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A Step-By-Step Guide To Hiking The Frankfort Mineral Springs Trail

Falls at Frankfort Mineral Springs Trail in the winter.

Beaver County gets little attention regarding memorable hikes, but Frankfort Mineral Springs is an exception. This short, beautiful hike in Southwest Pennsylvania meanders along a creek fed by a stunning waterfall running through the ceiling of a sandstone grotto.

The Frankfort Mineral Springs is located right next to the falls. Even though the waterfall runs dry occasionally, the springs run year-round and fall into a natural rock basin that is a sight to see!

Come along as we take you on a step-by-step guide through the Frankfort Mineral Springs trail. We’ll cover where to park, what to expect, and how to find the mineral springs. But first, let’s honor the history of this beautiful park and the healing mineral springs.

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History Of Frankfort Mineral Springs And Raccoon Creek State Park

Before starting the hike, let’s discuss some Frankfort Mineral Springs history.

The Park

The springs are located in Raccoon Creek State Park, established in the 1930s as part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Emergency Conservation Work Act.

Thanks to the work of over 700 men, Raccoon Creek State Park has bridges, picnic areas, roads, trails, and a dam along the upper lake. By 1945, the work in the park was complete, and the land was transferred to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 

But before the settlers and the park’s establishment, the Shawnee and Lenape tribes called this area their home. However, tensions between the settlers and the tribes in the 1700s led to battles. Eventually, the Native Americans were pushed out of the area.

The Springs

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (PADCNR) tells us that the Frankfort mineral springs were originally a spa and resort established in the 1800s by Edward McGinnis, who found the waters healing.

The spa thrived for nearly one hundred years and helped expand the nearby town of Frankfort into what it is today. Soon after the spa closed, work on establishing Raccoon Creek State Park began.

Getting To Frankfort Mineral Springs Trail

Like most parks worth going to, you’ll have to drive a little out of the way to reach Raccoon Creek State Park. The park has multiple entrances, making it easy to get there from Pittsburgh, Washington, Akron, Youngstown, and other nearby towns and cities.

No public transit is available to Raccoon Creek State Park, so you must drive there. 

  • From Pittsburgh (About 45 minutes): Take I-376 West and take exit 60A (US-22W) towards Weirton. Follow for 15 miles and take the exit towards Florence (PA-18). Turn left to get on PA-18 North and follow for 5.5 miles until the parking lot.
  • From Youngstown (About 1 hour): Take I-680 North and take exit 1 (OH-11S & US-30E). Keep following signs for US-30 East for approximately 55 miles. At the intersection of PA-18 and US-30, turn right onto PA-18 South. Follow for 3.3 miles to the parking lot.
  • From Washington, PA (About 40 minutes): From N Main Street, turn left onto Oak Grove Road and head towards PA-18N/Henderson Ave. Turn right onto PA-18N. Continue following PA-18N for approximately 25 miles to the parking lot.

Where To Park

"Big Red" parked in the Frankfort Mineral Springs Trail parking lot near the ranger station.

To hike the Frankfort Mineral Springs Trail, you’ll want to park near the State Park Office off Cabin Road.

  • Closest Address (State Park office): 3000 PA-18, Hookstown, PA 15050
  • GPS: N40.50300, W80.42443
  • Google/Apple Maps: type in ‘Mineral Springs Loop Trail.’

When you turn on Cabin Road, you’ll immediately see a small gravel lot to your left. This is the parking lot for the Frankfort Mineral Springs trail loop. On nice summer weekends, this lot can fill up fast. 

If the first parking lot is full, there are a few more lots further down the road. However, this is a short hike, so cars typically arrive and leave at regular intervals.

Park Fees

There is no fee to enter Raccoon Creek State Park. Parking is free as well.

Frankfort Mineral Springs Trail Basics

Once you arrive in the parking lot, the trail is located on the south side of the parking lot (away from the road). It is the only trailhead, so it will be hard to miss! 

The Trail

Frankfort Mineral Springs

There are occasional tours that will take you around the Frankfort Mineral Springs. You can check the Raccoon Creek State Park website for more tour information.

  • Trail length: The Mineral Springs Trail is a 1.2-mile loop, with a slight overlap in the trail at the beginning and end. 
  • Terrain: The trail consists of a dirt or grassy path in most areas. There are two bridge crossings over a small unnamed stream before the falls. Additionally, the trail crosses this stream in several locations, so be sure to wear a pair of waterproof shoes!
  • Elevation: You can expect to gain around 150 feet of elevation over the 1.2-mile trail. The most significant elevation gain is achieved after the falls, where you will climb stairs up to the remains of an old stone building from the spa and resort days.

Gear For The Hike

The Frankfort Mineral Springs trail can easily be completed in under an hour. This hike is excellent for beginners, has minimal elevation gain, and can be shortened or lengthened based on your desired trail length. 

Despite the leisurely stroll through the woods, being prepared is always a good idea. If you plan to hike alone, check out our article on how to hike alone. The Mineral Springs loop is a great trail to hike by yourself as it’s very popular, and there’s minimal chance of getting lost on these well-marked trails.

Here are some recommendations for the Frankfort Mineral Springs trail:

  • Water
  • Waterproof shoes
  • Trekking poles (these are especially helpful when crossing the stream!)
  • Extra shoes/socks to change into after the hike
  • Tick remover – the ticks are worse than average at Raccoon Creek State Park
  • Trail map

A Frankfort Mineral Springs map is available at the state park office, or you can download one from the PADCNR website here.

Special Considerations

While hiking Frankfort Mineral Springs, there are a few special considerations to take into account. Let’s start with pets!

Pets

As with most of the hikes we suggest on our blog, Frankfort Mineral Springs is pet-friendly! So, there’s no need to feel guilty about leaving Fido at home. That said, dogs must be kept on a leash on this trail.

As mentioned previously, the ticks are nasty in Raccoon Creek. Bringing a tick remover or tweezers is highly recommended, as your furry pal will likely have a few on them after this hike. Treat your pet with flea and tick medicine to prevent Lymes and other ailments. We use Nexgard for our 3 legged furbag!

You can read more about hiking with your dog in our article about mastering hiking with your dog. We give tips on trail etiquette and how to make the most of your hike with your furry best friend!

Wildlife

I have hiked Frankfort Springs a couple dozen times, and the most wildlife I have seen are a few scurrying chipmunks and squirrels and the occasional songbird. However, you may have better luck and spot some of the beautiful wildlife that occupies the park:

  • Deer
  • Skunk
  • Red Fox
  • Opossum
  • Beaver
  • Mink
  • Muskrat
  • Turkey

If you encounter a wild animal, it’s always best to keep your distance and observe them from afar. Read more about what to do if you see a wild animal on a hike here.

Hunting

Hunting is allowed in Raccoon Creek State Park. Specifically, hunting is allowed on most of the Mineral Springs Trail Loop. It’s advised to wear high-visibility clothing if hiking this trail in the fall.

Step-By-Step Guide To Hiking Frankfort Mineral Springs

Now, let’s get to the good part – the hike! You’ll have to navigate a few intersecting trails to make it to the Frankfort Mineral Springs Falls and Spring area. But don’t worry, we’ll walk you through step-by-step so you can navigate this trail as if you’ve done it a dozen times!

Frankfort Mineral Springs Trail sign.

Step 1: The Trailhead

Finding the trailhead is pretty simple. From the parking area, turn away from the road and face the woods (south). An obvious trailhead sign reads ‘Mineral Springs Loop Trail.’ 

Frankfort Mineral Springs Trail white marking.

As you’ll see on the sign, this section of the trail is hiking only. Some of the other parts of the trail allow mountain bikes and horses. Go ahead and hit this trail and start walking! You’ll notice that the trail is marked with white spray paint on the trees – this is an excellent guide to follow in case you accidentally get off the trail.

Step 2: Staying On The Trail

At the beginning of the trail, before you hit 1/10th of a mile, you’ll see an off-shoot to your right. This is the Upland Trail. If you want to expand the Mineral Springs loop, you can take this trail, but otherwise, continue straight.

Upland Trail

Shortly afterward, you’ll see another off-shoot to your right (before you hit 1/4-mile). A sign accompanies this off-shoot, mentioning the ‘Mineral Springs Loop Trail.’ This is the loop you will return on, so you can ignore this for now and continue straight!

Mineral Springs Loop

Pet parent tip: After the intersection with the returning loop trail, there will be an off-shoot to your left. This is a great pit stop for your pup to get a drink from the creek!

Step 3: The Heritage Trail Intersection

Heritage Trail Intersection

Before you hit the half-mile mark, you’ll approach a 4-way intersection with the Heritage Trail. To your left will be a bridge with a yellow pole to prevent vehicles from crossing. Beyond the bridge is a gravel parking lot.

A posted ‘Heritage Trail’ sign will be seen before reaching the intersection. Avoid taking the Heritage Trail and continue straight. A posted sign will read Mineral Springs Loop Trail, along with a small warning about how the trail is prone to flooding. 

Mineral Springs Loop Sign

The Heritage trail is wider, whereas the Mineral Springs Loop trail is narrower. Look for the white blazes on the trees if you’re not sure you’re going in the right direction.

Step 4: Navigating The Stream

Mineral Springs Wooden Bridge

You’ll know you took the correct path when you reach a wooden bridge! This will be around the half-mile mark. Cross this bridge and hook a right to continue alongside the stream. The path will cross over the stream a few times, but the trail remains evident as you cross over.

This area can get very muddy, and the rocks on the trail will get slick after it rains, so take care and take your time to avoid slips, trips, and falls.

Depending on what time of the year you go, you can typically hear the falls well in advance. However, it may be more challenging to know if you’re getting close when the falls are dry.

Step 5: The Mineral Springs And Falls

Frankfort Mineral Springs trail falls are not always flowing.

After a few stream crossings, you’ll hit the Mineral Springs and the Falls. This is an excellent place to rest, catch your breath, and enjoy the fantastic views. Water cascades down an opening in the sandstone cave, forming the stream you crossed over.

Falls at Frankfort Mineral Springs Trail in the winter.

If you’re brave enough, you can walk under the sandstone roof to get a close-up photo of the falls. Next to the falls, just before the stairs, you’ll see the Mineral Springs flowing into a natural rock basin carved by years of water pouring onto the rock.

Frankfort Mineral Springs trail spring flows all year round.

Much of the rock is stained orange from the minerals, namely iron, found in the water. While the Falls are fed by storm drainage, the Springs are naturally fed.

Step 6: The Stairs

After the Falls and Springs, start climbing the stairs. This is the most physically demanding part of the hike, but it isn’t all that bad. There are about 20 steps to the top of the incline.

Frankfort Mineral Springs trail up the stairs from the falls.

Near the top, you’ll see another sign for the Heritage Trail as it intersects with the Mineral Springs Loop. Stay on the Mineral Springs trail by heading straight, up another set of stairs. A narrow path will have a posted sign for the Springs trail loop – follow this trail.

You may notice some old stones that look like the remains of a building near the Heritage Trail intersection. This was part of the spa and resort mentioned previously!

Step 7: Stream Crossing & Upland Trail Intersection

Stream Crossing

At the 0.8-mile mark, a stream crossing and another trail intersection will cross your path. Cross the stream and hook a right to stay on the Mineral Springs Trail. This is the only part of the trail that isn’t marked well, so make sure to hang a right here.

If you accidentally go to the left, it’s okay! This is the Upland Trail and will take you back to the same parking lot. It will add a few tenths of a mile onto your hike.

Step 8: Home Stretch To The Parking Lot

At this point, you’re on the home stretch! Follow the trail for about a quarter mile before intersecting back with the beginning of the original loop trail. Hang a left at the intersection to head back to the parking area.

Congrats! You’ve completed the Frankfort Mineral Springs Loop Trail! Unfortunately, there aren’t many places to go to celebrate your victory. The nearest city is Pittsburgh, with only small towns in between. 

The conclusion of the Frankfort Mineral Springs trail loop at our van, "Big Red".

Hiking Frankfort Mineral Springs With Pets

Lucky for all the dog guardians out there, this trail is pup-friendly! So go ahead and bring your pooch and let them sniff to their heart’s content. If you plan to bring your dog along, use our article as a checklist for the 9 must-have essentials when hiking with your dog.

Besides bringing along necessary gear, here are some other tips for hiking the Mineral Springs Loop with your dog:

  • Dogs must be on a leash
  • Always clean up after your dog (this means packing out the poo bag, not just bagging it and leaving it on the trail!) You can read about the importance of picking up your dog’s poo here!
  • Check your dog for ticks afterward
  • Ensure your pet is up to date on their shots, vaccinations, flea, tick, and heartworm medication
  • Consider using a bright orange or yellow harness during hunting season
  • Pack enough water for your dog.

Remember proper hiking etiquette when you bring your dog. Typically, hikers with dogs yield to everyone else on the trail, regardless of whether you’re going up or downhill. 

Wrapping Up The Adventure

We’ve journeyed through the fascinating history of Frankfort Mineral Springs, navigated our way to Beaver County, Pennsylvania, and hiked step-by-step along the captivating Frankfort Mineral Springs Loop trail. We’ve savored scenic falls, discovered intriguing points of interest, and maybe even spotted some wildlife along the way.

If you’ve got a furry friend as your hiking companion, we’ve also covered some essential tips for you. 

Now, it’s your turn! We’d love to hear about your experiences on the Frankfort Mineral Springs Trail. Got any insider tips or memorable experiences? Share them in the comments below and help our community of adventurers make the most of this beautiful trail. And if you loved this hike, you can check out more Pennsylvania waterfalls here!

As we sign off, let’s take a moment to appreciate the incredible beauty of nature surrounding us on this trail. The rustling leaves, the chirping birds, the gushing springs – they’re waiting for us to explore, and explore we must. But remember, it’s our responsibility to preserve this beauty. 

Pack out all trash, respect wildlife, and leave no trace. Let’s keep the Frankfort Mineral Springs Trail and state parks pristine so that generations of adventurers can enjoy its wonders just as we have. Until next time, keep exploring, keep adventuring, and above all, keep loving nature. See you on the trails!

For more hiking guides, check out our hiking blog!

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