Exploring Dutchmans Run Falls in the McIntyre Wild Area

Ice formations surround the First Falls on Dutchmans Run in the McIntyre Wild Area, Lycoming County PA.
Ice formations surround the First Falls on Dutchmans Run in the McIntyre Wild Area, Lycoming County PA.

Dutchmans Run Falls is a series of towering waterfalls along a rugged mountain stream in the McIntyre Wild Area, part of the greater Loyalsock State Forest in Lycoming County.

The First Falls on Dutchmans Run in the McIntyre Wild Area
The First Falls on Dutchmans Run in the McIntyre Wild Area

A Brief History of the McIntyre Wild Area

Long before it was a 7,279 acre hiking mecca, the McIntyre Wild Area was home to the McIntyre Coal Company and the company town of – you guessed it – McIntyre.

The McIntyre Wild Area near Ralson in Lycoming County, PA.
The McIntyre Wild Area near Ralston in Lycoming County, PA.

Founded in 1870 by industrialist Jervis Langdon (father-in-law of Mark Twain), the McIntyre Coal Company mined and moved coal from their mountaintop mines to waiting train cars 2,300 feet below via an inclined plane. Coal was mined and moved in this fashion until 1886, when mining ceased and the company town at the top of the mountain was abandoned.

Historical photo showing the McIntyre Inclined Plane from the bottom.
Historical photo showing the McIntyre Inclined Plane from the bottom.

I mention this history for two reasons.

First – it is remarkable how well Nature has reclaimed and restored this area to a setting of extraordinary beauty.

Second – on the hike I am going to describe you will encounter remnants and reminders of that mining history. Old rail beds, timber bridges, pieces of cable from the inclined plane, building foundations, and coal. Lots of coal still scattered about the trail and stream bed.

Remains of the McIntyre Inclined Plane along the Band Rock Vista Trail.
Remains of the McIntyre Inclined Plane in the McIntyre Wild Area.

How to Find Dutchmans Run Falls

Park in the large dirt DCNR parking lot located just across the bridge over Lycoming Creek from Ralston, along Thompson Street. This is where the hike begins. Even in the winter I have found this lot is usually plowed out and accessible.

Parking area in Ralston for Band Rock Vista trail hike.
DCNR parking area in Ralston, next to bridge over Lycoming Creek.

From the back of the parking lot, start down the flat and wide-open old rail bed. There are plenty of great rock formations on your right, and the Lycoming Creek to look at on your left as you proceed.

The old rail grade leading to the waterfalls on Dutchmans Run in the McIntyre Wild Area.
The old rail grade leading to the waterfalls on Dutchmans Run in the McIntyre Wild Area.

At .53 miles into the hike, power lines intersect and then run parallel to the rail bed. Continue to follow the rail bed (it stays above/ to the right of the power lines). Another couple hundred yards ahead you will pass behind a private home, but your path on the rail grade is solidly on public land. White forest boundary markers are plainly visible below you on the left.

Power lines intersect the rail bed at 0.53 miles into the hike to Dutchmans Run in the McIntyre Wild Area
Power lines intersect the rail bed at 0.53 miles into the hike to Dutchmans Run in the McIntyre Wild Area

At 1.1 miles into the hike, you will encounter this stone foundation to the right of the rail grade.

Old foundation along the rail bed leading to Dutchmans Run in the McIntyre Wild Area.
Old foundation along the rail bed leading to Dutchmans Run in the McIntyre Wild Area.

Continue past the foundation, and follow the rail grade until it hits Dutchmans Run.

A map to the waterfalls along Dutchmans Run in the McIntyre Wild Area of Lycoming County, PA.
How to find the waterfalls along Dutchmans Run in the McIntyre Wild Area of Lycoming County, PA.

Hike upstream on the right side of Dutchmans Run for approximately 150 yards, crest a hill, and the first falls on Dutchmans Run will come into view.

Approaching the First Waterfalls on Dutchmans Run in the McIntyre Wild Area.
Approaching the First Waterfalls on Dutchmans Run in the McIntyre Wild Area.

First Falls on Dutchmans Run

The GPS coordinates for the first falls on Dutchmans Run are 41.525167, -76.948933.

With my friend Steve in this image for scale, I’d feel confident saying the first falls on Dutchmans Run is a good 30 feet tall.

A look at the roughly 30-foot tall First Waterfalls on Dutchmans Run in the McIntyre Wild Area
A look at the roughly 30-foot tall First Waterfalls on Dutchmans Run in the McIntyre Wild Area

In the dead of winter, the first falls on Dutchmans Run is home to a fantastic wall of ice.

Ice and snow at the frozen first falls on Dutchmans Run in Lycoming County, PA.
Ice and snow at the frozen first falls on Dutchmans Run in Lycoming County, PA.

Of all the ice hiking destination in Pennsylvania, the first falls on Dutchmans Run is one of my favorites.

The author at a frozen Dutchmans Run Falls in the McIntyre Wild Area.
The author at a frozen Dutchmans Run Falls in the McIntyre Wild Area.

Second Falls on Dutchmans Run

Getting above the first falls to the second and third Falls on Dutchmans Run can be accomplished by hiking up and around from either side. Having done both, I’d recommend staying on the right side, slightly back-tracking and hiking up around and then descending the stream bank above the first falls.

A view from the top of the First Waterfalls on Dutchmans Run in the McIntyre Wild Area.
A view from the top of the First Waterfalls on Dutchmans Run in the McIntyre Wild Area.

The GPS coordinates for the second falls on Dutchmans Run are 41.525650, -76.947700.

The second falls is roughly 6-7 feet tall, and would probably feel even impressive if it weren’t sandwiched in between two much larger waterfalls. But just upstream from this one lies the much larger Third Falls on Dutchmans Run.

The Second Waterfalls on Dutchmans Run in the McIntyre Wild Area
The Second Waterfalls on Dutchmans Run in the McIntyre Wild Area

Third Falls on Dutchmans Run

The GPS coordinates for the third falls on Dutchmans Run are 41.525967, -76.946500.

The Third Falls on Dutchmans Run in the McIntyre Wild Area.
The Third Falls on Dutchmans Run in the McIntyre Wild Area.

The third falls is a two-tiered waterfall totaling roughly 20 feet tumbling down the tight gorge.

Another scene from the Third Waterfalls on Dutchmans Run on the McIntyre Wild Area
Another scene from the Third Waterfalls on Dutchmans Run on the McIntyre Wild Area

Remnants of the McIntyre Coal Company’s rail system are visible in the pool just below the third falls, 100 year-plus old reminders that men and women worked and lived in this rugged terrain that you are now standing on.

Just to the right of the Third Falls a small tributary flows into Dutchmans Run. If you follow my directions below you’ll be seeing this one from above in a few minutes.

A tributary stream of Dutchmans Run in the McIntyre Wild Area
A tributary stream of Dutchmans Run in the McIntyre Wild Area

Exploring Above the Falls

Backtrack from the third falls downstream to a point somewhere between the second falls and the top of the first falls. Look up the mountainside (still on the right side) and you’ll see a long stretch of retaining wall above you. Hike up the hillside to the retaining wall. The remnants of an old wagon road are supported by the retaining wall.

Remnants of the retaining wall built by the McIntyre Coal Company to support its rail tracks above Dutchmans Run.
Remnants of the retaining wall built by the McIntyre Coal Company to support its rail tracks above Dutchmans Run.

Hike uphill along the road grade, back in the direction of the third falls.

The old rail grade above Dutchmans Run in the McIntyre Wild Area.
The old rail grade above Dutchmans Run in the McIntyre Wild Area.

Along the way you’ll pass more remnants of mining activity from long ago.

Nature reclaiming some of the McIntyre Coal Company's inclined plane high above Dutchmans Run in the McIntyre Wild Area.
Nature reclaiming some of the McIntyre Coal Company’s inclined plane high above Dutchmans Run in the McIntyre Wild Area.

At a spot directly above the third falls, you’ll come to an old bridge over the tributary to Dutchmans Run, the same tributary you stood at the base of just a short while ago.

Remnants of the McIntyre Coal Company's train tracks used to remove coal from the mountain above Dutchmans Run.
Remnants of the McIntyre Coal Company’s train tracks used to remove coal from the mountain above Dutchmans Run.

If you continue upstream for a few minutes longer you’ll come to this old rail crossing of Dutchmans Run. If you choose to continue past that you can wind your way up and around the mountain, eventually coming out near the ruins of McIntyre (the abandoned company town).

Remnant of a rail bridge over Dutchmans Run in the McIntyre Wild Area.
Remnant of a rail bridge over Dutchmans Run in the McIntyre Wild Area.

The Return Hike

Backtrack and follow the grade down the mountain, eventually intersecting with the flat rail grade you first hiked in on.

The old rail grade above Dutchmans Run in the McIntyre Wild Area.
The old rail grade above Dutchmans Run in the McIntyre Wild Area.

From there, hang a left and it’s smooth sailing a half mile back to the parking lot.


Final Thoughts

For years I’d heard about the waterfalls on Dutchmans Run, but conventional wisdom and most of the hiking descriptions I read said you had to take the long, windy dirt road to the top of the mountain and hike down from there.

Once I started pouring over maps and satellite images it became apparent to me that it would be an easier hike and certainly more accessible in the winter to simply come in from the bottom.

Ice formations around Dutchmans Run Falls in Lycoming County.
Ice formations around Dutchmans Run Falls in Lycoming County.

It may be a longer hike, but the use of the rail and road beds makes much of the hike out and back pretty painless.

The Dutchmans Run Falls Trail in the McIntyre WIld Area.
The Dutchmans Run Falls Trail in the McIntyre WIld Area.

For anyone who enjoys waterfalls and/or discovering remnants of Pennsylvania’s industrial past, I’d highly recommend adding a hike to the waterfalls on Dutchmans Run to your PA Bucket List!

The first falls on Dutchmans Run in the McIntyre Wild Area.
The frozen first falls on Dutchmans Run in the McIntyre Wild Area.

Still not convinced you need to explore the waterfalls on Dutchmans Run?

Then check out this video!


Be sure to check out my McIntyre Wild Area Waterfalls Guide for maps and directions to ALL of the best waterfalls in this remote section of the Loyalsock State Forest.

Map to the best waterfalls in the McIntyre Wild Area
Map to the best waterfalls in the McIntyre Wild Area, Lycoming County, PA.

Band Rock Vista in the McIntyre Wild Area offers a stunning 180-degree view of the Lycoming Creek Valley and the town of Ralston more than 900 feet below.

Directions to Band Rock Vista in the McIntyre Wild Area, Lycoming COunty PA.
The author at Band Rock Vista.

Exploring Jacoby Falls in the Loyalsock State Forest is another great Lycoming County waterfall hike.

Jacoby Falls swollen by heavy summer rain.
Jacoby Falls swollen by heavy summer rain.

And if you haven’t already, be sure to check out The Ultimate Pennsylvania Waterfalls Guide for directions to HUNDREDS of Pennsylvania waterfalls across the state!

The Ultimate Pennsylvania Waterfall Guide created by Rusty Glessner
The Ultimate Pennsylvania Waterfalls Guide by Rusty Glessner.

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Rusty Glessner is a professional photographer, lifelong Pennsylvanian, and creator of the PA Bucket List travel blog.

3 COMMENTS

  1. It is often assumed that the road you walked on above Dutchman’s Run was a railroad or the McIntyre Inclined Plane. From what I have read, it was a road to McIntyre. The road we drive now is shown on the McIntyre Township map within the 1873 Lycoming county Atlas. However, a 1876 newspaper states that “A good road winds around the mountain from the valley below, starting near the foot of the big plane. It is pretty steep, and the distance is about a mile and a half. On the way up the traveler has a view of the cascade on Dutchman’s Run, where the water tumbles seventy five or one hundred feet over the rocks”. Therefore I believe there were two roads to McIntyre from the valley below. The cable you see is from the Aerial Bucket tram system that a later mining operation used in the 1930s. The “big plane” or McIntyre’s plane is upslope from the road you traveled and it is way steeper.

    • There are railroad ties, tracks, and spikes everywhere along and near that road I describe, so I’m inclined to say it was indeed, at least at some point, a railroad. Maybe there was a second road, that you could be correct on.

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