Exploring Fish Run Falls in the Forbes State Forest

Fish Run Falls as viewed from the PW and S Bike Trail in the Forbes State Forest.

Fish Run Falls in the Forbes State Forest may be the prettiest little waterfall in Westmoreland County that you’ve never heard of!

Fish Run Falls in Westmoreland County.
Fish Run Falls in Westmoreland County.

Not only is the waterfall beautiful, but it’s located next to a historic railroad aqueduct built more than 120 years ago!

Stone aqueduct built by the Pittsburgh, Westmoreland, and Somerset Railroad around 1899.
Stone aqueduct on Fish Run built by the Pittsburgh, Westmoreland, and Somerset Railroad around 1899.

How to Find Fish Run Falls in the Forbes State Forest.

Fish Run Falls is located adjacent to the Pittsburgh, Westmoreland, and Somerset Railroad Mountain Bike Trail, or PW&S Trail for short.

Emblem for the Pittsburgh, Westmoreland, and Somerset Railroad bike trail.
Emblem for the Pittsburgh, Westmoreland, and Somerset Railroad mountain biking trail.

The hike itself follows the bike trail for 0.3 miles down a slight grade from the parking area along Linn Run Road.

A map to Fish Run Falls in the Forbes State Forest, along with surrounding attractions.
A map to Fish Run Falls in the Forbes State Forest, along with surrounding attractions.

GPS coordinates for the Fish Run Falls parking area are 40.12640, -79.19427.

Fish Run Falls parking area along Linn Run Road in the Forbes State Forest.
Fish Run Falls parking area along Linn Run Road in the Forbes State Forest.

Near the trailhead is a small clearing with several interpretive exhibits related to the Pittsburgh, Westmoreland, and Somerset Railroad.

Trailhead for the Fish Run Falls hike.
Trailhead for the Fish Run Falls hike in the Forbes State Forest.

The Pittsburgh, Westmoreland, and Somerset Railroad

The PW&S Railroad started out as a timber train, hauling logs cut in what is now the Forbes State Forest and Linn Run State Park to a sawmill in Ligonier.

Historical photos at the PW&S display at Linn Run State Park.
Historical photos at the PW&S display at Linn Run State Park.

The finished lumber was then hauled further west to Latrobe and Pittsburgh.

History of the Pittsburgh, Westmoreland, and Somerset Railroad water station which was once located near the Fish Run Falls parking area.
History of the Pittsburgh, Westmoreland, and Somerset Railroad water station which was once located near the Fish Run Falls parking area.

Eventually the PW&S also hauled passengers back and forth between Somerset and Pittsburgh, as well as points in-between.

History of the Pittsburgh, Westmoreland, and Somerset Railroad near the Fish Run Falls parking area in the Forbes State Forest.
History of the Pittsburgh, Westmoreland, and Somerset Railroad near the Fish Run Falls parking area in the Forbes State Forest.

Just down the road from Fish Run Falls, you’ll find a section of the old PW&S railbed at Linn Run State Park, along with more historical displays about the railroad.

Pittsburgh, Westmoreland, and Somerset Railroad display at Linn Run State Park.
Pittsburgh, Westmoreland, and Somerset Railroad display at Linn Run State Park.

Hiking to Fish Run Falls in Westmoreland County

The hike to Fish Run Falls from the parking area along Linn Run Road is relatively short at 0.3 miles (one way), with a slight decline on the way to the falls from the parking area(100 feet of elevation change between parking area and falls).

Trail leading to to Fish Run Falls in the Forbes State Forest.
PW&S Trail leading to to Fish Run Falls in the Forbes State Forest.

Along the hike you’ll cross a pair of wooden bridges, before reaching Fish Run Falls at GPS coordinates 40.12951, -79.19819.

Bridge over Fish Run along the PW&S Bike Trail in the Forbes State Forest.
Bridge over Fish Run along the PW&S Bike Trail in the Forbes State Forest.

Photographing Fish Run Falls in the Forbes State Forest

The are lots of angles to photograph Fish Run Falls from, starting with the PW&S Trail which sits above Fish Run.

Downstream view of Fish Run Falls near Linn Run State Park.
View from above Fish Run Falls, near Linn Run State Park.

Down at stream level, this is a shallow body of water (best visited after heavy rain or spring thaw), so crossing back and forth is a pretty straightforward affair.

Fish Run Falls in Westmoreland County.
October 2021.

There really are no “bad” angles to shoot this waterfall from.

Fish Run Falls in Westmoreland County Pennsylvania.
Fish Run Falls in Westmoreland County.

And the fall foliage views here are EXCELLENT in October!

Fish Run Falls on an October afternoon in the Forbes State Forest.
An October afternoon in the Forbes State Forest.

The PW&S Railroad Aqueducts

A pair of stone aqueducts built by the PW&S Railroad would have allowed trains to to cross Fish Run as they went up and down Laurel Mountain.

Stone aqueduct below Fish Run Falls in the Forbes State Forest.
Stone aqueduct below Fish Run Falls in the Forbes State Forest.

The viaducts are separated by approximately 100 yards, with the one closest to Fish Run Falls being the easier of the two to explore.

The author standing below Fish Run Falls near the PW&S Railroad aqueduct.
The author standing near the upper PW&S Railroad aqueduct on Fish Run.

These two aqueducts are products of functional necessity, with no style points being sought during their construction.

Inside the stone aqueduct immediately downstream from Fish Run Falls in Westmoreland County.
Inside the upper PW&S aqueduct on Fish Run in Westmoreland County.

Compare that to the intricate, 199 foot-long abandoned South Penn Railroad Aqueduct in Fulton County.

The intricately-crafted South Pennsylvania Railroad Aqueduct in the Buchanan State Forest.
The intricately-crafted South Pennsylvania Railroad Aqueduct in the Buchanan State Forest.

Nevertheless, these rough-looking stone aqueducts are still standing, having carried the waters of Fish Run beneath the old rail bed turned bike trail for more than 120 years.

The lower aqueduct along the Fish Run in the Forbes State Forest.
The lower PW&S aqueduct along the Fish Run in the Forbes State Forest.

Nearby Attractions

Wolf Rocks Overlook in the Forbes State Forest is an outstanding scenic vista overlooking Linn Run State Park.

Looking in the direction of Donegal on an October morning at Wolf Rocks Overlook.
Looking in the direction of Donegal on an October morning at Wolf Rocks Overlook.

Beam Rocks Overlook in the Forbes State Forest offers a fantastic 180° eastern view from high above the treetops and the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail below.

Beam Rocks Overlook in the Forbes State Forest.
Beam Rocks Overlook in the Forbes State Forest.

Spruce Flats Bog is one of the most unique ecosystems in all of Pennsylvania – a high altitude bog featuring plants and trees found nowhere else in the state.

How to find Spruce Flats Bog in the Laurel Highlands region of Pennsylvania.
Spruce Flats Bog in the Forbes State Forest.

Adam Falls is a picturesque 12 foot tall waterfall at Linn Run State Park.

Looking down on Adams Falls at Linn Run State Park after heavy spring rains.
Looking down on Adams Falls at Linn Run State Park after heavy spring rains.

The abandoned hunting lodge at Linn Run State Park is a remarkable set of ruins from the early days of “retreat camping” in western Pennsylvania.

The entrance to the former McGinnis Rod and Gun Club, now an abandoned set of ruins along the Flat Rock Trail at Linn Run State Park.
The entrance to the former McGinnis Rod and Gun Club, now an abandoned set of ruins along the Flat Rock Trail at Linn Run State Park.

Mill Creek Falls is a picturesque, cascading waterfall on an idyllic mountain stream in Westmoreland County.

Fall foliage around Mill Creek Falls in Westmoreland County PA.
Fall foliage around Mill Creek Falls in Westmoreland County.

Fort Ligonier in Westmoreland County is a historically accurate reproduction of a British fort originally constructed in 1758 during what would become known as the French and Indian War.

Entering Fort Ligonier.
Entering Fort Ligonier.

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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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