a better grip. So next time I’ll wear water shoes.
Next time might be at Meadow Run, but its possible as well at its less well known cousin, Linn Run in Linn Run State Park. The water slides are about a half-mile down the trail from the parking area. In this case the DCNR has signs up prohibiting swimming, but everyone was ignoring the warning when we visited in July 2012. The slide isn’t a chiseled trough as it is at Ohiopyle, but instead it encompasses most of the stream bed. Thus the water flow is at a lower volume and you need to ‘help’ the stream push you along. Despite the different nature of the stream, the general rule applies – be careful. Note the two photos below. The young man was unprepared for his dog’s running to greet me and so he took an unexpected seat on the bottom of Linn Run.
When I visited Linn Run, I was only out of surgery a few months, and I wasn’t up to trying the slide. Heck, I was barely up to the one mile walk. I’ll try to be more careful than the young man with the dog, and myself in 2010, when I’m back to the water slides next month.