Exploring Big Run Falls in Lawrence County

Big Run Falls at Cascade Park in Lawrence County.

Big Run Falls is located at the center of Cascade Park in New Castle, the county seat of Lawrence County.

Or to put it another way, roughly 50 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, near the Pennsylvania – Ohio border.

Big Run Falls in Lawrence County Pennsylvania.
Big Run Falls in Lawrence County.

How to Find Big Run Falls in New Castle

The entrance to Cascade Park is located along Route 65, so depending on which direction you are coming from, it will be either a left or right hand turn into the park.

Entrance to Cascade Park in New Castle along Route 65 in Lawrence County.
Entrance to Cascade Park in New Castle, along Route 65 in Lawrence County.

Upon entering the park, bear to the LEFT and follow the road over a bridge and past a maintenance shed to a large parking area on your left.

How to find Big Run Falls in New Castle Pennsylvania
A map to Big Run Falls at Cascade Park in New Castle, PA.

If navigating by GPS, use coordinates 40.97654, -80.32007 to find the parking area for Big Run Falls.

You’ll see a picnic table directly across the road from the parking area, from which Big Run Falls is plainly visible.

Picnic table at the roadside overlook near Big Run Falls in New Castle.
Picnic table at the roadside overlook near Big Run Falls in New Castle.

Exploring Big Run Falls in New Castle

Big Run Falls in Cascade Park is essentially a roadside waterfall, with the best vantage point for viewing the falls being the overlook directly across from the parking area.

Big Run Falls at Cascade Park in New Castle Pennsylvania.
Big Run Falls at Cascade Park in New Castle.

The area immediately in front of the overlook was awash in wildflowers when I visited recently, making for an exquisite scene.

Summer blooms near Big Run Falls at Cascade Park.
Summer blooms near Big Run Falls at Cascade Park.

I’ve seen reference on other websites to walking up to the base of the falls from downstream, which I cannot recommend.

The area immediately below the falls is strewn with the remains of an old roller coaster that once dipped down through the gorge below the falls (more on that in a minute), meaning you’d have to negotiate the twisted metal and risk injury for a view that most likely won’t be much better than the view you get from the overlook.

Remains of a roller coaster at Cascade Park. in New Castle Pennsylvania
Remains of a roller coaster at Cascade Park. in New Castle, PA.

History of Cascade Park in New Castle

Cascade Park opened May 29, 1897, and it quickly became a popular amusement park for people living in western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio.

Photo of an old carousel at Cascade Park in Lawrence County.
Photo of an old carousel at Cascade Park in Lawrence County.

The park was operated by New Castle Traction Company, which later became Pennsylvania Power Company.

History of Cascade Park in New Castle Pennsylvania.
History of Cascade Park in New Castle.

The midway featured 17 rides and numerous eating places.

Remnants of amusement park structures at Cascade Park in New Castle.
Remnants of amusement park structures at Cascade Park in New Castle.

A carousel 75 feet in diameter was one of the more popular attractions, and the building that housed it is still intact today.

The building that housed the carousel at Cascade Park in Lawrence County.
The building that housed the carousel at Cascade Park in Lawrence County.

Cascade Park also featured what was at the time the largest dance hall in Pennsylvania, and that too is still standing today.

The dance hall at Cascade Park in New Castle was once the largest dance hall in Pennsylvania.
The dance hall at Cascade Park in New Castle was once the largest dance hall in Pennsylvania.

In 1934, The Pennsylvania Power Company turned the park over to the City of New Castle to be used as a public recreation area.

Eventually attendance declined, the park fell into disrepair, and the rides were removed, leaving only the shells of some of the structures intact.

Interior of the carousel building at Cascade Park in 2021.
Interior of the carousel building at Cascade Park in 2021.

Cascade Park in New Castle Today

Today, Cascade Park more closely resembles a nature park than it does the amusement park that gave birth to it, although many relics of the amusement park still remain along the various walking trails around the park.

Ruins of an old wishing well at Cascade Park in New Castle Lawrence County PA.
Ruins of an old wishing well at Cascade Park in New Castle Lawrence County, PA.

A large, abandoned swimming pool is situated just down the hill from the Big Run Falls parking area.

Ruins of an old swimming pool at Cascade Park in Lawrence County.
Ruins of an old swimming pool at Cascade Park in Lawrence County.

A dog-walker I happened to strike up a conversation with while visiting the park told me that an attempt had been made and then abandoned to reopen the pool, apparently because of financial issues.

Abandoned swimming pool at Cascade Park in New Castle PA
Abandoned swimming pool at Cascade Park in New Castle.

One thing that is well-maintained and well-represented at Cascade Park are numerous monuments and tributes to our troops, which is a very welcome sight to see.

A memorial to US military veterans at Cascade Park in Lawrence County Pennsylvania.
A memorial to US military veterans at Cascade Park in Lawrence County.

As pretty and “natural” as Cascade Park is now, I couldn’t help but wonder as I explored it what it must have been like in its heyday.

Stairs to a long-gone ride at Cascade Park in New Castle.
Stairs to a long-gone ride at Cascade Park in New Castle.

So in summary – if you’re looking for an easy-to-reach waterfall in a beautiful setting not far from Pittsburgh, make sure to check out Big Run Falls in New Castle, Lawrence County!

Big Run Falls at Cascade Park in New Castle Pennsylvania
Big Run Falls at Cascade Park in New Castle, Lawrence County.

Does the thought of taking an epic cross-state road trip to see the best roadside waterfalls in Pennsylvania intrigue you?

Springtime at Holcomb Falls in Bradford County Pennsylvania.
Springtime at roadside Holcomb Falls in Bradford County.

If so, be sure to check out Road Tripping to the Best Roadside Waterfalls in PA!

Hinckston Run Falls in PA
Hinckston Run Falls in Cambria County, PA.

Nearby Attractions

Quaker Falls is a 50 foot-tall waterfall located in the newly-created Quaker Falls Recreation Area in Lawrence County.

Downstream view of Quaker Falls, also known as Quakertown Falls in Lawrence County PA
Downstream view of Quaker Falls, also known as Quakertown Falls, in Lawrence County.

McConnells Mill State Park, also in Lawrence County, is home to numerous waterfalls, hiking trails, the namesake mill, and McConnells Mill Covered Bridge.

McConnells Mill Covered Bridge in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania.
McConnells Mill Covered Bridge in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania.

Alpha Falls at McConnells Mill State Park is the tallest waterfall in the park.

Rusty Glessner at Alpha Falls at McConnells Mill State Park
The author at Alpha Falls at McConnells Mill State Park

Hell’s Hollow Falls at McConnells Mill State Park is probably the most scenic waterfall in the park.

The author at Hell's Hollow Falls.
The author at Hell’s Hollow Falls at McConnells Mill State Park.

And Grindstone Falls is probably the most remote waterfall at McConnells Mill State Park – so remote that it isn’t even featured on the park map!

The author visiting Grindstone Falls.
The author visiting Grindstone Falls at McConnells Mill State Park.

Buttermilk Falls in Beaver County is an easy-to-reach waterfall in a county park just minutes from the PA Turnpike.

A summer morning at Buttermilk Falls in Beaver County.
A summer morning at Buttermilk Falls in Beaver County.

One of the more unique aspects of Buttermilk Falls in Beaver County is that you can stand behind it!

The author behind Buttermilk Falls in Beaver County PA.
The author behind Buttermilk Falls in Beaver County, PA.

And if you’re REALLY into waterfalls, The Ultimate Pennsylvania Waterfalls Guide will provide you with directions to HUNDREDS of PA’s best waterfalls, from all corners of the Keystone 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 an award-winning photographer, lifelong Pennsylvanian, and creator of the PA Bucket List travel blog.

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