Exploring Breakneck Falls at McConnells Mills State Park

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Intimidating name, right? Let me tell you, these falls are truly named. Getting to Breakneck Falls has caused many injuries and even deaths in the past.

The rocks and boulders get very slippery. Falls can happen here, even to the most experienced of hikers. Google it if you don’t believe me, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Thankfully, it seems that the park has added a trail from the bottom to access these beautiful falls. It’s a much less dangerous, though not without risk, way to get to see Breakneck Falls.

Gorgeous views of Breakneck Falls, tucked in a deep gorge.

Where does the Breakneck Falls Trail begin?

Honestly, we kind of found this access point by accident, but we were so glad that we did.

There are a few ways to get here, but ultimately, you will need to get to Eckert Bridge. This can be done by hiking along the Slippery Rock Gorge Trail or Kildoo Trail along Slippery Rock Creek.

If you’re camping at Breakneck Campground, you could hike the 0.5 mile down Cheeseman Road to find the trailhead.

When you arrive at the bridge, you’ll find a sign for Breakneck Falls across the road from the Kildoo Trail. Take this path.

The path travels down past the guard rail and along the east bank of Slippery Rock Creek.

What is this trail to Breakneck Falls like?

The terrain is much like the rest of the trails along the gorge, rocky and full of roots. There are beautiful views of the creek most of the way to make up for the uneven terrain.

After just a couple of tenths of a mile, you will find yourself at a water crossing, taking you across Cheeseman Run.

You'll have to cross Cheeseman's Run to get to Breakneck Falls. It's not very deep, but you may get wet feet.

In the wet seasons, you’ll most likely get your feet wet, as the water can be at least ankle deep. The rock crossing here is sometimes underwater, and most of the time very slippery.

Pro Tip: Wear waterproof hiking boots for this hike. You’ll need all the traction and waterproof features you can get!

After crossing Cheeseman Run, you’ll see a sign advising you to please stay on the trail. Rightly so. There have been many rescues necessary out of this area. Don’t find yourself in this unfortunate group.

After hiking just a short distance up the hillside, maybe 50 yards, you’ll find yourself at the bottom segment of the falls. These falls area probably 10-12 feet high and the water seems to intertwine with the rocks on the way down. It is quite unique.

You'll find this waterfall at the bottom of the Breakneck Falls trail. You're not there yet!

We almost headed back out where we came from after viewing these lower falls, but we would have missed the best part!

Head further up the hill along the path, another 50 yards or so, and you’ll find the main attraction. A series of three waterfalls, cascading around 40-45 feet down in total.

You can also see Breakneck Bridge from below. The bridge is where people used to begin their hikes to this waterfall. No way. Not for us. Look at those drops.

You can see the bottom of the Breakneck Bridge, where some begin their hike to Breakneck Falls. We wouldn't recommend that.

A small, sandy island sits at the base of the falls, in front of the pool, and is a great place to snap a photo and enjoy the rushing sound of the water.

After enjoying the falls, retrace your steps back to Eckert Bridge and continue on exploring the rest of McConnells Mill State Park.

This entire side hike will cover about half a mile out and back.

The trail to Breakneck Falls is quite rocky. Here, you can see Eckert Bridge beyond the trees on the left.

Where else could you explore in McConnells Mill?

If you want to check out other waterfalls, stop at Hells Hollow Falls or Alpha Falls.

The Kildoo Trail has a lot of bang for your buck if you want to catch a glimpse of more of the small waterfalls in the park, as well as the huge boulders and rock formations along the creek.

Also, check out our complete guide with what to see and what to skip while visiting McConnells Mill State Park.

Where can you find more waterfalls nearby?

Head about 90 miles northwest into Ohio to view some equally beautiful waterfalls in and around Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

If you want to stay in Pennsylvania, head down to the Laurel Highlands. Just over 100 miles to the southeast, and including Ohiopyle State Park, this area is also littered with waterfalls.

Wrap-up: Exploring Breakneck Falls

Honestly, this was probably my favorite trail and waterfall at McConnells Mill. The scenery was simply stunning, and even though the other trails were fairly busy, we happened to find no one else on this trail.

Maybe we just got lucky.

The waterfall was beautiful, and the hike along the creek was so peaceful.

You'll find beautiful views of Slippery Rock Creek along the trail.

We’d still definitely recommend a visit to Breakneck Falls if you are a moderate hiker.

This is the safest way to do it.