If you’re looking for a unique and interesting waterfall that’s relatively easy to reach, Hector Falls in the Allegheny National Forest should be at the top of your bucket list.
Located off the beaten path in northwestern Pennsylvania, this hidden gem is one of the state’s best-kept secrets. Come along as we explore Hector Falls, including how to get there, different views of this magnificent waterfall, and other nearby places you should explore.
Hector Falls Hike: Quick Facts
- Distance: 2 miles
- Elevation Gain: ~350 feet
- Time: 1 hour
- Waterfall Height: 22 feet
- Best Time to Go: Spring, After Heavy Rains
Where is the Trailhead for Hector Falls?
The trailhead for Hector Falls is south of US Route 6, between the towns of Sheffield and Ludlow.
To get there, take Scenic Drive from Route 6 and turn right on Curtis Road Ext. After a right on Forestry Road, the small parking area on the left side of the dirt road can be found after 1.8 miles.
This Forestry Road is not maintained or plowed during the winter and can become very muddy in the spring. Know what both you and your vehicle are capable of navigating if you’re planning to explore in the winter and after significant snow-melt or heavy rains.
The small, grassy parking area is marked by an “HF” spray painted on a tree to the right side of the pull-off.
There is room for a few cars, but it’s not a huge space. It’s certainly easy to drive right by. We missed it the first time, even knowing the exact directions and coordinates. It’s a good thing these dirt roads aren’t busy!
From the parking lot, it’s a short walk past a metal gate along the dirt road to the falls.
How to Get to Hector Falls
From where you parked your vehicle, you’ll walk past the gate and down a dirt road leading toward an old oil well.
The hike to Hector Falls is about 1 mile from where you’ve parked. The majority of the hike is on a dirt forest road. Make sure to follow the dirt road rather than any paths that look grassy, until you reach the end of the road. There are places you could end up on a short detour heading the wrong way, but if you stay on the dirt, you’ll be on the right path.
At the end of the logging road, you’ll turn into the woods. The trail takes off to the right. You’ll follow the small stream that feeds Hector Falls.
The falls are only a few hundred yards from where you enter the forest. The first glimpse of the falls can be seen through gaps in the large rocks.
As you round the corner and cross the small stream, you can explore the base and the large boulders surrounding the area.
Along your journey, you’ll be surrounded by great views of giant boulders, peaceful forests, the crystal-clear stream feeding Hector Falls, and more.
Plus, if you’re feeling adventurous, there are also miles of trails that are perfect for hikers and mountain bikers alike.
Different Views of Hector Falls
With its unique rock formations, cascading water, and picturesque views, it’s no surprise that this waterfall is a great destination in the Allegheny National Forest.
Whether you’re looking for a peaceful moment in nature or an adventure-filled hike, Hector Falls has something for everyone.
At many times of the day, you might just have the falls to yourself. Explore the shallow pools and around the boulders that are downstream from the 22-foot waterfall.
To get the best views of the falls, you’ll have to cross the creek. This can be done by stepping across rocks and logs or by getting your feet wet. You choose! Hike at your own risk, and watch your step. Those wet rocks can be quite slippery!
So whether it’s your first time visiting or if you’ve been before, Hector Falls always offers something new and exciting, depending on the water flow and the conditions in the surrounding forest!
After exploring the falls, you’ll return to your vehicle the same way that you came in. Get ready to walk back up that hill!
The entire hike is around two miles, and it typically takes about one hour to hike. Plan longer if you have a picnic or like to snap a lot of photos!
Exploring Hector Falls: What to Have in Your Daypack
It’s always best to carry a daypack with some essentials, even if the hike is not planned to be strenuous. You never know! It’s best to be prepared. We always have these few things in our day pack:
- Water in our Stanley GO Bottles (They never leak!)
- Insect Repellent
- Snacks (We love Cliff Bars and Trail Mix!)
- Garmin inReach 2
- Small First Aid Kit
Other Places Nearby You Should Explore
The Allegheny National Forest is a great place to explore, and there are several other nearby attractions that you should check out. With day hikes, backpacking trails in the ANF, and more waterfalls to explore in the Allegheny National Forest, you could explore for years and still not see it all.
We loved exploring the other waterfalls in the Allegheny National Forest, but they’re not all easy to get to. The trail to Logan Falls is fairly easy to reach, and after a steep quarter-mile hike down the hillside, you basically be right on top of the waterfall.
Minister Creek, the Morrison Trails, Tracy Ridge, and the North Country Trail are all popular spots for day hikes and overnight backpacking treks.
For those traveling with kids, head to Chapman State Park. The lake is great for fishing and swimming. Most of the hiking trails aren’t too difficult, and some are even tailored to increase kids’ enjoyment. We’d definitely recommend this spot for families throughout the year.
Head up north just over the border into New York and check out Allegany State Park. New York’s largest state park is home to over a dozen hiking trails, two lakes, and cabins galore to spend the night.
You should also check out Kinzua Bridge State Park (not to be confused with the Kinzua Dam), which is exceptionally beautiful during the fall.
Hector Falls is a hidden gem in the Allegheny National Forest that is definitely worth the visit. With its stunning scenery and peaceful surroundings, it’s the perfect place to escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
So pack a picnic, grab your hiking boots, and head to Hector Falls for an unforgettable adventure!