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Best Hikes With Waterfalls In Southwest PA

Best Hikes With Waterfalls In Southwest PA

When you think of waterfalls, you may be picturing Niagra Falls or the big tropical falls in Hawaii. While those are impressive, there are plenty of waterfalls to see right here in southwest Pennsylvania!

Some of the most notable hikes with waterfalls in southwest PA include Mineral Springs, Jonathan Run Falls, Buttermilk Falls, the Great Gorge Trail, Cucumber Falls, and Hell’s Hollow. Some waterfalls are easy to find, while others are tucked deep into a trail!

Pennsylvania is situated in the northeast and is considered a humid climate, with about half the state covered in forest. Within these forests lies hidden streams and rivers with waterfalls that pour over smooth weathered rock, just waiting to be explored! 

Let’s check them out!

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Mineral Springs Loop – Raccoon Creek State Park

Some of the most notable waterfalls in southwest Pennsylvania include Mineral Springs, Jonathan Run Falls, Buttermilk Falls, the Great Gorge Trail, Cucumber Falls, and Hell’s Hollow. Some waterfalls are easy to find, while others are tucked deep into a trail! Mineral Springs Waterfall in the winter

Raccoon Creek State Park includes 7,572 acres of forest, trails, and a gorgeous lake. It is located west of Pittsburgh near Hanover Township. 

The mineral springs are tucked just a half a mile from the trail parking lot.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (PADCNR), the Frankfort Mineral Springs was previously a health spa and resort owned by Edward McGinnis. By the 1930s, the land was acquired as part of the federal Emergency Conservation Work Act.

Eventually, it became what we know today as Raccoon Creek State Park! The mineral springs loop trail can get muddy on the east and south sides of the trail as it runs along a few unnamed streams and tributaries.

Let’s get into the details of this beautiful waterfall hike.

  • Trail length: 1.3 miles
  • Trail type: Loop
  • Where to park: The mineral springs loop has two parking lot options. One is on Cabin Road directly off route 18 (40.5029, -80.42452). The other is the mineral springs trailhead parking lot just down the road (40.4978, -80.4277).
  • The falls: The mineral springs and falls area is located about 0.2 miles west of the mineral springs trailhead lot.
  • Dog friendly?: Yes

The trail is popular and can get busy on the weekends. It’s dog friendly, so you can bring your furry pal! By the way, if you plan to bring your dog on the hike, you can read about what to bring on a hike with your dog here!

This 10-foot waterfall is worth the short trek from the parking lot. The water slides over a natural chute and down onto rocks. Nearby is a natural spring that leaks down the rock face into a well-weathered rock basin.

Kildoo Trail – McConnells Mill State Park

Kildoo Trail - McConnells Mill State Park

McConnells Mill is an intriguing blend of historic buildings, interesting geography, and deep gorges. Thrown into the mix are a few waterfall locations that are a must-see at this park! McConnells Mill is located north of Zelienople, near the town of Portersville.

Over the past two million years, the park’s dramatic gorges and massive boulders were cut from glaciers. Once you step into the deep crevasses at McConnells Mill, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back into the Jurassic era!

The Kildoo Trail is located on the park’s northern side and follows along Slippery Rock Creek. Eventually, it leads to Breakneck Falls, situated beneath an underpass.

  • Trail length: 2.3 miles
  • Trail type: Out & Back
  • Where to park: Park at the Kildoo parking lot (40.9517, -80.1684). From there, walk west toward the Kildoo Trailhead. You can try parking near the historic site, but parking is limited here.
  • The falls: Breakneck falls are located at the end of this hike near the turnaround point.
  • Dog Friendly?: Yes

The Kildoo trail is rocky with uneven roots, so prepare for some rough terrain. This is a popular trail that gets busy in the summer. 

If you bring your dog along for the hike, we recommend using a pack like the Front Range Day Pack. The best part is your dog carries everything! You can store all your pup’s favorite treats, bowls, and poo bags.

Hell’s Hollow Trail – McConnells Mill State Park

On nearly the complete opposite side of the park from the Kildoo Trail is Hell’s Hollow trail. This trail is located in the southwestern portion of the park and is considered an easy hike.

As you walk through the beauty of Hell’s Hollow Trail, you’ll meander alongside Hell’s Run Stream for most of the hike. You’ll run into Hells Hollow Falls at the trail’s end.

  • Trail length: 1.2 miles
  • Trail type: Out & Back
  • Where to park: Park at the Hells Hollow parking lot off Shaffer Road (40.9313, -80.2399). This lot is small and may fill up fast on busy summer days!
  • The falls: Like Breakneck Falls, Hell’s Hollow Falls are located at the end of the hike near the turnaround point.
  • Dog Friendly?: Yes

Despite being close to the stream, this trail doesn’t usually get muddy. It is well-marked and well-maintained, so it’s a perfect hike if you’re flying solo and afraid of getting lost! If you decide to hike this trail by yourself, you can check out our tips on how to hike alone safely here!

Water falls in Soutwest PA

Fall Run Trail – D Miller Fall Run Park

Living in the city is a convenient way to live close to your work and shops, but it can sometimes leave you wanting more nature. The Fall Run Trail is your answer!

Fall Run Park is located northeast of Pittsburgh in the suburban town of Glenshaw. This hike is considered easy and well-marked, and well-maintained.

  • Trail length: 1.4 miles
  • Trail type: Out & Back
  • Where to park: You have two options for parking, either the northern fall run trail upper parking lot (40.5396, -79.9422) located on the park’s north side. Or, you can park in the southern lot (40.5302, -79.9481). 
  • The falls: Fall Run Falls are located about halfway through the hike, so it doesn’t matter which lot you park at.
  • Dog friendly?: Yes

Fall Run Trail is one of the best hikes with waterfalls near Pittsburgh. It’s not terribly far from the city, so you don’t have to worry about a long drive to reach somewhere beautiful! If you’re interested in hikes other than waterfalls, you can check out Falcon Guide’s Hiking Pennsylvania guidebook to lead you to Pennsylvania’s finest hikes!

Green Loop Trail – Settlers Cabin County Regional Park

Settlers Cabin Park is located in Robinson township and contains 1,610 acres. The park was named for the many log cabins found on the land that were used by early settlers.

The centerpiece trail in Settlers Cabin Park is the Green Loop Trail, sometimes called the waterfall trail. This trail is moderate to challenging, so be prepared for some elevation changes and rough terrain! It is one of the best hikes with a waterfall in southwest PA.

  • Trail length: 2.8 miles
  • Trail type: Loop
  • Where to park: You can park at the Tomahawk Shelter parking lot (40.4290, -80.1603) and follow signs for the blue loop trail, which will run into the green loop.
  • The falls: Settlers Cabin Waterfall is about 1 mile into the hike if you begin the loop by turning left at the fork. It will be longer to reach if you turn right.
  • Dog friendly?: Yes

For a shorter hike to the falls, you can park at the waterfall trail parking lot (40.4242, -80.1570) and simply hike to the waterfall and back.

The trail follows a stream, so the terrain will get muddy after rainfall. If you’re worried about your clothes getting wet, use a water-repellent spray like Nikwax’s TX.Direct Spray-On solution. It will help your clothes stay water-repellent without sacrificing breathability on those hot summer days!

Best Hikes With Waterfalls In Southwest PA

Roaring Run to Rock Furnace Trail – Apollo, PA

One of the longer hikes on our list, Roaring Run to Rock Furnace trail, is located northeast of Pittsburgh near Apollo. Part of this trail runs along the Kiskiminetas River before cutting up to meander alongside Roaring Run.

This trail is considered easy. Much of it is a wide gravel path with little elevation changes. 

  • Trail length: 5.7 miles
  • Trail type: Out & Back
  • Where to park: Park at the Roaring Run Trailhead parking lot (40.5639, -79.5596). There are plenty of spaces, so you can find one even on a busy day!
  • The falls: Unlike the other hikes on our list, the Roaring Run to Rock Furnace trail doesn’t have a designated ‘falls’ area. Instead, as you walk the path, you’ll experience several smaller waterfalls along Roaring Run stream.
  • Dog friendly?: Yes

Since this is a longer trail, it’s a good idea to pack extra water and snacks. The Owala FreeSip Vacuum Water Bottle is 24 ounces and triple-insulated to keep your drinks cold in the summer and warm in the winter.

This hike is an excellent choice if you want to do a longer walk but skip all the elevation gain. It’s also a great choice if you’re trying to slowly increase your hiking endurance!

Jackson Falls and Rock Furnace Trail – Apollo, PA

Part of this trail overlaps with the Roaring Run trail described above, so you could potentially combine them all into one big hike if you wanted!

You won’t find this trail in a park. Still, it will undoubtedly feel like you’re in a beautiful preserve as you hike along Roaring Run stream and eventually to the lovely Jackson Falls. 

One important thing to note is that Jackson Falls is on private property. Be sure to stay on the trail so that people can continue to enjoy this fantastic scenery.

  • Trail length: 3.2 miles
  • Trail type: Out & Back
  • Where to park: Park at the Rock Furnace Trailhead parking lot (40.5653, -79.5171), a reasonably large pull-off from Brownstown Road.
  • The falls: From the trailhead, hike south along the trail. After about a half mile, turn right to follow Rattling Run stream until you reach Jackson Falls. You could turn back at this point or finish the trail by walking down to the Kiskiminetas River.
  • Dog friendly?: Yes

Jackson Falls is definitely one of the best hikes with waterfalls in southwest PA. The roaring falls flow into a shallow pool. If you make it there on a quiet day, it can feel like you’ve slipped into a pleasant dream.

Buttermilk Falls Trail – New Florence, PA

Buttermilk Falls Trail is the shortest hike on our list, making this an excellent choice for new hikers and those with lower endurance. It’s one of western PA’s tallest waterfalls and worth the drive!

Buttermilk Falls is located east of Pittsburgh, near the town of Armagh. If you’re a fan of Mr. Rogers, you’ll be delighted to know that, as a child, he frequented Buttermilk Falls when he visited his grandfather, who owned the property.

  • Trail length: 0.5 Miles
  • Trail type: Out & Back
  • Where to park: Park in the pull-off on Valley Brook Road (40.4192, -79.0676).
  • The falls: Buttermilk Falls are located at the endpoint of the trail, just a quarter mile from the parking lot.
  • Dog friendly?: Yes

For how short the trail is, it doesn’t typically get too crowded. The lot may fill up on busy summer days, but otherwise, you may be the only one on the trail. You will have to walk down a few stairs, which can get slick from the waterfall, especially in the winter.

Jonathan Run Falls – Ohiopyle State Park

Jonathan Run Falls - Ohiopyle State Park

Ohiopyle State Park is huge, encompassing over 20,000 acres of land. Right through the park’s center is the mighty Youghiogheny River which attracts white-water rafters from all over the country.

There’s no shortage of waterfalls in Ohiopyle, and one of the most famous ones is Jonathan Run Falls. Though it won’t be easy to get to this beauty!

You can take a few routes, but the most direct is the Jonathan Run Falls Trail. This isn’t shown on AllTrails, but you can download a park map from the PADCNR website to help locate the trail.

  • Trail length: 1.6 Miles
  • Trail type: Out & Back
  • Where to park: Park at the Jonathan Run Falls Trailhead parking lot, located off Holland Hill Road (39.8918, -79.5079). Look for a dirt road with the sign for the trailhead parking lot.
  • The falls: Follow the trail as it meanders along Jonathan Run stream. Pass the sign for the Sugar Run trail on the left. Shortly after, you’ll go by a marker for the Kentuck trail on your right. After this, look for a narrow path leading over the hill. Beware, this hill is treacherous! At the bottom, you’ll be rewarded with the incredible Jonathan Run Waterfall.
  • Dog Friendly?: Yes

Jonathan Run Falls is probably the most difficult falls to reach. Still, it’s also one of the most memorable Ohipyle falls. However, if you’re looking for a more accessible waterfall, check out some of the others below that are still within Ohiopyle State Park!

Jonathan Run Falls

Ferncliff Trail – Ohiopyle State Park

The Ferncliff Trail is easier to navigate than the Jonathan Run Falls trail. It loops around, following the horseshoe-shaped bend of the Youghiogheny River. This trail is next to the town of Ohiopyle in the Ferncliff Peninsula Natural Area.

Be prepared for some wet and muddy areas if you take this trail. Since it’s located near the river, the path is soaked for most of the year except the dog days of summer.

  • Trail length: 2.0 miles
  • Trail type: Loop
  • Where to park: Park at the Ferncliff Natural Area Parking lot (39.8723, -79.4941). The lot is relatively large but may get packed on busy days.
  • The falls: Like the Roaring Run trail, the Ferncliff Trail does not showcase a single waterfall but rather a series of them as you walk along the Yough.
  • Dog friendly?: Yes

Despite being a muddy mess sometimes, the Ferncliff Trail is considered easy with minor elevation changes.

Cucumber Falls – Ohiopyle State Park

Cucumber Falls is arguably the best falls in Ohiopyle State Park. The water flows over an outcropping of rock, falling 30 feet before splashing into a shallow pool and continuing downstream.

Compared to Ferncliff and Jonathan Run falls, Cucumber Falls is easier to get to and is only a short 0.15-mile hike from the parking lot to the falls.

  • Trail length: 0.3 miles
  • Trail type: Out & Back
  • Where to park: Park at the Meadow Run Trailhead parking lot off Ohiopyle Road (39.8627, -79.5028). This is sometimes called the Cucumber Falls parking lot.
  • The falls: Cucumber falls is located just north of the parking lot. It’s a very short walk. From there, you can return to the car or continue down to the Yough River.
  • Dog friendly?: Yes 

If you want to see Cucumber Falls but want to extend the hike a little longer, you can hike the Great Gorge Trail, which is 5 miles long and goes past Cucumber Falls. This breathtaking waterfall may be the best of the western Pennsylvania waterfalls.

Meadow Run Trail – Ohiopyle State Park

As you can see, there is no shortage of waterfalls at Ohiopyle! While it may be difficult to see them all in one day, if you have to pick one, meadow run and the cascade falls might be the best choice!

As a bonus, this trail also includes Cucumber Falls and two natural water slides if you hike the entire route. And yes, the water slides are open to the public, and you can jump on in!

  • Trail length: 3.0 miles
  • Trail type: Loop
  • Where to park: You have two choices for parking. To start with Cucumber Falls, park at the Meadow Run Trail Parking lot (39.8620, -79.4948), head to Cucumber Falls, and backtrack to complete the loop past the cascade falls.

Alternatively, you can park at Meadow Run Alternative Parking Area (39.8535, -79.4973). This will put you in a prime spot to see the cascade waterfalls first and then see Cucumber falls at the halfway point.

  • The falls: Meadow Run includes multiple waterfalls, but the two most prominent are the cascade and Cucumber Falls. The cascades can be seen along Meadow Run, which eventually feeds into the Yough.
  • Dog friendly?: Yes

If you want to see the natural water slides, I suggest parking at the meadow run trail parking lot. From there, it is a short hike east down some stairs to reach the slides. Yeehaw!

Cole Run Trail – Forbes State Forest

The Cole Run Trail is located in Forbest State Forest near Somerset. It is located South of Seven Springs and Southeast of Pittsburgh. Cole Run is considered challenging, so be ready for some huffing and puffing as you cover nearly 450 feet of elevation gain in under 3 miles!

Besides the Cole Run Falls, you’ll also experience the Forbes State Forest Blue Hole on this hike. It’s a secluded swimming hole located within the forest that appears blue. Just be aware it gets popular in the summer! And yes, you can swim!

  • Trail length: 2.7 miles
  • Trail type: Loop
  • Where to park: Park at the Cole Run Falls Parking Area off of Cole Run Road (39.9729, -79.2841).
  • The falls: If you head south first, you’ll quickly run into Cole Run Falls. If you go the other way, the falls will be a pleasant finish to this outstanding hike!
  • Dog Friendly?: Yes

Summertime may be the most popular time to enjoy this hike, but the winter views of Cole Run Falls are spectacular. This trail can get muddy after rain, so be prepared to lace up your waterproof boots!

Jones Mill Run Dam – Laurel Hill State Park

Okay, maybe we’re stretching it here since this isn’t technically a waterfall. However, we included it because it is definitely worth seeing and is still quite beautiful for a man-made waterfall.

The Jones Mill Run Dam was constructed in the 1930s. It is truly remarkable that this was built by hand! The stone is all hand-cut and placed on the dam using a leverage system instead of machinery.

  • Trail Length: 1.4
  • Trail type: Out & Back
  • Where to park: Park at the Pump House Trail parking lot off Laurel Hill Park Road (40.0052, -79.2447).
  • The falls (dam): Follow the Pumphouse Trail until you see a sign for Jones Mill Run Dam on your left. Hang a left here and follow until you reach a pond. This pond is at the top of the dam. Continue down the trail until you reach the bottom of the dam and enjoy the beautiful flowing water!
  • Dog friendly?: Yes 

If you’d like a longer hike, you can check out the Pump House Trail Loop, which is about 6 miles. It goes past the dam, around Laurel Hill State Park, and brings you back past Laurel Hill Lake.

Best Hikes With Waterfalls In Southwest PA

That’s The Best Hikes with Waterfalls in Southwest PA Folks!

Southwest Pennsylvania has a lot of beauty to offer, including some fantastic waterfalls! Our list includes waterfalls for every skill level, from beginner to advanced, so you can find a hike that fits you! Some are in state parks, while others are along well-known rivers and streams.

To recap, the best hikes with waterfalls in southwest PA include the following:

  • Mineral Springs Loop – Raccoon Creek State Park
  • Kildoo Trail – McConnels Mill State Park
  • Hell’s Hollow Trail – McConnels Mill State Park
  • Fall Run Trail – D Miller Fall Run Park
  • Settler’s Cabin Green Loop Trail – Settlers Cabin County Regional Park
  • Roaring Run to Rock Furnace – Apollo, PA
  • Jackson Falls and Rock Furnace Trail – Apollo, PA
  • Buttermilk Falls Trail – New Florence, PA
  • Jonathan Run Falls – Ohiopyle State Park
  • Ferncliff Trail – Ohiopyle State Park
  • Cucumber Falls – Ohiopyle State Park
  • Meadow Run Trail – Ohiopyle State Park
  • Cole Run Trail – Forbes State Forest
  • Jones Mill Run Dam – Laurel Hill State Park

If you’re as psyched as I am about hiking these waterfall trails, check out our article on What to Pack In Your Hiking Bag. That way, you can enjoy the western Pennsylvania waterfalls without worrying about forgetting anything!

Happy Hiking!

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