Buttermilk Falls in Indiana County (not to be confused with Buttermilk Falls in Beaver County) is one of the tallest waterfalls in western PA.
It was also part of the summer estate of Fred McFeely, grandfather of Fred Rogers.
Yes – THE Fred Rogers of “Mr Roger’s Neighborhood” fame.
In 1996 this property was donated to Indiana County, and it is now a 48 acre natural area / park.
So if you want to literally follow in the footsteps of Mr. Rogers, read on as I show you exactly how to find Buttermilk Falls in Indiana County, and what you can expect to see once you get there.
For up-to-date information on the open/closed status of this Indiana County park, please visit the Indiana County Parks and Trails official website.
Buttermilk Falls in Indiana County FAQs
Buttermilk Falls is located 1.8 miles south of Route 22 in Indiana County, just west of Armagh. Turn off of Route 22, follow Clay Pike Road for 1.4 miles, then left on Valley Brook Drive for 0.4 miles to the park / falls.
Yes – the GPS coordinates for Buttermilk Falls Natural Area parking lot are in Indiana County are: 40.419244, -79.067663.
You can also use the street address 570 Valley Brook Rd, New Florence, PA 15944.
8 AM – sunset.
45 feet tall.
Hires Run, a tributary of the Conemaugh River.
Yes – it was once known as Aurora Falls, the “Miniature Niagara of Indiana County”.
No – swimming and wading are expressly prohibited in the park rules.
Yes – located right next to the parking area.
The upper observation area, which is wheelchair accessible, is located 0.2 miles from the parking area along a part concrete / part crushed stone path.
You have a panoramic view of Buttermilk Falls and the Hires Run Valley it cuts through.
Follow the crushed stone path past a gate, across the Eclipse Bridge, and down the stairs. This part of the trail IS NOT wheelchair accessible.
There are no vending machines, but there are picnic pavilions for you to use when you bring your own food.
Exploring Buttermilk Falls
As you approach the entrance to the Buttermilk Falls Natural Area, you’ll see the main parking area directly in front of you.
Off to your right is an overflow parking area, next to the McFeely Trail (a short hiking trail also located in the park).
The main parking area is large enough to hold maybe a dozen vehicles.
You’ll also see remnants of foundations from the McFeely estate next to the lot.
Getting down to the falls is a simple matter of following the plethora of signs pointing you in that direction.
The trail is part concrete, part crushed stone, and then wood and metal stairs down to and behind the falls.
As you make your way downhill towards the falls, you’ll encounter many of Mister Rogers’ most famous quotes along the Buttermilk Falls Trail.
A sign on a fence lets you know that an accessibility project took place here in 2017.
Prior to 2017, very little infrastructure existed here, and the falls certainly had a more “natural” appearance.
Whether it was out of a desire to make the falls more “accessible” or to head off potential liability lawsuits (or a bit of both), a major amount of materials and labor went into making Buttermilk Falls what it is today.
The Eclipse Bridge
One of the big expenditures was on what is known as the “Eclipse Bridge”.
The Eclipse Bridge is named for the time period in which it was built.
Stairway to the Falls
Across the bridge, you peer down a long flight of wooden stairs, flanked by chain link fence.
As you round the first curve in the stairs, the falls come into view.
Once upon a time, prior to the steps, you could catch sight of rainbows in the mist around the base of the falls when the sun was at just the right angle.
The walkway extends behind the falls, allowing more folks to experience what the adventurous have for decades.
In the days before the fence, you could also experience great views of the falls from the stream bed itself.
Now that is forbidden, and honestly the view just wouldn’t be the same with the fence cutting across the face of the falls anyway.
The Old Swimming Area
Heading back up the stairs, there is still more to see near Buttermilk Falls.
Located just upstream from the Eclipse Bridge, you’ll see the remnants of a man-made dam that was the spillway for a swimming area built during the McFeely era.
Young Mr. Rogers no doubt spent many hours swimming here.
Once you’ve checked out the old swimming area and the remnants of foundations surrounding it, simply backtrack up the crushed stone trail to your vehicle.
Still not convinced you need to visit Buttermilk Falls in Indiana County?
Then check out this video!
Exploring the Covered Bridges of Indiana County will introduce you to the 4 remaining covered bridges closest to Buttermilk Falls.
7 Must-See Waterfalls in Western Pennsylvania will introduce you to even more waterfalls on the “west coast” of PA!
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