15 Beautiful PA State Parks with Waterfalls to Explore

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Pennsylvania has over 100 state parks in the 46,000+ square miles within the state borders. There are hundreds of waterfalls scattered throughout the state, many of which are on state-protected lands like parks and forests. These beautiful natural wonders offer visitors a unique experience unlike any other place on Earth.

Pennsylvania has plenty of scenic beauty. From the rolling hills of western Pennsylvania to the more rugged mountains in the northeastern corner, there are countless places to visit.

This post will explore the top state parks in Pennsylvania with waterfalls. There are some beautiful, well-known spots and some hidden gems, too! 

I hope you enjoy exploring the waterfalls on this list as much as I enjoyed compiling it!

PA State Parks with Waterfalls: Map

Ricketts Glen State Park

One of the 20+ waterfalls along the falls trail loop in Ricketts Glen State Park

The Falls Trail Loop at Ricketts Glen State Park offers so much bang for your buck! As far as waterfall hikes in Pennsylvania, this one is the most impressive.

Access the loop trail from multiple points for a hike of anywhere from a 3.2 to 7.2 miles. There are 21 distinct waterfalls along the Falls Trail! Each waterfall is unique and provides its own special experience. Some of the waterfalls are smaller; others are large. 

The trail is well-maintained and easy to navigate, but it does close to hikers during the winter months. The falls are so close to the trail that the steps freeze over and become dangerous. You’ll need ice climbing equipment to navigate during the winter, including an ice ax, full crampons, and a rope.

When visiting Ricketts Glen State Park during fall foliage season, you’ll definitely want to bring a camera! The colorful trees and vivid hues of autumn in the background of the waterfalls make for some incredible photos.

Ohiopyle State Park

Ohiopyle Falls is located right in town.

Ohiopyle State Park in the southwestern corner of the state is home to some of the most beautiful scenery, including waterfalls, in Pennsylvania. Visitors flock here to take advantage of the natural beauty of this state park year-round. There are many activities available at Ohiopyle State Park including hiking, fishing, swimming, camping, kayaking, and white water rafting.

There are several ways to experience Ohiopyle State Park’s waterfalls. One option is to hike through the woods to reach the waterfalls, like those along the Jonathan Run Trail. Another option is to go on a guided rafting tour where you either begin or end near the large Ohiopyle Falls. Or, you can just relax and enjoy the scenery.

While Ohiopyle Falls is easy to access right in town, others require a little more effort. Cucumber Falls has multiple trail options. The hikes along Meadow Run are also quite beautiful.

Hickory Run State Park

Hawk Falls is the largest in this park, and while it can be busy, it is still worth visiting!

This large state park offers 40 miles of hiking trails, an impressive boulder field, beautiful scenery, and you guessed it- waterfalls!

Hawk Falls in this park is a must-see. It’s located in the southeastern corner of the park and can be reached by a short hike. Hawk Falls is the largest of the waterfalls in Hickory Run.

Many of the hiking trails in the park follow waterways with beautiful, smaller water formations. No matter which trail you choose to hike, you won’t be disappointed. The Shades of Death trail is a particular favorite.

Don’t leave without exploring the boulder field in the northeast section of the park. The vast rock field is a popular photo spot in the park, too.

Hickory Run State Park is one of the larger state parks in Pennsylvania, and there is plenty to see there. You’ll want to spend a couple of days exploring to really see it all. Stay near Hickory Run to have easy access and shorter drive times to the best spots.

McConnells Mill State Park

scaled view of Hells Hollow Falls, the falls are of decent size

McConnells Mill State Park offers a variety of activities including hiking, fishing, whitewater kayaking, bird watching, and picnicking. 

There are multiple waterfalls hidden within the Slippery Rock Gorge in McConnells Mill State Park. You can hike a section of the North Country National Scenic Trail along the banks of Slippery Rock Creek where there are beautiful views of the falls from the smaller tributaries.

Make sure you see Hells Hollow Falls, Alpha Falls, and Breakneck Falls!

There is also a historic covered bridge located in the heart of the park. The bridge was built in 1874, and it’s on the National Register of Historic Places!

McConnells Mill state park is open year-round, but it’s much more pleasant to visit in the spring, summer, and fall. Some of the trails ice over and become very dangerous in the winter. You’ll need more gear to hike during that time of year!

Worlds End State Park

The Double Run Nature Trail features beautiful water flow, including this wide waterfall.

Worlds End State Park is a beautiful park, known for great hiking and beautiful overlooks in the northeastern quadrant of Pennsylvania.

While there are multiple trails in the park featuring waterfalls, the best views can be found along the short Double Run Nature Trail. Cottonwood Falls is the named formation, but there are plenty of beautiful smaller drops along Double Run.

The Cold Run Trail also has some marked waterfalls, but depending on the time of year in which you visit, they may be difficult to see.

While you’re visiting to see the waterfalls in Worlds End, make sure to check out the beautiful vistas including Loyalsock Canyon and High Rock.

Trough Creek State Park

Rainbow Falls is a beautiful cascading PA State Park waterfall.

Deep in the south-central portion of the state, tucked away near the Raystown Lake Recreation Area, is Trough Creek State Park.

While the park isn’t huge, it is quite beautiful. There is only one waterfall within, but the short adventure to reach it is different than many other waterfall or state park hikes in PA.

You’ll have to pass by (or over) a cool old suspension bridge over Trough Creek, and Rainbow Falls is just a short distance from the bridge.

Tucked away in a side tributary, Rainbow Falls is best seen during the spring months and after rainfall, when the falls are flowing at their greatest potential.

After you’ve enjoyed Rainbow Falls, head on just a short distance further to enjoy the views and the mystery at Balanced Rock!

Lehigh Gorge State Park

Lehigh Gorge is located very close to Hickory Run State Park, so you can combine 2 parks into one visit!

This park features waterfalls, hiking trails, camping areas, and many other activities. There are several different ways to access this park, and it is split into 3 different sections.

You can find waterfalls in both the Glen Onoko and Rockport access areas.

Hike to Buttermilk Falls and Luke’s Falls on the Lehigh Gorge Trail in the Rockport access area or explore the nooks of Glen Onoko.

Because this park is linear, and the Lehigh Gorge Trail is 26 miles long point-to-point, you may find it best to explore sections and drive to different parking lots or bring your bicycle!

Leonard Harrison State Park

Take in the views of the gorge during the winter, but you won’t be able to view the waterfalls.

Leonard Harrison State Park is home to the first Turkey Path trail on this list, located on the east rim of the PA Grand Canyon

After navigating some switchbacks on this trail, you’ll come to Little Four Mile Run. Along this waterway, there are multiple waterfalls to view as you descend toward Pine Creek.

These waterfalls are best viewed from spring to fall, but the flow does slow significantly during drier summers. 

The Turkey Path Trail does close during the winter months due to unsafe, icy conditions.

Colton Point State Park

On the Colton Point side of the Pine Creek Gorge, you’ll find another Turkey Path Trail, which can be accessed near the picnic area. 

There are only 2 trails within this small state park, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding the falls. They’re a 70-foot-tall cascade!

The entire hike is around 1 mile to the falls and back, but if you want to hike the entirety of the trail to the bottom of the gorge, it’s only 2 total miles. The terrain is steep, though, so it’s not an easy walk in the park!

The waterfall in Colton Point State Park is best seen in the late spring, early summer, and after heavy rainfalls for the best conditions. During summer droughts, things dry up significantly, and trails close in the winter.

Salt Springs State Park

In this small state park tucked in the corner of northeast Pennsylvania, you’ll find three waterfalls and plenty of trails to explore. 

Hike the Gorge and Hemlock Trails to get views of all three of the beautiful waterfalls here. 

This park isn’t the easiest to reach from most of Pennsylvania, so you’ll probably want to plan a weekend getaway to Salt Springs. Bring your tent and plan to enjoy the 15 miles of hiking trails that the park has to offer.  

Oil Creek State Park

We’re headed back to the western side of Pennsylvania! Oil Creek State Park is full of history, and you’ll find remnants of the oil industry dating back to the mid-1800s. This was the site of the first commercial oil well in the world!

While there is plenty of industrial history throughout the park, there are also beautiful waterfalls and a multi-day backpacking trail that you can take advantage of!

Miller Falls and Pioneer Falls are located along trails on the east side of the park, and you’ll find Boughton Falls and Plum Dungeon Falls on the west side trails. 

These gentle cascades are formed upstream by tributaries flowing into the larger Oil Creek.

After you’ve explored all of the waterfalls in Oil Creek State Park, you can take a bike ride on the multi-use trail between the Drake Well Museum and the Petroleum Centre Visitor Center or float in a kayak down Oil Creek.

Raccoon Creek State Park

West of Pittsburgh, near the state’s border with Ohio, you will find a beautiful single-drop waterfall along the Mineral Springs loop hiking trail in Raccoon Creek State Park. 

This area was once home to a mineral springs resort because the water was thought to have healing properties. This drew plenty of visitors to the area.

While the mineral springs flow year-round from an underground water source, the waterfall does dry up during drier times of the year.

The hike to reach the falls is considered easy, so this waterfall is a great adventure accessible for families. 

Prompton State Park

Back over in the northeastern corner of the state, tucked away in Wayne County, is Prompton State Park.

While this one does not have a waterfall marked on the official park map, there is one tucked away on the trails!

Follow the weaving Sidewinder Trail and you’ll find the falls. It’s a fairly short hike to the falls, but there are plenty of trails if you would like to extend your hike.

 Bring your discs for a round of disc golf on the park’s 18-hole course after you’ve chased the waterfall for a full day of outdoor fun.

Swatara State Park

You won’t find Aycriggs Falls on the park maps, but you can reach it by navigating to the Bordner Cabin on the Bear Hole Trail.

The cabin was built on Aycriggs Falls, which is 40+ feet high with 5+ drops. When the restored cabin is open, a large picture window frames the view of the falls.

Just imagine being able to enjoy that view on a daily basis!

A short portion of the long-distance Appalachian Trail also runs the park, with access to an overnight parking lot and facilities seasonally.

Beltzville State Park

In the southern portion of the Poconos region of Pennsylvania, you’ll find Beltzville State Park.

Sometimes overshadowed by the nearby areas of Hickory Run, Lehigh Gorge, and the Deleware Water Gap, this one is more of a hidden gem!

Hike the beautiful trails from either the Wildcreek or Christman trailheads. Cross the Wild Creek Falls bridge to reach the cascades.

If you’re looking for a longer hike, there are several other trails in the park that will take you through some of the most scenic parts of the park including old farm fields, orchards, and wooded forests.

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A waterfall not to be missed during your visit to Ohiopyle is Cucumber Falls.
Cucumber Falls in Ohiopyle State Park in spring

Once you start exploring the state parks of Pennsylvania, you’ll find that they are places that you’ll want to visit again and again. There are so many things to see and do here, and they’re home to some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Pennsylvania.

From hiking trails to scenic views, the parks have something for everyone. The PA state parks with waterfalls alone are worth visiting. If you have some time to visit some stunning places in PA, add these parks to your upcoming itineraries.